Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Jacques Forêt, rural gendarme, talks about the Cévennes…

Today I'm interviewing my central character, Jacques, who is here to tell us about how he finds life in the Cévennes

AW  You’ve lived here in Messandrierre for about 2 years now, Jacques, don’t you miss Paris at all?
A village scene
JF  Of course!  Paris will always be home to me.  But the Cévennes has its own attractions.   The scenery is rugged; there are vast tracts of forest and in between lots of charming villages.  And we have some significant mountain peaks here, Mont Lozère is about 1700m above sea level, Mont Aigoual is just a little less than 1600m and the Corniche des Cévennes, a series of smaller peaks, rises to just under 1000m.  The Cévennes is on the southern aspect of the Massif Central and covers parts of the departement of Gard, Lozère, Hérault and Ardèche.  A tributary of the river Gard rises here just north of St-André-de-Valborgne.

AW  Lots of mountains and river valleys then.  So what’s the weather like all year round?
JF  From May to October it’s usually very warm and we have plenty of sun.  But with the mountains, the weather can change very quickly.   Autumn and winter can come early and up on the peaks there can be icy winds that sweep down into the valleys.  So from October the temperature falls sharply and we often get a lot of rain and in January and February there is frequently snow in the village.

AW  Does that mean you ski Jacques?
JF    Err…no.  I’ve never learned how to ski.  This countryside is good for walking and, on a cold bright winter’s day, with snow on the ground, the scenery is beautiful.  You should come back and see for yourself!

Scenic walks
AW  And that wink was out of order, Jacques!  Now, you were telling me about walking here.  Are the paths clearly defined and how difficult are they?
JF  The ones through the forest surrounding the village are well sign-posted and they are reasonably easy for most people.  But proper walking boots are essential as the terrain can be very rough.  There are other longer routes with difficult climbs and I would only recommend those for people who are used to walking in mountainous areas.

AW  And what about the hunting, shooting and fishing here?
JF  Ahh, you hunt?  That surprises me!
AW  No I don’t, but hunting, shooting and fishing are sports that all have a significant following in the UK.
JF  And here in France too, especially this area.  From August most of the tourists who visit come here for the hunting.  We have deer, stag and boar to hunt.  From later September and in October you can buy ready-prepared Sanglier au Armagnac in the local supermarkets.  You should try this.  And of course there is fishing in the many rivers and lakes in the area.  But anyone who comes to hunt here must have the correct permits.

AW  Of course.  As a policeman, Jacques, I wouldn’t expect you to say anything else!

Meet Jacques and the other villagers in my novel Messandrierre.  With more than 20 fabulous reviews on Amazon it is a snip of a read at 99p/99c.  Just follow the link.  Amazon

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