Noisy night time visitors at Wild Olives

Asterix knows what to do with Sangliers

In France the Sangliers or wild boar are indigenous, and a huge problem. Sanglier are even depicted in the cave paintings we saw in Lascaux that are thought to be over 20,000 years old, so in fact they have been here longer than the French!

The climate and natural forests in Provence,  no natural predators, vineyards with lush ripe grapes, and fruit and vegetable gardens make it a paradise for the Sangliers.

They can breed from around 8 months old, and usually have 6-12 offspring. A full grown sanglier can be nearly 2 m in length, and weigh up to 150kg, they are scary, loud, and they love the figs that drop from the huge tree right outside our bedroom window here at Wild Olives.

They also love nosing around the wood pile, and most mornings we find the large rocks that line the driveway moved around where they have been looking for grubs or maybe the elusive black truffle.  The garbage bin has to be lifted onto the roof of the car overnight (you only forget to do that once), otherwise they roll the bin around until they get the lid off.  Very persistent!

They travel in groups, and we often see a mother and her four marcassins (babies) walking across the lower terrace when we are sitting outside in the early evening having our aperitif.

Hunting season has just started, at present it’s only with a bow, but next month the guns come out.  Apparently they are good eating, and we do see Sanglier sausage at the market, but I think we will stick to beef, chicken and fish.

We don’t go for any moonlight strolls here, you can probably guess why.

Our first Aïoli Provençal, and hopefully not the last.

Aïoli fêtes are amongst the most popular food festivals in the South of France, and you’re unlikely to find a more traditional, lively and classic Provençal experience.

We were extremely lucky to pick up the last two remaining tickets to the Aïoli Provençal held on Sunday at the Fête du Centre Ancien in Draguignan.

The traditional recipe for aioli in Provence is just garlic, salt, your best olive oil, and loads and loads of garlic!  More recent is the addition of egg yolks.

For the Aïoli Provençal dinner or luncheon the garlicky aioli is served with fish or chicken, fresh vegetables like carrots, beetroot, beans, a couple of boiled eggs and new potatoes, and that’s just the first course.

Second course is always fromage (cheese),and  we were served fresh goats cheese and a camembert with fresh baguette.

Dessert was next, a slice with a layer of sponge, fresh apple and topped with the creamiest chocolate mousse I have ever tasted, delicious.

Coffee is last, and of course your glass of Rosé is never empty throughout the long meal, our’s lasted over 3.5 hours.

Long tables are set out, and you just choose where you would like to sit.  We were lucky to enjoy the Aïoli dinner with Delphine and Chris, and Renaud and Helene

Delphine and Chris on the left in yellow and matching red kerchiefs, Renaud head of the table, and Helene on the right

Delphine lives in Draguignan, and is as a trainer for Thalgo cosmetics, (she has beautiful skin by the way).  She has worked all over the world training estheticians on the use of Thalgo products, and was delighted to speak English with us to brush up on her skills.

Chris, an engineer works in Paris during the week with the very important position of helping to supply clean drinking water to the city. He returns to Delphine and the Var on the weekends.  He is a keen cyclist, so this area is perfect with all it’s steep hills and surrounding mountains.

Renaud and Helene retired to the Var from the Loire area, and both are very talented artists.

The Fête Ancien was held over three days, and had many other events like, a Petanque tournament, fun run, music, markets and Folklorique groups of dancers and another with men that stood and fired muskets into the air.

Petanque or boules, is similar to outdoor bowls in Australia, except played on a sandy gravel like surface. it’s huge here and played by the young and old, usually holding a beverage in one hand and throwing the boule in the other
Don’t know the significance of the musket firing,but they were having fun, and scaring the life out of some people

Our little trip to Italy

We have a few days to spare while Jeannette has a break at Wild Olives after her busy US trip, and until her next tour group arrives here in France.

So after cleaning thousands of Pine needles off Hermione from her ‘little holiday under the trees’,  we took the opportunity to head north to the Haute Alpes towards Grenoble, following some of the route that Napoleon took after his exile in Elba to first Paris, and then Waterloo in 1815.

The border between France and Italy is the grey line that runs south SS21

 

First stop is Castellane, and not because it was a long drive to get there, although it was very picturesque, or there are any great historic sites to see,

that’s a tiny chapel built right upon the top of this massive rock

 

but because it has a car museum.

We had a 2CV exactly the same as this one in the UK. Drove Josephine all around Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the UK before selling her back to the girl we bought her from, for 50 UK pounds less than we paid. What a deal!
Brian in his usual stance , checking out the cars

We found some amazing free overnight stops, although one was a little too remote for me in a mountain valley at Sistriere near Torino, Italy.

a drop of water sitting in the leaf looks like a diamond
just us, and maybe the bears, wolves or all the other scary things I thought about all night

In the Italian Alps and the ski area is where they held the Winter Olympics a few years ago.

 

 

As most of this drive was over mountains the roads that in places seemed only wide enough for one vehicle, and that hugged steep cliffs with no guard rails it was breathtaking, ( read scary) .

a few switch backs on this road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow Hermione overtook a car! Admittedly it was a ‘little’ packed

 

 

 

 

 

Italy was so close so we thought let’s go, and also the Italian markets are amazing!  In Saluzzo it was the largest market we have ever seen, spread out over what Brian said was roughly 2 sq kilometers.  And they had everything for sale, 20 euro leather handbags, ( I was sooo good and didn’t even buy one) shoes, clothes, beautiful underwear, but how can you buy a bra without trying on? Household items from vacuum cleaner bags to very expensive carving knives.

 

And a great place for pizza for lunch with my Sweetie Pie.

 

 

Grasse is known as the the world’s  perfume capital and was a must see for me.  We toured both major parfumeries, Fragonard and Molinard and learned about being ‘a nose’, someone that can differentiate over 2000 scents and who are highly sought for the perfume and food industries worldwide.

Eucalyptus from Australia

 

a perfume still, although would work pretty well for alcohol as well
Brian was sad because the beer Festival was on after we left Grasse, and that he had to spend ALL DAY  at the perfume museums.

I failed miserably at the job, after about 15 minutes of smelling different scents my ‘nose’ went on strike.

So there goes my next profession, and the chance for moving to Provence and the French Riviera.

sadly this is NOT going to be my new office
Hilltop village of Gourdon overlooking the valley to the coast and Antibes on the French Riviera. Life is pretty good 🙂