“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” – Diane Duane
“Reading brings us unknown friends.” – Honoré de Balzac
While still in Montolieu and having toured the Conservatory of Book Arts & Crafts, we were in serious need of refreshments and then there are books to be discovered. We were in luck as just across from the museum was a charming tea shop/bookstore. On this particular day, the books were to wait as we indulged in the tea and delicious cakes. The cakes to choose from on that day were chocolate or chestnut. The small tea cakes had been baked in a rose shaped mold, were moist and delicious. While I am a chocoholic, I choose the chestnut one and it was amazing. Nathalie is a gracious host and as we left we met one of the resident cats. After all, what is a bookstore without a cat or two in residence?Montolieu has much to offer. There are numerous shops, cafés, museums, courses on paper and book making and don’t forget all those bookstores! While admittedly most books are in French, there are numerous other languages represented as well as collectibles. My personal policy is that I “must” find a collection o poems by a French poet each visit. My collection grows and it is also part of my French learning I assigned myself. If you are into books, reading or writing, there is something here for you. If not, it is a beautiful place to stroll and have a picnic.
Besides having the books and tea shop, like many shops in the village there is a good selection of regional products available. When you visit Montolieu, stop in and meet Nathalie and Stéphane.
“Until I feared to lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” – Harper Lee
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives but one.” – Georger R.R. Martin
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury
When my friend Yvonne pops over from London, we often find ourselves off to explore. This particular adventure was back to Montolieu – Village du Livre (Village of Books).
While I could spend endless days in the beautiful village of books, we had a limited amount of time this trip and the museum was the focus of this trip. If you would like to see more of the village, I recommend checking out my post of 12/12/2011. Or best of all, visit Montolieu yourself!
Located in Montagne Noir (Black Mountains) this small village (pop: 1,400) has 23 bookshops. Each Autumn, they host an ancient book festival. Naturally, as one might expect, such a village is popular with artists and there are a number of small galleries.
Le musée traces the history of print from Pictographs to the Alphabet, from Clay to Paper and the invention of Typography (1454), Linotype (1884), Monotype (1887), Stanhope Press (early 19th century) and so much more.
30,000 BCE: Pictographs are pictures and symbols and represent the first written forms. Concepts are represented by figures and scenes.
4,000 BCE: Ideograms/ideographs are a logographic writing system in which graphic symbols are used to represent words. They originated in Egypt and China where ideograms evolved into its current stylised script system.
1,300 BCE: The Phoenicians invent and disseminate the first alphabet. A limited number of letters that they allowed for the formation of sounds.
1,000 BCE: The Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet that they then adapt to their language by introducing vowels.
700 BCE: The Latin or Roman alphabet appears as an adaption of the Etruscan alphabet which had been borrowed from Greek colonists in Italy. Today, the Latin alphabet is the most widely used in the world.
The earliest materials for writing were stones, shells, wood and even tortoiseshells.
4,000BCE: Mesopotamian clay and the tool used was the “calame” or reed stylus.
3,000 BCE: Egyptian papyrus, a plant found along the banks of the Nile. The “calame” or stylus is made from a blend of soot and resin.
200 BCE: Parchment, is animal skin (goat, calf, sheep…) which has been specially prepared for writing. The writing tool of tis period is a goose feather quill. Ink is made from a compound of vegetable and mineral pigments with egg white as a binding agent.
105 CE: Paper was invented in China by Ts’ai Lun. It was made from vegetable fibre which was reduced to a paste. The process stayed a secret until 751 CE and later introduced in Europe by the Arabs.
Middle Ages: The majority of the population was illiterate and books were rare and precious objects. Therefore, the thoughts they contained were not widely known. In monasteries, monks copied and recopied the manuscripts with each copy errors
compounded and diminished the original meaning of the text.
1454 Invention of Typography:
The German metal-worker/inventor, Johann Gutenberg combined lead, antimony and tin creating an alloy which could be used repeatedly. Gutenberg is generally credited with perfecting metal moveable type.
