Bassac is a small town, or more specifically a French commune, which is located in the southwestern region of Poitou-Charentes, named after the Charente River which runs beside the regions two largest towns, Angoulême and Cognac.
From what I can draw from wikipedia, there are four departments (administrative divisions) within Poitou-Charentes, one being Charente, within which we are currently residing. To give you a sense of the size of Bassac, it’s one of 404 communes in Charente, which is roughly half the size of San Diego County, yet everywhere you look there’s open countryside. If you’re more of a visual learner, this might do the trick:
The population of Bassac is reported to be roughly 500 people, but in the five days we have been here we’ve only spotted about 12. Undoubtedly there’s a fair amount of out-of-town folks who own homes here. .or there was a French countryside apocalypse that didn’t make it’s way onto the news. And by news, I mean my facebook newsfeed.
But most impressively, it has a beautiful 11th century abbey, Saint-Étienne, which was destroyed in the 100 Year’s War and rebuilt in 1476. In many of the books on France we’ve been reading, there’s a consistent mention of the cultural and historic concept of a pays (payee) which literally means country or land, but doesn’t follow any legal or jurisdictional boundaries. To the French pays are distinct regions or areas (often linked to a regional cuisine) by which they identify. We read that before France became more culturally united in the early 20th century, leaving ones pays was akin to entering a foreign territory. Pays borders have been said to extend as far as one can hear the ringing of its abbey bells.