Sunday, December 30, 2007

La draille

I have been a bit immersed in French today, finishing the first of the three TopoGuides for the Chemin de St Jacques, trying to make sure I understand all the directional/ landscape vocab. Then I walked downtown but somehow I was almost still in France. I passed a funeral parlour, where it seemed like a funeral was in progress (even though it was Sunday.) I felt very sorry for the people inside, too nice and sunny outside to be mourning someone's loss inside so soon after Christmas. And I was reminded of funerals I had passed by in French towns. The church bell tolled... and I mean tolled.... repeatedly.... one note. There was no way you could be in that town and not know that one of its own was being buried from the church. Whereas this poor local person was passing almost unnoticed by the wider populace, in a city in summer holiday mode.

Home again, I have updated my vocab list from a few postings back, four words still eluding me and babelfish no help. So I just decided to Google.

Turns out
'draille' is a word specifically from Languedoc, to do with the trails when they muster and move the animals between seasons.
From this website - Vocabulaire d'Aubrac - I found:
"La draille
La draille est un mot employé en Languedoc pour désigner le chemin de transhumance. Pendant des siècles, les troupeaux hébergés l'hiver (dès la mi-octobre) dans les étables des vallées abritées montaient l'été (vers le 25 mai), par ces chemins, pour pâturer librement sur l'Aubrac.
Aujourd'hui, on pratique encore -peut-être même de plus en plus- la transhumance. Chaque année elle donne lieu à une fête dans le village d'Aubrac, qui attire un monde fou.
Mais on fait encore souvent monter les troupeaux dans des camions...
La draille est en général marquée par des murets de pierre, qui s'élargissent de temps en temps pour ménager des espaces plus larges, permettant de regrouper le troupeau.
Certaines d'entre elles, qui utilisaient le tracé d'anciennes voies romaines, ont été à leur tour "récupérées" sous forme de sentier : le GR60 qui passe sur le plateau utilise le tracé de la Grande Draille du Languedoc.
Elles passent souvent sur les lignes de crête, tirent droit dans les montées, et offrent des paysages splendides. "

From Google again I found out that "le buron" is also a local word in this part of France, a stone cottage used in the warmer season by someone looking after the flocks.

Wikipedia says:
"Le buron est un bâtiment en pierre que l'on trouve dans les pâturages que les éleveurs de vallée possédaient et exploitaient de façon saisonnière dans les montagnes du Cantal, de la Lozère et des Monts Dore, ainsi que sur les plateaux de l'Aubrac dans l'Aveyron aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Les burons servaient à loger les vachers s'occupant des troupeaux et de la fabrication du fromage (le salers, le saint-nectaire) lors de l’estive (de mi-mai à mi-octobre)."

This is a striking photo of a buron.

I haven't found out what "le foirail" is yet, but there is a festival going by its name, and varied restaurants and hotels. There is a hotel in Figeac with it as a name. My TopoGuide used the word in Nasbinals, where you could cross Nasbinals by 'le foirail" and the main street. I will keep looking, but it could be another regional word.

My last word is "la sagne". I haven't found anything useful about it yet, other than that it is the name of a place in Switzerland.

You can tell I am relaxed and on holiday when I am 'wasting' time so frivolously. But isn't Google a wonderful invention!


  1. Never mind the Chemin de St Jacques, you should try the coquilles de St Jacques (wonderful shellfish, scallops).

    Happy new Year Kiwi!

  2. Lots of 'pilgrims' like to wear/carry one of those very shells maalie. That scares a lapsed Catholic like me though, so hope nobody gives me one that I feel obliged to take!

  3. Happy New Year, Kiwi!!


    (Do you know the significance of the scallop shell?)

  4. The scallop shell has been a symbol for pilgrims who went to Santiago for centuries. But I just looked to find the reason for its significance.... and have come up a bit short really. One person on a Camino forum suggests:
    "The scallop shell association comes from early Christian paintings in Rome (catacombs), depicting John starting Jesus' ministry by baptising him and you are absolutely right, he is shown using a scallop shell."
    I am not sure if that is right though and you have sent me away to look some more!

  5. Kiwi,

    There is a story about St. Augustine walking on the beach one day. He came across a young boy who was going with a seashell to scoop up water and then pouring the water onto the sand.

    St. Augustine asked the kid what he was doing.

    The kid said he was trying to scoop out the entire sea.

    St. A wrote that it occurred to him that what the kid was trying to do was easier than understanding the Trinity.

    Aaaanyway - I think THAT'S the reason John baptizes Jesus with a scallop shell - because of the symbolism - and NOT vice versa.

    Here is an article about Benedict XVI coat of arms, which includes a scallop shell and a bear with a backpack.
    If you were Pope, that would be a good one for you, too, come to think of it!


  6. For me it would have to be a kiwi with a backpack though;-)
    I think the reason for the scallop shell being associated specifically with St James might be a bit lost in time.... from another site I read:
    "The scallop shell is specifically associated with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (St James the Greater, in NW Spain), for the simple reason that the site is near the seashore, and the scallop shells wash up on the beach, and
    make a convenient token as sign that one has been there. Palms from Jerusalem were used in a similar way; indeed nearly every shrine had its particular
    marker. "