Sunday, 14 October 2012

Le Hameau de Pirelonge

Last month we went on a coach ride, organised by our leisure group, to  Le Hameau (hamlet) de Pirelonge in Charente-Maritime, about 2 hours drive away towards the coast. The hamlet is owned by the Brillouet family and an appointment is necessary to visit, as they give you a guided tour, of which more later! They have a  winery, perfumery, a printing museum, some craft work,  a shop and a restaurant.  This post is longer than my usual ones, but I did not feel that splitting it into two was a good idea!

We were so looking forward to the trip, but sadly there was much of Pirelonge that we did not get to see and we spent many hours sitting on hard wooden benches, listening to French commentary that we found almost impossible to follow. Not only a foreign language for us, but the speech was much too fast.  It appeared that much of it was about tracing the history of the hameau over the centuries and how the place worked.  They showed us the beautiful cognac stills and explained (in French of course) how the distillery operates.  The son, Jean-Marc did speak English well, but there was so much to get through that we did not  have the opportunity to talk to him, and he seemed to be speaking extra-fast to cram in everything he wanted to say!  There were only 4 English speaking people on the coach and although 2 of them speak reasonable French, the lengthy monologues were even too fast for them! Nevertheless, we did take many photos and I think they are worthy of going into this post.


Above and below - the old shop and sign where the barrels used to be made


Above and below, some of their products for sale in the shop, pineau, cognac and lavender bags.

Jean-Marc gave us all a tasting of each of his 5 pineau vintages, of which he is rightly very proud! Not good for the head at 11 in the morning!
In 1987, he planted lavender, and 1989, he organized his first Festival with the stills and old crafts. 



Jean-Marc talking about some of the stills that you can see behind him.
There were barns and barns of different types of stills, all museum pieces, but I need to limit the amount of photos I took to a few interesting ones. These mobile stills below were pulled around to the various vineyards, where alcohol would be brewed on the spot from the farmer's own grapes!!




This was obviously not part of the museum pieces, but I was fascinated by the fact it was partly hidden under a pile of empty boxes! For you car fans, this French classic  appears to be a Rosengart LR4 N2, manufactured I think in the 30's  by French engineer Lucien Rosengart. The marque ceased production during WW2 due to the Nazi invasion of France, and post-war models failed to sell, leading to its demise. There are better preserved examples in car museums around France and elsewhere!
Then there was a break in the talking for lunch, where of course, language did not deter us from enjoying the event, and event it was!  In a large barn converted to a restaurant is a stunning stained glass window, the work of a cousin Brillouet, master glassmaker.

I managed to catch this photo first, before it was taken over by the hungry crowd!



First were the starters, to which we helped ourselves


Once these were cleared away, through a curtained opening in one of the walls, a selection of our French male friends appeared, all dressed in frilly can-can clothes, carrying a pig on a large platter, shoulder-high.  The beast had been cooking all morning on a spit in the hallway.  There was much laughter and camera flashing, as they walked the full circuit of the room.  Sadly most of my photos were not good, but here is one of their entry, lit by a spotlight.

and another, having placed it on the table for flaming with cognac and carving


the mandatory cheese course followed and then this delicious apple tart

   
Then one of the family members arrived to play us some tunes on her accordion and the result you can see here went down well, especially after the earlier pineau tasting and limitless wine with the meal!

After the meal there was yet another long talk on the making of  perfume from the lavender; we skipped this one, as we felt that we could not take in any more high-speed French in one day!  Needless to say, we did join up again with the group to attend the printing lecture (more sitting on benches!); this museum had many interesting presses, and I gather that most of the wine labels used to be printed here, as well many historic articles on both wine and viticulture.






For the cat lovers out there, and I know there are many of you, we saw the many farm cats  being fed

It was then back home again on the coach, and I thought that these two photos taken from the window were worth adding to the post.


Vineyards at Jarnac

and last, but not least, the Charente River at Jarnac which I have now also put as my header photo for the next month.






 
See also - My Life Before Charente updated  14 October 2012 

98 comments:

  1. What an interesting village. The Frenchmen in the can-can outfits remind me of the Scottish outfits men wear here for celebrations.

