Now, Éminence Rouge is not actually a Life in France blog but I feel that it deserves inclusion here because of the immense amount of effort that Howard Copping (aka Abbé Henri Proust) has put into it. In any case, it make a change from all those Life in France blogs that seem to concentrate on Doog Poop in Paris, 2CVs in rural France, Lingerie and those incessant campaigns to make “Que je t’aime” the new French national anthem!
As it’s not a very personal blog, I asked Howard to say a few words about himself.
This is what he had to say… “We have a house in this very interesting little town of 2000 souls. The walled & moated ideal town of Richelieu is more or less unique in that it was built from nothing in the 1630s and has remained largely unchanged and unspoilt since that date. Although most of the building projects of the famous Cardinal in Paris (Palais Royale etc) and elsewhere have been overbuilt, much of this little town remains in its original state. Despite this heritage, the town is in a poor state, as the houses within the walls are generally too big and expensive for individuals to restore, but at the same time are too small individually to warrant the nationally-financed restoration they deserve.
As an architect, I took it on myself to publicise every sign of vitality of the town and to record a comprehensive history of it in English to encourage visitors, while learning the astonishing history of the reign of Louis XIII myself. Like most Brits, my detailed knowledge of French history was poor, and this learning adventure has been really fascinating.
So, for once, this particular blog is not really the personal soap-opera of a Rosbif in France, but more an attempt to ‘spin up’ the town’s redevelopment activity, while learning about its extraordinary history in detail. I like to take pictures and the blog’s 300 posts now represent a public photo archive for all of us, especially those in the Anglo world. There are other more local web sites in the town run in the French language, so I talk to a more international constituency interested in its art history and development. Although the site’s ‘hit count’ cannot sadly match those of a more anecdotal or personal type of
blog, I am quite proud to have had 20,000 virtual visitors to the town that so needs to make the maximum of its ‘patrimoine’. It has certainly won us many ‘points’ in the town as new arrivals (2003)!”
Well, that was certainly a few words, wasn’t it?
Perhaps Howard comes from the famous Karin (an (alien)parissiene) school of compact and concise blog posts?
But isn’t it all about history?
Well, so what if it is? I like history and I like architecture too!
Now, there are 285 posts here (so far) and there’s no way that I can spend the time reading them all.
So, I’m just going to take a look at the ones that jump out at me and leave the rest for you to discover on your own.
There are plenty of posts that could be descriptive of many, many towns in France. To see what I mean, take a look at Bruno Hulin’s wonderful charcuterie – doesn’t that pushbike just set off that photo?
And what about this wonderful Soap Shop?
And who wouldn’t pass up the chance of a cup of something restorative at Le Salon de Thé?
So, it’s more than a history lesson then?
Of course it is. If you live somewhere live in Richelieu there is no way that you can escape the inherent history of the place but then, if you live in Richelieu, why would you want to?
For example, a quick look down the category listings on the sidebar showed that Howard has categories for Busts and Knockers. An idea place for me to have a feel around and try to scope out the size and weight of this blog, I thought?
And it was the posts on Knockers that really said something to me about the depth of detail in this blog. I mean, lots of doors have knockers but do we ever notice them, let alone blog about them?
Every posts seems to be an enjoyable learning experience – take a peek at from Richelieu to the Atlantic for an idea of what I mean. Four nice photos, we get to learn that the long and mighty Loire is the only unregulated river of central France and the post finishes with one of those lovely “Don’t do this!” signs!
What more could you want?
Well, if we don’t notice door knockers, are we going to see any roof top finials?
Howard does (and I bet half of you have just googled finials to find out what I was talking about!)
And anything to eat?
Bien sur! Try this recipe for starters (or main course, if you’re that way inclined)…. Rillettes de Tours (strangely and appealingly classified as brune confiture de cochon!) The recipe even comes with advice as to which wine to drink with it.
I imagine that Howard has visited all the restaurants in Richelieu, I was intrigued by The restaurant called Fosse Saint-Ange – I’d like to pay a visit ther myself!
I’d also like to visit some of the Markets in and around Richelieu.
Might even pick up some more chickies or, if I get lucky (and very, very wealthy), some of the black truffles of Perigord.
And talking of markets, take a look at The big fair in Lencroître. Look at the hams! Look at the eels! Look at the ducks! Look at the smoked eels!
If I get to go to heaven when I die (Yes, I know that’s a bit like saying “If England beat Germany!”), I’ve got a feeling that heaven is going to look a bit like the big fair at Lencroîte, but I’m hoping that the National football team there play a bit better than their earthly counterparts (have you noticed how good I’m being at not mentioning the World Cup?)
So, summing up…..
If you have any interest in French History or Architecture (or, indeed, the two combined), and would like to take a look at one man’s careful study of it you owe it to yourself to take a wander over to Éminence Rouge and have a poke around.
And me? Well, I’m feeling a little bit peckish (now, that’s a surprise, isn’t it?) and so I’m off to L’Auberge “Le Cardinal” for a bite to eat.
All the best