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  • Writer's picture by Rae-Helen

L'autre vie #3

Our other life in France by Rae-Helen Fisenden

The Fête de la FRAISE!

Arriving in beautiful Beaulieu sur Dordogne we quickly got to work giving our three level medieval townhouse a thorough clean. There were no dramas this time thankfully and our Australian guests arrived the next day and soon settled in. It was lovely to greet them and help them orientate themselves. We soon guided them to the local square and enjoyed a welcoming apéritif along with some lively conversation.

(This is, I think, a wonderful shot Neil took of the house seen through the ancient archway and illustrates beautifully the age of this unique place- once a Benedictine community replete with an Abbey, bell tower and ancient buildings now painstakingly restored.)

We purposefully bought this property because we wanted something very different to the cottage. From the townhouse one can walk to the patisserie just metres away. The river is also a short stroll and several restaurants are located within easy walking distance. The interior I enjoyed decorating with furniture we had transported from Perth. All of it arrived without any damage! Impressive.

We woke on the day of the Strawberry Festival and, as forecast, it was dreary, damp and depressingly cold. But like all good local citizens, we got up, got dressed and showed up! Around midday the sun actually peeked through the clouds and immediately the warmth could be felt. The crowds gathered, seemingly their spirits not dampened by the weather. We made our way to the giant 30 metre Tarte Géante ( they make something gigantic every year from strawberries ) and ordered our box for two. Later in the day we would pick up our reserved piece of the pie. I hasten to add we paid the princely sum of two euros for the pleasure. The pungent smell of strawberries coming from the tarte was intoxicating. We drooled.

The strawberries in France are like nothing we have ever tasted. There are many varieties but our favourite is the Gariguette pictured below. They are SO sweet and juicy without even a hint of tartness and the texture is soft.

From the tarte we visited the many stalls set up throughout the town and feeling a bit peckish we headed to the Hotel Turenne to have lunch. The menu looked good and they had a table available. At that moment the sun came out. Parfait! (Perfect).

Neil chose the "Tartine de Saumon." Smoked salmon served on bread smothered in a light cream cheese with chives and greens. It looked and tasted delicious.

I chose the " Cochon de lait" which is suckling pig cooked over an open fire for four hours. It was served with a delicious sauce and the most delectable potato purée.

We followed this with a "Tiramisu à la Fraise" which instead of coffee, had strawberries through the sponge and was decorated with cream, walnuts and more fresh strawberries. Magnifique...

Here I am looking pretty happy after a scrumptious lunch.

The night before the Fête we'd decided to take a picnic to the river where there are picnic tables overlooking the glorious view. Our Australian guests absolutely loved it. We just sat in the evening sunlight gazing at the reflection, drinking some nice wine and eating cheese and foie gras.

Life doesn't get much better!

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