From the Arc de Triomphe it is less than 40 kilometers to Maule - a leafy village just beyond spitting distance of the capital. It’s on the west side of Paris and in a wide agricultural plain made up of fields of rape, wheat and barley. In between there are strands of forest and lanes of prosperous mid-west housing that lead into the heart of the old village.
We were visiting this past weekend and walked out into the fields with the Tibetan terriers of our expat friends. We were amazed as we strolled under a kind blue sky and wide horizon of varying shades of green. The wildflowers that weave themselves into the crops or march along the tracks are incredible.
There are poppies, of course, and these had invaded the rape crop and shimmered and fluttered in the evening light; red and yellow boosted with a sprinkling of blue cornflowers. We saw a scene that would have had Monet and friends reaching for the canvas and palette and brushes. But on the walk also orchids, salvias, erygniums and scabious - both sheepsbit and Knautia macedonica.
We saw plants that that we buy from nurseries where I come from . The soil is, I think, clay and the climate and hours of sunshine just that little bit kinder than East Anglia.