2018 Day 30 – Gerberoy

Day 30. Where did that time go, pray tell? Surely we landed mere moments ago.

The morning sees us driving south, through large scale farm land. This is the serious business end of farming: endless fields of repeated crops. Now stripped bare at end of season, the land looks plundered.

Despite keeping my eyes peeled, there are no creatures, barring a few cows.

Unlike yesterday afternoon, amongst the smaller farms, when a gloriously plumed male pheasant (aka “very fancy chicken”) ran out in front of us. Alas, there’s no repeat of the great stoat sighting of 2015. Rabbits are smart here too – they wouldn’t dream of popping their heads out before farmers are in bed. None of these “aren’t we cute” appearances they get away with in England. šŸ‡

We’re back in France now, taking up the Les Plus Beaux Villages trail, on our way to Paris. The marvelous Carrefour supermarkets reign in the North, their cheese section alone is worth a trip here, and there are still all the regional markets to look forward to. This is part of one aisle of cheese… there were two more.

I do love France. Before we had the motorhome, we used to visit French markets and long for a kitchen, itching to put produce to good use. We now have a kitchen, but I long for the tools and bench space of home: oh, for freshly made pasta tossed through cultured French butter and truffles, homemade raspberry ice-cream and blackberry jam, the sharpness of Normandy creme fraiche in a stroganoff with autumnal mushrooms. Tarte tartine made with apples picked fresh from the tree. Endless cheese platters. Charcuterie that could make you weep. Renting a French farmhouse for a year or two is very, very appealing. As is putting in my own veggie patch and fruit trees. I’m not sure I’d do much, other than cycle to the market, cook and befriend local suppliers. Perhaps a daily mandated run around the hamster wheel I’d have to install to stave off not being able to fit though doorways… There’s always a price to pay. I might need to work a little harder on Chris. He thinks we’d be lonely. I think family and friends would book their visits, roughly moments after we booked our flight out.

Amongst such dreams we arrive in Gerberoy just after lunch.

I’d forgotten how beautiful the Les Plus Beaux Villages are. Each chosen for official recognition as being of cultural, historical or unique nature to their region.

Gerberoy is straddled between two once warring villages with a history dating back to the 11th century. Famous for its roses and half timbered cottages, it was also the home of Henri le Sidaner, an artist of the intimist style who designed and established the multi levelled gardens, each with its own theme, set upon the village’s original fortress. Great views across the village are to be had on high.

Inspired by Versailles and encouraged by the sculpter Rodin, he created the white garden, the terrace garden, the blue garden and the garden of love, complete with its own love temple, in in the early 1900s.

A romantic then, I think. Lots of gorgeous roses and endless nooks made for two. The garden was the setting of many of his works.

Other features in town are the church, with its 11th and 15th century wooden stalls

(designed for generous bottoms) and the medieval town hall, now home to swallows and swifts.

We lap the village twice and walk around its still walled perimeter.

The village is tiny, home to only 88 residents today. It’s been a blissful reintroduction to France.

The late afternoon sees us meet new friends, a couple from New Zealand, who are in the tail end of a one year journey. They bought a motorhome in the UK that they plan to ship home and we spend the late afternoon sharing stories and learning from each other’s travels. It does get a little lonely on the road at times, even when you have each other, especially when you don’t speak the language. It’s great to meet another couple who’ve been through the same experiences we have – Chris has renewed hope for a shipment home of his own. I just need to find a way to inject that French farmhouse into negotiations….