Every year, on the first weekend of October, the town of Chabanais celebrates La Quintinie.
Why? Well, here’s the history bit in brief!
Jean-Baptisite de La Quintinie was born in 1626 here in Chabanais, Charente. Initially, he went to Paris as a lawyer at the Parliament, as he was known for his exceptional writing skills. The president of the general accounting office requested that La Quintinie teach his son whilst on a trip to Italy. During the trip La Quintinie was impressed with the Italian gardens and became fascinated with horticulture. On their return from Italy, La Quintinie decided to give up his legal career and started studying and practicing in the gardens at an hotel. He visited England twice and King James II offered him a job managing his gardens, but La Quintinie declined preferring to be in France.
La Quintinie’s excellent reputation as a soil expert and gardener saw him work for many dignitaries. Then in 1661, Louis XIV gave him a job in the vegetable garden at Versailles. In 1670 the King created the role of ‘director of the royal fruit and vegetable gardens’ for La Quintinie who went on to design the ‘potager du roi’, the King’s vegetable garden between 1678 and 1683. This was a nine-hectare area. The objective being to provide fresh produce for the royal court and also becoming a horticultural experimental garden to cultivate out of season fruits and vegetables. When La Quintinie died in 1688 at Versailles, Louis XIV said to his wife ‘madame, we have suffered a great loss that we can never repair’.
So here in Chabanais they are very proud of this history. Many exhibitors participate selling their local produce of fruits, vegetables plants and flowers over the weekend, plus their arts and crafts, wine, cheese, honey, nougat, fresh bread and freshly prepared crepes. Indoors, there is a selection of handmade jewellery, soft toys and more.
The theme for the celebrations this year is ‘l’eau au jardin’ and unfortunately Saturday saw continual heavy rain all day, so quite apt! However, Sunday was better and the market nice and busy.
The event was organised in association with the Friends of Quintinie who also ran gardening workshops on the two days.
I just love the charm of these local events. I was so tempted to buy a plant or two, but we are still about seven weeks away to moving into our house in Loubillé.