France: Occitan traditions | Duty

This lesson is part of the special book Placiers

In the heart of Gers and Haute-Garonne, talented craftsmen bring to date an ancestral wisdom that speaks to all the senses. travel in and around Toulouse, while five direct flights are now offered each week by Air Canada between Montreal and the Occitan capital.

along the canal du midi

Past the Castanet lock, about fifteen kilometers from Toulouse, the capital of Occitania, the Canal du Midi cycle path enters an explosively soft green landscape. A row of 100-year-old plane trees are in open play as I stroll quietly along the edge of this engineering gem listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We’ve been talking about it for decades, about this canal, connected to the Garonne, that would allow the transport of tons of grain between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, bypassing the Iberian Peninsula. It is engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet who realized this in the XVIII century, thanks to his personal wealth and the support of Louis XIV. Completed in 1681 after only ten years, it has gained a height of 245 meters over nearly 300 kilometers.

More than a technical achievement, this canal is also the most ambitious project of the “Grand Siècle”. It flows on two sea slopes at an altitude of 190 meters above the threshold of Nowroze. The old towpath is now a great cycle path with a flat and smooth surface, bordering a shady water course. The barges that use it now carry tourists who are fond of navigation on the water. This circuit, which I end 50 kilometers further on in Port Lorraigas, leaves plenty of room for rich nature and a wandering of thoughts. Intrigued by the civil engineering behind this beautiful hydraulic structure, I began compiling some of the discoveries of Occitan knowledge I had found during my explorations in Occitania.

pastel pink and blue bricks

On the brink of being stripped of France’s third-city status by Lyon, Toulouse is once again fond of its “fairground bricks”, a centuries-old camouflage under white plaster that gives it the air of a posh metropolis wanted to give Around the Capitol, its narrow streets thwart straightness and add turns to fight off the onslaught of the brisk Autan wind. In front of Assezat’s private mansion, named after a pastel merchant who made money trading pastels extracted from the plant Thisis tincture,

in full sixteenthsI century, this natural pigment colored both the veils of statues of the Virgin and the ceremonial clothing of the kings of France. In the same spirit, he also revolutionized the development of the city. Toulouse, “the land of plenty”, attributes this quality to a shell made from an extract of this plant. In Gers, the Bleu de Lectoure artisanal dyeing workshop perpetuates tradition by cultivatingThisis tincture and by producing this valuable pigment which imparts all shades of royal blue to textiles. This valuable plant is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of skin care products.

elixir of a sniper

Château Artan is the story of a Gascon family settled in Lectoure from the XII century. Before handing over the reins of the business to a younger generation, Victoire and Patrick de Montal left a unique mark in the art of distilling the oldest eau-de-vie in France: Armagnac.

Victoire is a Montesquieu d’Artagnan (one of whose ancestors inspired Alexandre Dumas’ famous hero!); Patrick is heir to five centuries of Gascon aristocracy. In 1984, he launched Blanche Armagnac, a white wine distilled in bottle, not barrel as per tradition. This award-winning spirit did not receive the Armagnac designation of designation (AOC) until 2005. Today, a new generation is striving to innovate in an environment that has retained all its charm.

Lily and Patrick are starting to think about permaculture and the grape varieties best suited to the conditions of Haute Armagnac. To the Ugni Blanc and Colombard grape varieties, the couple added a few rows of Baco, a grape variety suited to sandy soils like the Landes. Winegrowers use the technology of genodics: loudspeakers broadcast synthetic vibrating “music” into the vineyard at dawn and dusk to help plants develop antibodies and fight off vine diseases.

taste of the past

Auch, the historic capital of Gascony, is famous for its statue of d’Artagnan and its Gothic cathedral, which includes a Baroque organ, stained glass windows signed by master glassmaker Arnaud de Moles, and exceptionally sculpted oak stalls.

It is nearby, in the small town of Casteira-Verduzan, where Audrey and Benoît Borst (a former international rugby player) raise about twenty black Gascon pigs at Bidache Farm, amidst meadows and oak trees. This rare breed, called black boar from Bigorre in the Hautes-Pyrénées (AOC), yields marbled red meat with a mild nutty flavor and is used as a staple in dishes cooked on site and sold at the farm shop. Also done as (terrines, stew, roast). No Colours, No Preservatives; Here, we strongly believe in product quality and maintenance of ancestral tradition.

pottery and mercury

In the area of ​​Cummings, Martres Tolosen calls itself the cradle of pottery, a technique inherited from the 18th century.I Shatabdi, known as the “Great Fire”, involves baking the ceramics at temperatures of up to 1000 °C. These are immersed in an enamel bath before re-firing to proceed to the vitrification step. Tradition favors motifs of rustic bouquets, ibises and grotesque characters, but few craftsmen dare to use very modern decorations, which is proof that if this art survives, it also knows itself. How to give new look to The same is true for Art furniture capital Revel: in the Wood and Marquetry Museum, contemporary works by local artisans are on display, as well as one of three copies of the famous 18th-century desk of King Louis XV, the chef is performed. cabinet workI century.

practical information

from 1Is June, a new direct connection is introduced by Air Canada five times a week between Montreal and Toulouse. At Porte Lauragas, cyclists and motorists will find a port stop with exhibitions, notably on the Canal du Midi, a restaurant area and the Comptoire du Lauragas, where artisan products from all over the region are sold. General Tourist Information:

This content was prepared by Special Publications Team Dutyrelated to marketing. drafting of Duty not attended.

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