Ah, le maquis! In the French collective imaginary, the maquis mixes the unfathomable mysteries of the Mediterranean as well as a place where one hides. The maquis is a shrubland biome in the Mediterranean region, typically consisting of densely growing evergreen shrubs. Le maquis is our "jungle". A friendly jungle, with its giant pistachio trees. A virgin pocket forest, made of cistus, lentisk, arbutus, myrtle, rosemary, heather, juniper, wild olive. A paradise for bees, and honey lovers.
“Prendre le maquis /To take the maquis” (from the Corsican “Piglià a machja”) means to take refuge in the forest to evade the authorities or a vendetta (a blood feud). In modern French, it is used to mean "to escape and disappear". "Les Maquisards" designated those who fought clandestinely during the Second World War.
But please, do not worry: I am not going to, in some hazardous magic trick, make you disappear. You are not going to live your journey clandestinely either. Unless...
As you will have understood, only the insiders, those who really wish to integrate with their environment, integrate the maquis. The maquis may seem rustic. It may seem harsh. But he smells good. It's fresh. And he hides the riches of the World, without make-up. It is this France to which I invite you. We will discuss with poet winegrowers. We will buy our bread at the mill. Maybe we will even go to this supermarket rather than the market in the town hall square. Because the suppliers are local artisans, and the open-air market only sells products from large centrals. Because, like every country in the world, France is a complex subject. Annoying, happy. Colourful, earthy. You often have to go deep into the maquis to discover what your eyes cannot reach.
I invite you to take french leave into the maquis. Will you join the journey?