Leaving Provence I cross the Rhône and drive to Barjac to spend two weeks with family & friends in the most amazing château dating from the 16th century. Monsieur Flemal welcomes me into the cool shuttered darkness of huge rooms & shaded stairways & corridors whilst the heat of the day tries to unsuccessfully batter its way in. In the gloom of the huge rooms Louis 14th cabinets & tables stand to attention around regal carpets. In two rooms of the top floor a skin of a large bear and one of a huge boar lie down in prayer to guard any sleeper who dares use the four poster bed in each. Only open windows/shutters manufacture a breeze to keep the heat at bay at night!
Barjac is a small market down where past memories are updated. Tall plane trees stretch out over the main street like the vast roof timbers of a ancient cathedrals, providing shade & shelter from the blazing sun, to the markets and fairs that settle beneath their imposing branches. A few cafes share the street with the haberdasher, the fishing tackle shop and the odd restaurant. Disappearing up the narrow lanes small eating places & pizzariers with countless tables crammed onto the narrow streets jostle for space & shade with the omnipresent tat shop, the up market pottery & gallery, the two aisle minute supermarket. Elegant townhouses hide their secrets behind shuttered windows in battered facades of plaster & brickwork. Occasionally an open shutter reveals the glass which act like golden mirrors reflecting back golden, distorted images from across the street. Old men clack their boules together as they decide on their next shot in the dust under the plane trees. Pedestrians squeeze past diners in the balmy evening as the clink of cutlery & glasses & muted conversations try to out-chatter the cicadas & roosting swallows & bats.. The sun sets, the temperature drops, slightly, the wine flows, the children yawn and all is at peace. Contentment spreads into the dusky silence of a town at peace with itself.