|Ever since I moved to the farm two years ago, I’ve driven past a sign for the La Villa de Séviac, a Gallo-Roman villa about 15km away. I’ve learnt from other overseas moves that you should postpone visits to attractions with paid-entry until such times as you’ve got interested guests, otherwise you end up paying to see them enough times to be able to give a blind-folded tour of the site. |
With the promise of rain over the next few days – great for the farm, but not so interesting for guests – I thought we’d take Steph out for a small circuit of the area. Since she’s also an archaeologist by training we finally had an excuse to visit Séviac, or at least to find out where it was and scope it out from the exterior.
We found the villa located on the outskirts of Montreal-du-Gers, but it was closed for lunch so I thought we could take in some other sights before returning, especially as posted opening hours tend to be more aspirational than operational in this corner of the world. I was going to post a link to the wikipedia article for Montreal without comment, but it seems to be written as a tourist pamphlet (“Because of its landscapes the Gers is sometimes called the "Tuscany of France") with little useful background. Tip for casual researchers using Wikipedia for French subjects: change the “en” at the start of the URL to “fr” to get the French article. You may have to run it through Google translate or otherwise slightly tweak the URL but it will usually be much more helpful.
The small bastide of Fourcès was only ten minutes away from Montreal. We had a splendid day out at their Xmas market last year but it was nice to see the plane trees at the centre still with healthy green foliage.
In addition to the simple beauty of this thousand year old village with its unique circular centre and short radiating streets, there are some nice little textual touches for the observant. The sole entrance road across the 15th century bridge is the Rue des Anciens Combattants. Adjacent to the 13th century clocktower is a plaque which reads (my translation):
The rhythm of the text with its poetic invitation and exotic references to clepsydres reminds me of Cavafy’s Ithaka, a piece of which is tattooed on my arm.
Next stop was the even smaller bastide village of Larressingle, one of the first places I visited when I got to the Gers. One of its plaques is nearly as poetic as that from Fourcés:
These ancient stones, often turned by human hands to represent beasts real and imagined, also contain traces of more ancient creatures, with multiple impressions of ammonites visible in the limestone.
We didn’t get back to the villa Seviac today as I needed to get home to put a leg of lamb in the oven for dinner.