“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” – Diane Duane
“Reading brings us unknown friends.” – Honoré de Balzac
While still in Montolieu and having toured the Conservatory of Book Arts & Crafts, we were in serious need of refreshments and then there are books to be discovered. We were in luck as just across from the museum was a charming tea shop/bookstore. On this particular day, the books were to wait as we indulged in the tea and delicious cakes. The cakes to choose from on that day were chocolate or chestnut. The small tea cakes had been baked in a rose shaped mold, were moist and delicious. While I am a chocoholic, I choose the chestnut one and it was amazing. Nathalie is a gracious host and as we left we met one of the resident cats. After all, what is a bookstore without a cat or two in residence?Montolieu has much to offer. There are numerous shops, cafés, museums, courses on paper and book making and don’t forget all those bookstores! While admittedly most books are in French, there are numerous other languages represented as well as collectibles. My personal policy is that I “must” find a collection o poems by a French poet each visit. My collection grows and it is also part of my French learning I assigned myself. If you are into books, reading or writing, there is something here for you. If not, it is a beautiful place to stroll and have a picnic.
Besides having the books and tea shop, like many shops in the village there is a good selection of regional products available. When you visit Montolieu, stop in and meet Nathalie and Stéphane.
“Until I feared to lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” – Harper Lee
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives but one.” – Georger R.R. Martin
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury
When my friend Yvonne pops over from London, we often find ourselves off to explore. This particular adventure was back to Montolieu – Village du Livre (Village of Books).
While I could spend endless days in the beautiful village of books, we had a limited amount of time this trip and the museum was the focus of this trip. If you would like to see more of the village, I recommend checking out my post of 12/12/2011. Or best of all, visit Montolieu yourself!
Located in Montagne Noir (Black Mountains) this small village (pop: 1,400) has 23 bookshops. Each Autumn, they host an ancient book festival. Naturally, as one might expect, such a village is popular with artists and there are a number of small galleries.
Le musée traces the history of print from Pictographs to the Alphabet, from Clay to Paper and the invention of Typography (1454), Linotype (1884), Monotype (1887), Stanhope Press (early 19th century) and so much more.
30,000 BCE: Pictographs are pictures and symbols and represent the first written forms. Concepts are represented by figures and scenes.
4,000 BCE: Ideograms/ideographs are a logographic writing system in which graphic symbols are used to represent words. They originated in Egypt and China where ideograms evolved into its current stylised script system.
1,300 BCE: The Phoenicians invent and disseminate the first alphabet. A limited number of letters that they allowed for the formation of sounds.
1,000 BCE: The Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet that they then adapt to their language by introducing vowels.
700 BCE: The Latin or Roman alphabet appears as an adaption of the Etruscan alphabet which had been borrowed from Greek colonists in Italy. Today, the Latin alphabet is the most widely used in the world.
The earliest materials for writing were stones, shells, wood and even tortoiseshells.
4,000BCE: Mesopotamian clay and the tool used was the “calame” or reed stylus.
3,000 BCE: Egyptian papyrus, a plant found along the banks of the Nile. The “calame” or stylus is made from a blend of soot and resin.
200 BCE: Parchment, is animal skin (goat, calf, sheep…) which has been specially prepared for writing. The writing tool of tis period is a goose feather quill. Ink is made from a compound of vegetable and mineral pigments with egg white as a binding agent.
105 CE: Paper was invented in China by Ts’ai Lun. It was made from vegetable fibre which was reduced to a paste. The process stayed a secret until 751 CE and later introduced in Europe by the Arabs.
Middle Ages: The majority of the population was illiterate and books were rare and precious objects. Therefore, the thoughts they contained were not widely known. In monasteries, monks copied and recopied the manuscripts with each copy errors
compounded and diminished the original meaning of the text.
1454 Invention of Typography:
The German metal-worker/inventor, Johann Gutenberg combined lead, antimony and tin creating an alloy which could be used repeatedly. Gutenberg is generally credited with perfecting metal moveable type.
Linotype: Invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and
produced solid lines of text case from rows of matrices. The line-composing operation was accomplished by means of a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. However, it was much faster than hand-set typesetting and permitted the wide circulation of printed material. It was primarily used for the composition of newspapers.
Monotype: Another type of hot metal composition which appeared in 1887.
Stanhope Press: This press appears at the beginning of the 19th century, and consists of a massive cast-iron frame. It replaces wood presses, but
impressions are still made page by page and inking remains manual.
Plate Press: This press appears in the middle of the 19th century and increases the speed at which printed matter can be produced. The carriage is flat and pedal-driven and rubber ink rollers. It is fed manually.
