Monday, July 23, 2012

Macaroons and Books

Montmorillon is known for two things: its Macaroons and its City of Books.

We took our time touring the "Musée du Macaron" which included information on the almond tree, where it comes from, how it grows, how the nuts are harvested, and how the cookies are made.  I didn't know that the almond tree grew in a twisted fashion and therefore cannot be used for building.  Artists, however, love the shape and how it spurs their creativity.

This is a macaroon oven from the 50's

After the tour, there is of course an opportunity to taste a variety of cookies, as well as the almond water.  The shop in front offers all kinds of macaroons for sale.

I love miniatures, so this replica of the house where macaroons were made and sold really attracted my attention.  (Une macaronnerie)

The Maison Rannou-Métivier is the oldest macaroon maker still in operation.

Montmorillon, built on both banks of the calm river Gartempe, has its origins in the 11th century.  Like most towns in the region, it had a difficult time during the Hundred Years' War and the Wars of Religion.  Some buildings survived, such as Église Notre-Dame, which has beautiful frescoes in the 12th-century crypt.  They include scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Montmorillon is also known for its tie to books and the arts associated to the written word.  We toured "La Cité de l'écrit et des métiers du livre" extensively.  It is one shop after another, each one specializing in a certain aspect of writing.  Some stores sold English only books, children's books, botany books, rare antique books, etc.  Other stores had a calligraphy forte with art pieces for sale or calligraphy supplies.  One stop showed us how the binding of books is done.  Once a year, there are bookstores from far and wide that set up in the centre of town and apparently that is a really interesting event.

Setting up their fishing rods

The fishers from the other side of the bridge

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