Monday, June 8, 2009
A Visit to Bellême
Wikipedia describes Bellême as: At the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional du Perche, two hours from Paris, Bellême, situated in the Department of the Orne, is a paradise for lovers of nature and tranquil countryside. Bellême is on a hill that dominates the Perche area. Wikipedia also notes that: Nearly all French Canadians have some ancestors who came from the villages of Perche. Bellême is considered one of the "capitals of the Perche". It is one of the hoppiest towns in our region and it is also the home of our friends Jean-Fançois and Marc, from whom we purchased our home. Last week, while the weather was particularly fine, we took a day-off to visit Jean-François and Marc and have lunch with them in Bellême. J-F & M are antique dealers. Maison Conti was an antique shop when we purchased it two years ago. This house was in a somewhat raggedy condition, but had a lot of charm and potential, thanks to the work they had done while they lived here. They had pulled down all the tatty wall-paper and replaced it with soft pastel-colored plaster. They had trompe l'oeil painted on the walls and stair-well. When we first met them and saw the house, it certainly was easy to imagine how the house could be a really splendid Bed & Breakfast. J-F and M moved to Bellême because the clientele there is more affluent and abundant. In Montmirail, we are on the far southern boundary of the Perche National Park. Bellême is right in the center of it. They purchased a home there which predates our 300 year old house and it has a huge garden. Of course they fixed it up, added all their antique furniture, and turned it into a real show-piece. We very much enjoy seeing them, and they are splendid hosts. Bellême has one of the best golf courses in all of France, as well as some really wonderful shops. One of my very favorite places to purchase gifts is a boutique there which sells exclusively handmade items by local artisans. The quality of the goods is exceptional. In general, the Perche is a region where many artists and craftsmen live.