Carcassonne: La Cité – Part 1

The origins of Carcassonne are traced back to the 4th C BC.

In the 2nd Century BC it served as a strategic outpost fortified by the Romans, who gave it the name Carcassonne. The Visigoths succeeded the Romans and overran Gaul in the 5th C AD. When they converted to Christianity, it became a diocese. In the 8th Century the fortress fell to the Franks who later defended the city against attacks from the Saracens.

The Emperor Charlemagne besieged the town in 795, and was held by Dame Carcass, a Saracen princess. After a five year siege, the only food left was one little pig and a bag of corn. Dame Carcass gave the bag of corn to the pig and sent it out to the ramparts. Charlemagne raised the siege, since he thought there was enough food even to feed a small pig. Before the Emperor left, Dame Carcass rang out the bells making them sound the word Carcassonne.

In 1209, Crusades from the north came down the Rhone valley to stamp out the heretic Cathars.
The Viscount
Raymond Roger Trencavel publicly offered protection to all those being hounded by the northern invaders.

After sacking Beziers, the crusading army besieged Carcassonne. Despite the leadership of a youngl Trencavel, in his early 20’s, the town was forced to surrender after only two weeks through lack of water.

The Army council appointed Simon de Montfort, Viscount of Carcassonne in place of Trencavel.
River Aude
Within a year Trencavel was found dead in the tower where he was being held prisoner.

In 1240 Trencavel’s son tried in vain to recapture Carcassonne by siege. Although his mines and missile breached the walls, he was forced to retreat by the royal army.

St Louis IX had the small towns around the ramparts razed and the town’s inhabitants paid for their rebellion with seven years in exile. Upon their return they were permitted to build a town on the opposite side of the river Aude- the present Ville Basse. The walled city was repaired and reinforced. When finished, it was so well fortified it was regarded as impregnable.

Successive kings reinforced Carcassonne because of its strategic importance close to the border with Catalonia. However, in 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees restored the region of Roussillon to France. The new border was now 200kms away, The city of Perpignan now guarded the frontier. Carcassonne’s military importance dwindled and was eventually abandoned and left to decay.
La Cité
When I first visited France in the spring of 2006, I spent a week in La Cité staying at the hostel and exploring the area. Before arriving, I began reading the book Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Her descriptions of the area were so vivid and I felt I had stepped into the pages of the book.
Bisous,
Léa

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,

Léa

...
...
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

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.

DSCN3692
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 delacampagne.com. Her email is: isa@delacampagne.com 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. 

 

 

DSCN3693
The cruel father

dscn3695.jpg

 

DSCN3704
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. 

DSCN3710
Artist Marie-Jose Maleville

You can visit Marie-Jose’s site at http://mjmaleville.com 

DSCN3711

DSCN3715

dscn3716.jpg

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, erickfourrier.fr

DSCN3717

 

 

DSCN3719
Erick Fourrier, the artist at work                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

DSCN3724

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

DSCN3729

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.

DSCN3731

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:  https://eurocultures.fr/evenements/lart-cache-3/

 

Bisous,

Léa

L’Art Caché

This is the third year in a row that I have attended the Albas “hidden art” festival and each time there are new and exciting works to view.  The village is small and surrounded by vineyards. There are numerous sheep in the area as well. The village itself is filled with charming old stone houses, gardens, stone walls and barns. Within this maze are the treasures we come to see. Upon arrival you are given a map to guide yourself from one exhibit to the next. Along the paths you will find brightly coloured markings to help you along the way.

L'Art Caché
L’Art Caché

 

Even without a map you can find the treasures!
Even without a map you can find the treasures! Dots, lines, arrows or other clues to follow.

 

Sculpted trees!
Sculpted trees!

 

Zarno - Patamodeleur
Zarno – Patamodeleur

The artist designs very detailed scenes within the cabinets of old television sets! That is what I call creative recycling! To see more of the artists work or contact directly:  you can look at http://www.facebook.com/zarno.patamodeleur or email at – zarno@orange.fr

More Zarno
More Zarno
Artist: Pernelle Maegaard
Artist: Pernelle Maegaard

 Pernelle Maegaard  –  pernelle@maegaard.dk  or pernelle.maegaard.dk

Pernelle Maegaard
Pernelle Maegaard

 

Pernelle Maegaard
Pernelle Maegaard

 

...

 

...
Michele Aubry-Simonet  –  poteriemonou.42@gmail.com

 

Poppys, Poppys, Poppys!
Poppys, Poppys, Poppys!

