Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Autumn Leaves Outside My Window…by Adela Meadows

The New England Tourist Board has done an outstanding job and, consequently, the east coast of the United States gets most of the press when it comes to “Fall Colors”…but the riot of colors that come with autumn can actually be found in other parts of the world as well…including mon quartier.

Fall Quay









The banks of the Seine continue to be an ideal place for contemplation…

Fall phone call









…or making that phone call while out on a stroll with the dog.

But, where just a few weeks prior, the quays were filled with sunbathers catching rays…

…now the surroundings are ablaze with color…
 Fall Tribunal wall480 
…look closely, there is a window in amongst those bright red leaves…

…that crawl upon the magnificent seventeenth century building that houses the Tribunal Administratif de Paris…
Fall Tribunal480 
…the courthouse where complaints against government bureaucracy are heard. Of course, surrounded by such beauty, it’s difficult to complain…perhaps that was their plan in the first place!

We’re part of an international group of hikers who at least once a month pack a lunch and board a train heading out of town…only to hop off and make our way back to Paris…some twenty to thirty kilometers of interesting conversation amidst the beautiful and historical countryside. Fall path
Our October outing provided us with a hint of the colors to come…
Fall Dourdan …they weren’t quite at their peak yet…but a lovely sight all the same.

Now, with November, the leaves are really falling, but here that doesn’t mean piles of leaves to jump in and play…or worse yet, burn. The French have been experts at recycling for centuries…
Fall pile of leaves …and millions and millions of autumn leaves are carefully gathered to use as wrapping for certain varieties of cheese.

Fall cheese More than just a traditional means of packaging…for some cheeses, autumn leaves are instrumental to the development of the distinct flavor of the product. The leaf-wrapped round of cheese shown to the left is from the region known as the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence…made primarily of goat’s milk, the tannins found in chestnut leaves are a secret to its success. A success of long-standing, as it was reportedly a favorite cheese of Antonius Pius, a Roman emperor in the second century A.D. He found it so tasty, that legend purports that his death was the result of an eating binge…specifically the over-consumption of this particular type of cheese. Of course, the fact that this type of cheese is soaked for weeks in brandy may have been a contributing factor!

Fall pb chestnut Prior to being used to wrap cheese, these chestnut leaves found time to adorn an intricately-formed Porquier-Beau piece…part of the botanique series from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The series was based on the designs of Alfred Beau.

For the most part, Brittany is not a hot-bed of autumn colors…the heather turns to a ghastly brown and many of the species of ajonc are evergreen. So the leaves on Quimper pottery seldom reflect the colors of the fall season.

pbbotanical Another piece from the same series…a plate full of begonia leaves. The begonia is not a native shrub of Brittany, but its French roots may have led to its inclusion.

The plant was given its name by a seventeenth century French botanist, Charles Prumier, who chose to honor Michel Bégon, an early Governor of Haiti who was an ardent plant collector.

This botanique plate does come rather close to fall colors…
Fall pb leaves …Beau identified the design only as feuilles pointues…meaning pointed leaves.






The town of Malicorne in the Sarthe is, however, no stranger to the effects that occur when Mère Nature decides it’s time to rest for the winter and curtails the photosynthesis process…as attested to by these autumn leaves…
Fall malicorne leaf 1

Fall malicorne leaf 2 
…which are actually Malicorne faïence knife rests!


  1. Adela, I want to book a flight and transport myself to your little island. The fall colors of Paris are making my heart sing, and I'm intrigued with the idea of the hiking club. You actually hike your way back to the city? I want to do that sometime! Absolutely wonderful post full of seasonal information and beautiful fall inspired faience.
    Merci! ~ Sarah

  2. Another great post combining French life and Q, what could be wrong with that??

  3. Adela, such fun to see the autumn colors elsewhere, especially in France. And just as Sarah, I love the faience you've shown. Have never seen the Malicorne leaves. What a treat your posts are!!!

  4. A beautiful, beautiful blog. Thank you Adela for the gorgeous "picture postcards" of Fall and colorful descriptions of the French landscape. I can hardly wait until next September's QCI Annual Meeting!

  5. Great photos and stunning colors, Adela. Forget about "Paris in the Spring", Fall looks just fine to me. Especially if one has cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves! Like Doris, I'd never seen the Malicorne knife rests, and love the PB botanique pieces. Merci beaucoup.