    We would have been totally lost with the language and add the high speed and sadly both of us would have become bored. What a shame because there was a lot of learn I'm sure.

    Hope you are having a lovely weekend and thank you for sharing your trip with us.
    Sam

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    1. Sam it if had been short talks we could have coped, but the first one was well over an hour and the others were not short! It was sad as there was a lot of interesting items there. A couple of the French people there even commented to us that there was too much talking!

      We are having a very wet weekend..... Keep well Diane

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  2. Great photos (as always) Diane.

    It looks to be a really interesting visit. Joining the leisure group was a good move for you both. We'll look to do the same when we are able to spend more time in France.

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    1. Gaynor thanks for the very kind comment. The leisure group has been lots of fun and we are usually the only English speaking people that go along so it is good for the French! I struggle (bad memory!) but Nigel is improving all the time. I do enjoy scrabble though and I often come up with words that the French say I am wrong, the scrabble dictionary says different though so they are also learning form us which is quite funny. Hope that your weekend is drier than ours! Take care Diane

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  3. what a fun trip and quite the experience! 11:00 am drinking would have done me in!

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    1. Jaz you are right it was an experience!! Drinking was not a problem there was plenty of food and you could sleep it off in the coach going home!! Take care Diane

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  4. Thanks for sharing, look like you had a great trip!

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    1. Sonia it was a good trip but would have been so much better if we could have understood what was going on! Take care Diane

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  5. That looked like a very interesting place to visit, even if you couldn't understand much of what was said! When listening to French I can understand some of what is said, but after ten minutes or so I seem to have an 'off' switch which seems to switch off my capacity to 'hear' anything, and off my head then goes into rambling thoughts, none of which have anything to do with what is being at the time!

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    1. Vera it was interesting, I imagine that they do English groups which would have been so much easier!! There was so much there to see, and there is also some interesting things to see in the town which would have interested us as well. An old tower and apparently Roman remains. For all that the trip did have its good points :-) Diane

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  6. Looks like you had a fabulous outing.

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    1. Cuisine de Provence it would have been even better if we could have understood it all!! Have a good week Diane

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  7. Beautiful header! I think you were right to use it and from such a wonderful excursion! I especially like the barrel maker's sign and the cats, of course! Always a joy to visit with you!
    Blessings!
    Ann

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    1. Thanks Ann I was pretty happy with this photo taken from a moving bus! I also like the barrel maker's sign, you don't see too many of those around. have a good week. Diane

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  8. Seems like a great tour, except for all the hard benches and too much talk in French. An English version by podcast would be nice. Love all the old stuff.

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    1. Gaelyn it would have been so much better in English for us but the hard benches would not have gone away:-) On the other hand it would probably have been much shorter in English as it would have been more difficult for them. There was some fantastic 'old stuff' there, I took far too many photos and I am not sure what is what with a lot of them!! Have a good week Diane

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  9. wonderful tour, thanks a lot for sharing.

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    1. cquek thanks for the visit and the comment. Have a good week Diane

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  10. Looks like a very nice place to live..the river looks very 'fishy' :)
    Feel free to visit and follow our fishing blog in Borneo at http://www.kakinginti.rumahpanjai.com
    Cheers!!!

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    1. Angler's Belong thanks you for the visit and the comment Enjoy your week Diane

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  11. you did get a lot into your day though ! no disappointment there !

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    1. There was a lot fitted in but if only we could have understood it all!!! have a great week Diane

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  12. What a great way to go back in time! Thanks for sharing this with us, a piece of French life we would rarely get to see.

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    1. rosaria it was really interesting there were some great museum pieces there, if only we could have understood the history! Take care Diane

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  13. Long posts don't scare me at all, you know ... ;o) And I love this one ! ;o)

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    1. Hélène I seldom do long posts but occasionally they just seem right. This was such an interesting place I just wish my French had been much better, it would have made much more sense. Have a good week, Diane

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  14. Very long and special article, I like the variety.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Filip and Kristel I am not keen on long posts but I really felt this this one was difficult to split, I am glad that you liked the variety. Take care Diane

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  15. I loved the vintage equipment and that stained glass window is to die for! Beautiful.

