I haven’t written much recently about the church at Teysseroles, which we are helping to restore. This is mainly because not a great deal has happened. I have to admit I find the sporadic activity on the restoration frustrating, but this is France and c’est la vie. The wheels of French bureaucracy grind exceeding slow, while Mairie, architects, Bâtiments de France and subsidy providers move forward one step at a time. However, our annual fundraising fête continues and we’ve been preparing the site ahead of time.
The church was built in the late 15th century on top of a much bigger one, which might have been sacked during the Hundred Years War, or might simply have fallen down. No one is quite sure. It occupies a peaceful site on a small hillock with tranquil rural views. The church is listed as a historic monument – hence the need to consult Bâtiments de France at every turn.
After carrying out work to stabilise parts of it, remove the poor-quality interior plaster and generally tidy up the building, we are no longer allowed to work on the church ourselves. This is fair enough, since it requires the intervention of specialist builders. They have restored the front steps, repaired one of the crumbling buttresses and redone the pathway leading to the church.
Plenty remains to be done. In particular, the blocked-up archway from the church into the now-demolished side chapel is in urgent need of repair. The side chapel was once the private burial vault of a junior branch of the de La Valette family. Born at the château de Labro near Parisot, Jean de La Valette-Parisot became Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers and withstood the Turks during the siege of Malta in 1565. The city of Valletta is named after him.
The team is allowed to rebuild the churchyard walls and keep the site neat. Last Saturday, we duly turned up armed with implements of all descriptions. Our main task was to tidy up the space under the trees where the repas champêtre is held during the fête.
We also prepared the area to receive our latest acquisition – 13 outdoor tables from a motorway service station that has been given a makeover. One of the team was offered them for free. All we had to do was transport them to our site and then bed the legs in concrete. Easy, eh?
Fortunately, our president is a maçon by trade. He mixed and doled out concrete with the ease of someone sugaring their coffee. Before that, though, an alarming two-person machine had to be wielded to make the holes for the legs.
Next up, positioning the tables with the legs (and not one’s feet) in the concrete and ensuring the table tops were level.
Il y a du bon et du mauvais. The mauvais is the length of time it takes to get officialdom to do anything. The bon is that any French event is generously celebrated with lunch. And so our morning efforts were crowned by an apéro of vin de noix before we consumed quiche aux légumes, taboulé, salade composée, green salad, sausages cooked on a very effective improvised barbecue, three types of cheese, chocolate cake, fruit cake, coffee and eau de vie. And bread. And red wine.
Did we work after that? You bet we did.
Our fête will take place on Sunday 25th June. It starts with an open-air mass (not obligatory), followed by an apéro and lunch under the trees. There’ll be live entertainment, a tombola and various games for the punters’ amusement. So, if you live or are staying nearby, hold the date. Prior booking is essential since we need to know the numbers for catering. Details on the poster.
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