Where waters meet, salty and sweet
It's a failed space mission. Your name is Astronaut McLowsky. You have dropped from the sky, somewhere…almost anywhere…in France. Amboise, Arles, or Avignon. Sancerre, Saint-Emilion, or Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Vaison-la-Romaine or…Veules-les-Roses. McLowsky: "Mission control, do you read me?"
Mission control: "Roger, your mission has been aborted in France. You’re one lucky bâtard, McLowsky." McLowsky: “I’m near a village — getting closer — the sign says “Veules-les-Roses” “
Either you’re the next Dr. Zeus, or just feeling a bit dizzy. Can you pull your wits together and spell that, McLowsky?”
“What’s the point of having learned French if I have to spell the damn thing to the brightest engineers in the world?”
“Take it easy, McLowsky. My name isn’t Picard. We’ve geolocalized you. You’ve landed near the beaches of Normandy, but the war’s over. You’re late.”
“Now’s my chance to discover what those fine men died for. Can you google the place and let me know what I can expect from the natives here?”
“Says it’s one of the most beautiful villages in France.”
“Come on, haven’t you been to France? Half of them say that, and they’re never entirely wrong.”
“Ok, next fact. It boasts the shortest river in France, with pure water flowing from alabaster heights right down through the village and into the sea.”
“Good to know. I was getting tired of all that insipid H2O in plastic packaging. Next?” “Says its oysters are the best in the world. Nutty and iodine flavor, as if they were a gift from both land and sea.
”Now you’re talking. How about a restaurant recommendation?
“Hold on. Google is yielding some funky results for our search on Veules-les Roses. Holy cow, have a look at this, McLowsky! If you can crack the code, it sounds like you may have found the gates to paradise.”
Tickle your toes.
Les fruits de mer
Y sont légendaires.
Beneath alabaster heights
Where waters meet
Salty and sweet,
Je pêche la perle
amongst petals of pink,
precious beyond price.
L’origine du monde.
Le mystère de la mer.
Sits the secret
Seemingly nobody knows.
The pristine earth offers its unique expression of beauty in every land, but in the course of human history there came to be a place of perfection called France: a nation of geometry, of ideal forms, itself conceived in the form of a hexagonal star. Enveloped by five distinct mountain ranges and three coastlines, its inner landscapes are defined by five large rivers and fifty-five affluents. These have sculpted France into a generous womanly body of hills, curves, and hollows. The Louvois fountain, near the Palais-Royal in Paris, features women — breasts revealed — representing four great rivers: La Seine, La Loire, Le Saône, Le Rhône, La Garonne. These are the givers of life. A woman is the giver of form, and the great river cultures of the Near East, from Egypt to Mesopotamia to the Ganges, all paid tribute to the goddess. In France, the goddess was never entirely stripped of her glory. The most iconic cathedral in Paris, as well as Chartres, was dedicated to the mother of Jesus.
This entry is an excerpt from EXQUISITE: Facets of My France, chapter II : Rivers and Rooftops.
More about Veules-les-Roses
Such a fanciful name, you’d think I’d made it up. Like Dr. Zeus. It is a bona fide tiny town on the Alabaster Coast of Normandy. In French, there are names and words that work magic on the foreign ear. Their soft caress is like feathers and flowers upon the skin.
She said: Whatever that means, tell it to me, again and again!
Veules-les-Roses has several claims to fame.
It’s one (among who knows how many hundred) “most beautiful villages in France”. So that’s not much of a claim. It boasts the shortest river in France, with pure water flowing from the Alabaster heights right down through the village and into the sea. Finally, its oysters are the best in the world. That claim is not made by the villagers, who most certainly don’t want their limited oyster supply to become prey to the global markets.
The claim is mine. I have never tasted such oysters, both nutty and iodine, as if they were a gift from both land and sea.
Des fruits de mer, trésors de la terre.