Fool for France

Le Langon

I stopped into the pharmacy and noticed a poster for a dog show, one focusing on obedience and agility. Jacques and I had to see that, so on the appointed day, off we went, to the outskirts of a lovely village, Le Langon.

Sure enough, there was a little demonstration of obedience and one of agility, an event more or less for the students, their friends and family. It was most encouraging to see, because the dogs behaved only slightly better than Jacques does, with no training at all.

We being neither students nor friends nor family, we lasted about ten minutes and headed off to explore the village itself. Ten photos, I said to myself. I can do that.

This is the city hall. Why they felt they had to add bright blue window frames is beyond me. The basic building is a grand old pile. Back when there was a lot of money in agriculture, a whole lot of it seems to have been made in Le Langon. Le Langon is now a bywater, a suburb of Fontenay-le-Comte. Buildings like this tell you it used to be a center of importance, all on its own.

Here is the primary school. Apologies for the tilt. The road does slope, but the building shouldn’t.

The church appears to be in regular use, which is unusual around here. Until his death some years ago, Vendee was lucky to have a well-known stained glass artist in residence. This church has two of his windows.

The housing stock is above average and generally quite well kept. Le Langon was once noted for its horses. As you can see — as I wish you could see better — many locals are working to maintain that reputation. This horse, apparently some breed of draft horse, was immaculate. I’d like to tell you more about the rider, but I was too busy coveting his leather boots, also immaculate, and looking to be worth about as much as my car.

And finally, the pharmacy. That little sign on the door says, “Fermeture Definitive.” Le Langon does have a post office and a train station. Not every village can say that, especially regarding the train station. When it comes to businesses, though, it’s not exactly bustling. I found a convenience store and not much else.

And that’s the town. It’s charming, more so than most, and with an air of affluence. Folks are doing their shopping somewhere else, though. Otherwise a sweet little building like this one, right at a major intersection, would not be sitting empty.

14 Replies to “Le Langon”

  1. If I remember correctly, Langon used to be a port on the old rivers of the Marais…
    As to the horse, there used to be a trade in breeding mules in the area…whether this horse is used in that trade I have no idea.
    Lovely photographs…took me back to our days in France.

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    1. It has all filled in, now. A port would explain the great number of nicer-than-average houses. There is actually a blog, but it has no information from before 1916 and no comprehensive history. Check out this rather macabre human interest story: https://le-langon.blogspot.com/2017/11/14-mai-1937.html.

      I didn’t find anything about mules.

      The horse on the road was a draft horse of some kind. There are still a few equestrian centers, with web sites, even. My sister is a horse trainer in the States. She is very good at what she does, but I can’t imagine her or anyone she knows doing a web site.

      I’m glad you like the photos and surprised that you actually know of Le Langon. How did that happen? Most people don’t even know of Vendee.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had friends in Fontenay le Comte and did a bit of touring the Vendee with them, buying wine at Mareuil sur Lay sometimes or just roaming about the area which is how I remembered seeing Langon…and it would have been they who told me that it had once been a port.
        The mule business uses draft mares, ideally of the Trait Poitevin Mulassier breed, so it is possible that the horse you saw was one of those.
        Loved the story!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Okay. So you know my neighborhood pretty well. That’s great. If you come back I can show you the really good wine shop in Luçon. That stuff they sell in Mareuil is less than fabulous.

          You could be right about the horse. He was gorgeous, but not as big as the draft horses I have seen working in the vineyards. Glad you liked the story. Next time I’ll get out of the car and take a better photo.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We used to pick up rose at Mareuil from a friend of the friends…it seemed to fuel those among the summer visitors who insisted on making BBQs. Could have accounted for the nature of some of the BBQs, though.
            So Lucon is looking up, having a decent wine shop…in my day the great shopping attraction was the Mille Stocks store…

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          2. Mille Stocks. No way. Definitely no way will I go there. That’s a policy decision!

            I should do a post on Luçon, if I haven’t already. Even if I have. The wine store has been there for three generations and the couple who run it seem to be teaching the business to their son. Their best rosé is Spanish, more than decent, and 6 euros a bottle. If you are on a budget, you can get a whole box of something vaguely pink for about 3 euros. The town has put a lot of money into “improving” the downtown. I don’t know that it has helped the local businesses — there is still only one good bistro down there and a lot of empty storefronts and little places that are floundering — but it looks pretty good.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it’s very pretty. Fortunes get made and lost. At least le Langon seems to be maintaining its heritage. And a post office! Our mairie serves as la Poste for ONE HOUR a day.
    With cars, people aren’t forced to shop locally. And with the Internet, it’s getting worse–even the big stores are suffering.