Heidelberg Press: Appears in the early 20th century. With its high speed cylinder press and an automatic feeding and placing device which pivoting racks pick
up the paper by the use of suction to the entire surface.
Nebiolo Cylinder Press: First appears in the 1940’s. The base is no longer vertical and fixed, but horizontal and mobile. Print form moves under the cylinder to which the paper is attached.
Lithography: Makes its appearance in the late 18th century and gives birth to Offset in the 20th century. This method is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water.
Massicot: This cutting device was perfected by Claude Massicot and allows for clean cuts for reams of paper.
As you might easily imagine, there is much more to see in this museum than can be covered here in a single post. If you plan to visit the south of France, a trip to Montolieu is well worth the visit.
The artist Jean Savy has his roots in the Breton region of France. As for many of us born near the sea, it continues to call to him and to influence his work. From his imaginative totems which he has sculpted from treasures harvested from local beaches, to the under water experience that spoke to me from a number of his paintings, Jean has succeeded in capturing those illusive moments experienced beneath the waves. Snorkelling and swimming along the ocean floor have long been passions of my own. Friday night, I was transported back to this underwater world. Suddenly, albeit briefly, the powerful wind and chilling temperatures ceased to exist,
A self-taught artist who has lived in Paris (16 years) before moving to the south, he has exhibited widely from Paris to Albi. Jean is devoted to his art and each day is spent creating or gathering the tools he requires. In 1983 he set out to explore the genre of figurative art. Pleased with his early efforts, he continued. Jean’s technique, like his journey is very personal. Jean has not had any artistic education but has chosen to learn from experience. Auto didactics are at times, dismissed or marginalized. However, Savy joins the ranks of others such as Viollet-le-Duc (French architect and theorist), Frank Lloyd Wright, Noël Coward, Gustave Eiffel, Karl Marx and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to name a few.
Jean prefers to work alone. “I fill the white canvas by creating a form of relief and structure in white and afterwards I start playing with colours, colouring pigments and liquids of every sort – even water- on canvas.” Is it a game of chance? No. “I always make something that resembles me. You always project your sub consciousness on the canvas; it is a projection of it. I experience painting as a game of expression and of pleasure.”
On a particularly miserable evening after a trying day, I was transported back into the tranquil embrace of the sea and felt a sense of renewal.
If you are interested in purchasing some of his work, Jean Savy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, please be sure to click on the photos!
Have you ever planned to visit somewhere, and found it closed? Then with a quick twist, the day turns magical! My trip to Cucugnan was the first but certainly not the last.
While the bakery was open, the mill itself was not. The keys were not there so we could not get in. As long as I was there, I stopped in the shop for some photos and bought something and went to sit on one of the benches. I went to the opposite end of a group of picnic tables as there was a large
group on the other end and I didn’t want to get in their way. They were such a lively and animated group of friends so obviously enjoying each other’s company that I couldn’t resist getting a picture or two. I asked if I might take a photo and they invited me to join them.
Denis explained to me that they are a group of friends who have known each other since they were seven years old. Each year they hold a reunion. While Denis and wife Alix live on the island of Guadeloupe.
They had just finished their meal and shared their wine, offered me the stunning dessert and gave me a café. After exchanging more information including email addresses we ventured on to the small eglise Notre Dame de Cucugnan to view the statue of the pregnant virgin.
If that key had been available, you would have seen photos from inside. Instead you will see pictures of some charming people who I would not have met otherwise. The story of such a group of friends who welcomed a stranger is something I shall think on for a very long time.
Most likely, I shall return to see the mill and take photos of it and this beautiful village. There are other places of interest and it is only 30km from where I live.
While still in Montolieu and having toured the Conservatory of Book Arts & Crafts, we were in serious need of refreshments and then there are books to be discovered. We were in luck as just across from the museum was a charming tea shop/bookstore. On this particular day, the books were to wait as we indulged in the tea and delicious cakes. The cakes to choose from on that day were chocolate or chestnut. The small tea cakes had been baked in a rose shaped mold, were moist and delicious. While I am a chocoholic, I choose the chestnut one and it was amazing. Nathalie is a gracious host and as we left we met one of the resident cats. After all, what is a bookstore without a cat or two in residence?Montolieu has much to offer. There are numerous shops, cafés, museums, courses on paper and book making and don’t forget all those bookstores! While admittedly most books are in French, there are numerous other languages represented as well as collectibles. If you are into books, reading or writing, there is something here for you. If not, it is a beautiful place to stroll and have a picnic.
