Then, in May five years or so ago, Jill and I were attempting a (spurious) short cut from Bollène to St Quentin, and – serendipitously – drove into this delightful village, which is built at the foot on the huge cliff on which the fortress was built. It being midday, we stopped, parked and found our way to Le Manoir, a Logis de France, where we enjoyed a quite superb lunch on the terrace. I can still remember the first mouthful of my truffle omelette.
Since then, lunch in Mornas has been the traditional curtain-raiser to our summer in the south of France (although this year, there is an argument to be made for that glass of Savigny Les Beaunes 2008 in Beaune itself!) The prix fixe menu this year was as good as ever, the demi of local rosé as refreshing as ever, and the service as friendly as ever. It is the perfect introduction to the south, and leaves us with merely a half hour drive through Pont St Esprit before we arrive in St Quentin la Poterie itself and set about airing, dusting and cleaning our small village house which has survived another winter intact.
This morning is the fifth day of our stay. The sun is in the courtyard. It is 21 degrees at the moment, and it promises to be 26 this afternoon. Which will do very nicely, merci.
We have done a great deal in less than a week. The house is once again a home. We have finished some unfinished work. We have caught up with old friends. We have visited our first market in St Quentin and our second the larger one in Uzès. We have discovered that Momo’s has been taken over by the guys from Le P’tit Café, one of our favourite restaurants in Uzès, so my first salade gourmande of the summer was eaten within a 100 metre walk of home. This is good news, although the eclectic buzz of Momo’s cannot be replaced and is much missed.
Yesterday, we attended our first concert of the year. The fixed point of the second Sunday of the month is, in the winter, the performance of The Swaps at The Somerville. Last night, by way of contrast, it was the choirs of Languedoc-Roussillon and the Uzège performing Fauré’s Requiem, together with songs by Saint-Saëns, Hindemith, Milhaud and Tchaikovski, in the Temple d’Uzès, the Protestant church. These amateur choirs acquitted themselves very well, but the moment the professional soloists stood and sang, one knew that these were exceptional voices. Soprano Raphaële Andrie and baritone Alain Iltis made my day, and even being swept by the Nationals at Fenway could not depress my spirits. (Although an apprehension that the Front National may have won the Gard in yesterday’s elections does.)
So: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. We are already immersed in la vie française. But this evening, whether we like it or not, we will be forced to be English again. It is England v France, and we plan to watch the game with a pichet or two in the Café de France.
Let's hope the entente can stay cordiale.
Today’s listening: The Ravel String Quartet. Just came on the iPod by chance. So beautiful.