France: The Benefactress

The Provence village of Bargème is scented by lavender from the nearby Alpine foothills, and its pastures are dotted with herds of grazing sheep. At the start of the 1960s, it was smaller (pop. 65) and, if anything, more charmingly bucolic than it had been in the Middle Ages. The few visitors to the town, an hour's drive northwest of Cannes, usually came to view its medieval ruins—a chateau, a church, towers and gates that had decayed into an exquisite stone latticework. In 1961, Bargème found a benefactress—or rather, Madame Germaine De...

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