BENEATH the wide canopy of the chestnut trees are spread fine nets scattered with shells and nuts waiting to be collected.
It is a busy time in this corner of the Dordogne for the chestnut growers as they sprint out to collect the nuts between rain showers and strong winds.
Our job for the afternoon was to grab a corner of the nets and pull them across to the other side to gather together all the chestnuts, and then do the same from the other side of the net.
This created a long line of nuts and spiky shells for the giant, industrial vacuum cleaner that followed behind us, which might be described as a labour saving device but still drew a sweat out of those working it.
The machine draws up the chestnuts and shells before dividing the two, somewhere deep inside its rattling engine, to disgorge the chestnuts into white sacks and everything else like ceremonial mounds dotted beneath the trees.
For the farmers it is a two week or so task of collecting the chestnuts in the morning and afternoon, often to be sold through a cooperative although some sell direct.
This year the going rate was around €2.50 a kilo, so next time you are in the supermarket take a look at the price being charged and see how much the farmer earns.
And for those close to Villefranche du Périgord in the southern Dordogne, the weekend of October 20 and 21 will give you an insight into the history of the chestnut, as well as the cèpe, when the annual fête takes place.
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