part 2: 1 friday, 2 villages perchés–fayence
The road seemed to mimic les ruelles in a medieval village: it wound here and there and twisted up a hill. On a Friday morning I pretended to practice Les 24 Heures du Mans and drove up to Fayence, a perched village that is not far from the Mediterranean coast.
Fayence is different from other villages: it does not really sit on a hill that overlooks other hills and valleys. The terrain that surrounds it is flat. From the top one can get a wonderful 360° view of the countryside, but one sees homes and farm plots instead of the vast reaches experienced from the heights of Cabris and Gourdon, for example.
In order to see the views, one walks up to the Tour de l’Horloge, and from here you will have a 360° breathtaking view. The French would say, à couper le souffle.
Standing in the viewing area, one can look down onto the nearby rooftops and further out to see toy-sized homes before gazing on the mountains in the far distances, l’Estérel, les Maures, and le Lachens. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
An orientation map, attached to the wall, will help you locate the ruins of a château, a plaza with an old tour de guet, or watchtower, and the remains of the château des évêques de Fréjus.
The streets of Fayence, like in other medieval villages, are made of stone, or calade. While wandering you climb stairs and encounter ancient fountains and beautiful restored doors and windows. You will see porches and arches and ramparts. You will walk through the Porte Sarrazine, built in the 13th century to allow its citizens to pass the surrounding ramparts and to enter Fayence. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Of course, no visit to a village is complete unless I see a wall with some fascinating windows and doors. These windows reflected the light, the sky, and mirrored the surrounding buildings. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Before exploring Fayence one walks a bit from a parking area and onto a main street that leads through Fayence. Here one can enjoy un café and speculate about the building that was built over the main street and about its residents or businesses. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
I chose to eat lunch at Le France, primarily because the prices were comparable to restaurants nearby and because it has a lovely terrace. I wanted to sit outside on a sunny day. I picked the asparagus for an entrée and the canette with braised cabbage for the main dish. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Canette, or duckling, is not often found on menus. When I saw that it was offered that day, I knew right away what I wanted to order.
« La canette est un jeune canard femelle que l’on sert en général pour deux personnes. Ce petit volatile est une viande de qualité, à la fois tendre et très goûteuse. »
Typically, un magret de canard, or a filet of duck, is served in France with a sweet sauce of some kind, made of honey, for example, or maybe from a reduction of fruit. In this case, the cabbage had been braised for a long time. The sweetness came from the caramelized cabbage.