Linotype: Invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and
produced solid lines of text case from rows of matrices. The line-composing operation was accomplished by means of a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. However, it was much faster than hand-set typesetting and permitted the wide circulation of printed material. It was primarily used for the composition of newspapers.
Monotype: Another type of hot metal composition which appeared in 1887.
Stanhope Press: This press appears at the beginning of the 19th century, and consists of a massive cast-iron frame. It replaces wood presses, but
impressions are still made page by page and inking remains manual.
Plate Press: This press appears in the middle of the 19th century and increases the speed at which printed matter can be produced. The carriage is flat and pedal-driven and rubber ink rollers. It is fed manually.
Heidelberg Press: Appears in the early 20th century. With its high speed cylinder press and an automatic feeding and placing device which pivoting racks pick
up the paper by the use of suction to the entire surface.
Nebiolo Cylinder Press: First appears in the 1940’s. The base is no longer vertical and fixed, but horizontal and mobile. Print form moves under the cylinder to which the paper is attached.
Lithography: Makes its appearance in the late 18th century and gives birth to Offset in the 20th century. This method is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water.
Massicot: This cutting device was perfected by Claude Massicot and allows for clean cuts for reams of paper.
As you might easily imagine, there is much more to see in this museum than can be covered here in a single post. If you plan to visit the south of France, a trip to Montolieu is well worth the visit.
Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.
It seems that most everyone here is involved in La vendange (grape harvest).
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
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
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?
Mea culpa, mea culpa… I’ve been so wrapped up in the season, I have failed to get the post and photos out. Fête nationale celebrates Independence. It is a day of feasting and of remembrance. At 11:30 am, each village will gather at their memorial to remember those who gave their lives for France.
A short walk across the footbridge and I see people arriving and reserving their seats. Some chairs are already turned inward and names written on the white paper tablecloth. Of course there is always a bit of switching at some point. A seat is often found for anyone who might arrive late or be alone. Here you are never alone long unless you choose to be.
To the left of the footbridge is a picnic area, well shaded, and four massive barbeque pits. To the right of those pits is a smooth area where, in good weather, you will find groups playing boules / pétanque.
The gathering begins. You can see a bit of the roof over the snack bar where you can pick up your chosen apperitif. The socializing has begun and will last until the wee hours of the morning.
As you can see, things are set up for the DJ in the background.
Looking at this photo just now, I can see the green shutters of my house in the space between Michel and the young girl he is speaking with.
After sunset, the chateau will be aglow. After dessert, about 10:30pm the fireworks will begin. They are shot from just behind the chateau and is quite a vision.
Manon is as sweet as she looks. Her father is one of the four doctors in the village.
Baugettes, wine, and salad ( baby spinach, red onion and sliced apricots in a smashing vinegrette) and the meal has begun. Besides the bottles of wine, and there are many, there is also bottled water. There is a large variety of tableware as here, each person or family, bring their own.
While you cannot see the chateau through the trees, the old clock-tower is well lit. Next year I shall have to remember to sit on the other side so I have a better view of the chateau.
A literal cascade of feu d’artifice down the front of the chateau. Alas, I’m afraid it didn’t photograph well.
C’est magnifique! You can see the cascade of fire pouring down the front of the chateau and the rockets shooting toward the stars.
La chateau in all her glory.
Dance, dance, dance… The tables have been cleared away as were most of the chairs. The remaining chairs off to the side. The dancing will continue most of the night. Even people from nearby villages will come over to dance having had dinner in their own village first. You will often see parents and grandparents dancing with even the youngest of babies in their arms. As soon as they can stand, they are out there dancing the night away.
Once again it is that time of year. This two day event is my favorite art exhibit of the year. The charming village of Albas, population 76, is host to two main fetes each year. In the spring is Fete des Moutons with animals penned for the children to interact with, sheep shearing and culminated by a feast, and this Exhibition of “hidden” art which falls the first weekend in July. All through the village, maps provided, you will find small private gardens, courtyards and barns open for that one weekend where the locals offer up their spaces to artists. While a number of the artists are local, many travel a distance to be part of the event.