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    1. Joyful it was a beautiful place, just the language barrier spoilt it for us. That stained glass window was very special. Have a good week. Diane

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  16. Awesome post, Very interesting tour of this great place. So many interesting things to see. Sounds like the food was good. It sure looked good. Thanks for having us come along.

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    1. Thanks Horst I am glad that you enjoyed it. There were so many interesting pieces of equipment there. The food was good and fun at the same time. Take care Diane

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  17. Oh you do experience great days out don't you :))
    It does look very interesting and a lot for you to take in. Thanks for sharing it all with us. :)

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    1. Ellie that is what France is all about, great days locally or further afield. Plenty of pineau, wine, cognac and good cheese. Guess who is very happy here :-) Have a good week. Diane

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  18. I do enjoy pineau a lot, although I'm not sure how many I can manage to taste in one session. I have a very similar picture of Jarnac taken a few years ago after a very pleasant lunch in a nearby bistro. I seem to remember a nice walk with lots of wild flowers down by the river there too.

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    1. Phil next time you are in the area let me know and I will meet you for a pineau or 2 :-) This is a pretty spot on the Charente but there are many lovely places on the rivers here. have a good week and take care Diane

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  19. What an interesting event. I'm so glad you took photos to share with us. It really has everything...good food, drink, music and even some local humor! There are old stills in 'these here mountains'...probably some that are still in operation! Enjoy the week to come!

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    1. Lavender Dreamer it was interesting to a point of viewing, just too much talking! There was though so much to see and as you say there was humour there as well. Have a good week and take care Diane

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  20. What a lovely town and I just love the new header photo. You capture it beautifully, nice composition. Funny how the car was buried under the boxes...very interesting about the car, my dad would love that! Cheers!

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    1. Lyndsey Nigel actually missed the car and was surprised when he saw the photo, it would be good restored! There was masses of interest there and so much to see. I was lucky with that shot from the coach, a one off and it worked :-) Take care Diane

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  21. It sounds like this was a great tour. I loved all the photos, my favorite was the stain glass window. The stain glass is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Words Of Deliciousness that window was superb, my photo does not really do it justice. Glad you enjoyed the tour. Keep well Diane

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    1. Ola I try to do a bit of everything, not sure that it always works but.... have a good week Diane

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  23. Diane, thank you for stopping by and your well wishes. It sounds like you had a wonderful time despite the fact that tour and the time went fast. Your photos are great

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    1. Marco Pasho I often think of you and wonder how things are going. You are having a difficult time at the moment so thanks for dropping by, take care Diane

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  24. What a fun and interesting tour. I love that stained glass window! My daughter loved seeing the farm cats eating up their food... so cute.

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    1. Pam it was interesting, only wish we could have understood more. There seemed to be cats all ove the place. I am quite sure that no mice or rats would have survived there!! Keep well Diane

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  25. That must have een a wonderful tour. Your photo's tell the story. LOve the appletart and the Tonnerie. Ton is Dutch for barrell. And all tose cats, wow.

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    1. Riet I have never seen so many cats in one go except at a cattery! I loved that sign at the tonnellerie. Thanks for the comment, keep well Diane

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  26. Des rencontres conviviales et gourmandes comme je les aime.
    A bientôt

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    1. Nadji. Ce fut une journée de plaisir à l'exception des sièges durs! A bientôt Diane

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  27. It was a lovely tour! I'm fascinated by the old machines and demonstrations of their uses (it's the mechanical engineer in me). The old car actually probably wouldn't be horrible if they just dug it out of the debris! And your new header shot is spectacular. Glad you had a nice day.

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    1. Marjie glad you enjoyed the old equipment in these photos. The car looked so sad, I hope that somebody restores it very soon. I was pretty happy with that header shot through the bus window :-) Have a good week Diane

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  28. It sounds like a fun, interesting day even if there was a language barrier. Thanks for another great tour, Diane!

