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Only those who attempt the absurd

The first time I saw this place, I was on honeymoon three years ago (or thereabouts).  The place my husband had chosen for this special moment is owned by the most delightful of men.

A self-proclaimed Royalist, he is married to a psychiatrist who practices her head shrinking in Marseilles some 5 hours south-east of his bijou chateau in Aurillac.  They speak every day, and lovingly, by phone and sometimes he goes to see her and sometimes she comes to see him.  At the time we had no concept that the next 2 ½ years would see us in the same tub.  The mere notion would have seemed absurd.

 A man of short stature and with magnificent, almost Dali-esque, waxed moustachios he is quite clearly Hercules Poirot’s long-lost, should be discovered twin, separated at birth.  He is positively a mine of information, a historian and a trawler of knowledge with that sponge-like ability to soak up every last teeny drop.  Rather like a human hoover, he vacuums up all the   specks of material in his path, then assimilates them, files them according to relevance in the boggling laberynth that is a mind and brings them forth at the precise moment of crowning relevance.  And with quiet aplomb.   Like nurturing a perfect fruit to pluck and present it at it’s precise moment of optimum ripeness.  His great joy, therefore, apart from providing an impeccable interlude for his guests, cooking delicious local recipes from local ingredients and sharing, free of charge the contents of his not insignificant cellar, is to impart tips and advice and to guide his guests to even greater enjoyment of what is  already a perfect break.  Never to debate or undermine, he coaxes your holiday spirit out of hiding, assesses it with the expert eye of the head of a great household assessing the crystal and silver and porcelain laid for a banquet and only then makes suggestions which are as carefully and thoughtfully shared as a glorious vintage from a gleaming decanter and your breath baits as you wait for the treasure to be revealed.  For treasure it will surely be.  He is quite one of the finest  souls I have ever encountered in a lifetime studded with fine souls.   The most absurd thing, or perhaps the most sensible, is that he does not advertise his wares at all on the interweb … like the wild mushrooms he served to us in a perfectly executed sauce, you have to know where to seek him and sometimes I wonder if we dreamed him into being in our collective-romantic.

On our second morning he suggested we visit Rocamadour.  It is just over the border in the Lot departement.  Although it attracts tourists like a swarm of bees to a pollen filled flower-garden I would recommend anyone in the faintest locale to go.  It quite literally is built onto the rock and cleaves and clings to it with majestic defiance.   That it is medieval and that they managed to believe and then achieve this is beyond my puny imagination ….

Since that entrancing start to our married life, I have been back to Rocamadour just once with my eldest daughter on a blistering hot July day when even the rocks seemed to be clammy with salt perspiration rather than the usual cooling dampness of vast stones.  I took this picture that day and it seems to fit the weekly photo challenge this week titled ‘Look Up’ and as ever you will find all the other laudable entries here.

The staircase screams to me of Escher and so I snipped him for my title:

‘Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.  I think it’s in my basement – I’ll go upstairs and check’ – M.C Escher

DSCF7893

PS:  Last year we revisited the chateau we had stayed in for those first enchanted days of our marriage, armed with a book.  It was a copy of my late and always lamented father-in-laws opus ‘The French Cheese Book’ because our host had lit up at the unimagined absurdity of an Englishman taking the time to journey throughout France discovering  well in excess of 700 cheeses, but more than that to have spoken to multitudes of makers,  farmers,  dairy owners, researched the history of the terroirs, their people and their production and produced a work of such magnitude about FRENCH cheese one of which,  by the way is a delectable little chêvre disc made in Rocamadour.  These two men come in many ways of a common mold and it seemed entirely reasonable to give him a copy of the book, inscribed with our thanks for making the first days of our married journey so magical.  He regarded it with the exact same reverence with which I look upon him.

85 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rocamadour truely is a beautiful place but avoid it in summer when it is overrun by buses of tourists.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 10, 2016
    • I agree – for those of us who can avoid the crowds it is perfect out of season (though not too far out as a lovely lady shop owner told me that like Salers in Cantal it becomes something of a ghost town from Toussaint to Paques). This was taken in July and though not peaceful it was still worth the trip 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
  2. That looks fantastic! I can see myself stopping there after roaming the countryside robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Hunting the kings deer and roasting it in a giant fireplace while resting at a great wooden table drinking wine and eating fruit with my dagger!

