May 4 - May 5:  Bonjour from Chateau Figeac

We had the most wonderful two night stay in St. Emilion at Rob’s cousins’ Chateau Figeac. Rob’s great grandmother on his mother’s side was a Villepigue, and Chateau Figeac was Villepigue until about 100 years ago. Thierry and Marie-France Manoncourt have Figeac, now. Thierry’s mother was a Villepigue. You have to go back to 1700’s to hook up the two branches of the family. David and Robert are the fifth generation of this American branch to visit Figeac. Rob’s great grandmother brought his grandfather to Figeac in 1909, Rob’s parents visited ten or fifteen years ago, and now Rob, David and Robert have visited. Rob spent quite a bit of time photocopying genealogy with Thierry and Thierry’s cousin, Jacques Villepigue. We also got to know one of the Manoncourts’ four daughters, Laure, who is the same age as me. Her husband, Eric d’Aramon, manages Figeac, now. They have three children and live in a wing of Figeac. Eric also has a home near Avignon. Their youngest son, Paul, is Robert’s age, and they got along great, even with almost no ability to verbally communicate. They had lots of fun playing Pente with David, and riding mountain bikes through the vineyard. David played with Auriane, 13, one day as well. Since we visited Tuesday through Thursday, the children were at school much of the time.

Figeac is a beautiful 200+ year old chateau and furnished in that style, yet very homey and comfortable. The Manoncourts have fourteen grandchildren who visit often. Our bedroom was the red room, with red patterned wall fabric that matched the curtains and bedding. The carpet was solid red. It had a well equipped private bath. The sublime views were to the pond in the backyard and the courtyard in front. The boys had their own room and bath, so we had most of the upstairs of a wing of Figeac. Every room had a fireplace, although not all are functional, now. The country kitchen had a tall fireplace that was used for a lunch barbecue one day. The garden in back was very large and beautifully landscaped. Below that was the pool, tennis court, and pond. It was too cool and rainy to use while we were there. They have beautiful property surrounding Figeac, and fifty hectares of vines around that.

Figeac is one of 13 Premier Grand Cru Classe vineyards in St. Emilion. Thierry (later helped by Marie-France) has worked hard since 1947 restructuring the vineyard to be one of the best. The estate, itself, goes back to the 2nd century AD. They hand pick the grapes, use traditional fermenting techniques, and age the wine in new oak barrels each year. This is all done in a wing of the chateau. They mix a large proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in their wine. The other parts are Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The bottles are best aged 8 to 10 years, or more, before drinking. We had many excellent wines during our two day visit.

The best part was getting to know the family and sharing many meals with them. They treated us like family, even though the relation is distant. Thierry made sure we saw all the sights, like the fascinating monolith church and other chateaus. Marie-France always made sure we were comfortable and well fed. It was an unforgettable experience that we will treasure always.

Hope all is well, Pat