The only travel writing book on Gascony, "A Summer in Gascony" is a charming and humorous tale of an extraordinary summer spent in this relatively unknown part of south-western France, the home of D Artagnan, Cyrano de Bergerac, gutsy red wine, fine sweet wine Armagnac and sunflowers. It is a tale of two love affairs: an idyllic summer romance and a lifelong love affair with Gascony with its village festivals, dusty roads and sun-baked wine country. Stretching from Toulouse in the east to the Atlantic coast in the west, from the river Garonne in the north to the Pyrenees in the south, Gascony is a golden land of rolling hills and wide horizons, swathed with vineyards, sunflowers, maize and pastures. It has a distinct identity which sets it apart from the rest of France and old affinities with England: the Gascons fought alongside the English in the Middle Ages and the Napoleonic Wars against their common foe the French. In the tiny hamlet of Peguilhan, Martin Calder is introduced to the Gascon way of life: working in the fields, shepherding and slaughtering sheep, feeding the cattle, harvesting the wheat, watering the crops.
He discovers a unique people, fiercely proud of their independent heritage. Full of colourful characters: the charismatic and convivial Jacques-Henri, the hardworking farmer whose family take Martin into their home and hearts; the yoga-practising Germans; and, Pattes, the mischievous stray dog; Madame Parle-Beaucoup, the town gossip and Monsieur Fustignac, whose pride in his Gascon heritage is unforgettable. But the real star of the book is Gascony itself, with its strong spirit of independence and the simple pleasures it provides. Written by a true Francophile who has come to know the people and understands their way of life, "A Summer in Gascony" evokes the spirit, sights, smells and sounds of this still relatively unknown and unspoiled other South of France.
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