Are there any ugly parts of France? We have now visited several regions, and it seems like the whole country is just soaked in charm, both from the scenic landscape and the easy living. Dijon is no different. The whole Burgundy region is set in gently rolling countryside, with one impossibly picturesque small village after another. You could easily spend a few weeks just visiting the areas around Dijon, enjoying the little stone houses, the gardens and of course the not too shabby food and wine.
I was trying to figure out what is so special about the French charm. Other places in Europe are beautiful, but there’s a unique feeling in France. It’s hard to describe, but I think it comes from the way everything appears effortless. They’re not trying to have the cutest village in the area, it just is. Things aren't contrived, and they're not perfectly maintained either. The stone houses are there because that's the local material. Everything is a little worn around the edges, the window shutters aren’t perfectly straight, the wood is starting to rot and the paint is peeling. That 'antique' look designers use all sorts of tricks to achieve just seems to happen naturally. Plantings don’t appear to be very planned either, but when your front porch weed is lavender and your door is partially obscured by an old rose, why worry? You can tell the really keen gardeners because they went through the effort of plunking down a few geraniums in old, chipped pots and voila, charm is overflowing! A little neglect and the laissez-faire attitude are all part of the French charm, and maybe its essence.
The only actual planned garden we went to was part of a castle and I'm very embarrassed but I don't remember the name the name of it. They're a dime a dozen in the region, and since we only saw two (one without a garden), I'm really not really sure how it compares to the rest. The gardens were of course formal, and perhaps not as laissez-faire as the village gardens. Although I've never been a huge fan of formal castle gardens with the standard low hedges enclosing sad looking roses, this one wasn't bad and felt like it suited the castle. The long water feature bisecting the garden was used to good effect.
Overall, Dijon is a beautiful region and I wish we could have had weeks, not days, to explore and enjoy it. Alas, after a long weekend it was already time to trek back to work.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Every week when we go to our CSA farm to pick up our produce, we pass through the cherry orchard on the way to the main veggie field. When the cherry trees started to bud out in the spring, I decided to start taking pictures every week to track the life cycle of the cherries. I have always been amazed by how trees transform from bare branches in the spring to masses of green leaves and ripe fruit in the summer. Even though I took a lot of pictures to document every stage of the process, it doesn’t seem any less amazing or mysterious.