    Liked by 2 people

    July 10, 2016
    • That is exactly the spirit! And Vinny at your feet waiting for the bones and scraps of tasty meat to be tossed his way. And of course a fair Mademoiselle Marion to complete the idyl 🙂 When you sail to France it’ll be on the list of places to take you – it’s on the Atlantic side 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
  3. Oh my, you took me away. The solid beauty is almost too much. Permanent, smooth, cool, majestic, stylish. You captured it well…and intrigued me with the tale and people. Poirot is on pause on Netflix. I’m glad I made him wait…

    Liked by 2 people

    July 10, 2016
  4. And do you undertake to send details of this gentleman’s abode to discerning recipients under plain cover?

    Liked by 2 people

    July 10, 2016
    • I am happy to – sans surveillance of course 😉 Seriously – if people are genuinely interested I will share his details by email but he would not like me to splash his contacts on my blog, I don’t think.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
      • No, I’m sure he would not!
        Discretion not only preserves his privacy – but also his cachet!

        I would be glad….friends are coming up to a ‘big’ wedding anniversary next year and it would be nice to be able to suggest somewhere really special to their daughters who are organising it all.

        Liked by 1 person

        July 11, 2016
      • I’ll pop his details across 🙂 he’s very well connected to other chateaux owners (they have a sort of I’m the king of the castle club it appears) so can get entrees to other big ‘ouses too

        Liked by 1 person

        July 11, 2016
      • Many thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

        July 11, 2016
      • Pan #

        And this is why he has no need to advertise, word of mouth has always been the best and most valuable.. 👍

        Liked by 1 person

        July 13, 2016
  5. What luck to have met this gentleman who gives so freely to his guests and an auspicious start to married life. Rocamadour. It sounds medieval and magical, like cheese and fairy dust. Really old cheese and really old fairy dust. So incredibly beautiful and whimsical at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 11, 2016
    • My husband found him and it really was kismet. Rocamadour is precisely that …. Quite magical 🙂

      Like

      July 11, 2016
  6. This captivates my imagination. I really enjoyed it, Thank you –

    This following quote is in a new follower’s ‘about page’:
    “If you don’t risk doing something foolish, you’ll never do anything special” – Ethan Hawke
    Foolish being defined as the ‘standard’. [my interpretation]

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
  7. What a lovely recommendation for your friend. I am intrigued and will have to google said destination he proffered. I am only an armchair traveler, but this looks really interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • You will really enjoy it from your armchair …. And there is a little shop run by a wonderful woman right at the far end of the village which you and your sister would love – I just know it …. Full of beautiful handmade fabric and basket woven things in glorious colours. When going through pictures for this challenge I thought instantly of you both when I saw a picture of the little treasure trove

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
      • Sounds fabulous – ah, someone else will just have to enjoy it in reality for me – or else my sister will have to add it to her next travels 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 12, 2016
      • I really think she should 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 12, 2016
  8. Beautifully written and photographed. Great link with Escher, and wonderful palette

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
  9. What a wonderful – and beautifully absurd – place. Must make a note of this straight away. And I love the sound of your host too

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • He’s just lovely. Rocamadour is spectacular ….

      Like

      July 11, 2016
  10. I’m attempting the absurd, and hope to achieve the impossible.
    You and another blog-buddy are pointing me to explaining myself.
    So I’m going to try and do that again.
    “We adore chaos because we love to produce order”, said Escher.
    In my case, he was spot on… on many levels

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • We have that quote on the fridge at the moment – it’s my husbands idea of a joke – he bring the chaos maker, me being OCD!!! As for you – the impossible is entirely possible with the skill and talent you demonstrate

      Liked by 2 people

      July 11, 2016
  11. Rocamadour – beautiful and intriguing! Thank you Osyth for the introduction to this wondrous place and for the beautiful writing! Happy day to you and happy week ahead! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • Thank you Terry and of course the same to you …. Happiest of happies in fact 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
  12. I second Helen’s comment. I think a significant percentage of your readership are crushing on this guy. At a bare minimum, hoping he is amenable to being taken to lunch or dinner. Failing that, what an amazing photo. Rocamdour is definitely on my list.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 11, 2016
    • He is an absolute delight and I am certain would be charmed to escort a posse of vaporising ladies to dine. I can promise you the most correct of hosts who is the right sort of throwback to some amalgam of all ones most romantic notions of eras past. Do visit Rocamadour …. I can recommend booking a table outside at Hotel Beau Site Notre Dame …. 🙂

