A Summer in Gascony
A Summer in Gascony - discovering the other South of France by Martin Calder. Published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, RRP $37.99
Martin Calder describes Gascony as “a golden land of rolling hills and wide horizons, swathed with vineyards, sunflowers, maize and pastures” and the people as “honest, welcoming, earthy, stubborn and independent”.
As a twenty-two year old, with a good command of the French language, he spent his university summer holidays helping out as a “stagiare’ or working student in this far away area of South West France.
The senior lecturer in French at the University of Bristol with a PhD in eighteenth century French literature shares the ins and outs of daily life in the tiny village of Peguilhan, Gascony.
Helping the Cazagnac family run their traditional country inn ‘Auberge’ and farm, Calder tells of a time of hard work and isolation, amply compensated by happy and interesting experiences
Threading the area’s history into his story, as well as rich descriptions of local celebrations, traditions and personalities, the book portrays the delights of the region’s food and wine, the friendship of other students sharing the work, and gives a clear picture of the differences between a true Gascon and a French person.
The epilogue, sees Calder return and observe changes that time, easier access made possible by the Channel Tunnel and TGV, plus the Euro have made to what was an isolated part of France.
Richly descriptive and insightful, ‘A Summer in Gascony’ is a delightful travel read.
Reviewed by Linda Donald
© 2008 all rights reserved.