Amanda on May 4th, 2010
Cistus - Rock Rose

Quercy Cistus

May in southern France is like June in England.  Soft air, the first of the season’s brides, markets stuffed with hopeful herbs and leggy tomato plants – and roses, roses all the way.  The huge gallica by my kitchen door is smothered in breaking bud, lime green goblets filled with a deep magenta that simply spells summer.  Very soon the whole bush will be completely hidden in a mass of blooms, suffusing the air with that rich, inimitable fragrance that must have scented the courtyards of Damascus for so many years.  Of course May is not only the month of roses, it’s also the month where the true Mediterranean shrubs come into their own, none more glorious than that flamboyant little number, the cistus.  Read More »

Lovely May In The Quercy from French Life

Amanda on November 9th, 2009
Orleans Reinette

Orleans Reinette

That’s what I’ve been doing this week, a new word for an old pastime.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as planting a fruit orchard and no pleasure quite as dreamlike (alright so maybe there are one or two exceptions but not that I’m going to discuss here) as looking forward to that far-flung day when you are picking more fruit than will feed the village in a year, it’s a good five or six years away, but I really look forward to that.
One of the problems with planting an orchard in southern France is that it’s not really apple country.  They do grow here, of course they do, but the old English varieties, and especially the sharp culinary apples are just not available to buy.  Fortunately I found a saviour in Deacons Nurseries on the Isle of Wight.  Not only do they grow absolutely every apple I’ve ever heard of and many more into the bargain, they are willing to ship them to rural France.  And so I chose six-of-the-best.  Bramley and Lane’s Prince Albert for the culinaries.  The delicious Lord Lambourne for a fairly early dessert.  Wonderfully aromatic Ashmead’s Kernel and crisp William Crump for the mids and the indispensible Orleans Reinette for my late keeper. I had them all grafted onto a semi-dwarfing rootstock and received an exciting, damp parcel last week.  Honestly – the things that get me excited these days.
Meanwhile down on the orchard terrace six enormous holes have been dug, with a certain amount of grumbling, a pickaxe and a pneumatic drill, by the beloved.  The white stone of the Quercy has been blasted with good muscle and sinew, then sifted and enriched with compost and topsoil; it looks like we’re in business.

Orcharding in the Quercy from French Life

Amanda on January 5th, 2006
Winter Frost

Winter Frost

The festive season has arrived!  And here in sunny southern France the Quercy has been frozen into a Narnian landscape, enchanting and exceptionally beautiful but wickedly cold.  A wardrobe full of fur coats would be a definite asset.
The markets are winding up for Christmas, the geese are already fat and glorious and the Christmas Eve market in Cahors will be the centre of the commercial celebrations this Saturday.  Magnificent, be-ribboned birds will be laid out in all their glory. Ducks, guinea fowl, black turkeys and pheasants will all be jostling for position if you don’t fancy – or can’t accommodate – the traditional bird.  But the famous Quercy goose will take pride of place and comes away with all the honours. Read More »

Christmas in the Quercy 2005 from French Life