St Antonin Noble Val
Nestled in a hollow of the Gorges de l’Aveyron, with a stunning backdrop of the steep cliffs of the Roc d’Anglars, this 2000-year-old village is probably more familiar to most people than they realise. It was used as the location for the films, Charlotte Grey, with Cate Blanchett, and The hundred-foot journey, starring Helen Mirren,
Interestingly, this town is home to the oldest civil building in France, the Maison des Consulswhich dates back to 1120. St Antonin is a place of narrow streets lined with medieval houses, art galleries and quirky shops. It is atmospheric, a place of contrasts; cool on a hot day in the shadow of the buildings, bitterly cold in the middle of winter when freezing fog can linger.
In Holding On Letting Go, Chris takes Jo out for the day. He is desperate to make an impression, to show Jo he could be more than a colleague at work, a good friend. It is summer. The town is thronged with tourists of all nationalities. They sit in the central square, Place de la Halle, enjoying coffee and watching the world go by.
They crossed the road to take a narrow lane to the centre, the cobbles rubbed to a shine by countless feet. Ancient stone buildings,each ground floor faced with a shaped, pointed archway, lined the street. He glanced skywards at three or four further floors, the windows framed by painted shutters in pale hues.
At the square, they paused to take in the scene. The figures could easily have faded into another age, garments replaced by wartime attire, when washed-out scraps of fabric were fashioned into something that might be considered stylish. If time could be rolled back even further, centuries of life in this market place would be revealed in all its richness.
A gorgeous tree spread out shady branches in front of Café de la Halle where every table seemed to be taken and the sound of voices rumbled between the buildings.
Extract from Chapter 6 from Holding On Letting Go