Winterly Excursions Here and There

During these last few months in Saintes, Charente-Maritime, France, we have occasionally undertaken little drives through the countryside to get to know our new area a little better. It being winter, there was often some rain or fog or mud involved and some of the sites we intended to visit were in deep hibernation waiting for the kiss of Spring before welcoming a fresh crop of tourists. In those instances, we just turned around and perambulated aimlessly past dormant vineyards and gurgling streams, letting chance guide us to surprise locations. We found out soon that it’s very pretty around here, even during the dark season.

Since we purchased our new floor covering for the upstairs room in a store near Angoulême, Charente, we enjoyed exploring the Old Town there. The center of Angoulême is an ancient town sitting on fortified cliffs high above a loop of the river Charente, which made it quite the stronghold for leaders of a contentious past. In modern times, starting in 1939, these fortifications have become the backdrop for motorcar racing, the Circuit International des Remparts d’Angoulême, still drawing crowds today. For several centuries, Angoulême was a leader in paper manufacturing, but the collapse of the paper industry in the eighties plunged the city into economic despair. Thanks to a focus on tourism and comics, Angouleme has found a new future. It is now home to the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême, the second largest comic book festival in Europe, third largest globally, after Comiket (Japan) and Lucca Comics & Games (Italy).

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Rapprochons-nous du dessin, pour que le dessin nous rapproche ! Don’t be afraid of the drawing, instead let it draw us together!
At "Chez Paul" for lunch. It's across a small park  from the Courthouse, lots of lawyers - Shakespeare would have been busy ...
At “Chez Paul” for lunch. It’s across from the Courthouse, lots of lawyers – Shakespeare would have been busy …

Curves, angles, cobblestones, nooks, portholes, and occasionally, a husband.

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On our way back to the car park, we walked past this storefront, which caused a startled double-take.

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Defiant fists holding … wine glasses, hm, not terrorists, but terroir-ists. And what are they, when not drinking red wine? Research unearthed (pun intended) a newspaper article on the two owners of this temporary restaurant or ‘resto éphémère’. Despite Shakespeare’s best efforts, one owner is a lawyer, whilst his partner is a set designer. Though not restaurateurs, they are among the founding members of a group of Bio Militants, as they describe themselves, called Les Terroiristes. They find, source, link, and protect individual cultivators and producers of natural food products and connect them with consumers in the same area. ‘From field to fork’ is one of their mottos. During the Comics Festival they ran this temporary restaurant, offering said products. Interesting!

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