Wandering through France

Wandering through France. Sometimes on foot sometimes with the motorhome. On Sunday 9 September we are in the Drôme valley, near the town of Die, located on the south side of the Vercors. Also in this period there are markets, fêtes, voges, vide-greniers and whatever they want to call their parties.

Plant Market in Chatillon and Diois

Before we continue to the South, we stop in Chatillon and Diois. A beautiful medieval village at the foot of the Glandasse. To experience the beauty you have to stop and wander through the narrow streets. Now, we come mainly for the Fête des plantes rares. A number of nurseries present their assortment of lesser-known plants. 'Pepin d'here' a grower of mainly old scented roses, Aroma' antique, specialist of medieval aromatic plants from Parnans (Romans), Brin d' herbe, an old well-known herb cultivator, now mainly offers jams and herbal mixtures.

About Genepi, the liqueur plant

Many Genepi plants are offered under the name Artemisia glacialis, while the most commonly used wild species is Artemisia umbelliformis. According to Mrs van Aro'antique, the cultivated species is mainly Artemisia glacialis, whereas I used to buy similar plants under the name A. umbelliformis and while the same plants I see in the Alps are certainly Artemisia umbelliformis. So yet again some plant confusion. The more you know, the better you know you don't know much. I buy an A. glacialis to compare them to the plants I already own.

We now continue, a few days south via Col de Cabre, Serres, Laragne, Sisteron to Apt. Along the way we see many fields with harvested Lavender but also the melon harvest (Cavaillon) is in full swing. We stop and buy a large, green speckled Pastéque (Citrullus species) to make jam.
In Apt we stay overnight on a large parking lot against the park. The antique and flea market has just ended and so there is room for us.

Apt in the motorhome

Watering smorgens through the narrow streets of a small town is one of my little pleasures. Many shops are still closed on Monday morning, but the baker and the newspaper shop are already running at full speed. The streets are fresh, the heat has not yet broken through and the world news is only slowly seeping through. This is a moment full of possibilities. A moment without fears. It now! You hear it, it even makes me poetic and philosophical.

Roussillon and ochre

We drive to Roussillon. The red ochre earth. Our goal. Okhra, société cooperative d'interet collectif, just a good center for natural dyes located in an old ochre factory 'Ancienne usine Mathieu'. A museum, a special bookstore and a shop.
Le village Roussillon, an ochre gem we do not even visit today, although it is worth visiting for tourism. But we've been there before, and we want a little further.

To Lauris

To Lauris, to get there we have to cross the mini mountain “Luberon”. We'll stop near Lourmarin. There are a lot of Muizedoorn, Ruscus, this prickly plant is an old-fashioned diuretic but the roots are now mainly used against varicose veins. Fortunately, I don't need it yet, but I want to make some tincture with it now. More meant to get some professional training as a herbalist.

Many plants here are covered with decorative white snail houses. As if there were seeds hanging on the plants. So we collect some snail houses, with a movement you could pick dozens of houses zipped along the stems. Maybe nice to make a decorative necklace with, we thought, until the dry houses in the motorhome suddenly all came to life.

Lauris and paint plant garden

In Lauris we visit the Jardin et Conservatoire des plantes tinctoriales. This garden is beautifully situated on the terraces of the Renaissance Castle overlooking the Durance Valley.

So in September, on the blood-hot terrace flanks most plants have already blossomed but they are full of seed and that's what we are just before. So we collected: Coreopsis tinctoria (not all ripe), Serratula tinctoria, Commelina, Cerinthe major (1 seed), Salvia triloba (cuttings), Chenopodium ambrosoides' anthelmintica ', Chrosophora tinctoria (Croton des teinturiers)... We also bought seed of Tagetes minuta and Carthamus tinctoria (safflower).

In the evening during a walk still Ruta chalepensis with ripe seed found. Another wine glass, greyer, smelling even stronger and stranger than the Ruta graveolens. And equally photosensitizing, burning on the skin, so be careful when picking. Fortunately, the sun sets just behind the peaks of Les Alpilles (the mini-Alps). The coolness does us good. And tomorrow, there's probably another hot day.

About Oker

The geological process of ochre formation dates back to the Mesozoic, 230 to 70 million years ago, the period of the Neanderthals. Even though these people have nothing to do with the ochre. The whole region, the Vaucluse, was still in the sea. The sand is oxidized and has adopted yellow, orange and red hues. In the 18th century, a certain Astier from Roussillon discovered the quality of the ochre and the possibility of extracting dyes from it. Until 1950, ochre quarries were in operation to provide the necessary material for paint, cosmetics and even for some foodstuffs. Today, in various places in the Luberon there are still brilliant colours to be seen in those deserted grooves that light up in the setting sun especially in the evening.

The last ochre factory is located in Apt on the banks of the Calavon. There one can discover the manufacturing technique consisting of three steps. The ocher from the quarries is washed to separate it from the sand. The ocher then settles in large basins and forms a thick mush cut into briquettes. These are dried in the sun and in the wind. Then they are ground and baked. Baking creates all shades and shades of color.


Paint Plant Garden: Couleurs Garance in Lauris http://couleurgarance.com .
Ochre Museum in Rousillon: “Conservatoire des ochres et pigments appliques” .www.okhra.com
The wede-pastel museum in Magrin: “Château-Musée du Pastel, de Magrin”. http://www.pastel-chateau-musee.com/
#Lauris #Rousillon #oker #planten
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