29 May 2013

Jonzac, France - La Ville Médiévale

All good things must come to an end, just like my French holiday to the South-West of France. I have been to Bordeaux, Cognac and Chatenet so far, but it was time to revisit one final place. Jonzac, a medieval and endearing town was my last adventure for this trip. Make the great escape to the town where castles, rivers and cute French bakeries exist! Are you in?

Jonzac, I had been to this medieval town once before back in January 2011. During my latest trip to France I wanted to recapture the essence of this quaint town during a brighter time as my first visit was very cold. Arriving at the top of Jonzac's town centre I saw the charm and beauty of this place staring right back at me. Calling Jonzac a town might be the wrong way to describe this small French area, as I would call Jonzac a community within the castle walls of the chateau that still stands today. Standing before me was a majestic chateau, honestly you could not see anything that was more French! Within the castle walls there is the 'Hotel De Ville' which is the town hall, where all issues are dealt with by the Mairie. Oui, je l'ai aimé!

There was something special walking through the castle's main entrance into the courtyard. This castle looked over the rest of the town, revealing the green pastures that sit amongst the houses close to the river. C'est gentil! It's crazy to think that just five minutes away there is a out-of-town shopping centre, two large supermarkets and a McDonald's, time waits for no one so that's just life! Does Jonzac have the best of both worlds? Vraiment? Ce ne est pas très français! The 'Hotel De Ville' was an attraction in itself even though its a council building! I didn't see much of Jonzac the first time around so I'm I got the chance to return. All this talk of forts made me think that Dudley is the nearest place from my hometown to have a castle! Alors, quelle est la prochaine? Let's go!

Jonzac has a cute cake shop, which sells cakes and all things sweet. In French the words 'Patisserie' and 'Confiserie' both translate to pastries and cakes. This sweet addition to Jonzac sets this town perfectly. There's nothing quite like a French cake or bake because they are great, but to be honest I will have both if I have the choice. We've got Cafe Rouge but that French wannabe chain really doesn't cut it against the authentic establishments that are on offer in Jonzac! On the day I walked past this bakery, I noticed things were looking a little quiet but I can imagine during the summer months this place would be busy with people enjoying their French fancies! French culture marginialises different places that sell specific products, like bread from a 'Boulangerie' and meat from the 'Boucherie'. The bakery and butchers! Jonzac servi un petit sentiment de ville avec un bord cosmopolite. Oui!

France is one of those places that sets its own trends and doesn't want to emulate anything from its European neighbours for this small town of Jonzac has enough savoir faire! Anyway, I loved Jonzac's answer to 'Greggs' because it looked quintessentially French. I would love to see classy cake cafes in Bilston and around the Midlands, maybe it would bring a bit of much needed sophistication to the high streets of England? I unfortunately didn't have a sweet treat from the cake shop pictured to the right because I went to McDonald's for a McFlurry before I arrived in Jonzac's town centre. I do feel bad now! Voyant un peu de vie était belle, le hameau Je étais dans était très calme! I am learning that the French make use of their local amenities, endorsing the small and independent businesses from what I've seen in the Poitou Charantes region of South West France. Love Jonzac, it sure serves medieval Realness like its neighbouring towns, I appreciated my afternoon! 

Along with the kitsch and historical delights of Jonzac, I almost expected to see 'Belle' from Disney's 'Beauty and The Beast' walk past with a pile of books like she did in the film! I didn't see 'Belle' or 'Gaston' but held that vision in my head as I walked down the hill in the centre of Jonzac's old town. Disney fantasies aside I loved the winding streets of Jonzac's descending paths, leading the way to the main shopping streets. Each place I have been to during my French holiday has been very unique, for instance Jonzac showed me something that made me feel like I was in another time period! Apparently, most of Jonzac's architecture dates back to the 17th century, something that I had never seen before I had been to Jonzac. Où est Belle?

France must be a country of rivers because almost every town or city I have seen this past week has got it's own river. 'La Seugne' river flows through the town of Jonzac, which has been captured to the right. I will be brutally honest to say that France does have some beautiful rivers, which have some very picturesque surroundings. Looking at the river that flows through Jonzac it looked less frozen compared to my 2011 visit. My visit to Jonzac the second time round was coming to an end but we had to find out what the river was called, all in the name of blogging! I originally thought that this river shared its name with the Parisian river called 'La Seine'. Honestly, it should be easier if you speak the language? Jonzac, servir la réalité médiévale! Vous devriez visiter Jonzac déjà!

Disney in Jonzac? Sacre Bleu!

Joseph Harrison

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