Condom – What’s in a name?

We’re making our way slowly up though France, for the moment avoiding the main route and motorways and sticking to the back roads. Soaking up the rolling landscape, the idyllic rural life in the small towns and villages. Only very occasionally the essential French-ness is interrupted by the unmistakably plummy tone of an expat English voice. A few days ago whilst walking round the town of Condom I’m sure I heard a voice say “My dear old thing”. As if it were Henry Blofeld himself.

Someone else who might take some of the blame for the 150,000 British nationals living in France, is Terry Wogan who revealed in an interview that he and his wife Helen had a home in the Gers Department of France for almost two decades. They were also said to be regulars at La Table des Cordeliers in Condom.

The Pope was planning to come here last month but at the last minute decided to withdraw…!

Statues of the four musketeers in Condom – D’Artagnan on the left with Porthos, Aramis and Athos.

The Three Musketeers

D’Artagnan arrives in Paris and, seeking to join the king’s musketeers, goes to see their captain, Tréville. In his haste he offends three of the best musketeers—Porthos, Athos, and Aramis—and challenges each to a duel that afternoon. All three musketeers arrive at the appointed location at the same time to duel with D’Artagnan. However, they are interrupted by Cardinal Richelieu’s guards. The musketeers plus D’Artagnan happily engage the guards and beat them soundly, and D’Artagnan is accepted as a friend and a good fighting companion.

D’Artagnan settles into his new life, hoping to soon become a musketeer, and rents an apartment above the shop of Monsieur Bonacieux. However, he finds himself in the middle of the foulest plot in France.

Cardinal Richelieu and the evil Milady de Winter are trying to discredit Queen Anne in the eyes of King Louis XIII and the country, thus ultimately giving Richelieu more power over the king. The queen is trying to repel the amorous advances of the English duke of Buckingham. And Constance, Bonacieux’s wife, has become the trusted messenger between the queen and Buckingham, as well as a victim of Richilieu who sees her as an avenue to expose the queen. D’Artagnan becomes involved when he meets Milady and is smitten by her charms and when Constance asks him for help and he is smitten again.

About this time, Athos, to distract D’Artagnan from thoughts of Milady and Constance, tells him about a man who married a woman whom he later learned was a convicted thief. He believes the evil woman is now dead. The man is, of course, Athos, but he doesn’t tell D’Artagnan that.

Next, Richilieu, through Milady and his henchman Rochefort, trick Buckingham into coming to Paris. Buckingham goes to the queen’s chambers, but she refuses his love. He asks for a remembrance, and the queen gives him twelve diamond studs; then, with Constance and D’Artagnan’s help, he leaves England safely. Even though Richilieu doesn’t trap Buckingham this time, his spies inform him of these happenings.

Still plotting to trap Queen Anne, Richelieu suggests King Louis give a ball ten days hence at which the queen can wear the diamond studs the king has given her, and he sends Milady to London to steal the jewels from Buckingham. Learning of the ball,the queen writes to Buckingham to return the jewels to her, and she asks D’Artagnan to take the letter to England. D’Artagnan enlists the help of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis; and the four race off to England.

The four friends soon are separated, but D’Artagnan eventually arrives in London; however, when Buckingham gives D’Artagnan the diamond studs, they discover two are missing. Buckingham realizes that Milady, who arrived earlier, has managed to steal them, but he commands a jeweler to make duplicates, and arranges to hand over the complete set to D’Artagnan at the dock in the morning.

The next morning, Milady arrives at the dock first and tries to get the jewels, but Buckingham will not give her the studs, so Milady stabs him. D’Artagnan arrives, preventing her from stealing the jewels, but not in time to prevent Buckingham’s death.

Milady hurries back to Paris ahead of D’Artagnan and tells Richelieu of her partial success: she believes that, even if D’Artagnan brings the jewels, two will be missing. The king arrives at the ball and notes the absence of the queen’s diamond studs. He demands she get them, saying he will come back when she is properly dressed. With time running out, D’Artagnan finally arrives and gives the queen the jewels—the original ten, plus the two new ones. The king returns, and the queen is happily wearing all twelve diamonds.