Florence Zacharie has taken to recycling cardboard. The work exhibited ranges from these small sculptures to a mobile, jewelry and even candle holders. The mobile in the center of this photo is made up of tiny cardboard sculptures.
You can connect with on Facebook. I’m afraid that I am unable to verify that as one must be on FB to access it and I am not.
The corrugated material forms a most interesting design in her hands.
A die hard fan of the late, great Jacques Tati and his films, I couldn’t help but fall for the work of Michel Dérosier. Alas, my photos do not do justice to the art or artist. It is my hope that you will take the next step and check out his website including a book he did with the poet, Rémy Boyer. The book titled histoires. http://derosierm.wixsite.com/derosier I am most interested in the book and have exchanged information with the poet who lives only five kilometers from my village. I do hope to connect soon and would love to have that book…
Perhaps one day I shall get to Bezieres and visit Michel’s gallery. It could be an entire post of his work and such a treat for me. No doubt that alone could fill more than one post… not to mention how much I should love to surround myself with his work,
Several years ago, during this exhibition, my friend Rita happened to be visiting. Of course with her being an artist, I knew she would enjoy this show. Each year, different members of the community will host a bit of café and some treat. On that visit, a family opened their terrace for tea, coffee and some amazing desserts covered in your choice of fresh cherries or peaches. On Saturday, I noticed that the place was for sale. Some lucky person will buy a piece of paradise. The terrace is to the side of a large house and joined by a kitchen which I believe was added on a some point in time. Remember, most of our homes and buildings were built centuries ago. My own house is about 400 years old.
All too soon, it will be blackberry season and nature is working toward the big debut. I can taste them already and look forward to my annual stash. I always make sure to freeze some to brighten up a winter meal.
After six years of bringing you this exposition, I have nearly given up on attempting to get everything level. I wouldn’t dream of trying to adjust the art and nothing is level here in the hills. I do hope you will forgive me. This artist seems to focus on the villages in the Minevoirs. A friend in London will soon be getting a card of one of his paintings of a café we visited a few years ago. Please visit Denis Carrière on his website and enjoy his work and the other artists featured there. https://www.latelierdesoeurise.fr/denis-carriere/
While I do attempt to include photos of the artist, some do not like being photographed a feeling I respect, and share. Also, there were a few pieces that I was not allowed to photograph and while I saw a few cameras clicking away, I do respect the rules of the exhibit. If you are ever in the area in early July, I invite you to add this expo to your list of MUSTS!
As every year, there is just too much to share and more than I can justify in one post. That being said, I shall return with Part II of this exposition.
Semain bavaroise or Bavarian Week was the theme in Narbonne last week. I hadn’t noticed any mention of it in the paper but there are so many such events year around and even more in the summer when crowds of tourists line the streets. I first glimpsed the little white chalets set up for selling traditional food and drinks. The were set up in the center square in Front of Place de Ville and facing the Via Domita. Then as I turned and walked up Rue Droit (Right Way) I began to see men and women is costumes heading toward the center square.
The participants gathered on the steps of Place de Ville for a brief welcome was given and an invitation for people to come to the performances of singing and dancing in the evening. The traditional food would also be available in the evening so no chance of sampling it. Alas, I knew I would not be able to remain.
Enjoying a café in the square is something I usually do once a week. It is delightful when the sun is shining. Of course I always have a book or two in my purse and on my table you will see one of the books I am currently reading.
The group assembled on the steps. Inside you can walk about and perhaps as far as the massive ballroom on the upper floor. The offices of the mayor and his council are all there as well. Extra tables with canopy had been set up to accommodate the additional guest and so that the cafés were not over burdened.
Unfortunately, there were throngs of individuals trying to photograph the group and being rather short, I was quickly pushed back to where I couldn’t get more shots. They group reassembled for more photos on the Via Domita but once again, I was unable to get any closer and they didn’t remain for long.
