Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Take me to the river
It was one of those moments, we are walking thru a tiny French village in the southern regions of the Champagne provence, a town with only two stores....a sweep of ancient homes and glistening fields...and we are wandering down a pebbled path to a stream .....no, more a river...... on a crystal clear morning in dappled sunlight, glistening off the flowing water as we crossed a footbridge to walk along the banks in the meadow beyond. But this is no ordinary village or waterside scenario, this is the village of Esoyes (pronounced eeswah), where Renoir settled in his advancing years, and painted many scenes now captured on canvas in great museums across the world....and today we are here in the village, by the riverside....in his garden......in his studio...in his very studio....and at his graveside, where much of his family is buried. Today we have the meadow by the river....and the captured glory of simple impressions of French country life in the little village of Esoyes.
We had spent the night before in Les Ricey, furthur south on the edge of the champagne region, a steller even tinier village, by a gently rolling brook, with only one store (a boulangerie), and the fine Hotel Le Marius, a delightful surprise with fabulous rooms in half timbered homes and a lovely restaurant in the brick cavern underneath serving hearty regional food. But Les Ricey is also famous for its tiny Champagne houses, and makes a pinot noir from the champagne grape (with no bubbles) that is as refreshing as it is regionally unique. We wander thru the town at dawn, the Devil Dog and his effervescent wingman, Francois deLay du Pompideau, along the drifting stream and down pristine streets of a tiny village dating from the 15th century, past farming equipment for the vineyards and boutique champagne estates. These are the dreams we have of the French countryside.....it is one of those moments ..... a stream of them .....among the sleeping vineyards and hideaway villages of Champagne.