Tuesday, 2 July 2002
Our mission today was to visit the water lily nursery at le Temple-sur-Lot, from which Monet bought his oft-painted water lilies. It was a considerable drive downstream from Cahors and we arrived in time for lunch. The name of the village refers to a command post of the Knights Templar that used to exist here.
The water lily nursery was started in the late nineteenth century by the town’s most famous son, the botanist Joseph Latour-Marliac, who collected some species and bred others.
Monet saw some of his hybrids displayed in Paris and fell in love with them. The original tanks are still in use and there is a life-size statue of Joseph looking out over them.
One of the buildings had a prune-drying tower, once an essential feature of houses in this region. The fruit was put on racks inside the tower and a slow fire gradually dried them. Prunes, like the Knights Templar, were a product of the Crusades. They were brought back from the middle east by returning holy warriors.
Back in Montcuq, Philip put a curry on to cook, and while it simmered we all strolled up to the donjon. The castle is long gone that used to surround it, but it must have been enormous – the donjon still is. The curry was glorious and so was the Cahors wine we had with it.