Here we have a nicely sombre short with just a splash of colour. Just as one shouldn’t wear perfumes and aftershaves to tasting, it is also important not to wear shirts with such bright colours that they are a distraction to others. These birds fit the bill perfectly – enough to provide interest without unwanted distraction.
We spent the weekend in northen Lozère enjoying some spectacular scenery in this little populated department. With an average altitude over 1000 metres, the highest average of any French department, there are no vines as it is too cold and the growing season too short. Other crops are late to ripen. The fields of wheat are still awaiting the arrival of the combine harvester, whereas further north in the flatter parts of France the harvest is long over.
Excavating the Roman remains
Late Saturday morning we visited the small village of Javols – hidden away in the countryside not far to the east of Aumont-Aubrac. Not a name many will know, I suspect, part from those with a keen interest in the Roman occupation of Gaul. Starting from the rule of Emperor Augustus in the first century AD and continuing for the next century or so, Javols was the capital of this part of Gaul. Remains of an extensive Roman city have been found. Called Anderitum, the city covered 45 hectares. As well as being a junction for routes heading east-west from the Rhône Valley and north-south from Clermont-Ferrand to the Mediterranean. There were also hot springs there – always an attraction for the Romans.
Amongst the many crafts and commerce in the city, there were coopers making barrels. Presumably for transporting wine, although I don’t think that even in Roman times there were any local vines.
After two centuries in the limelight, Auderitum lost influence to Mende and gradually sank back into obscurity. It is strange to visit Javols today and imagine that this small, sleepy village was once the most important city in this part of Roman Gaul.
We spent the weekend at Le Hostellerie du Villard, near to the medieval village of Le Malzieu. We ate well – very much home cooking – and also drank a few attractive bottles, although the wine prices tended to be rather steep.
Last night for dinner we tried the deep coloured, slightly tarry 2009 Domaine de Bois-Mayaud, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Not the greatest Saint-Nicolas but showed what a good vintage 2009 is for Loire reds.