I have heard it said that if you love a place when it is winter, you will love it all year around. This photo was taken in January 2008 when I first saw the village that would become my home. In the centre of the above photo is a group of three houses. The first is a large double and the ground floor is home to an iron forge. The two narrow houses to the right of it complete this group and the yellowish one on the right is mine. To the left is the footbridge which crosses the river Berre. The footbridge leads to the other side of the village where you will find La Poste, La Marie (Mayor’s office) the primary school, la maternelle (pre-school), maison de la retraite (retirement home) Maison des Jeunes, a house with several rooms for activities for the young people of the village. While other groups have use of the facilities, the young have priority. There are such associations all over France.
Standing on the footbridge and facing the old Roman bridge, is my favourite view and even though the trees were bare, the river low and the sky grey, to me it was home. The old plane trees across the river now provide shade through much of the year for the new picnic area which was installed last year. On the right, the old stone wall which had been lowered to make the other side of the village visible. It had been as high as the bridge. The level of River Berre fluctuates and is currently very low. However, that can change quickly and strong rains this time of year can bring concerns of inundation such as was experienced in November 1999. The flood waters reached the top of the ground floor of houses along my road and we have very high ceilings. We came close to flooding last year but the quick response of the firefighters (pompiers), wine makers and others in the village created a run off for the water and prevented a disaster. Over the past year preventative measures have been taken but the villagers are ever watchful and respect the beauty, bounty and the force of nature.
This region is known as “Les hommes des souches” is a Corbières saying describing local people whose families have lived in the area for a very long time and who have worked the land, tending the vines and producing wine. The ‘souches’ is the vine plant and the roots go down very deep into the soil. Durban people feel connected with their town, their land, their families and the history of the town which goes back to pre-Christian periods.
Below is my neighbour, Armand, in his atelier. He is a young 90+ and as sweet as they come. His skills are amazing as he creates gates, railings, decorative items and art. In his salon there is a collection of musicians with their instruments all he created at the forge.
The first fire in my new home. While it was new to me it has been around for over 350 years. The tiles are original and one of the distinct patters in the house.
The first December here, we had an unusual visitor.
From the hills
For me, even in the winter there is nowhere I would rather be. I hope you have enjoyed these few windows into my village.