Tales from

the Loir

A Weekly Column

May 16, 2001 - Les Journees des Aubepines

Each spring, the Society of the Friends of Marcel Proust and the Friends of Combray sponsor a weekend of activities celebrating the memory of Marcel Proust in the village of Illiers-Combray. Les Journees des Aubepines means the day of the hawthorns and it is the time of the year that the hawthorns of Marcel Proust's Combray are in full bloom. Mid May is the time to visit the ancestral home of Marcel Proust and meet the amateurs of his work. Amateur is the closest word that I can find to the meaning of the English word "fan". I was pleasantly surprised to find the fans of Marcel Proust to be so nice. For some reason, I have concocted an image of Proust fans as snobs but every one that I have met with an interest in Proust has been a delightful surprise.

We were especially delighted to meet two Americans who were there to explore the possibility of recreating a Proustien experience for travelers interested in Marcel Proust. The company is called Great Composer Tours and it was started by Joseph and Cynthia Lawton who have been organizing Biographical Travel Adventures based on the lives of the great composers. They have decided to expand their adventures to literary figures and are looking at Marcel Proust as a subject. We especially enjoyed speaking English for a change and were fascinated with their new business.

The day started with an exposition and presentation of new items to the Proust Museum. After the presentation the guests were allowed to roam around the Maison de tante Léonie which is the museum. Afterwards we were served cider and amuse bouche in the garden. We had lunch at le Florent which the restaurant next to the old grocery that the Proust family owned. The bus tour started at about 2:30 and made a circuit of Proust's Swan's Way and the Guermante Way. We stopped at the Pre Catalan and heard passages from Swan's Way about the hawthorns and saw the blossoms at their height. We also made stops at Tansonville, St. Eman and the home of Monsieur Vinteuil.

The French have a way of doing these things in such a simple and understated way that it is hard to find fault with their effort. For a pleasant weekend in the middle of May, this is something to put on your calendar for next year.

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May 8, 2001 - Armistice Day
May 2, 2001 - May Day
April 25, 2001 - Les Manouches
April 18, 2001 - Trôo
April 11, 2001 - Le P'tit Jules
April 4, 2001 - Men and Their Caves 
March 28, 2001 - Pissenlit
March 21, 2001 - The Egg
March 14, 2001 - Reliquary
March 7, 2001 - The Source of the Loir
February 28, 2001 - La Marseillaise
February 21, 2001 - Still on Wheels
February 14, 2001 - Marcel Proust
February 7, 2001 - La Chandeleur
January 31, 2001 - Winter Comfort Food
January 24, 2001 - Festival of Saint Vincent
January 17, 2001 - Guest Columnist Aprille Glover
January 10, 2001 - Muscadet
January 3, 2001 - Ode to Protein
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2000


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