Sunday, 5 October 2008


image There is one very special occurrence common to all three of the homes I have stayed in here in France; something I have never heard spoken of in a similar way in Australia, and something that  I personally find the most attractive aspect of life is the source.The source is a beautiful word and means a spring or the beginning of a stream and here at Mas du Diable, high up in the mountains, it is in a cave under the house..... a deep hole in the natural rock that fills slowly with pure spring water and is pumped direct to the house when you turn the tap on....icy cold, almost crisp and so sweet. All the houses around here were built in the last 800 years and have a source. In fact there are 3 here on this land; one for the house, one for the garden which fills a small dam and one spare!image

The photo at left shows Rachel at the entrance to the cave which houses the source.


imageThe photo at right shows the face of the rock and the hole, left rear, with some stone steps winding up to a door, just out of sight, where the original inhabitants would have come down from the house with a bucket to collect water without having to go outside. Now there is an electric pump on the right that does the job.

The photo at left is the hole with the crystal clear clear that I thought it was empty when I looked in, until I put my hand in and felt the water....






At Gabian, in the little square, there is a fountain where the water flows down from the source, and people would come and collect water from it, in buckets that could rest on a special frame still in place today. It flows simply by gravity and has done for 1000 years!


These children are playing around the fountain on their bikes.


Water for the village homes also comes from the source and when there is excess, the gardeners at Teleri's plot can use the water for their vegetables.



image We also visited this nearby allotment which had a imagewonderful series of trenches and sluices that the gardeners used to run water down very well defined channels between the rows of vegetables.....some of their construction was ingenious and it seemed that everyone had their own method of making use of the water coming from the source.


Ian's place is actually called Les Fontenelles and also has a relation to a spring and I am looking forward to a visit to the source when I get back there on Tuesday.

It is so lovely to experience the ways that people over the centuries have made their homes at water sources, securing the viability of the villages and the inhabitants into the future. There are springs in the hills around Adelaide but somehow the history linked to these water sources here in France is quite awe-inspiring.


Maggie said...

Wow again, fresh spring water, I guess that's why all the veggies look so good and healthy.
Please thank Laura and Rachel for sharing all this with us.

Maggie said...

Hello there,
I have just found your blog. What a wonderful trip! Thank you so much for sharing all these pictures. You know, I have seen photos of Vallandry in magazines; but I think your photos give a much better overview of the gardens- the diversity and order, and color, and... Well, I've just really enjoyed finding your blog. Thanks so much!

Matron said...

People in countries on mainland Europe are so much better at using their space for growing veggies. Most places you see vegetables growing in every little space whereas in England they are usually reserved for a minority like me. Vive la France!

Deborah Cantrill said...

Hi Kate,
I wonder if you have ever seen the Claude Berri films Jean De Florette & Manon des Sources.Set in Southern France a harrowing tale but would make most SA gardeners think twice before complaining about water restrictions.
One thing you learn about France is that it6 has a long history of civilisation but very 'new' landscape ie volcancos & glacier type landscapes where as we have acient landscapes ans 'new' civilisation.
Quality springs that make the landscape are also special here.You just need to experience them to know their qualities.