October 19, 2010

19| Ste. Enimie 2

This village is named after a 7th Century Merovingian princess, daughter of Clothaire II and sister of Dagobert,  who later founded a convent here. Legend has it that she was infected with leprosy to protect her chastity and to discourage princely (and presumably other) suitors. Later, she came here, was cured by the spring waters, and lived out her life in town – without suitors, so far as I read.  The convent later became a monastery, its ruins up the hill behind the town. It was those monks who terraced the hills, and every year, after the soil was eroded down towards the river, they had to return it uphill, sack by sack.
The chambres d’hôtes where I stay is called Chambres d’hôtes “la Jasse” and did open at 6:00, as soon as traffic could get back into town. It was located on a side street, up a short hill above the river. I stayed in a very comfortable 3rd floor room, overlooking the street, and the roofs across the way. I made good use of the hot shower and tried to scrub the grease off my leg … I imagined the oil on my very well oiled chain, leaping off onto my leg at every downstroke. It didn’t come off … until, lightbulb, I remembered the stain remover I carried along, intended for clothing. I had no idea what it effect it has on my skin, but it worked. (Idea #8) My window overlooked the road below and when the rain abated, kids floated miniature sailboats down the rain gully in the middle of its cobblestoned street. This was out of a postcard, but true.
I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, L'Auberge du Moulin. It also opened as promised at 5:00, its restaurant at 7:00, and promptly at 7:00 I appeared for dinner. I recognized the chef as someone who had said hello to me earlier when I rode up the cobblestone street to the chambre d'hôte. He noticed me come in, smiling and warmly greeting me as "la cycliste" who arrived that afternoon, but didn't come to my table. He was eating his own dinner before the crowds arrived and quickly disappeared into the kitchen. I ordered the trout pate, followed by perfectly prepared lamb; both were excellent. Dessert was a blueberry tart, which grow wild in the hills nearby, just as they do in the Berkshires. Eating early was a good strategy for me: there was always a table, being solo wasn't intimidating and I was always hungry! I had been surprised to see so many hotels and restaurants closed, even considering that it is ahead of the summer visitor season.  I imagined this will be a very different place in a month, that big parking lot that served as a helicopter pad full of visitor's cars. Later I learned that something like 50% of the houses in the area are owned by summer residents; again, this is similar to the Berkshires.


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