I was poised to upload this post 10 days ago when a massive thunder storm knocked out our Internet connection, among other things. You don’t realise how much you depend on the Internet until you no longer have access to it. We’ve now got it back but have some continuing problems to sort out. I’ve missed blogging and am pleased to resume normal service. Apologies to regular readers for the intermission.
In la France profonde, the traditional summer entertainments continue regardless of the Olympics. I recently enjoyed a guided torchlight visit around the village of Parisot, to the sound of music. I learned a lot about the village and its history.
Around 20 of us, many of them holidaymakers, assembled at la place du Foirail – the old cattle market. Torches were handed out, small ones for the children, and we set off on a tour of the village. The name Parisot probably derives from that of a Roman commander, Parisius. Sitting on a rocky outcrop meant that it was always favoured as a defensive position. The name Parisot first cropped up in 961 in the will of Raymond I of Toulouse. Alas, he didn’t say much about it.
Until the 14th century, various seigneurs held the village until the La Valette family consolidated their hold of it. Their most famous scion, Jean de La Valette (b. 1494/5) became the 49th Grand Maître de l’ordre des chevaliers de Malte and played an important role in the siege of Malta.
As we strolled near the only remaining gateway into the old part of the village, a harpist in medieval costume struck up.
Opposite the gateway, we saw the halle – market hall – built along the lines of the one at Caylus, not far away. The traditional grain measures are still there. I had never noticed the chequer boards incised into the stones of the parapets in a couple of places. Unfortunately, it was too dark to get a good shot of them.
We passed close to the early 15th-century chateau de l’Astorguié, beautifully restored by the present owners. It was on the market when we were looking for a property here and was in a pretty poor state then.
The church of Saint-Andéol was certainly already there in 1380 but has been adapted since. Saint Andéol was a 2nd-century saint, persecuted for his faith (weren’t they all?). He carried out missionary work in the Rhône region but the Roman emperor Severus ordered his execution when he refused to renounce his faith. He was beheaded and his body thrown into the River Rhône. A number of places over there bear his name. Quite what he is doing lending his name to a church over here is not clear. However, the counts of Toulouse owned property in the Rhône region and that is probably the link.
The church contains a number of interesting features, including this 15th-century chest (apologies for the shadows). It was found in a barn, destined to be chopped up and burnt. It is now an Historic Monument in its own right.
We also learned that the Parisotians carried out their own resistance to the official separation of church and state in 1905. A number of them locked themselves in the church and rang the bells until the doors were broken down.
From there, we went up to the site of the old castle, right at the top of the village. The view from here is magnificent. You can see why it was such an important defensive position. The castle itself was razed during the Wars of Religion in the late 16th century.
Finally, we went back to la halle for soupe au fromage (a local dish) – basically, bread soaked in a sort of consommé with grated cheese melted on top. Not quite the same as soupe à l’oignon but not far off. The harpist appeared again, this time accompanied by a double bass.
Parisot is now a tranquil village, although a lot goes on there. It has had a turbulent history – the Albigensian Crusades (during which many of the inhabitants were heretics), the Hundred Years War (when the village suffered from pillaging at the hands of mercenaries) and the Wars of Religion (they stayed firmly Catholic then but didn’t escape the local struggles). The French Revolution caused barely a ripple, it seems, except that a lot of the records were burnt.
There are so many villages like this around here. They are repositories of history, if you know where to look. If only the stones could talk.
To follow in a couple of days, the weather post for July. Gradually catching up.
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