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    1. Pam I am enjoying the day more and more as I go through the photos sat on a soft chair LOL. Glad you enjoyed it as well. Take care

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  29. Diane, I really enjoyed that, you made it so interesting (despite not understanding all of the commentary!!) Love your new header photo of the Charente at Jarnac x

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    1. Hi Jacky, have you had enough rain yet?? Glad you enjoyed this post. There was so much of interest there but an English speaking visit would have so much easier!! I was lucky with that header shot. One chance only from the window of the coach and it came out well. Take care. A bientôt, Diane

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  30. Such an interesting place to visit...it is a shame that it was almost impossible to follow along in French. I've had that happen when traveling. You just wish you could stay and have a personal tour.

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    1. backroadjournal a personal tour would have been perfect, but if one goes with a group, especially all French, I guess we have to expect these set backs :-( Never the less it wa interesting. Have a good week Diane

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  31. Sounds like such an enlightening tour - whether or not you could understand it or not =)

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    1. Peggy there was lots of interesting things to see but I would liked to have had time to ask questions in English. Oh well it was a good day out. Take care diane

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  32. It sounds super ..and full marks for you for coping as best you could with the commentary.
    It takes me back years to the village open days when I was first in France...struggling to keep up with the technical commentary and loving every minute!

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    1. Fly to start with we got the gist of the long talks but you can only take in so much..... The equipment there was amazing and the food was good and of course a bit of fun went into the delivery of it. Keep well Diane

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  33. Great banner Diane!
    Looks like you've had a great fun!
    The old cars are incredible!
    A interesting series of pictures and discoveries!
    Cheers and keep well!

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    1. Thanks Noushka. It was fun but too much sitting on hard seats and talking! There was though some amazing 'stuff' there. Take care Diane

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  34. I really don't know why I bother to comment Diane - you are so popular that we get lots in your many, many comments from your followers - but you do know we read you each and every time. We are lurking in the background. Love your new masthead BTW. Isn't Ken's just great as well?
    Hello to Nigel naturally.

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    1. Hi you two, said hello to Nigel. Leon I love your comments and I know that you always read my blog, but I also like to hear from you :-) Yes Ken's header is gorgeous, thanks for the comment on mine. Look after each other and enjoy what is left of the week. Diane

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  35. Love these photos Diane. The guys in their coloured wigs made me laugh and the lavender pillows are gorgeous.

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    1. Kerry the guys were really funny and they all turned at the end and flipped up their skirts :-) Bonne journée, Diane xx

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  36. Diane always enjoyed your pictures are special and beautiful (love your header too) I love to see France through your pictures thanks a lot and take care!)

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    1. Gloria, thanks for the kind comment. Take care and enjoy the rest of the week Diane

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  37. DEAR DIANE, I LOVED THE NEW HEADER, GREAT RIVER. AND SURE I ENJOYED THE TOUR, TOO SAD YOU LOST PART OF THE FRENCH EXPLANATIONS, A PROBLEM I BELIEVE WILL SOON BE SOLVED AS YOUR FRENCH IMPROVES. HAPPY TO SEE YOU'RE UP AND AROUND AND HAVING FUN. REGARDS

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    1. Thanks Pamela, my French is struggling and has got worse since Nigel has been here as he does all the talking!! I want to go for lessons as before I was spending time with CD's, now there is not the time, lessons would force the issue! Take care Diane

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  38. That's a lot to see/do on a tour. So many interesting things. I'd be overwhelmed.

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    1. Freda it was overwhelming and the fact that we could not keep up with the talks made it even more so. It was though interesting. Take care Diane

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  39. Diane, what a great trip and photos. My favorites are the "yard of cats" all peacefully eating and co-existing and that wonderful car piled with boxes.

    I feel like I have been on a journey with you through the story and photos.

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Genie I knew that the cat photo would be popular with many people:-) As for the car I would love to haul that out and restore it but I am sure they would not sell, also the cost of restoring is ridiculous as we have discovered in the past!

      Glad that you enjoyed the trip.

      Bonne journée, bisous.

