Culture. The novelist Colette is attached to the Lot department

Colette (1873-1954), the novelist and the woman were inseparable. He made several stays in Lot. (©DR)

many writers and poets left their mark on Lot department. Among these intellectuals, the novelist Colette who crossed the Quercy.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born on January 28, 1873 in a village in Yonne. Admired by his mother “like a golden jewel”, he met “Willy” at the age of 16, a writer-editor who introduced him to the literary circles of the capital.

Married in 1893, they divorced three years later.

Discovery north of Lot

In 1911, the young journalist fell, from their first meeting, in love with Henry de Jouvenel, politician from Corrèze, future minister, who was very attached to his department of origin. The fortress of Jouvenel is located in the castle of Castel-Novel, in Varetz near Brive. They will get married there a few months later. A living paradise!

In “(her) gardens”, Colette is under the spell of a place where flowers, games and words mingle. A magical universe, a place of inspiration from which several novels will emerge.

What he calls “le Pacha” introduces him to Aubazine, Collonges-la-Rouge, Martel and Rocamadour. Elected senator of Corrèze, “the brave wife” is no longer his full wife. They decided to separate in 1923: the woman of Letters returned the page of eleven summers spent between Limousin and Quercy.

He would return to his favorite land two decades later, in 1940. During the German occupationhe spends a lot of time with his daughter, who, very active in the Resistance, lives in the village of Curemonte near Lot, between Vayrac (46) and Turenne (19).

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Back in Paris, immobilized “in his solitude at the height” of hip arthritis, he continued to write. Unanimously elected president of the Académie Goncourt in 1949, he died in his apartment at the Palais Royal on August 3, 1954. After receiving honors from France, he rests in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

“I caught truffles at Martel in the Lot”

Colette always loved early mornings in the countryside, the light of the sunrise. He got, as a child, that his mother would wake him up in the summer at five o’clock to go for a walk alone “to meet the blue nature.” In the den of dawn, it seems the best is yet to come,” he explained.

This is what he discovers in the Causse de Martel on a walk with his baron husband: “The truffle kills the rosehip, the oak is anemic and ripens under an ungrateful rockery, he develops. Think of the severe winter, the cruel that frost that whitens the grass, the pink pig trained in the delicate search… I was hunting for truffles at Martel in the Lot, and I held the leash of a little sow, an artist of her kind who sniffed . out the subterranean truffle, dislodging it in an inspired snout, with cries, sudden impulses and all the manners, well, of a somnambulist. With each treasure found, the wise little pig raises its head and asks for his reward, a handful of corn”.

Tribute to the truffle, “gem of poor lands”

In “Prisons et Paradis” published in 1932, the great cook couldn’t help but promote black truffles from the Southwest and develop how to accommodate them: “We only do well what we like. Neither science nor conscience shapes a great cook. I was born in a provincial country where there are still recipes I can’t find in any culinary Codex. They are transmitted by word of mouth during a feast of the carillon, the day of the baptism of a firstborn or of a confirmation. So I learned to use the real truffle, the black one. She is the most capricious, the most respected of the dark princesses. We pay for it at its weight in gold, usually to put it to poor use. We stick it in foie gras, we bury it in a chicken full of fat, we dip it in brown sauce… No more slices, minced meat, trimmings, truffle peels! Take a bite of the jewel of the poor lands by imagining, if you have never visited, its desolate kingdom.

Can’t we love him for himself? Eat only, fragrant, grains. You won’t have any trouble once it’s crushed. Its sovereign taste despises complications and complicity. Your truffles will arrive at the table in their court-bouillon. Use without parsimony, truffle is aperitif, digestive”.

His many visits to Touzac

From Paris where she lived with her new husband Maurice Goudeket, Colette would maintain a permanent link with Lot until 1948, the year of the death of her friend the actress Marguerite Moreno. What he called “his soul”.

Closely associated with Colette since 1914, the French actress set up a comfortable estate in the Lot valley in 1925 for her old age in a place called “La Source Bleue” in Touzac, near Puy- l’Évêque.

The writer, who fell in love with the place, agreed “with envy” to regularly go to Touzac. Marguerite Moreno reserved “Le Castelou” for him, a small house attached to her property. “You know my passion for La Source Bleue. Also the atmosphere of failure that you describe to me is poison to me” Colette is angry in one of her “Letters to Marguerite Moreno”.

The latter, despite his age, did not decide to hang up as long as there was a good role available to him.

At the age of 74 with Jouvet, he succeeded again in Paris, in “La Folle de Chaillot” written for him by Jean Giraudoux. The famous actress of the Comédie Française, who caught a cold while playing at the theater in Cahors, died of pneumonia on July 14, 1948. She was buried in the Touzac cemetery.

An insatiable curiosity

who are you mrs. Colette? The free and scandalous woman who made the headlines of the Belle Époque, the cat lover or the good woman writer, possessed of worldly wisdom?

Your reporter side of deep France does not leave us indifferent. You explore nature not intellectually but sensitively.

Brittany, Provence, the dry lands of Quercy… From the land of your childhood in Burgundy to the gardens of the Palais Royal where you will end your days, you offer us a real tour of France , always close to the action.

The joy of living is the key to your destiny! The going.

You are one of the most famous novelists of French literature to walk our paths. The second woman elected member of the Académie Goncourt, you are the second woman to be granted a state funeral by the Republic.


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