If It’s Friday, It Must Be France …
Mon Dieu! It’s a good thing there’s a time difference so I’ll get this post on my blog on Friday somewhere! We had six very special friends – 5 adults and one absolutely adorable two-month old Alice – for lunch (le déjeuner) today and it did go on, in a very good way, until well into this afternoon!
This morning I dashed off to the market to pick up a few items and to have a fromage (cheese) consultation with my friend Jacques (who has now asked me to use “tu” with him, which means we’re tight … we’re friends … I’m so pleased ). Did I mention he is the model for one of the main characters in the novel I’m currently writing? But I digress …
I just want to share this one comment of his with you because it demonstrates something that I love about the French and their traditions. He asked if our friends were French or English. When I said they were French, he replied, “Le Brie, c’est obligatoire!” In other words, when serving cheese (always after the meal, NEVER before in France except for little cocktail chunks of cheese which I’ll explain some other time) to your French friends you MUST include some Brie. Then he chose a Bleue and a Beaufort to go along with that. I’m having quite an education in the art of cheese.
But I have a confession to make (and I don’t intend to tell my good friend Jacques, I hope he doesn’t read this … he did ask for my website … ok, I might have to confess …). We were having such a good time and our friends brought this amazing dessert and I forgot to serve the cheese. I can’t believe it! After all that! I know Jacques would be as disappointed as I am. Never mind, some dear friends of ours are arriving tomorrow for a week and I’ll serve it to them. They aren’t French but I know they will enjoy it almost as much!
Speaking of friends, last evening my DH and I had tickets to a Bach violin oncert in the 16thC, La Chapelle De St.-Bernardin in the old town of Antibes (where we are living for just two more weeks … wiping tears so I can continue to type …). After all the amazing jazz we heard in July with the Nice Jazz Festival and then our own Jazz À Juan, this would be quite a change.
I often pop into this small church which is built on the site of Roman ruins, as are many buildings here. It’s on my way to the market and I’m in love with the doors. I like to touch them (you’re allowed to) and think about the people connected to them. They’re 500 years old and the wood is simply beautiful with a colour so intensely rich and warm they almost feel alive. The date, 1581, is carved into them.
If I don’t go into the church, I look at the doors at the end of the narrow alley leading to them every single time I walk by. Did I mention, I love them? I’ve posted about these doors before but will just remind you of the story. In the 1500′s there was a terrible plague in the area. The survivors arranged for these doors to be carved and donated to the church in thanks. Beautiful.
Part of the wonderful story of this little chapel is that it almost didn’t survive the passing of centuries and the change in society’s approach to religion. Like many churches during the French Revolution (1789-1799), the church was taken over and it’s riches plundered. After that the building fell into disrepair and abandonment. In the late 1970′s there was a fire in the building after which a group of local people founded Les Amis de Saint-Bernardin. Through their dedicated efforts the chapel has been restored to it’s former glory. Every detail was carefully researched and returned to it’s original appearance. They were able to uncover and clean one fresco in such condition that it has been left in it’s original state. It’s very moving to view.
The before and after photos of the work accomplished in this project are incredible. When the doors of the church are open anyone may go in at no cost and in fact there is no place to even leave a donation. It was declared an historical monument in 1985.
The concert, performed by renowned Olivier Charlier, was beautiful and the setting simply intensified the experience. Click here to visit his site and actually hear him playing.
I’m certain Les Amis de Saint-Bernardin feel proud and satisfied by their efforts. We stand in awe. It’s wonderful what friends can do.
Have you worked on any special projects with friends of yours? It would be great to hear your experiences.
Have you forgotten to serve something special to your friends when they were over for a meal? Please leave a comment below and tell me I’m not alone!