There are events and festivals all year around but through the summer, there is always something on. If you are traveling to France and would like some idea of what may be available in the area you plan to visit, just look on line for the area and the local Office of Tourism. Information is available in both French and English. It will also give you a much broader picture of what you can expect to find.
“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.
Loto cards & prizes
A few more suspects
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…
Once again, L’Art Caché has invited so many talented artists that I couldn’t possibly cram them all into one or even two posts this year. The first artist I present to you is one who exhibited here the second year I posted on L’Art Caché. Zarno takes recycling to a new level and any old television, computer or even small plastic cubes are frames for his creativity. Zarno is on Facebook , Zarno Patamodeleur, (I am not) you can also contact him by email at email@example.com
Claude Roux, I must track down her atelier and see if a visit is possible. Perhaps there are others of you out there that would like to see more of her work. I am finding more and more artists that I want to see their studio or an exhibit of a larger body of their work. She is one of them. If you like what you see, drop by her website and leave a comment. You don’t need to be fluent in French or indeed any French to do so. clauderoux-sculptures.com
You will soon find that Marcel Deltelle has captured me. Okay, so perhaps I’ve gone a bit over the top posting more of his photos than I usually do. He captures me and leads me down an enchanted path to a world I was previously unacquainted with. You can be sure I will keep my eyes open for an exhibit of his or even better, access to his atelier! I know at least a few of you out there that this will really speak to. Please stop by his website to see some of what other magic awaits: http://marceldeltell.wixsite.com/cdml leave a comment. You can reach him also by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is my hope that you find something here that speaks to you, makes you smile or inspires your own creativity. If so, I am thrilled. If an artist interests you, most of them in the three post series have websites or are part of Eurocultures and can easily be located for new works and exhibitions. Please stop by the Eurocultures website as they sponsor this exhibit and many more throughout the year.euroculturesencorbieres
As promised, there is more to be seen from the exhibit in Cailhau. I shall provide links to the artists when possible and otherwise refer you to the Artist’s Collective website.artcailhau.blogspot.com and for those of you on Facebook, here is their link: facebook.com/cailhauartistes
This first photo is one of a few that are at Atelier galerie Al Trial which is where we left off in Part 1.
Tsk, tsk, I cannot imagine a studio of my own being so organized! I do happen to have a number of friends who are artists and shall we say that I would not be alone…
As we move from Atelier to Atelier we do so in a group. Now we move on to Atelier Du Verrier were we can see the Bijoux (jewellery) and Objet d’art by Matthew Millar.
Matthew can answer your questions via email at email@example.com
It took me a moment to notice the bicycle up against the old house in the work above. I do believe it is the piece I like the most among his work.
Our next stop is Atelier boutique L’Ecurie de Pépé. Christine welcomes us into her space which is vibrant and warm. You can contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next and final stop for this post will be Maison A.
The Song of the Shirt was written by Thomas Hood in 1843 to honour a widow who sewed to feed her young children. If you want to know more of the story, check out the following link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Shirt
In the above photo you can find the poem interspersed with photos of early 20th century women in sweat shops making shirts. The first verse of the poem is here for you.
Song of the Shirt
With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread— Stitch! stitch! stitch! In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”
“Work! work! work! While the cock is crowing aloof! And work—work—work, Till the stars shine through the roof! It’s O! to be a slave Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, If this is Christian work!
“Work—work—work, Till the brain begins to swim; Work—work—work,
Please forgive the quality of these photos. I do not have others of these last two photographs but did want to show this piece.
While the birds themselves were creative, if you look closely in the above photo you will find the small man. With the appearance of someone on back of the bird soaring higher I was swept away by this evocative piece. I also use this piece to close the series from Cailhau. I’ve no doubt we shall return.
TheCertifiablyTRUERavingsOfASectionedPhilosopher: Don't be afraid to think you might be a little 'crazy'. Who isn't? Check out some of my visualized poems here: https://www.instagram.com/maxismaddened/