Thursday, July 23, 2009

walking to Montpezat


Our 6 km walk on Thursday to the medieval village of Montpezat-de-Quercy took us past fields of giant upright sunflowers turning their sea of faces to follow the sun. In the middle of the rolling sunny fields, French farmhouses drowsed, cooling behind their blue window shutters. We enjoyed another blue-sky day in a week of wonderful weather. The narrow country road wound about, with quite a bit of uphill, not so much downhill to compensate, and not much room for both us and the occasional passing car. Where trees lined the road, there were signs posted usually saying "reserved for deer hunting" (a highly-regarded rich-in-tradition French sport), but once I noticed a sign indicating an area reserved for truffle hunting.

Montpezat is a protected historic city, due primarily to its remaining 14th-century college and chapel, where the apse is filled with a long 16th-century tapestry relating the 13 temptations and miracles in the life of St Martin. The tapestry hangs unprotected except by the dark, so after depositing our 2 euros to turn on the dim lights, we were rewarded with a close-up view of the intricately woven designs and remarkably well-preserved colors. Our guide related the various temptations, pointing out the devil in many panels, along with the "scribe" who inserted himself often, too, identifiable in his black hat.

. . . taking photos of the chapel on the ramp down from the priest's home . . .

After a refreshing picnic in a small park next to the priest's house (the old priest is retiring and will be the last), we continued our weaving lesson with a visit to the village studio of a retired but still active weaver, Janine Dassonval. She is one of the last remaining practitioners of le basse lice or low-warp horizontal weaving in France. During her career, she told us, she collaborated with French artists like Jean Cocteau, Jean Lurçat, Commère et Volti to transform their paintings into tapestries. Three years older than I, sitting upright at her large floor loom which she warps and wefts herself, Mme Dassonval explained why it can take her over 2000 hours to hand weave and cross over the wool threads to blend a beautiful wall hanging, plus another 200 hours to tie off the loose threads on the back. Her current project is an Aubusson-style tapestry full of soft blues, greens, and earth tones, proceeding from a color enlargement and her drawn cartoon slipped under the threads for placement.



rosecottagegardensandfarm said...

Bonjour Pamela!

We met when I arrived on Friday at Chateau Dumas, and then I stayed on for the Millinery Masterclass.

Your photo images and stories of the FG week at Chateau Dumas are amazing! You have captured the lovely activities so well. I wish I could have attended the FG week, too, but I had to choose between the two.

Hope you stop by to see the millinery week. I have just started posting photos and am working on several more stories. I would love to know what you think!

Looking forward to visiting your other posts! You have amazing talent!

Kind regards,
Debbykay Peterson
Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

Birds of a Feather said...

Hello Pj ~

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for your sweet comments! i had put it out of my mind (Kaari's fabulous trip) but i am thrilled to see all the lovely pictures from your trip! Honestly it hurts my heart ~ I must go! It has been pouring rain here today (as it has alot this summer) so perusing through your posts really made my day!

Thank you ~
xo Heidi

Karen- The Graphics Fairy said...

Hi Pamela,
I just stopped by to say thank you for the lovely comment you left on my blog. After popping over though, I see that you are on the most amazing trip, ever!!! Oh, I'm so jealous, but happy for you, of course! The pictures are fabulous, I'm thrilled to be able to get a glimpse of what you are experiencing. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pics.