Boojum Buddies

The international adventures of four geezers

“Clueless in Cluis”

From: Boojum Bebo

In mid-April Nancy and I spent four days in Cluis, France – what? you’ve never heard of Cluis? Not exactly on the beaten path, it’s a village of about 1,000 persons almost in the geographic center of France- 

Now what were we doing in Cluis? It seems that one of the world’s better known etymologists (that’s words, not insects), an ex-pat Brit, a modern day Dr. Samuel Johnson, lives there. Nancy spent four glorious days at his feet (not really), marveling at the roots of English words – I must admit that I enjoyed it as well.

Despite its size, there is a lot to see in Cluis. The city square is dominated by the church that attracts  

many pilgrims. Dating from the 12th century, it is dedicated to St. Paxtent and a massive painting inside illustrates how he earned his sainthood – nothing like a spike in the head to earn eternal glory! 

Also in the main square are some interesting sculptures of escargots – it seems that Cluis is one of the snail capitals of France. Every spring it hosts a huge festival celebrating snail gastronomy (it was happening the week after we left) that attracts thousands of attendees. 

According to our host, there is intense rivalry amongst the village parents over whose children get to ride on the snail floats and be the escargot royalty.

The Mairie (City Hall) in Cluis contains priceless Aubusson tapestries. This room is where the villagers come to vote – and from every indication, it was not for Sarkozy!

The fortress in Cluis played a major role in 100 Years War – one can only imagine how impressive it must have been before it was looted for building materials – apparently most of the buildings in Cluis contain stone from the fortress. 

Lots of great food in Cluis – the butcher, the fishmonger, the bakers,gardeners, and the cheese sellers all bring their wares to the city center. My cheese adventure included a 17 year old St. Nectaire and a Mimolette (which I have never had) that was hard enough the restore the fortress (it even looks like brick) but had a great subtle flavor. I don’t think that much of this is exported to San Francisco!


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