      Like

      July 11, 2016
  13. munchkinontheroad #

    Your writings about France and The French confirms my Francophile nature❣
    Rocamadour will be added to my bucket list.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 11, 2016
    • You would adore it Munchkin….. When you make that transatlantic journey be sure to let me know because, like my lovely gentle host, I would love to guide you to the treasures that will thrill you most 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2016
  14. @”he suggested we visit Rocamadour…” – we’ve been there several times with foreign friends who loved it… ❤
    https://myvirtualplayground.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/rocamadour-nid-daigle-en-equilibre-au-dessus-de-nos-tetes/
    * * *
    amicales pensées et une semaine légère… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • I remember the post well …. Rocamadour is the half-way mark between my appartement in Northern Cantal and you in Toulouse though much closer when we are in the south sorting our own piece of absurdity in Marcolès 🙂

      Like

      July 11, 2016
  15. Will you tell us where to find this marvelous host?

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2016
    • Only privately …. he would not thank me for publishing his details. However, if you want to email me to the address in my contact details, I will gladly share my treasure 🙂

      Like

      July 12, 2016
  16. Sounds wonderful! Great photo! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    July 12, 2016
    • Thank you …. it’s always a fluke with me because I can’t actually see through the viewfinder so I just point and hope rather than point and hope! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      July 12, 2016
      • It works! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        July 12, 2016
      • Ok, I’ll bite. Why can’t you see through the view finder?

        Liked by 1 person

        July 12, 2016
      • Because my short sight is attrocious and I don’t wear glasses when I’m out and about. I tend to use the screen-view rather than the squinty screw your face up and put the camera against your eye finder. I rather like the surprise when I get home and run the pictures …. not always a good surprise but always a surprise!!

        Liked by 1 person

        July 12, 2016
  17. What a delightful post! I loved this.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 12, 2016
  18. What a beautiful homage to what sounds like a magical place! I love that, when you spoke of your father-in-law and the Rocamadour chateau owner as of the same mold, you had also been speaking of cheese! 🙂 I will look forward to visiting Rocamadour one day – thank you so much for placing it on my radar. And, what a fascinating photo and very engaging narrative!

    Liked by 2 people

    July 12, 2016
    • Renata, thank you so much for taking the time to leave your brilliant comment …. I’m happy you enjoyed the piece, hope you will get to Rocamadour before to long and blush at your kind words. 🙂

      Like

      July 12, 2016
  19. Pan #

    Again, this email too was buried in my list.. Glad I found it though.. The comments all reflect in some way, how I felt reading throughout this scenic adventure.. I sure hope you can conjure up a shifty sheriff for Guy to play cat and mouse with 😄
    Unlike my sis, I’ve never had a desire to explore and immerse in all things French.. You have done the job of making me a fan in the wonders of the country found in your posts.. I’m looking forward to getting there but I have no clue when I can take that opportunity..

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • I just never say never and you know when our hovel is finished you have an open invitation …. Or before so you can cast your expert eye – while its uninhabitable we always have my apartment in the North. As for a sheriff – I’ve been lucky with mayors so far but there are plenty of the other diet so that’s a cinch for Guy!

      Like

      July 14, 2016
  20. Ahhh so beautiful! I love old buildings, especially a beautiful one like this. If the walls could speak…I wonder about all the fairytales they could tell. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • Such stories, I am certain. It’s a remarkable place. My cousins little girl is rising 5 years old (they live near Baltimore) and she tells her mummy that she wants to come and live with me in ‘Princessland’ because of the pictures I share of castles with towers and places like this. Dreams and imagination are our gifts to be cherished

