Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Another beautiful day, but still breezy -- gusty in places. I walked into the village for bread again. It takes about 30 minutes round-trip. It's been very cold in the morning, and I need to wear a sweater. We've noticed that some of the grapevines are starting to turn red.
When Carol Dahl visited this past summer, she showed me an article in a British quilt magazine about a textile museum in France. It is the European Centre for Textiles and Patchwork and is located in an old winery in the small village of Salleles d'Aude, which is close enough to make a trip, and also not far from Minerve, so that's where we went today.
The museum is on 2 floors, and the lower floor is where the wine vats were. The vats are concrete and still have the valves and taps, but have been opened up to make display space. Each vat has a different display representing textile arts in different cultures, including French, African, Asian, Hawaiian, Amish, and American traditional quilts. There are textile items for sale, but no fabric. Upstairs is display space for temporary exhibits, currently Austrian textile artists. It was very interesting. Of course, we got to the museum just before 12, so I was a little concerned that they'd be closed for lunch, but they were still open.
We looked for a place to eat lunch on the way to Minerve, but didn't find anything, so decided we'd eat once we got there. Minerve is a very old village situated on a promotory in a canyon. It must have been ideally situated for defense in the middle ages. Only 60 people live there now. When we were there 5 years ago, it poured down rain and since it was April, nothing was open. This time we had blue skies, but it was windy. We parked above the village in a handicapped spot, but had to walk quite a distance down a steep grade to get into the village. The easier way in is over a bridge, but the parking lot on that side of the village is only for buses. It took Mom quite awhile to make it down to the village, and there was another grade of cobblestones, too. A nice man stopped to help her down and told us where to find some lunch. I told Mom to wait while I checked it out, and found a little cafe that advertised sandwiches, so I stuck my head in and said, "Bonjour, avez vous le sandwich?" The women was really nice and showed me that she could make one with a pate and pickles on a baguette, so I ordered 1 for us to share, and went up to get Mom. The place was run by the woman and her son, who have lived there for about 5 years after having lived in Paris. The son is about 30 and quite good looking. He speaks fairly good English, so we were able to have quite a conversation combining English and French. The sandwich with cups of coffee and a bottle of water was really good, but their specialty is ice cream, so guess what we had for dessert!
Minerve was a Cathar town - the Languedoc region was the seat of the Cathars, which was a heretical sect in the 12-13th centuries. In 1210 Minerve was besieged and after running out of food and water, the town was forced to surrender. The townspeople were given the choice of converting or being slaughtered. 140 prefects refused to deny their Cathar faith and were burned at the stake. There's a monument memorializing them near the the Mairie (town hall). Many of the towns in this part of France have violent histories -- mostly due to religion. The battles between Rome and the Cathars were in the 13th century, then in the 16th Century the protestants (Huegonauts) had strongholds here. In fact, our village of Lezignan la Cebe had been a Huegonaut village at one time. A battle between the Catholics and Huegonauts was fought near here, with the Huegonauts losing.
Rather than having Mom climb the hill back up to the car, she crossed the bridge to the main road, and I hiked up to the car. There are several nice galleries in the village and I stopped to look in a couple of them on my way up the hill. The plan was for me to pick Mom up at the bridge, but I missed the turn coming out of the parking lot, and drove quite awhile before deciding "this doesn't look right," and turning around. We agreed I'd pick her up at 4:00, and at least I wasn't late.
We tried to get Francine to show us the way home, but she wants a full address & I couldn't remember how to spell the name of the street we are on -- she's very picky -- but we did okay. We came home through Beziers, which is the largest town in the area and about 20 km south of Pezenas. I'm always nervous driving through the big towns, but following the signs "Touts Directions" (All Directions) usually gets me through them okay, and we didn't have any trouble getting through today.