Music, Fun and Friendship

Le Chant des Corbières
Le Chant des Corbières

France is a rich tapestry and throughout the rich fabric are threads of art and music. While it is the people who inspire me most, they are the ones creating the music, art and more. They are so infused with imagination and the creative spirit, it spills over infecting those who encounter them.

While I have traveled around the country a bit and lived here for over five years, I have yet to find a town or village without at least one choir. My village is one of thirteen within the commune and the largest one.

Do, re, me...
Do, re, me…

There are two choirs here made up from the villages. Each year, our choir commences in October just after the vendange.  The first meeting will be to plan out the year and every second year vote on officers. Naturally there will be a few refreshments. There is a lot of catching up after the summer hiatus. Jacque, le chef, arrives with his guitar and sometimes he will bring other instruments with. We warm up with a few familiar songs then songs we will be learning for the up coming                                                   season are handed out.

Le chef (Director) Jacque
Le chef (Director) Jacque

Choir rehearsal is every Thursday evening. We practice in the old maternelle (pre-school building) or in a larger room upstairs from the foyer.

When I first went to a choir rehearsal here, it was to observe. However, that was not an option. You come, you sing! While I love to sing, my basic motivating factor was to improve my french and get to know more of the people. After that, I was hooked.

Encore en fois!
Encore en fois!

The day these photos were taken, we were not a full company. A number of the group were away or had other commitments due to the approaching holidays.

If you are making plans to travel to France, perhaps you have looked at guides recommending restaurants. Or perhaps you have heard about small restaurants where the locals go. If you can find one, it is worth the visit. The choir adjourned to such a restaurant in a village just 5 k down the road. I had been there previously but not since it had changed owners. However, I was not to be disappointed. The food and the service were excellent and a wonderful time was had by all!

Bisous,

Léa

...
An apéritif
1970, a good year?
1970, a good year?
...
Bon appétit !
Excellent service!
Excellent service!
A toast!
A toast!
And a good time was had by all!
And a good time was had by all!

Holiday and Saturday Market – Carcassonne

Free parking in the center of town, amazing!
Free parking in the center of town, amazing!

The Saturday market is quite crowded as vendors from all around the country join in to sell some of their wares. With my friend Yvonne back in town for a weekend, we were off to the markets where the produce is at its best. Naturally, it would be unthinkable not to stop for a coffee on the way back.

We knew from the moment we arrived that the merchants in town were determined to bring the customers in.  It is not often you are greeted with a gift wrapped parking pay-point!

If ice skating interests you, give it a go! Skates are available for rent and at night there is live music.

Even if you are one of those who completed their shopping early, it can be fun to see what is available and stop for a coffee or one of the many treats on offer.

Bisous,

Léa

Vendors from Alsace with their yummy pretzels
Vendors from Alsace with their yummy pretzels
IMG_6906
For kids of all ages and sizes!
Bargains, bargains and more bargains!
Bargains, bargains and more bargains!
Ice skating anyone?
Ice skating anyone?
You can even by a bed and they deliver!
You can even buy a bed and they deliver!
Produce at Place Carnot
Produce at Place Carnot
There are 12  cafés to choose from in the square
There are 12 cafés to choose from in the square and all are crowded
Saturday market offerings
Saturday market offerings
Spices!
Spices!
Gifts and tasty treats
Gifts and tasty treats
Italian Restaurant on the square
Italian Restaurant on the square – one of many
Hot roasted chestnuts anyone?
Hot roasted chestnuts anyone?

Art, Art and even more Art!!!

Boxed in
Boxed in

While I have previously written about the annual Art Exhibition in Albas, there were photos left that wanted to be shared. Additionally, this is from the exhibition 2012. Furthermore, being yearly event and there are always new works on exhibit. There is often something on the grill and the day’s menu included local sausages on rolls, salad and a few desserts. Do save room for some fresh, local goat’s cheese ice cream with fresh figs or one of the other tempting flavours.

