Saturday, 6 June 2009

Flâneries - Fête de la Courge

Towards the end of October/beginning of November, Montpellier, like many small southern French towns and villages, celebrates the autumn harvest with a festival of gourds - la Fête de la Courge. All colours and sizes of gourd are on show and a varied programme of events attracts many visitors. Knowing nothing of these festivities, I was exploring the Jardin des Plantes in Montpellier a few years back, famed for having the first "jardin médical" in France, established in the sixteenth century and still part of the Faculty of Medicine. The strangest sight caught my eye in the distance - a tree decorated with every imaginable shape of gourd. Magical. Without explanation at the time. The garden was closed to the public for refurbishment, but I persuaded a gardener to let me in to take some photos. This picture has since been published regularly on the local tourism site and in an iPhone guide to Montpellier, but I got an email yesterday asking to include it in a forthcoming book about the Midi to be published in September.

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