Since entering this mysterious land of the Auvergne several days ago, the haunting Cateloube songs have continued to drift through my ears. There’s nothing like music memory to heighten the sensory experience of a place’s character. All the more true today, when we sailed off in my little Fiat for the highest mountain peak of this unique part of the Auvergne, where you can be in any one of four departments of France within a few kilometers.
Having delivered fresh eggs to the Garage owner where we tanked up on the way, we passed a string of lovely chateau until we were high up in snow-covered cow, goat and sheep country. Each hairpin turn brought us closer to our summit. “Just wait!” Guerit kept promising. And then, when little Fabrice couldn’t make the last turn, we parked him at the side of the road and began the mile or so climb to the top, where a lovely gite peered over the edge of the mountain. “I remember finding this place when I was lost on a pilgrimage ten years ago. This was no more than an abandoned barn,” my guide told me, wondering at the lovely place it had become. We were perched at the fire with tea and sat for an hour telling life tales, as one only does with short-term holiday friends. Bodies and souls restored, we slipped back down the mountain to our white and red carriage, who faithfully led us from village to village on our Brocante route home, scouring each shop for well-worn artifacts for my clients at home.
At day’s end, the sun sparkling outside on this icy shepherd’s country dimmed to a candle light kitchen dinner next to the warm radiance of a country cookstove, rooting savory escargots from their shells before stabbing the same long tines into fresh bread dipped in a gooey Gruyere, Chantal and Emmenthal fondue.
Any guesses what I found at the Brocantes?