Autumn in Essoyes
It’s still pretty green here (on some days I wonder, could Ireland be any more green than this?) but the vines on the hills surrounding Essoyes are beginning to turn various shades of red and gold.
In Essoyes, the vendange began on September 15 this year, and all the grapes–well, all the grapes there were in this year that was not very successful–had been picked by September 25 or so. As always, the vendange brought new faces and a new bustling energy to the town for those 10 days. Rain or shine, cool, misty mornings, blazingly hot afternoons, students, gypsy families, and of course many townspeople pitched in to bring in the grapes.
And then one day, just like that, all the “extra” people were gone!
For the vignerons the work goes on, of course…as everyone else goes back to their normal activities, and the gypsy families on to the next harvest, I guess?
Just after the grape harvest, I had a very special visitor, who came here all the way from Colorado for a one-on-one writing-from-the-heart “workshop.” Like everyone else who has come here to work on their writing with me, my solo writing-from-the-hearter was charmed by Essoyes: by the beauty of the village, the friendliness of the people, the politeness of the children, the deliciousness of the food prepared by our local traiteur, and the cheese! (She was particularly fond of a local source of pride, chaource, and of the tarte tiède au chaource she had at the excellent meal we shared in nearby Loches, at the hotel Au Coeur des Bulles.) And of course with the champagne, which we tasted one beautiful autumn afternoon at Champagne Senez , in nearby Fontette.
After the session was over she took my suggestion to stay in beautiful Troyes for a few days before returning to Paris, and I decided to go with her to Paris, for a one-day round-trip (Paris is only an hour and a half away from Troyes, a very pleasant train ride) so I could hear my friend Gary Lee Kraut speak at Adrian Leeds’s Apres-Midi gathering. Here I am with Fran from Colorado, after Gary’s very interesting talk about “Travel Therapy and the Rewards of Travel Beyond the Clichés.”
Meanwhile the very ambitious project of restoring the Maison Renoir–the family home in which Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his wife, Essoyenne Aline Charigot Renoir, spent some of their happiest years–is well underway. The house is scheduled to open to the public in June, and many exciting activities are being planned in connection with that major event in the life of this little town. Stay tuned for more, in my forthcoming interview with Mayor Alain Cintrat.
This week we said a sad farewell to local artists Anne de Champagne and Denis Herbillon, who are on to their next home, and future adventures in Saint-Calais, in the Pays de la Loire. Our loss, their gain! I wish them all the best in their new home, and hope to see them now and then!
And now, with plenty of wood stored up for the winter, it’s time for me to get back to doing what I know how to do: write!
So..stay tuned for more, coming soon!
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature. She divides her time between the U.S. and France, where she offers writing workshops in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in the Champagne region. She is currently leading a book group at the American Library in Paris, and in January will be teaching “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for the Queens College (CUNY) Education Abroad Program.