Was the first Valentine’s Day card sent by a French king?

by Steve Martindale

A small town in the heart of Indre will again welcome lovers from across the country on 14th February and the nearest weekend. Why the attraction? The town of Saint-Valentin is the only place in France to bear the name of the patron saint of lovers. Residents deck their homes in blooms, the Jardin des amoureaux (lovers’ garden) opens its gates and free concerts take place to serenade courting couples. A post office, specially constructed for the week, sells commemorative stamps and postcards for the most ‘authentic’ Valentine’s card you’ll ever send.

If all that romance brings matters to a head, it’s even possible to take things one step further and tie the knot in the flower garden, with everything laid on, from hotels, hair and make-up to wedding cars, photographers and champagne. All you need to do is say “I do”….

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The Wines of Bergerac – The Prix Ragueneau

by Martin Walker

The Prix Ragueneau is known as the top cookery prize in south-west France, featuring the black truffles and foie gras, the lamb and fowl and walnuts that are the best-known specialities of this magnificently endowed region.

But is also important to winemakers since each of the two dishes prepared by the five chefs in the final must be accompanied by its own wine, which has to be explained and the choice justified before the jury by the sommelier who shares the prize with the chef.

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