From Orsigny to Viltain
Sunday – The late summer weather around Paris has been spectacular: low humidity and cool temps with warm sun and blue skies. Today, I could not resist taking a few hours for myself and heading out on the trails. I chose to visit Orsigny and Viltain Farms, which are South-West of Paris, not least because the end of the hike involved a visit to the excellent Viltain Farm store.
Orsigny Farm is built on the site of a Roman Estate. The basic configuration of the farm dates from the middle ages, when the farm had ties to the monastery at Saint Germain des Pres. Seized and sold after the French Revolution, the farm continues to function. Much of the physical structure is still as it was. The monks’ old cells are there, but now they serve as storage space. Nearby Viltain Farm was established by the same monastery, but less of the historic structure remains. It too came into private hands following the revolution.
Peaceful Late Summer Outing
The hiking trail runs through a very rural bit of countryside and today I was amazed at the calm and quiet. My walk seemed to be accompanied by a nature sound track. It started with the woodpeckers calling as I got out of the car on the edge of the woods. A fallen tree was creaking loudly at it leaned heavily on a branch of an adjacent tree.
A bit further down the trail, I could see three large hawks circling in the breeze at a good height, discussing their next move. The breeze rustled the tall dry grass along parts of the trail, but I could also hear some quiet movements in the trailside brush. Birds were passing through enjoying the various abundant end-of-season berries.
Part of my hike was through a pretty big group of white sulfur butterflies. They were excitedly flitting from flower to flower along the trail, forming clusters around me as I walked and then heading off to alight on the next patch of wildflowers.
In the warmth of the afternoon sun, I paused and sat in a meadow for a while. In taking the time to observe, I was really struck by the range of colors of the wildflowers: yellows, pale whites, browns with some dull green interspersed, and touches of orange, red, blue and purple. In a collage, these seemed to be appropriate late summer colors. A small skink lizard emerged from hiding along the base of an ancient rock wall; he too found the afternoon sun inviting and decided to come out for a bit of hunting.
Reluctantly, I set off on the trail back. Suddenly, cows began calling from the other side of the little woods. As I approached the field, I could hear them moo-ing up a storm as they came around the corner and headed for a gate. They waited there a while calling the farmers. But, when no action happened, they turned and set off grazing. This was strange in that they all went shoulder to shoulder, munching like a gigantic organic mowing machine along the fence line. In the still quiet of the afternoon, they made quite some noise with their slurping, smacking lips, and crunching.
The cows inspired me to make my move. Off I went in search of fresh cheese, fruits and veggies at the farm store. As usual, I bought more than I intended. This had the benefit, however, of leading to a nice cookout on the grill at home later in the evening. A fine reward for my hiking efforts earlier in the day!
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