Sunday, May 6, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France with author Vanessa Couchman

#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman

To celebrate the release next week of The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman, I am delighted Vanessa is joining us today, sharing a #LazySundayinFrance where she is taking us on a day trip to the island of Corsica.

A Lazy Sunday in Corsica by Vanessa Couchman


I’ve lived in southwest France since 1997, but I never cease to be amazed by its rich variety. An ideal Sunday would involve a visit to our favourite local market, at Limogne in Lot, or to a vide-grenier.

This Sunday, however, I’m in Corsica. I can never get enough of this captivating Mediterranean island. The landscape is rugged and magnificent, and Corsica’s history and culture are enthralling. Throughout the island, you uncover dramatic tales of unrequited love, vendettas that have endured for generations and supernatural events.

#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
Corte photo by Vanessa Couchman

Today, we wake in Corte, the island’s heart in the central mountains. The hotel is an elegant former townhouse, with spacious and comfortable rooms. We take full advantage of the self-service breakfast buffet: freshly-squeezed orange juice, croissants, pains au chocolat, delicious fresh bread, fig and plum jams, cold meats and cheeses. We’re going to need the calories.

We fill our rucksacks with cheese, ham and fruit from the épicerie and baguettes from the boulangerie. And, most important, two litres of water each.

#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
Mule track along Tavignanu Valley
photo Vanessa Couchman

We take the ancient mule track along the Tavignanu Valley, a wild and craggy gorge with the river rushing along the bottom. Napoleon Bonaparte’s parents escaped from Corte along this pathway after the Battle of Ponte-Novo in 1769, when the Corsicans’ dreams of an independent republic were shattered by the French. Napoleon’s mother, Laetizia, was pregnant with him when they fled. 

Our destination, some three hours distant, is la passerelle, a bridge that spans the Tavignanu. The mule track offers no shade and we are glad of our hats and the water, since the sun beats down mercilessly. The aromatic scent of the maquis, the undergrowth that covers much of the island, accompanies us.
   
#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
Tavignanu Valley photo Vanessa Couchman

At the bridge, we cool our feet in the river rock pools and demolish our picnic. Breakfast seems a long way away. After lunch, we must return the way we came, for to go on means a night in a refuge and we are too attached to our creature comforts.

Back in Corte, a cold beer in one of the cafés at the end of the Cours Paoli slips down nicely before a shower and a nap. For there’s more to come.

With sharpened appetites, we climb the broad steps to the top of the town, past the former palace of the republic. At the Restaurant U Museu, an aperitif of vin de myrte is followed by Corsican herb pasties, wild boar stew flavoured with myrtilles and a plate of strong Corsican cheeses.

#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
Place Gaffori, Corte photo Vanessa Couchman

No time for coffee. In the church on the Place Gaffori, U Meridianu is holding a concert of Corsican polyphonic music. For me, this ancient, elemental music comes straight from the soul of Corsica. The spiralling, poignant melodies are deeply rooted in Corsica’s unique culture. The mostly Corsican audience listens in reverential silence.
A perfect Sunday in a place that is French but also not French.

Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries ©vanessacouchman2018

Thank you, Jacqui, for having me on your blog.

I will be posting my review for The Corsican Widow next Thursday, but if you've enjoyed Vanessa's descriptions of Corsica here, you will love her novel. 

You can read my review of The House at Zaronza, Vanessa’s first novel set in Corsica here and my France et Moi interview with Vanessa here. Links to Amazon can be found below for her other books.

You can find Vanessa on these social media sites:
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#LazySundayinFrance Vanessa Couchman French Village Diaries
Other books by Vanessa Couchman