New Year … new friends. That brings to mind just one of the pleasures of connecting in cyberspace – making real connections with others.
One day I received such a nice note about our French articles from a gentleman in Vinassan. In part, he said, “Far from being mere descriptions, your articles bring places to life in front of the reader, hooking them from the first sentence with the sure bait of your clear love of the country.”
No writer in the world would fail to appreciate that kind of praise, and I am always pleased when others recognize my passion for France. Naturally I offered my thanks for his positive feedback, and we continued to correspond about his ‘commune’ of Vinassan near Narbonne in southern France. He even sent photos, allowing me (and now you) a small glimpse into life in his region of the world.
Vinassan originally clustered around the castle lord, basically a plain of marshes and wild brush with a few slopes of decent soil. Over time, the people transformed the wetlands into prosperous vineyards, and a pleasant village evolved at the foot of hills covered with vineyards, almond and olive trees. The enchanting town enjoys panoramic views of the Pyrenees in the distance.
Our correspondent wrote of the icehouse (Glacière) located among pines above the village, originally built to store ice brought down during winter from the Montagne Noir hills to the north west. Though the vault enjoyed 300 years of use, it fell into disrepair and has been reconstructed as a site of interest. He indicated that one can hardly consider the village without mention of their unusual and very popular restaurant called La Pierrot. Though it has indoor seating, the most popular seating is a huge outdoor area tucked beneath trees with lots of play facilities for children. Excellent service, wine and prices keep queues of customers lined up for a pleasant meal with plenty of company.
Vinassan has an esteemed native son for whom an Avenue was named and monument dedicated – Doctor Etienne Montestruc (1900-1970). A French doctor and biologist, he was born in Vinassan to a family of winemakers. In addition to working a mission on sleeping sickness, Doctor Montestruc headed the Pasteur Institute of Martinique and later created a private clinic. He spent most of his professional career as a very important contributor to the research, treatment and control of leprosy that was a real cause of concern throughout the French Colonial Empire.
Wishing each of you the best year ever in 2017!!!
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