09 October 2009

Picturesque Tournemire

There are so many picturesque towns and villages and landscapes in France that the picturesque is almost ordinary. We struggle not to get too jaded.

Earlier, I said that Tournemire, near Salers in the Cantal, was picturesque so I thought I ought to post a few pictures I took as we walked through the village. The main street runs east to west toward the château, on the side of a ridge overlooking a very green valley.

Views from the main street in Tournemire

Meanwhile, I've been re-reading The Food of France, a 1958 book by Waverly Root. Root was the food columnist at the International Herald Tribune for many years. I recommend his book as a source of information about regional cooking in France — and as an overview of French geography and history, for that matter. Right now, I'm reading Root's chapter on the food of the Auvergne region.

All these were taken from the main street in the village of Tournemire

Here is what he says about la truffade, which he calls by its name in the Auvergne dialect, truffado:

Truffado is the most typical potato dish of the Auvergne, but there are differences of opinion about how to prepare it. In the Aurillac region, the potatoes are mashed and mixed with fresh cheese. In some other regions potatoes fried with lard and perhaps seasoned with garlic have little cubes of fresh cheese added to them at the last moment.
At Tournemire, overlooking a farmhouse
down in the valley

Aurillac is the main town in the Cantal département, and it's half an hour south of Salers by car. Root continues, mentioning Mont Dore, which is a ways north of Salers:
There are other variations, both within the Auvergne and in surrounding provinces, where the basic potato-fresh-cheese combination may turn up under the name of aligot, alicot, or aligout, depending on regional dialect. At Mont Dore, grated cheese is beaten into liquid mashed potatoes, more grated cheese is sprinkled over the top, and the whole is then covered with melted butter and browned in the oven.
The church tower in Tournemire

I bet you think I might as well change the name of my blog to Living the Life in the Auvergne, no?

Lace curtains and worn steps on Touremire's main street

Along with The Food of France, I'm also reading a book about the whole Auvergne region. It's called Auvergne & the Massif Central, written by Rex Grizell and first published in 1989. It's fairly entertaining and very informative.


  1. More beautiful pictures. The vividness of the green goes well with the bright flowers and the grey buildings. I have really enjoyed your trip to the Auvergne.

  2. When I came back from my visit to France and Germany, I was struck by the ugliness of most of settled USA. We have vast areas of incredible natural beauty but seemingly place little if any value on community beauty. Junky sprawl dominates the citys and even rural areas suffer from a lack of caring about what pleases the eye. Architecture here is just a word most people can't even spell but a sense of it seems ingrained in the European mind.

    I know that there are exceptions to this both here and there but here we mostly live in a short-sighted lowest-bidder environment. That beauty stuff is too costly for our budget but the Cadillac Escalade fits in nicely.

    Sorry for the rant but your comment that the picturesque is almost ordinary hit a nerve.

  3. Ken, if you go to September 14 of this blog http://alinouchette.canalblog.com/ the woman went to Auvergne and has pictures of Salers. Yesterday I was checking my favorite blogs and Francoise from "Nature, flaune, flore, regions" passed away. I felt so sad all day long. Pretty amazing how you can be touched by someone without knowing them.

  4. Des vrais perrons - those stone steps look great - reminds me of my childhood :-)

  5. the villages in auvergne look so deserted.....did u see many paople out & about there??

  6. Junky sprawl and a short-sighted lowest-bidder environment. That beauty stuff is too costly for our budget

    Bill, I'm right there with you. This has long been my complaint. And, how right you are that there are vast areas of natural beauty, but look at how hard we have to fight to keep them unscathed! Did you see the PBS series on the National Parks? Thank heavens for those with the foresight to have kept those areas protected from the encroachment of strip malls and the world of vinyl and plastic everything. We could go on and on.

    I do love most of Vermont and many areas of New England, because there seems to be a stronger understanding there of respecting nature, history and historic structures. My brother-in-law is an architect in the field of historic preservation, and I'm proud to know him -- he's been responsible for keeping the integrity and beauty of many a New England town hall and university building!

    Ken, Great photos, of course!! I love your blog!

  7. Oh, Nadège, I just read your post :(( I had never read the "Nature, flaune, flore, regions" blog, but I went to it, and was saddened to see the string of final posts by Françoise and Paul. How sad.


  8. Ken, these photos are stunningly beautiful. Thanks for taking all of us along for the virtual ride.

  9. Thank you Judy! We do get attached to our favorite blogs, aren't we?
    Francoise posted some beautiful photos of villages... I do agree with Bill 100 %. But I think that in France, they also have erred when they started constructing those ugly HLM (low cost high rise types for the mass) which thankfully they are now distroying little by little. I live in a very expensive city (Manhattan Beach, Ca). They have those horrible electrical wooden poles that are such an eye sore. They want people to caugh $30,000 (and up) to have them burried in the ground.
    The millionaires don't care about the cost, but for older people, it is another story. There is a lot of controversy about this, since the price keeps on going up. I watched the series about our national parks. Thank God for the people who cared and still care about them.

  10. Bob F., good to "see" you again. I don't know if you've spent time in the Auvergne, but I was really taken with it, obviously -- much more than with the Périgord.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?