La vendange, once again

Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them. 

Fruit of the vine
Fruit of the vine

It seems that most everyone here is involved in La vendange (grape harvest).

Sunshine on our shoulder...
Sunshine on our shoulder…

More grapes are grown in this region than anywhere else in France.  Even before the last of the grapes are picked, the celebrations begin.  The festivities seem to never end as each village hosts its own so there is always one to attend, throughout November, and sample the wares.

While it seems that increasing numbers are being picked by machine, much of the land here is just too steep for them. It is backbreaking work and the cutters used to take the fruit are very sharp.

It is almost a rite of passage that young people from other parts of Europe head down to the vineyards of France to pick grapes and enjoy the country. At the end of the vendange, our village hosts a dance. The wine festivals come later but since there is no set time for vignerons to begin their harvest, it will usually stagger over the months of September through early November. There are places like Leucate where they produce a Muscat (often very sweet) and begin in the August heat!

The vendange I followed and photographed, took place in the tiny village of Embres. It is only a few kilometers from my village and they produce one of the best wines around. My friend Cees (Cornelis) insists Embres wine is the best! They produce a

Embres - vin cave
Embres – vin cave

range of reds, white and delicious rosé.  He will not get any argument from me.  While it would have been lovely to get inside the vin cave to photograph the process, it is just to busy and I would have only been in the way.  Perhaps there will be a future post inside? During the vendange, you can barely get into the little shop where you can buy a bottle of Trois, Pompador or any of their other delicious wines.

One of the pickers is a charming woman named Paloma who was asked to help out a few years ago and said she would give it a go! While many of the pickers are young, they are by no means the entire force. At the beginning of the day, Cees walked up to Paloma and tried to secure a lovely pink rose in her hair. With all the bending, it didn’t last too long but was a lovely thought.

On this team, there were two porters, Cees and Yost. They walk about the vineyard with a large plastic container strapped to their backs. They must keep an eye out for the smaller buckets of the pickers

Cees attempts to secure a large pink rose in Paloma's hair
Cees attempts to secure a large pink rose in Paloma’s hair

which fill rapidly with the grapes and need to be emptied and carried off to the waiting trailers. Each of the containers holds between 50 to 60 kilos of grapes. Imagine yourself carrying around over 100 pounds extra on your back in the hot sun all day.

There was evidence of feasting by sangliers (wild boars) they can do a lot of damage to the vineyards. One local hunter went as far as to have one stuffed and mounted on the roof of his bergerie (sheepfold) where he lives. The unlucky sanglier will end up on a plate and are considered good eating.  Yes! People do live in old bergeries here. They buy them, renovate and sometimes extend the sheepfold into charming and comfortable homes. However, that just may be another post?

Bisous et bonnes santés,


Michele, leader of this group of vendangers
Michele, leader of this group of vendangers
Sanglier on the rooftop of a bergerie just outside Embres
Sanglier on the rooftop of a bergerie just outside Embres
Raisins (French for grapes)
Raisins (French for grapes)
The other porter on this team, Yost
The other porter on this team, Yost
Cees and his Lamborghini
Cees and his Lamborghini

Carrières de Lumières: Underground Art




The beautiful village of Les Baux-de-Provence is a sparkling jewel yet small. One must visit and explore, inhale and touch with inquisitive hand, eyes and an open mind. With such exploration, her riches are exposed.

During my friend’s visit, Rita, we headed to Provence for a few days. Besides strolling about Saint Remy we each had a #1 must see and Carrières de Lumières was hers. My #1 will be revealed on a future post but this exhibit quickly had me under its spell. 

Step into the cave and be transported deep into the 16th century. Let yourself go and be awakened to the visions of BOSCH, BRUEGHEL and ARCIMBOLDO. This is total immersion from the ceiling of the cave down to the very ground you walk on. Walk about freely, stop and look closely or sit yourself down on one of the stone benches available on the caves outer walls. 

20171026_130057.jpg There isn’t a cultural event, landmark, museum or other National Treasure, where I have not encountered groups of school children on a field trip. They are accompanied by a their teachers, are well mannered, respectful and it is such a delight to witness their awakening and appreciation. 

