Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Come stroll with me...

… through Salles-Curan, a sleepy village in the Averyon.  Parking is at the foot of the village and the road winds round the outside of what remains of the old ramparts.  As I walk up the hill I'm struck by the idea that I've been here before, but the pâtisserie on the right on the opposite side of the road doesn't seem familiar.  I cross and read the notice on the door which tells me it is opening soon.  The picture of the 'pastissou' on the wall beside the main window also seems familiar and I make a mental note to check out the cake.
A little further round there are some steps on my left and I pass through an ancient archway and into the old medieval part of the town.  The houses lean against each other, the road is necessarily narrow to keep out the sun and right at the heart of the town is the church,  More steps and I go in.
Dedicated to Saint Géraud, it is very small and gothic in style.  The sun streams through the large stained-glassed window behind the altar, illuminating the beautifully decorated rood screen.  But there's a surprise waiting for me and after some hesitation, I decide to move forward.  The choir stalls sit on the other side of the screen and they are all immaculately carved with all sorts of creatures from the sea.  They are also a little dusty!  I spend some time working out what all the creatures are and I'm certain some of them, a bit like our own dear old Nessy, are just a fiction from the wood carver's mind.  According to a short note in the church, this was a collegiate church and therefore meant for the Bishop and his priests rather than the local populace.  It is 15th century -  absolutely all of it, including the stained-glass window and the woodwork.
Back out in the sunshine and I nod to the pair of lions that guard the door.  They seem very well behaved.  The coat of arms above the door of the church is that of François d'Estaing, the Bishop of Rodez.
On the street, I continue to wander and from an open window above comes the smell of
garlic and smoked meat, reminding me that it is lunchtime.  But as I follow the road I come
across a stunning array of plants and flowers in front of a house - a burst of vibrant colour amongst the ochre of the stone.
On the edge of the old town sits the ancient fortified chateau.  Originally built by Guillaume de La Tour in the 1440's it soon became a residence for the bishops of Rodez and, for a time, the whole disocese was run from here.  At one time there was a winter garden and park which augmented the chateau, and of the once three aligned towers, only one remains today.
Moving on and into the more modern town that surrounds the old one, I come across the war memorial and a monument to Eugène Viala (1859-1913), a poet and a painter who was known as the bard of the Lévézou.  Apparently this little place was his home town…

Le Pastissou is made from walnuts and caramel, is dusted with icing sugar and has a pastry base.  It is a speciality of the Averyon.

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