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  3. I thought I had commented on this but m senility is more advance than I realized, clearly! The problem really is the motor car and the supermarket. And the problem will be the internet which is creeping up and making it far too easy to buy online. I saw it happen in Britain and I have seen it taking hold in France and I can only stand and repeat forlornly ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone’ because there will be regret. Such a pretty village though …. And such pretty pictures 🙂

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    1. I agree. Whole srudies have been done on the question of what happens when small businesses, amateur theatricals, etc., give way to superstores and the internet. I agree with the conclusion that it’s not good for personal and community development, but, then again, my life is much better for having easy access to Amazon and Netflix. I’m lucky to have time to seek out local sources. Not everyone can say that. Every time I see a woman with three kids hanging off her shopping cart — and where is Dad, you may ask — I think there but for fortune… I can’t blame her for running into Leclerc and hurrying back to the laundry and all that await her at hime. It is sad to see exactly one small business — and that a chain, a tiny little Casino — in a town with many year-round residents and which, bless them, has held the line against those awful lotissements. I have no clue what is to be done about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We ran a small specialized food (and wine) business in Britain in a prime spot on the Thames near to Oxford and Henley. Actually we had a second shop in Henley for a while but that’s a different story. My in-laws took over the village shop when he retired from the army in 1952. By 1960 they were unable to keep up with supermarkets (which were very much in their infancy in England then) and he, more by accident than design, began to stock more and more cheeses and to encourage tiny makers (often farmers wives still making whatever the regional cheese of their area might be) to make enough for him to sell. He grew and grew his range, they were francophiles and they brought cheese and other goodies back from their annual holidays in France and then, when her father died, they bought a place near Arles. So they grew organically and by the time I came on the scene and took over the business with my boyfriend then husband so that they could retire to Provence, we were selling over 380 different cheeses. We expanded the wholesale side of the business and within a couple of years were supplying pretty much all the top chefs in Britain. I won’t go into recessions and economic uncertainties but what killed the retail side of the business was supermarkets making facsimile counters (they looked just like our shop but the cheese was cheaper because we were affineurs who brought the cheeses on to perfection before selling whereas they were buying similar products from larger makers and just banging them out to the buyers). We lost our business in the mid 90s and I mourn it as I mourn the loss of all the other shops but you are so right – you can hardly blame a family with both parents working in likelihood for taking the convenient option. To ask them to shop around and only buy local produce is akin to asking them to give up the washer and dryer and revert to a stream and stones! I have no answers but I am heartened that there are those like you and many of your other readers who so clearly do want to stem the flow and make it possible for people to make a modest business work in rural France …. I haven’t given up hope 😊

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        1. Many readers. How sweet of you to assume that. I think blogs have gone the way of the small business. It’s really go big or go home, so either you blog for a larger publication or you do what I do, which is write about what interests me and thank the stars that I don’t need to monetize my hobby.

          It’s a shame about your shops. I’m seeing that here in France, too. There is a local company, Bellevaire, that so far is straddling the divide by selling, as you did, to top chefs and by opening a small chain of cheese shops in Paris — plus they sell at high-end markets and at the Luçon market. They do a great business but it is pretty clear that it is a kind of crusade for them, too. They have been shoring up artisan cheesemakers by partnering with them, giving them direct financial support and guaranteeing them sales. I feel another post coming on. They are very nice. I bet they would tell me all about it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Too true and also very sad. I blog because I enjoy writing and reading and interacting with others who are interesting for one reason or another. I don’t have anything to sell. But we live in a sell, sell, sell world and you are absolutely right – many bloggers seem to be about making or trying to make a buck. Whilst I’m happy to support writers in their efforts to publish books (if they are any damned good at all) I don’t enjoy finding that I have walked into a commercial for whatever the hell the person is trying to flog or into a piece of writing that is peppered with references to something they are clearly being paid to product place.

            Our shops … we were naïve. I would love another go and find my mind wandering to the idea of doing something again quite frequently. Your Bellevaire has it right. Specialise and be the best at whatever that specialism is. Become synonymous with the finest quality and be prepared to work your arse off and when you are arseless to keep on going with a smile on your face. It would be really good to read about them if you decide to do a focus. In Britain now there are so many small artisan cheese-makers – what is sad is that few of them know that they have my father-in-law to thank for the market place and I absolutely mean that. But he would be content with the fact that people are more au fait with real food now than they were when he was evangelising and buying all the cheese that Joan in Derbyshire could make and persuading a couple in Cornwall to resurrect their family recipe for Yarg and writing his books …. he was a one-off and I miss him still.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn:

    Very charming

    Beautiful photos – the color of the sky is magnificent1

    thanks for providing us a tour of another corner of your wonderful world!

    GMN

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like it. The terrain is so flat that the sky becomes quite a dominant factor. The clear blue summer sky is magnificent; I wish I could take credit for it. The puffy clouds of spring and autumn are, to my mind, even better.

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