I hope you enjoy some of the local work. I always do and find things to stretch my imagination, enjoy the music, food and chatting with the artists. In addition, creativity can be contagious and you leave wanting to create something…

Be sure to click on each of the photos to enlarge them and see as much as possible.

Bisous,

Léa

...
Claude Roux – Sculptor
Boxed in 2
Boxed in 2
...
A tight fit!
A tight fit!
The beat goes on...
The beat goes on…
Food, wine and music always go well with art!
Food, wine and music always go well with art!
...
L’Art Caché
There are always wonderful things on offer
There are always wonderful things on offer – goat cheese ice cream… and soaps made from goat’s milk
Just follow the trail from one exhibit to the next. Maps provided.
Just follow the trail from one exhibit to the next. Maps provided.

La cascade

 

 

Cascade de cradies
Cascade de cradies

Off the beaten path, about five minutes from my front door is the Cascade (Waterfall). It may not be large and is best viewed in the rainy season. Yet, it is ours and a lovely place to sit and contemplate, paint, draw, write or share with a friend.

Despite living in the village for several years, I continue to marvel at how fortunate I am to be here. The cascade is best viewed immediately after it rains. Les poissons swim about on their way to a creek and then to la rive berre and the ruins of an ancient mill provides a stunning backdrop.

Tranquility and beauty provide a perfect setting for contemplation of the year soon to pass and thoughts about the year to come.

Bisous,

Léa

 

Mill ruins
Mill ruins                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3534
Moulin – mill                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A spot for creating or dreaming...
A spot for creating or dreaming…                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A creek
A creek                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

en route
en route                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00271
Photo by: Natalje                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by: Natalje
Photo by: Natalje

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Révolution Espagnole

Pencil sketch
Pencil sketch

 

 

La Révolution Espagnole

In July 1936 the fascist troops of Franco invaded Spain and while this blog is dedicated to life in France, it impossible to live in this area and not acknowledge this history between the two neighbouring countries.

December 1 and 2, was an exhibition showcasing The sons and daughters of the Spanish Republicans and Children of the Exodus. The author, Gérard Baylet, was on hand to share a wealth of documents, art work, and numerous artifacts from the period.

In his book, LA RÉVOLUTION ESPAGNOL, the author guides you along the footsteps of his grandfather, Simon. Experience the day-to-day of Simon as he enlisted in July 1936 with the Spanish Republicans to fight the troops of Franco. It is through Simon’s letters home to his wife, Andréa, that we discover the journey these soldiers faced.

Le livre
Le livre

The war for family, country and the struggle for liberty led many to cross The Pyrenees and integrate into the local population. This was not to be the first time that war has changed the boundaries and/or culture between the countries of Spain and France. There influence is all about us here.

FFREEE, Fils et Filles de Républicains Espagnols et Enfants de l’Exode, is an association of ancestors who are committed to collecting, conserving, artifacts and information then disseminating the information through conferences, expositions, publications and cultural events. They were kind enough to lend a number of items to this exhibit.

While I do apologise for the quality of some of the photos, I thought they were important and should be shared regardless. I only wish I could include all the photos that I took.

***

Bisous,

Léa

Photos
Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pencil sketch
Pencil sketch                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on...
Moving on…                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currency
Currency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6815
Author: Gérard Baylet                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dachau
Dachau                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auschwitz
Auschwitz                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camp d’Angeles Sur Mer                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Author                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pencil sketch
Pencil sketch

 

 

 

 

 

DURBAN, MON VILLAGE

Apéritif table
Apéritif table

The heart of any French village or town, is the foyer. Foyer translated means the hearth. It is frequently the gathering place and while the french word for house is maison, the nearest thing to the word home, is the foyer. It certainly has been a central feature to my life here and I return frequently. This past Friday night, once again at the foyer, we viewed a slideshow about L’ILE DE PAQUES or Easter Island.