      Like

      July 14, 2016
  21. What an amazing place and wonderful story. If I wasn’t so far away it would be on my bucket visit list. Warm wishes from afar 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2016
    • Just down from the Dordogne so maybe one day in the future …. it is absolutely fabulous 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 14, 2016
      • You just never know. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 14, 2016
      • I rather hope you and your wife will be our guests one day …. and as you know I am one of the eternal optimists in life (mostly) so I reckon it might just happen 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 14, 2016
      • What a lovely offer. Thank you so much. It just might 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 14, 2016
      • I do hope so 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        July 14, 2016
  22. Lovely tribute to two original characters – and lovely word painting of a memorable place. One of these days….if only somehow I convince husband to start rediscovering his own country! All the best the Bastille to you, chère Osyth! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2016
    • You must ….. And if he balks we could always do a French Thelma and Louise without the murders and obviously with a happier ending!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 14, 2016
  23. Lovely story O, very evocative and fab piccy. When I’ve finished the Cathar castles around me I’ll head in Rocamadour’s direction. Thank you for the post

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2016
    • Those Cathar Castles are entirely outrageous …. but when you want to take a break from them, you would enjoy it, I’m sure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 14, 2016
  24. Wow – what a fantastic place and intriguing story. The owner sounds like such a fine fellow. If you truly love your home or where you live, it is a joy to share it with others. Somehow, I sell Houston…and that is a miracle of fairy glamour. 🙂 I keep going back to look at the photograph. Perhaps that is somewhere that Teddy and I could go, if we are ever in Europe again? The rock would fascinate Teddy.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2016
    • You do a fine job of selling Houston and when you visit places you really bring a sense of longing to be there to the reader. It is always easier if you love somewhere – same if you love someONE I guess. If you do get back to Europe, specifically to France you would of course be notre inviteés and Teddy would find plenty of geology to fascinate in between nice leisurely lunches!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 14, 2016
  25. Well another name to my bucket list….LOL what a magical place, it jumped right off the picture and into my inner heart…..tucked away for the journey I am planning one day….what a lovely man….isn’t it wonderful when you can meet and befriend those that carry that special quality life gives them…..wonderful post, I read it twice…..didn’t want to miss a word!!! how’s the ankle and the Lyme twins doing….? I feel for them…my niece says hers acts up when she gets overly tired, comes on like the flu….puts her out of commission for a couple days,,,,bad headaches…Peters brother has affected his general health overall…not being a young man, he’s in his 70’s, it has just added to the aging process…kinda sped it up so the doctor says….but all in all he is doing pretty well…. fatigues more easily….xxkat

    Like

    July 15, 2016
  26. Fascinating. All of it! I wish I could have the opportunity to see it for myself… and pluck all kinds of interesting knowledge from the host… and eat such fabulous food…

    Liked by 1 person

    July 16, 2016
    • Thank you! A little slice of Heaven :). I hope your bruises are fading now ….

      Liked by 1 person

      July 16, 2016
  27. You sure bring us interesting places Fiona, things I have never seen or could imagine! Love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 18, 2016
    • Thank you Lynn … it is a remarkable place and designated ‘un plus beau village de France’ so amongst the most beautiful in France …. for me it is just extraordinary what they managed to achieve all those centures ago. I would like to think that instead of the pursuit of greed and power, with our greater knowledge we might be able to pursue a world of decency and kindness and beauty. But sadly I am a naïve fool it seems. Hold those babies tight – keep teaching them well and join with me to give peace a chance xx

      Liked by 1 person

      July 18, 2016
  28. Wow

    Liked by 1 person

    July 21, 2016
  29. Beautiful place and how lovely the couple has found a way to “stay together” despite distance and space. Yes, it is ironic, a bit that you and your hubby have a similar path together and apart. But your trip and the magical surprises your husband planned showed his true love and big heart, once again. I love the way you wrote this post and how you open your life’s story to us, Fiona. Hugs, love and more hugs! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    July 22, 2016
    • Thank you, lovely you! Irony can be inspirational … silver linings all the way!! xx

      Like

      July 22, 2016
  30. We first saw Rocamadour on holiday more than 20 years ago, with the temperature approaching 100 degrees F. But I was captivated by the place, despite the tourists, and remember my delight at my first view of a humming bird hawk moth skimming among the geraniums on the terrace where we dined. Like all these places, though, it’s best visited out of season.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 7, 2016
    • What a wonderful venue for the first hummingbird hawk moth! Certainly best out of season but if pressed I’m happy to go in the heat and crush with visitors 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      August 7, 2016

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