West Virginia University in Vendée, France


La Chabotterie:

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

22 juin 2010


After a long night for some, we arrive at the site of today's visit, the Logis de la Chabotterie.  Here we will learn first about the way of life in an eighteenth-century manor house.  We will also have an opportunity to hear about one of the greatest heroes of the Vendée region during their counter-Revolution.


In the lower court, we see the buildings reserved for the farm workers and the animals.  It is easy to know we are in the lower court: the roofs are covered with clay tiles, while the expensive slate (to the left) was reserved for the buildings in the upper court, inhabited by the nobles.


At the entrance, Marie, our guide, points out the architectural defensive features of the house that mark it as a nobleman's house.  By the eighteenth century, though, most of these features were mainly a status symbol rather than of practical use (we would be hard pressed to shoot an intruder from the small hole to the left of the door!).


Although no pictures are ever allowed on the inside of the Logis, so as to preserve the period furnishings, our guide makes an exception when she learns that Groupe Charette is among us.  Here, David, Alexandra and Alicen pose in front of the table where their name sake, François-Anathase Charrette de la Contrie once lay, wounded by the Republican soldiers.  It was important for the Republican armies that he be publicly executed, so they tended very carefully to his wounds, before taking him to Nantes to face the firing squad.


Here again, Groupe Charette relives a very painful moment, as François-Anathase points to his chest, telling the firing squads "C'est ici qu'on frappe un brave!" (This is where that one strikes a brave man!).  A powerful moment indeed.  Courage, Groupe Charette.


A happier moment as Groupe Charette poses in the sunshine outside the Logis.


After a visit of the interior, we take a tour of the grounds, first admiring the jardin à la française, visible from the nobleman's bedroom.  We admire a mixture of medicinal plants, blended with ornamental flowers.  The scent from the garden is heavenly.


Notice the symmetrical alignment and arrangement of the flowerbeds.


Our Vendéens, for the moment, undaunted by the busy cultural explorations that kept them up late into the night on the Remblai, take copious notes as Marie explains life in the manor.


The building exudes a peaceful charm that makes us envious of a bygone lifestyle.


A view of the house from the garden.


Our visit is done for the morning, and we are ready to savor another lunch together.  Notice the nice touch of the WVU colors.  We hope the Mountaineers will fare better than the French soccer team this fall.  Allez les Bleus!


Our first course is a terrine de Saint-Jacques, a delicate blend of scallops with herbs.


Our main course is a confit de canard, a delicious way of preparing duck, a regional favorite.  The Vendéens are particularly fond of the pommes de terre sautées (literally, jumping potatoes--jumping in butter, from the pan to our plates).


You can never go wrong with chocolate, can you?  This dessert was a moëlleux au chocolat, bathed in crème anglaise, sprinkled with vermicelle.


Our spirits and bodies are restored after lunch...


..or are they?  The effects of Fête de la Musique are hitting our group hard.  N'est-ce pas les amis?


We take a walk through the woods, and Ben is still chasing the right angle for this elusive prize-winning picture.


Peggy and Allison enjoy a break in the shade.  Clearly, the fresh country air is having a positive effect on their outlook on Vendée.


Groupe Charette indulges Dr. Mike for yet another photo.  Dr. Mike is very worried that Charette might produce a better vodcast than Clemenceau this week, so just in case, he wants to ally himself with them.


Ooops, down for the count again!


It is so easy to lead the Vendéens back to the bus.  Notice the spring in their step and the smiles on their faces.  No more sleepy heads... for the moment.


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