The flowers above and sculptures below are the work of Sylvaine Martel. To contact the artist and/or view more of her work: laboitafunambule@gmail.com – funambule.e-monsite.com

Sylvaine Martel -
Sylvaine Martel – Reveil

 

Sylvaine Martel -
Artist: Sylvaine Martel

 

A hidden patio displays artistic delights
A hidden patio displays artistic delights

 

...
KOZMIC BOLDIES BY SOLID

 

...
Photography in a barn…

 

...
A creative way of recycling old tins…

 

...

 

...
Interactive Art - Installation
Interactive Art – Installation

 

Ana s.b. ana-s-b.blogspot.fr
Ana s.b.
ana-s-b.blogspot.com

 

Ana s.b.  ana-s-b.blogspot.com
Ana s.b.
ana-s-b.blogspot.com

 

Marie Renard marie-renard@orange.fr
Marie Renard
marie-renard@orange.fr

Where possible, I have included the name of the artist and contact information. Unfortunately, there were a number of exhibits without the artist nearby and no sign, cards, handouts or other means to identify. I do apologise for this lapse in available  information.

 

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

La vendange

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 back breaking 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 photograped 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 (Corneilus) 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,

Léa

...
...
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

LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER

LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER
LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER

Have you ever planned to visit somewhere, and found it closed? Then with a quick twist, the day turns magical! My trip to Cucugnan was the first but certainly not the last.

While the bakery was open, the mill itself was not. The keys were not there so we could not get in. As long as I was there, I stopped in the shop for some photos and bought something and went to sit on one of the benches. I went to the opposite end of a group of picnic tables as there was a large

Inside the bakery
Inside the bakery

group on the other end and I didn’t want to get in their way. They were such a lively and animated group of friends so obviously enjoying each other’s company that I couldn’t resist getting a picture or two. I asked if I might take a photo and they invited me to join them.

Denis explained to me that they are a group of friends who have known each other since they were seven years old. Each year they hold a reunion. While Denis and wife Alix live on the island of Guadeloupe.

They had just finished their meal and shared their wine, offered me the stunning dessert and gave me a café. After exchanging more information including email addresses we ventured on to the small eglise Notre Dame de Cucugnan to view the statue of the pregnant virgin.

La boulangerie
La boulangerie

If that key had been available, you would have seen photos from inside. Instead you will see pictures of some charming people who I would not have met otherwise. The story of such a group of friends who welcomed a stranger is something I shall think on for a very long time.

Most likely, I shall return to see the mill and take photos of it and this beautiful village. There are other places of interest and it is only 30km from where I live.

Bisous,  Léa

Making new friends is what it is all about!
Making new friends is what it is all about!
Virgie
Vierge enciente, vierge gravide statue
From the other end of the table...
From the other end of the table…
...
Vierge enceinte, vierge gravide
Le Moulin À Vent D’Omer
Le Moulin À Vent D’Omer
Desert d'gourmand
Dessert d’gourmand

Giverny: Part I

Pathway to Monet's front door
Pathway to Monet’s front door

The magnificent garden of the late artist, Claude Monet, is divided into two parts. There is the flower garden, Clos Normand which is in front of his house and the Japanese inspired water garden across the road. When the Monet family settled there in 1883 the gently sloping land was enclosed by a high stone wall and an orchard planted. Clos Normand measures about one hectare and in that space, Monet created a garden masterpiece of colour, symmetry and perspective. ... All of the photos you will see here were taken there in the month of May.  You will see some in bright sunshine, a few photos taken during a sudden shower and others taken when clouds did their best to hide the sun all together. Divided into flowerbeds, clumps of flowers of diverse heights creating volume. Ornamental and fruit trees direct the climbing roses, coloured banks of annuals and long-stemmed hollyhocks. Monet mixed the most rare varieties with the simplest such as poppies and daisies. Iron arches cover the central alley which takes you to or from the main door to the house. The arches are covered with climbing roses and other rose trees envelop the balustrade along the house. As is evident, Claude Monet did not care for structured or unnatural gardens. He arranged flowers by colour wanting them to grow rather freely. ... In the passing years he acquired a love for botany and exchanged plants with his friends. Always searching for rare varieties, he spent great sums of money on young plants saying that all of his money went into the garden. Bisous, ... Léa ... ... ... ... ... ...

Retour/Return

A note: Convalescence is a contrary state. While we may improve, it can take a lot longer to return to many of the things we long to accomplish. Such is the case with this blog. It has been neglected since my surgery and while I continue to improve, I have not been able to explore and record as I would like. Thank you for bearing with me. Today, I had the good fortune of my subject coming to me, more or less. Our local Pompiers (fire-fighters) sponsored today’s vide grenier. Since I have previously posted on a vide grenier, I focus today on the poet and Ambassador to Republique de Montmartre, Linda Bastide.

***

Bisous,

Léa

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
Notre-Dame de Marceille                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...
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.