In the heart of the Beaujolais region lies the village of Fleurie, nestled among the rolling hills of warm granite that produce the delicious, fruity red wine bearing its name. Dominated by the Chapelle de la Madonne that sits watchfully over the village on a nearby hill and graced by a newly refurbished church glowing in the April sun, Fleurie is hosting an exhibition of local art in the smart new Office de Tourisme that adjoins a cave offering wine tasting and sales.
Some sixty pieces of art make up the exhibition, including watercolours, oils and ceramic montages. With no discernible theme, the pictures present a varied range of topics. Some are landscapes making quite loose reference to the vineyards, forests and pervasive oranges and reds of the granite soil and buildings that define this area of the Beaujolais.
Others convey a more direct representation of the vines, grapes and wines, from vineyard to glass. Several striking ceramic creations suggest shimmering nocturnal scenes of a great city against a waterline, perhaps nearby Macon which lies astride the river Saone.
All of the artwork is for sale, and at very modest prices – none more than 80 Euros – though rather few have been sold. But then, this is the quiet season, with few tourists calling by. Rather more people, most of them local, were trying the latest selection of wines next door – a selection hosted by local wine makers that changes from day to day.
This small, charming and quite impressive collection of local art, set alongside the displays and guides of walks, cycle rides, architecture and history of this very attractive area of France, provides the traveller with an insight into local perspectives that reflect and extend beyond its most famous product.