A Day with Martin Walker in Le Bugue (Périgord)

It was Tuesday and it’s been market day  every Tuesday since 1346 (and no I don’t know which Tuesday) in the village of Le Bugue,  the inspiration for the fictional St. Denis in Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police novels and parking was a challenge. But we made it just in time for our meeting with Martin at the Patisserie Cauet (Fauquet’s in the books) that is a gathering place for locals and the “British” locals who so favor the region

MW:TG

It was Tuesday and it’s been market day  every Tuesday since 1346 (and no I don’t know which Tuesday) in the village of Le Bugue,  the inspiration for the fictional St. Denis in Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police novels and parking was a challenge. But we made it just in time for our meeting with Martin at the Patisserie Cauet (Fauquet’s in the books) that is a gathering place for locals and the “British” locals who so favor the region.

Le Bugue,We had chatted on the phone,  swapped emails and shared friends and colleagues so I knew it would be a good day. But I wasn’t prepared for his competence in German as he and M plowed into an intense conversation. It turns out that he is a star in Germany where his books have sold over 2,000,000 copies.

This was confirmed when we approached Stéphane’s fromageriestand and two German tourists asked for an autograph. Martin selected victuals for lunch and he introduced us to two of Stéphane’s specialties, aillou, a delicious  spreadable blend of crème fraiche, garlic and fromage blanc, and Tomme d’Audrix. Charcuterie at another stand,  sweet strawberries for dessert and we were set.

monique

Before taking off for lunch Chez Martin we took a quick walk on the original shopping district on the rue de Paris and a visit at the Chai Monique, a wine bar where Monique selected a 2011 Chateau Medoyen and prepared an assiette of charcuterie to assuage our perceived hunger. As we lingered no fewer than 3 persons, including another writer stopped by to chat with Martin.

vitrolle

We made a slight detour towards Limeuil where Martin wanted to show us the église constructed by Henry II of England as part of the penance demanded by the Pope for  killing Thomas Becket and a second stop at The Domaine de la Vitrolle – just outside Limeuil on the road to Le Bugue, a charming small chateau, used as a secret Resistance HQ by Andre Malraux in the summer of 1944. A German Panzer division of 24, 000 men was based in Toulouse, a 3 day march to Normandy. His orders were to at all costs slow the advance to allow the Allied invasion to succeed-he did and it took the Germans 3 weeks to reach their destination by which time it was too late.

MWTRIOOkay, enough about Nazis, let’s eat. Martin pointed his 1970 2CV towards his home and we followed. Since it was a gorgeous day he moved us outside where we were shortly joined by his basset hound Benson (Balzac in the books) and his neighbor Raymond, a rugby playing, refrigerator of a man who immediately embraced me in a bear hug of welcome. If you were casting a movie and needed a true man of la campagne, look no further.

I had been tipped off about Martin’s stock of single malts so it was no surprise when he popped out with 4 glasses and a bottle of Bowmore. Three glasses later we were in fine form for our meal. A salade niçoise with eggs laid by his hen and lettuce plucked from the garden,  an assortment of charcuterie from the market and loaves of crunchy baguette slathered with aillou. A chilled local roséserved admirably. As we moved towards cheese and strawberries Martin produced a local white.

What a blast! I now have friends in the Périgord and I’ll be back soon.

To learn more about Martin read the Bruno, Chief of Police series.

 

 

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