“Donkeys Never Lie!” – by Debbie Ambrous

May 30, 2018 – Wednesdayof the Burgundy, France Journal

Published normalement (normally) bi-weekly on Sunday

A reminder for a blog story was scribbled on a page in the flip pad when I was in France among other memory-joggers such as: buy coffee at the store.  There was only one problem, many days later at home in Alabama I didn’t have a clue what ridiculous event could have prompted me to jot down:  “U gotta lotta experience controlling a jack***.”   Jim was the only one who could have said it.  I knew it was him because those words didn’t roll off my tongue!  In the interest of fair play, I confided that I would use this quote in my story and asked if indeed he had spoken this bit of wonky wisdom.  He hemmed and hawed and said, “I must have said it if you say so. I know that you want another one of my famous sayings to quote in your blog.  It’s gonna cost you, but remember – Donkeys Never Lie!”  Donkeys never lie?!

The photos from the grounds of the Chateau Germolles jolted my memory of the situation that prompted Jim’s unique observation.  Finally, I knew what had happened.   A donkey, or jackass, was grazing in the field, a bucolic scene with birds chirping and flowers in bloom along the pathway.  A perfect country scene was in my camera lens, but the stubborn animal would not move from a pile of manure which disturbed the feng shui immensely!  Jim sidled up next to me and asked why I was having a conniption fit.   Laying my troubles on his shoulder, I said, “This stupid beast won’t shift his ugly self from that pile of smelly manure so I can get a pretty farm scene photo!” Grinning at his own supposed smartness, Jim said he didn’t understand why I had a problem because after all U gotta lotta experience controlling a jack***.   Now you have the whole story except for the part where I Googled the question: “What is the difference between a donkey and a jackass?”  Apparently, they are the same.  If you want more in-depth information on this subject, I would suggest that you speak to Jim since he apparently believes that donkeys never lie!  I would challenge that statement, but I just don’t want to go there.  I hope no one ever investigates all of the questions that I have Googled, or they will think that I am bonkers!Goats were walking on top of the wall by the stream when we ambled over the bridge and past the stone buildings along the path to visit the chateau.  I lingered in the shade of a massive plane tree, finding spring flowers and a large shrub with delicate blooms like spun pink cotton candy.    Workers were busy in towers near the courtyard.  When I walked below, one of the men dropped some of the debris to the ground far enough away that there was no harm.  I called out to them with a big smile, “Oops! You missed!”  I heard talking amongst them, probably one of them translated since hearty laughter and friendly waves came my way.

Chateau Germolles is the only country estate (demeure de plaisance) of the Dukes of Burgundy that has been preserved so extensively.  In 1380, Philip the Bold (Philippe le Hardi), Duke of Burgundy bought the estate for his wife Margaret of Flanders (Marguerite de Flandre).  I was disappointed initially because I wasn’t allowed to use my camera inside, but then I was granted permission to use it for part of the tour, and I am very grateful that I could do so. The painted and sculptured decors, including the floor tiles demonstrate the quality of the chateau.

Rully, a medieval fortress built onto a 12th century keep was on our route, but it was closed for touring until July.  We have seen the chateau situated in the heart of a vineyard at least once before, if not more, but our timing has never been right for a visit except for the grounds.  The Renaissance chateau is still owned by the original family.

Clos Salomon was an enjoyable visit.  We love the vineyards with a personal touch like this one with the children’s play slide by the grapevines, old work shoes on the old well and the old house by the wine cave.  We bought a few bottles with no pressure, and we would definitely return if we are in the area.  The known history of the estate goes back for at least 700 years when a fellow named Hugues Saloman put their Givry vineyard on the map by making it a favorite wine of the Pope of Avignon and Henry IV.  Today, the Clos Salomon is a partnership between the most recent heir to the estate, Ludovico du Gardin and his winemaker, Fabrice Perrotto.  They do not use insecticides or herbicides.  All of the work is done by hand.  You will be very pleased if you purchase wine produced here which has been described as: “proudly endowed with structure and full-throttle flavors from its gifted terroir.”    You will notice that he kindly promoted A French Opportunity by displaying my card in the photo!  Thanks again, we felt very fortunate! Click for further information on Clos Salomon.

Chateau de Couches was our last visit for the day.  Built on a rock peak, between the vineyard and the rolling panorama, the chateau is listed as a historical monument and demonstrates several architectural phases.  Restoration was underway, and we were admitted with a reduced rate since most of the buildings were closed. Notice the colorful tile, typical of Burgundy, which is being used in the renovation.  I’m sure it will be magnificent when completed.  The setting alone with beautiful views from the grounds and a topiary garden makes the visit worthwhile.    Jazz concerts and other events are scheduled here throughout the year.  Be sure to click on Chateau de Couches to read more about the restoration and see the aerial views.

I promised two chateaus in my comments in the last blog, but I delivered three here for you to visit plus the charming vintner at Clos Salomon! Y’all come back next time for a remarkable garden, more of the Burgundy canals and possibly more inscrutable notes from my flip pad.  Thanks for coming around to visit the blog where – Donkeys Never Lie!

You can read more about France, including more about Burgundy.  Just click over to purchase your copy of “A French Opportunity” in paperback or Kindle.

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All photography is the property of Debbie Ambrous.


If you enjoyed reading this blog story, perhaps you would enjoy reading more like it, just CLICK on the title below:

Jim’s Ha-Ha Moment 

The ha-ha is of French origin. A city in Canada is named Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! It is the only city name with two exclamation points!!

4 thoughts on ““Donkeys Never Lie!” – by Debbie Ambrous

    • Bill, thanks so much! I’m guessing that you might also have a few notes around that may be difficult to decipher. I do hope everything is coming along fine for you. All the best, Debbie

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