There is something about certain travel quotes that makes them get repeated ad infinitum on gite and holiday rental websites. For example:
“It’s like an unspoilt Tuscany or Provence, and I’d better shut up now or I’ll be responsible for spoiling it” was a brief comment describing the Lot-et-Garonne in an article in the Observer more than 10 years ago which has been repeated 100′s times since on local travel websites.
In the original article the following sentence started “But nothing is as perfect or as easy as it seems in your dreams” but that gets quoted rather less often…and the one after that started “Even down here it still rains“…again, not mentioned so often!
Likewise “Poitou-Charentes is the second sunniest region of France (after Provence)“. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that. It might even be true – although I would have guessed that Corsica is rather sunnier…
But why describe yourself as ‘like Tuscany’ or ‘second best after Provence’? Surely that just makes people want to go to Tuscany or Provence!
As someone who lives in Lot-et-Garonne I can confirm that it’s a lovely enough department without claiming to be something or somewhere else. I only wish I could describe it as well as Michel de Montaigne spoke of the Tuscany countryside in the 16th century:
“I left Florence after dinner, and passing the Arno left that river on the right…we proceeded along a lovely and richly fertile plain which produces among other things the finest melons that are grown in Tuscany. The best sort of melons are not ripe till about the middle of July and the very choicest are produced in Legnaia, three miles from Florence.
Our route continued through splendid open country with castles, gentlemen’s seats and villages almost the whole way along.
I was struck by three things: first, seeing all the people of the district working on Sundays getting in the harvest; secondly with seeing the peasantry after their day’s labour sitting with lutes in their hands and their fair ones beside them reciting the stanzas of Ariosto (this is to be seen in every part of Italy); and thirdly with finding that they left corn out in the fields without any worry of its being stolen”
(Many thanks to our Italian correspondent who used this quote when describing Empoli for us.)
Who said the old days were a time of struggle and misery? It all sounds rather idyllic to me
Unfortunately not once in Lot-et-Garonne, or elsewhere in France, have I seen peasants sitting playing the lute while their loved ones sang them romantic songs (if you have please send me a photo). But I have seen people working on Sundays and hay bales left out in fields, so two out of three is not too bad.
And my guess is that even in Tuscany lute players are pretty thin on the ground nowadays…