Friday, July 2 – La Rochefoucauld: Today was our chance to meet again with the Duchess and discover whether she was indeed on-board the website project. When we called at 9am, she was in town, so we just showed up at 11am. She was most delighted to see us and made it clear that she wanted to go forward. We showed her the book about the chateau that we’d purchased at the tourist office yesterday, and she explained that it had been written last year by a woman in her late thirties who had a difficult medical problem that had forced her retirement at thirty-five. She is a doctor of medieval history and has taken an interest in the chateau, doing archival work in the chateau archives every month. She had written the book as a personal project and published it herself.
We suggested that the text and pictures in the book should be on the website and discussed the process of securing permission; the Duchess will be following up. We also discussed the question of translating the book into English for the website (Deb and I thought it would be a good challenge to do it ourselves). It turns out that the Duchess has a relationship with a local translator who, under the circumstances, must be engaged to do the translation.
Shortly before 12:30p we left to allow the Duchess to host her previously scheduled luncheon. We had a nice lunch at “Chez Steph” where at 1pm they were out of the plat du jour, a mouth-watering grilled salmon. Instead we had a veal chop and Italian salad with real (but inferior) buffalo mozzarella.
We shopped in town after lunch, checking out a wonderful second-hand shop run by a British woman where we found this terrific Laura Ashley dress for Deb (18 euros):
We returned to the Duchess at 4pm where we were disappointed that she would not allow us to turn on the camera to capture some more video for the new website. She related that for years she has been filmed doing promotion for the chateau but now considers herself “too old” to be effective. We assured her that we would let her know when she in fact reached that point. But no dice. We reached an understanding that she would be “made up” for our meeting tomorrow at noon — she was meeting with the governor of the department in the morning to introduce him to the chateau, which he’s never seen.
Before we left the chateau, we made a special detour to see the picture of the Duchess with Jackie Kennedy (both about 20) which later persuaded IM Pei that she in fact was introduced to him through Jackie.
We then shopped for our special truffle omelette dinner (using the “truffe d’ete” we bought in Sorges yesterday).
We were invited by our hosts to have some pineau de maison with them at 7:30p and it was a wonderful experience.
The sister of the wife was visiting and the conversation turned to harrowing stories of the German occupation during WWII. The town of La Rochefoucauld was occupied but the farmstead was not, the dividing line between occupied and free territory being the property line of the farm! Deb was presented with some beautiful hand-hemmed and machine embroidered handkerchiefs made by the sister:
When we broke up for dinner, the husband helped us open a bottle of Medoc which had a very soft cork which would not budge with our corkscrew. We then turned on the stove in the kitchen area made available to guests and discovered that it had not yet been hooked up to any gas. This diverted our omelette preparation to the hosts’ kitchen where the wife pulled out the eggs laid that day by the farm chickens and offered them to us. We started by preparing our girotte mushroom side-dish and were offered some garlic to go with the shallots we were preparing.
Before I knew it, there were six eggs in a bowl and it was clear that I was not going to cook the omelettes in our small steel frying pan. So we tried in the large frying pan in which the mushrooms had been cooked and in the end wound up with scrambled eggs with truffles.
Here are some photos of the farmhouse:
and the allee leading to it (from the farm enclosure):
and all of us (minus the photographer):