While I was unable to photograph the slideshow, too disruptive, I do have a few photos from some of the displays. As usual, the program was followed by an aperitif and then later a community meal. Each of us contributed and we all shared in this beautiful sense of DURBAN MON VILLAGE or Durban my village.

As for the repas (meal), everyone brought a dish to share so there was quite a variety. Several long tables were covered with the dishes on offer and everyone served themselves.  While it was a small event, a good time was had by all.

Bisous,

Léa

To your good heart
To your good heart                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foyer set up and presentation to begin soon
Foyer set up and presentation to begin soon                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indigenous crafts
Indigenous crafts                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Display
Display                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showtime!
Showtime!                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bisous!
Bisous!                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful blend of conversation, food and fun
A beautiful blend of conversation, food and fun  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions...
Decisions, decisions…                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing
Dancing                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft
Craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Châtaignes

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

Once again I am spirited back to the foyer in my little village. Tonights event is Châtaignes and a presentation. Fresh roasted Chestnuts. The evening was sponsored by the village association and for a fee, read fundraiser, of five euros, you had a presentation of restoration work and archeology on the village Château topped off with tables covered with hot, freshly roasted chestnuts, red and white wine and neighbours and friends. What more could one ask for?

As the presentation finished, tables quickly appeared and were covered with newspapers then large containers filled with Châtaignes right off the fire. Naturally bottles of wine were on the tables and magically your glass refilled.

Friends and new friends were gathered around the tables enjoying the spread and company! I had eaten chestnuts once back when living in New York City. However, they were burned, lukewarm and tasted as if they were stale but re-heated. After that, I

Family, friends and fun!
A table filled with goodness and shared with family and friends.                              

 

 

 

 

had no further interest in Chestnuts, that is until I moved to France. That first chestnut quickly surrendered its cracked and willing shell. Warm, soft and nutty deliciousness melted in my mouth. One was not enough and there was no need for dinner this evening.

Another word for Châtaignes, chestnuts, is Marron. As you travel around France you will see vendors selling crêpes. One of the menu options will be Marron and it is a spread made from the chestnut. It can be used on crêpes in pastries of even on plain toast and it is delicious.

Bisous,

Léa

 

Crème de Marron de a Ardeche – Chestnut Spread                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serge, french teacher, caught in the act!
Serge, french teacher, caught in the act!       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one box of chestnuts disappears, another box of hot ones magically takes its place. Naturally, there is plenty of wine to wash it all down with.
As one box of chestnuts disappears, another box of hot ones magically takes its place. Naturally, there is plenty of wine to wash it all down with.                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty to eat at this table as well. Just so it doesn't get in the way of conversations. Of course there is movement between the tables as well.
Plenty to eat at this table as well. Just so it doesn’t get in the way of conversations. Of course there is movement between the tables as well.                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Château de Durban
Le Château de Durban

 

Limoux

...
Park near the river and it is a short walk to the square

The last day with Yvonne and Pauline they decided they wanted to visit Limoux. It was a laid back day before they flew back to their hectic lives in London. Being Monday, many shops are closed. That is fairly common here in France. Unfortunately, that will mean another trip to Limoux for the spectacular cheese shop there…

The day started out a bit grey but the clouds finally moved on and by lunch we were enjoying the sunshine.

But first a stop in one of many wine shops. While a variety of wines are available the specialty of Limoux is something called Blanquette.

Blanquette de Limoux The Original Sparkling Wine

Blanquette de Limoux was the first sparkling wine which dates back to 1531. At the Benedictine abbey, Saint-Hilaire near Limoux the monks were producing an usual white wine in a unique fashion. The wine was being fermented in flasks of glass with a cork top instead of the traditional oak vats. This resulted in a natural sparkle in the wine.  Blanquette is made exclusively from Chardonnay and Mauzac grape varieties which give it that dry,creamy and full-bodied wine with a clean taste, a long full finish and fruity aromas.

It seems a young monk named Dom Pérignon stayed at Saint-Hilaire long enough to learn the process as he headed north from Spain. Later, upon arrival in the Champagne region, he passes the technique off as his own.

Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine. However, he was able to make valuable contributions to the quality and production of Champagne wine.

Having enjoyed both Blanquette and Champagne on a number of occasions, it is Blanquette that I buy, have on hand and serve to friends and visitors. It is Blanquette that I provide for celebrations. Like many things, it is a personal choice. However the taste of Blanquette is un-equaled.  If you can find it where you are, I highly recommend you give it a try. If not, you might consider coming to the south of France.

Limoux is one of the few places where I have seen Blanquette available by the glass at a restaurant, bar or café.  À votre santé!

Bisous,

Léa

..
While Yvonne and I won’t pass up a chance for a glass of Blanquette here in Limoux, Pauline prefers to stick with the red wine… Actually, you cannot lose either way!                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The église
The église is just off the square                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notre-Dame de Marceille                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The gentleman in this wine shop on the square will be happy to tell you all about Blanquette and other wines of the region as well as delight your palate with his wares.

 

Trèbes

 

...
Trèbes – center of the old villlage and eglise

I have a soft-spot in my heart for this village. When first visiting France, I met a woman from Leeds, England named Yvonne. We shared a room at the hostel in Carcassonne and spent time exploring the city and looking at properties. She bought one of the houses we looked at as a vacation home. When we parted, we stayed in touch through email and snail mail. She made me promise to let her know when I would return. When my house in California finally sold, I grabbed my Carte d’ Sejour and headed back to France. Yvonne met me and gave me a key to her house to stay while house-hunting for my own home. Her place was located in the heart of the old village with its door directly across from the église. Each day, I took walks along the beautiful Canal du Midi (another post in the future).

The day started out grey but the sun had other plans as you can see from some of the photos.

Just off the main road (old center of town) you can find the art gallery of English artist, Kathleen Burlumi. Kathleen teaches painting and drawing and give lectures (in french and english) on the work of her late husband, David Burlumi.

Bisous,

Léa

 

...
One of the bedrooms in the house Yvonne was to buy, photo taken that day we first saw it.                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
The kitchen with much work to be done                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canal du midi
Canal du midi view                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
Art gallery – Kathleen Burlumi   Artist                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mairie
Mairie                                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
One of many spots to sit with a book or…                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canal du midi
Canal du midi                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Trèbes
River Trèbes                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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L’église                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday market
Sunday market                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday market - Cha
Sunday market – Charcuterie                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seafood Restaurant along Canal du midi
Seafood Restaurant along Canal du midi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fète du Vin Primeur

IMG_6432
Fète du Vin Primeur

The harvest from the vineyards is safely bottled and most will go on sale next year. Yet in the wine region, we have festivals to toast the new wines. It is an opportunity to taste the fruits of this years harvest. It was fun to experience this with friends, Yvonne and Pauline, who had flown over from London for a long weekend of delights. This particular event was in the village of Trèbes a short 7 km from the city of Carcassonne. The population at the last census, 2008, was over 5,500.

As with any event, there was music (bands and DJ), dancing, and of course food. There were plates of mixed cheeses, Charcuterie – plates of assorted sausages and hams, each served with pain (bread) then of course you can have foie gras which is served with a special bread which contains bits of dried figs. Also on offer was grilled brochette of canard (duck) served with spiced apple (Amazing!)

We took a cab from Carcassonne on the first night so that this Designated Driver could safely sample the delights of the event. However, the next day I drove us back to the village to make a few more purchases and explore the town. However, that will be another post!

Bisous,

Léa

Opening ceremonies and acknowledgement for some of the outstanding wine makers and wines
...
Bon appetit!
Plates were being sold as fast as they could be made up
..
New wines and previous vintages available for tasting and/or purchase                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
Dégustation (tasting) encouraged!                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottle with the hand wrapped around it
The bottle with the hand wrapped around it Is a sweet apéritif or dessert wine                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A delightful vintage (2007) from the nearby Minervois – it happens to be the year I moved to France!