Monday, July 15, 2013

Retired Sorbonne professor helps me research the Huguenots

I love the unexpected, unplanned for, unanticipated providences that are given to us by our Lord when traveling. This trip has had no shortage of these! Most of the raw information I need to write my Huguenot historical fiction is available to me in books, but what is not available and much more difficult to come by is the atmospheric locations so essential to create compelling, authentic fiction. That's primarily what I'm after while here in France right now. So here's a brief account of some of those surprise gifts.

Our English hostess at Maison La Roque when she heard that I was a writer doing research on the Huguenots contacted a friend of hers, Gérard Mignard, retired Sorbonne professor who lives in the medieval village of La Roque-sur-Céze (see pictures of this amazing place below). He came to our maison and spent a good chunk of time sharing with me his knowledge of Huguenot history, and gave me a list of important, lesser-known Huguenot sites in the immediate region. So helpful! But that proved just to be the beginning.

Gérard attached a number of articles to emails, and over dinner with his friends who own the 12th century chateau that crowns the rock of the village of La Roque he told them about my research and writing. Their chateau is a private home not open to the public, but they invited us up for wine and gôutet AND a tour of every nook and cranny of the chateau and the 12th century chapel. Aside from the fact that it is one of the most breath-taking panoramic views in the entire Côtes du Rhone, this was the site of combat between Royal RC troops and Huguenots in the wars of religion. They showed us a subterranean escape route built into the solid rock beneath the chapel, and so much more. They are people of refinement and taste, and we enjoyed close to two hours of fascinating conversation with them (and they like kids).

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