Besides having the books and tea shop, like many shops in the village there is a good selection of regional products available. When you visit Montolieu, stop in and meet Nathalie and Stéphane. If you care to view more photos of Montolieu, stop by the earlier post on the village and bookshops posted on 12 December, 2011.
Each year, monsieur le Maire hosts a soirée. If you follow this blog, at some point you begin to realise that the French take their sense of community seriously and love to enjoy the company of family, friends and neighbours.
Notice of the date is delivered about the village with a request for those who will attend to R.S.V.P. as they do want to have sufficient to serve all in attendance. Those needing a ride will be accommodated.
At the appointed time, villagers begin arriving and immediately the socialising commences. As everyone takes a seat, the Mayor welcomes the participants then gives a brief update of plans for the year.
It is now time for the entertainment to begin. This year we were treated to songs by a chanteuse, Nadine, who was accompanied by Yves. Her songs took us through a melody of French and American songs. There were numerous costume changes and at one point she re-created the famous scene of Marilyn Monroe having the wind send her white dress flying high! While there were a few lulls in the entertainment due to costume changes, she made up for it with her unbridled enthusiasm. Of course, no review of Marilyn would be complete with a rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.
As she wraps up her performance, plates of pastries and other treats began to arrive. The decorated tables sported plates of chocolates. Small pots of flowers and tiny straw butterflies were strewn about. Once your plate was served someone followed up pouring you a glass of Blanquette. For those who prefer there were bottles of water on each table.
The chanteuse took a short break and changed out of costume then joined us for a small respite. However, she soon picked up her microphone and the music started again. The dancing commenced and the party continued for quite some time.
One of the many things I love about France and the French is that they truly enjoy life and celebrate it completely. Last Sunday, the village association invited us all to socialise and share; food, music, wine, blanquette and most of all, each other. The tables were covered with white table cloths to allow the green ivy and olive branches to stand out.
This event was organised by Durban Village Association. The event adds to the social calendar at a time when many things are on the quiet side and the small admission of three euros each goes toward the Associations coffers which fund improvements in and around the village.
Les Chant des Corbières, one of the local choirs, was asked to perform and we were happy to do so. Albeit, being in the choir, I was unable to take any photos during the performance. The songs performed included; Les Tourterelles, L’Epervier, Cangaceiro, Je Reviens, El Condor Pasa and Des Jonquilles. Le Chef (choir director) Jacque has included a significant number of songs in Spanish to our repertoire this year.
Like all other social events, people mingle about chatting with their friends and neighbours before settling down to a table. After everyone was seated the choir was introduced and the singing commenced.
After singing, the choir members joined the others. Some sat with their families and the rest of us claimed a table of our own. Plates of chocolates, cookies and a clementine were passed out then someone offered us each servings of Galette des Rois and Couronne du Roi. There were bottles of Blanquette at each table and water of juice as desired.
A tombola was next on the agenda. Each of the several winners received three bottles of wine and one included a large plant. Of the eight or so winners, three of us at our table had winning tickets!
Our next village social is planned for 3 February 2013. Our host will be le maire (The Mayor).
Once again I am spirited back to the foyer in my little village. Tonights event is Châtaignes and a presentation. Fresh roasted Chestnuts. The evening was sponsored by the village association and for a fee, read fundraiser, of five euros, you had a presentation of restoration work and archeology on the village Château topped off with tables covered with hot, freshly roasted chestnuts, red and white wine and neighbours and friends. What more could one ask for?
As the presentation finished, tables quickly appeared and were covered with newspapers then large containers filled with Châtaignes right off the fire. Naturally bottles of wine were on the tables and magically your glass refilled.
Friends and new friends were gathered around the tables enjoying the spread and company! I had eaten chestnuts once back when living in New York City. However, they were burned, lukewarm and tasted as if they were stale but re-heated. After that, I
had no further interest in Chestnuts, that is until I moved to France. That first chestnut quickly surrendered its cracked and willing shell. Warm, soft and nutty deliciousness melted in my mouth. One was not enough and there was no need for dinner this evening.
Another word for Châtaignes, chestnuts, is Marron. As you travel around France you will see vendors selling crêpes. One of the menu options will be Marron and it is a spread made from the chestnut. It can be used on crêpes in pastries of even on plain toast and it is delicious.
TheCertifiablyTRUERavingsOfASectionedPhilosopher: Don't be afraid to think you might be a little 'crazy'. Who isn't? Check out some of my visualized poems here: https://www.instagram.com/maxismaddened/