      Diane

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  40. wow what a fun evening love your posts fun and such pretty towns

    have a great weekend

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, nice to know that you enjoy my posts. Take care Diane

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  41. What a fabulous day out you had, despite the language difficulties and I love your header photo for the month Diane. Off to browse posts missed while I was away but forgive me if I do not comment.

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    1. Linda it was sad that we missed all the information but there really was too much talking. Even some of the French who were there said there was too much! There was so much of interest there and I would loved to have asked questions but.... At least it has made a good blog :-) Keep well, so pleased you are back and hope that your new connection is soon sorted out. Take care and have a good weekend. Diane

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  42. I would have enjoyed the visit and tour and tasting you described. I don't know much about Pineau or Cognac so it would have been educational for me. I probably would have struggled with the fast pace of the speaker especially if he had a regional accent. I love the picture you are using for your header. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Michel I am sure you would have really enjoyed the day despite the fast talking French. There was a lot of interest there and the meal was fun as well. Hope your weekend is good. Diane

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  43. Hi Diane .. what amazing photos - and gosh I'd have loved it - if you could translate and remember everything ... frustrating for you ... still the place is incredible isn't it ... wonderful that the family live there, and are happy to give tours ... and wine and dine you, as well as entertain you ... love their frill tutus! Great place to have had the opportunity to visit ...

    Have a great weekend .. gloomy here! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary very gloomy here, the drizzle just goes on and on! I don't think I have ever regretted not being able to speak French well until this tour. Such a lot of fast talking and even Nigel could not follow. It really is though a fantastic place and they have so much to offer. Take care Diane

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  44. Hello Diane. Oh, how I want your life! Or so I think. What a wonderful day out and your top notch pics to match. I always go to the food pics. Always look divine. I was going to comment on your fabulous header photo but I see at the end you've said where you got it from. Thanks Diane. Always a pleasure to visit. I usually scroll down and read all the things you've done recently but at the moment I'm hurrying by. will return. :D

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    1. Good to hear from you Denise. I often look through your blog, but as it is mostly about books and publishing I don't know what to comment on! Thanks for the kind comment and I am glad you like the new header, I was pretty pleased with it :-) Take care Diane

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  45. I love that old brewer machine (or whatever it's called, not sure hehehe). The food makes me hungry.

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    1. Chubskulit Rose there was some amazing equipment there, we were also not sure what was what! Take care Diane

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  46. What a trip! Thanks again for sharing. Looks so much fun.
    Kristy

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    1. Kristy It was a trip that we won't forget for a while, not sure if it will be for the good food or the hard chairs but what ever it was interesting! Keep well Diane

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  47. Hi Diane, thanks for the interesting tour. Thank you for sharing all your excellent pictures. :)

    Have a nice week ahead, take care.

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    1. Amelia, happy that you enjoyed this post. I almost did not do this blog, as everyone has enjoyed it so much I am glad that I did. Diane

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  48. Hi Diane.
    Nice to meet u. Im very attractive with ur life in charente. Thanks you for sharing all your excellent photos and nice journey...

    can i know what's contain in the package which on the photo number 5? the wine for photo number 4 that can be my collection. i like to collect wine. but i cant get the wine at my place here...

    hope u can join me at my blog too..
    blog address: jiann-yee.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi there I think what you believe is wine, is not wine at all. They make pineau which is a mixture of wine and cognac and a speciality to the region. The other bottles are cognac which is what you probably would know as brandy but this is a speciality of the district of Cognac. The packets are lavender bags. Diane

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  49. Happy New Year Diane! Before I get too bogged down with Uni in the new term, I am catching up with my blog reading. I loved the bit about the printing presses and would have found just looking at them fascinating (I would not have been able to keep up with the lecture either!), and also the 3rd photo with the old signage. Lots for me to be sketching I think.

    Of course, feeding time for the cats would have had me ooohing- and aaahing

    X Dolly

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    1. Happy New Year to you also Dolly. I think you would have enjoyed this place, but we could have perhaps just walked around quietly together, minus the crowd and the long talks, and just sketched and enjoyed :-) Keep well Diane xx

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