In the meantime, the queen has sent Constance to a convent where she can be safe from the cardinal. She tells this to D’Artagnan, but Milady overhears and hurries off to seek revenge. D’Artagnan gathers up his three friends, and the race is on again. Milady, disguised, arrives at the convent before the musketeers and secretly pours poison into a glass of wine and urges Constance to drink. The four friends arrive as Milady rushes out, and Constance dies in D’Artagnan’s arms.

Finally, the four catch up with Milady. They accuse her of her various crimes and pass sentence of death—and Athos recognizes her as his long-ago wife whom he thought was dead. However, Milady cheats them of revenge by stabbing herself. The musketeers kneel and ask for God’s forgiveness on all of them.

Based on the book by French author Alexandre Dumas

D’Artagnan was actually born in Lupiac a small village to the south of Condom.

Condom’s very impressive cathedral cloisters

The toilets on the outside of the cloisters had two entrance doors – one male, the other female – both of which opened bizarrely into the same internal space with 4 cubicles and a low wall for the gentlemen’s privacy. All very Gallic, but you do have to be careful not go in as a man and come out as a woman!

Forgive us father for we have sined.

A few of the Catholic churches we have visited have these type of wooden boxes – I think the three position must relate to marriage guidance with the priest in the middle. A sort of two for the price of one! It would have been all very public and quite bizarre.

On marriage, as Mae West is reported to have said – “Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”

No, not a car wash but a laundrette conveniently positioned next to the petrol pumps at the out of town supermarket. We haven’t yet found a machine big enough to fit Charlie in. But at least we could make a cuppa whilst we washed our smalls.

Image result for beautiful villages of France symbol

Topped up with fuel, fresh food supplies and clean clothes, we headed off in search of more of France’s prettiest villages.

Since leaving Spain and returning to France we have added: St Jean Pied de Port to our Les Plus Beaux Villages de France tally, along with Auvillar and Lauzete.

Circular market in Auvillar
Lesley in front of the interesting shaped ABC in Auvillar

We’ve done it again, pitched up at lunchtime when the place is half asleep as everyone’s gone home for lunch.

The town square in Lauzerte

Apparently when it get’s hot here in summer it’s enough to even warp the cobblestone paving!

Notice how the bench sags in the middle – They must have recently repositioned the sculpture!

Terry Wogan’s band of hardcore fans were know as TOGS – Lesley, if not a paid up member of the TOG’s, was certainly a Wogan fan. Personally I struggled to get Radio 2 to work.

Terry Wogan had millions of listeners in hysterics with his innuendo-filled version of the Janet and John children’s stories. How did he get away with it? The structure was simple. Wogan would narrate in the style of the original children’s stories but also “do” John’s voice in a squeaky lisp. A string of innuendo and a fit of giggles usually followed.

To take one example, Wogan told his morning audience how John had gone to the park, fallen off his scooter and scuffed his shiny new shoes, only to be helped by a kindly woman who repaired the damage.

Recapping events to Janet, using John’s voice, Wogan read: “On the way I fell off my scooter and Mrs Parks saw me and took me into her shop to sort me out. She got the wood out and saw that I had a nasty scuff. So she got on her knees, rubbed some cream in it and worked her fists up and down until I could see my face in it. She said it was a pleasure to find a man who wasn’t afraid to splash out on a decent pair. And she was surprised that my old cobblers didn’t get more work, and they’d done very well.”

Terry Wogan – A master of the double entendre

Toodle Pip – Old chap


2 thoughts on “Condom – What’s in a name?

  1. Neighbour Sue

    That’s the best yet- very amusing ! I am also a fully paid up member of Tels fan club Although I do detect a hint of hysteria setting in ! Missing you


    1. Dave & Lesley

      Thanks Sue, It’s obviously getting to us….. We’re starting to make our plans for the way home now and thinking about all the jobs we have to do when we’re back. Meal at the Swan anyone?


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