20171026_131035.jpg Perhaps this photo can give you a small idea of just how vast the cave is. Unfortunately, you are seeing only one small area. The projections seem to dance across the ceiling, walls and even the floor of the cave. 100 projectors syncronised precisely with the sound system provide a seemless experience. I had little idea of what I would encounter but trusted that Rita knew we would both love it. As ususal, she was right and I was stunned. The show itself is not long in duration. Yet after wandering around through several showings, I found myself mesmerized and frozen on one of the benches. If I have the good fortune to return to a future show, I hope I shall be better prepared camera wise. What you will see here is from my little smartphone camera as my trusty old point and shoot had run out of batteries. Furthermore, I am unaccustomed to trying to capture stills of a moving target in near absolute darkness. I do hope it gives you of an idea of what a magnificent exhibit it is and perhaps schedule some time to view one of the coming shows. Alas, this particular show ended on 7 January, 2018. The next show began in March and the featured artist, PICASSO.








If you should plan to visit Provence, this is one of the many delights that await you.  



14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

DSCN3937 (1)
Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.



The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 


A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.





Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!




À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 



L’Art Caché II – 2017

As one who lives to write, I appreciated this next artist immensely. Isabelle tells stories with bits of rock, pebble and other bits. I was thrilled when she walked me about her mosaics and sharing their tale. It was a visceral experience and you could feel the different tableau’s secrets.

The daughter and the distant mother


Isabelle Delacampagne’s work is not limited to the mosaics you will see here. Yet this story was so compelling and the work so evocative, I prefer to stick with the tale. The story is of the all too short life of the young girl in the red dress, her parents and her journey. The entire set is on the website Her email is: and there is much more there than was even on exhibit. She is absolutely on the list of the artists whose atelier/workshop/gallery I should love to visit and do an exclusive post on. 



The cruel father



The artist with the final mosaic in the story.

There are many more mosaics to the story and other pieces that space here does not allow me to share. I do hope you will visit her site. 

Artist Marie-Jose Maleville

You can visit Marie-Jose’s site at 




Erick Fourrier sculpts with wood and plastic. It was fascinating to watch him at work. That is not an opportunity one has often. His website includes a link to a video of the artist on youtube,




Erick Fourrier, the artist at work                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


There is much more to see on the website so I do hope you will check it out.


As you may notice, the old barn where monsieur Fourrier’s work is exhibited, was at one time utilized making wine. Wine making is the major industry in this region and though it may take second place to sheep in Albas, it still is part of the lives of most of the residents.


Perhaps some of you don’t feel the last two photos are relevant to the art featured here. You may be right but I feel that the setting is very much a part of an exhibit of Hidden Art.

There are still quite a number of photos to share and artists to exhibit. I do hope that you will return for more Hidden Art. I should also like to send big kudos to Eurocultures for allowing me to continue to bring this art and these artist to you. Please check out their site:




In a village there is something for everyone

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”  – George Orwell

In a village you are part of the whole. Nobody is perfect and together we are amazing! The concentric circles take in the new and allow it its own space among the ongoing saga. If you want to be part of it, the arms are open to welcome you.

Here in our village of 700, we have just enough space for all here. If someone new arrives a new space is born respective of the others. I’ve been here nearly ten years and knew I was home the first time I saw it.

On Wednesday afternoons at the cantina there are games, refreshments and one of the most caring environments I have ever witnessed. My first visit I was welcomed and invited to join in. After that, you are one of the group and your absence is felt and inquiries commence. Are you well? Do you need anything and a really big one is, can I help?

While technically, the game time is for 50 and over, it just isn’t. Yesterday’s repas (meal) and Loto (much like Bingo) mixed several generations. While there are many who lend their support bringing cakes and beverages, lending a hand when there just are not enough for a particular game so nobody is disappointed and chauffeuring those who might not be able to attend otherwise and so much more, there is one person who really has her pulse on everything and I don’t believe the magic would happen without Sylvie. School is out and three young boys and their mothers joined in. Sometimes a young person will call the loto numbers. The three boys played and one actually won a game.

20170705_114209 - Sylvie


20170705_114354 - prizes

Loto cards & prizes

20170705_114406 - Loto cards

20170705_123331 - gathering 1

20170705_124149 - gathering 3

20170705_125528 - Usual suspects

Usual Suspects


tiff infomation

A few more suspects

20170705_125807 - bon appetit 2

Bon appetit!

20170705_125818 - bon appetit 3

20170705_140147 - Michael et Serge 2

20170705_143957 - more than one way to play... 1
Choose your weapon, plastic discs or nuts and bolts?
20170705_144013 - Denise et Claude, tough competition!
Denise et Claude – tough competition!

If you cannot find anything to do in a small French village, you are not looking. Flyers are posted at the local businesses and announced on the PA system. Just recently our village has posted its own website as more villagers go online.

Everyone had a wonderful time and nobody was in a hurry to leave. The group is on hiatus now until September but there is always something else to do. Now I am off to my favorite art expo and there just may be a post or two in that…



Peyriac-de-Mer and a vide grenier

Summertime along the Mediterranean in the lovely village of Peyriac -de-Mer, what could be lovelier? Well on 5 July, there was the additional option of browsing the village vide grenier.

Peyriac de Mer Centreville

Peyriac-de-Mer Centreville

Peyriac-de-Mer’s last census (2008) was just over one thousand. However, there are always visitors. They come for the food and for the wine. There are several wine caves and since I was last there, a second café has been added.

A centre courtyard
A centre courtyard
Bon appetit!
Bon appetit!
Vide grenier
Vide grenier
Étang - Pond
Étang – Pond

The étang or ponds that line along the Mediterranean are breeding areas for flamingos. They usually begin arriving in October but I noticed them in mid-September last year. They feed of the rich shrimp beds and have their young then move on in April.

More vendors
More vendors
Finding a friend
Finding a friend

I knew my friend, Jiranan, would be a vendor at the vide grenier but not where she would be. I managed to take the photo above before she noticed me. She is on the right kneeling with her copain (boyfriend), Olivier.

The vide grenier area and a small playground are located behind the foyer on the road to the next village to the north-east which is Bages.

Up close...
Up close…
L: Olivier  R: Jiranan
L: Olivier R: Jiranan

In most villages you will find a large smooth surface such as the one above in at either the foyer or the mairie. Many events, festivals and village meals (repas) will be centered there. While the area will be filled with chairs and tables early on, the circle will be cleared after eating and the dancing begins. Music is often part of the entire evening.

Walking around any village you will find benches for reading, visiting or just catching your breath. While larger towns have workmen that care for planters and gardens in our small villages these are cared for by volunteers.

Le bureau or shop where you can buy tobacco, newspapers, magazines...
Le bureau or shop where you can buy tobacco, newspapers, magazines…
Les deux cafés
Les deux cafés

The café on the left is one I had been to before on visits to the village. However, it appears to have changed owners and except for the basic structure, has no resemblance to the previous café. The small one on the right is new. The village also has a small store, boulangerie, realtors, numerous wine caves and art galleries. Like many of these villages, there is a large portion of the population that is involved in the arts. There are art events frequently but not this time.  Even with two cafés, many people were out searching for a place to sit and enjoy some refreshments.

Noix des Saint-Jacques Salade
Noix des Saint-Jacques Salade

The above salad is more beautiful in person. It is scallops and shrimp and of course, all local. The dark spots are a touch of balsamic vinegar and there were two different types of sprouts. A perfect pairing with a local rosé!


Beneath the green awning directly ahead is one of many small art galleries. This one in particular is currently featuring pottery. However, you cannot go far without finding another gallery.

This charming village is located about 20km from my village and I drive past it frequently on my way into Narbonne.

Like everywhere else in France there are weekly markets, music festivals, theatre and more.



Exposition: Jean Savy

Artist: Jean Savy
Artist: Jean Savy

The artist Jean Savy has his roots in the Breton region of France. As for many of us born near the sea, it continues to call to him and to influence his work. From his imaginative totems which he has sculpted from treasures harvested from local beaches, to the under water experience that spoke to me from a number of his paintings, Jean has succeeded in capturing those illusive moments experienced beneath the waves. Snorkelling and swimming along the ocean floor have long been passions of my own. Friday night, I was transported back to this underwater world. Suddenly, albeit briefly, the powerful wind and chilling temperatures ceased to exist,

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA  A self-taught artist who has lived in Paris (16 years) before moving to the south, he has exhibited widely from Paris to Albi. Jean is devoted to his art and each day is spent creating or gathering the tools he requires. In 1983 he set out to explore the genre of figurative art. Pleased with his early efforts, he continued. Jean’s technique, like his journey is very personal. Jean has not had any artistic education but has chosen to learn from experience. Auto didactics are at times, dismissed or marginalized. However, Savy joins the ranks of SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAothers such as Viollet-le-Duc (French architect and theorist), Frank Lloyd Wright, Noël Coward, Gustave Eiffel, Karl Marx and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to name a few.

Jean prefers to work alone. “I fill the white canvas by creating a form of relief and structure in white and afterwards I start playing with colours, colouring pigments and liquids of every sort – even water- on canvas.” Is it a game of chance? No. “I always make something that resembles me. You always project your sub consciousness on the canvas; it is a projection of it. I experience painting as a game of expression and of pleasure.”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOn a particularly miserable evening after a trying day, I was transported back into the tranquil embrace of the sea and felt a sense of renewal.

If you are interested in purchasing some of his work, Jean Savy can be reached at Additionally, please be sure to click on the photos!