Camp Joffre: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

La belle France. Yet even the most beautiful of gardens has both thorns and weeds. The group Eurocultures invited me to visit Camp Rivesaltes otherwise known as Camp Joffre where we would visit a memorial to some of its darker past. A very short distance from the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, and just the other side of the tracks, lies the remnants of a concentration camp.

For over five years I have tried to share with you some of the beauty in my chosen home. However, this scar must not be glossed over nor forgotten.

 

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Dedication of museum by Manuel Valls 2015
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Inside the new museum

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Reisepass

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La Fuente Family

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A starving child 1941
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Tools?

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Belongs confiscated along with hopes and dreams…

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Testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

Though the walls are crumbling and little remains of the buildings, many artifacts are carefully preserved in the new climate protected museum.

Rivesaltes Internment Camp – Camp Joffre opened in 1938 and was not to close its doors until 1970. For nearly five years, I have shared with you the beauty, serenity and the joy of La belle France. Yet this beautiful Country has had much pain, cruelty and suffering inflicted on it and its people. Many of those coming through this camp did not originate in France but may have spent their final days here.

 

Bisous,

Lea

 

L’Art Caché Albas 2015 part II

As I mentioned in the last post, I have returned to share more from the annual L’Art Caché from the charming little village of Albas.

Sylvaine Martel can be found at: http://funambule.e-monsite.com This is not her first year at L’Art Caché and I must admit to staying in this courtyard longer than any of the others. If you would care to see some of her work from last year, here is the link: https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/lart-cache-2/  By taking a look at last years exhibit as well as this one you will get an idea of the versatility at her disposal.

Sylvaine Martel #1
Sylvaine Martel #1
Sylvaine Martel #2
Sylvaine Martel #2
Sylvaine Martel #3
Sylvaine Martel #3
Sylvaine Martel #4
Sylvaine Martel #4
Sylvaine Martel #5
Sylvaine Martel #5
Sylvaine Martel #6
Sylvaine Martel #6

#6 is the little girl dressed up, she thinks, like mom. I do love these little figures but no doubt you have noticed.

Sylvaine Martel #7
Sylvaine Martel #7
Sylvaine Martel #8
Sylvaine Martel #8

While there were a few more photos, I seem to be unable to post them as my browser keeps quitting on me when I attempt to add certain photos.  Have no fear, there are other works to share.

Michel Jacucha stands over a blazing fire melting the metals with which he creates.  Here is Michel’s information:

Michel Jacucha #1
Michel Jacucha #1
Michel Jacucha - Sculpteur
Michel Jacucha – Sculpteur
Michel Jacucha #2
Michel Jacucha #2
Michel Jacucha #3
Michel Jacucha #3
Michel Jacucha #4
Michel Jacucha #4
Nina Kleivan #1
Fabienne Laheurte #1
Fabienne Laheuret #2
Fabienne Laheuret #2
Fabienne Laheurte #3
Fabienne Laheurte #3

For more information regarding Fabienne’s work, you can contact the artist at fabienne.bernasconi@wanadoo.fr

SAIREO #1
SAIREO #1

More of SAIREO’s work is available through http://www.art-saireo.com, flickr.com/photos/saireo or you can email him directly at saireo54@orange.fr

SAIREO #2
SAIREO #2
A ho
Maison

The above house was not officially part of the art show. However, I was unable to resist taking a photo (or three…) and sharing it. When you venture off the beaten track in France, you never know what treasures you will discover. Is it any wonder that art thrives here and that every corner is an inspiration?

Before closing, I would like to apologise to both the artists and readers. Due to computer issues, there were many photos I was unable to post. I do hope you will forgive me.

Bisous,

Léa

Carcassonne and La Cité

Carcassonne will always have a special place in my heart. When I first visited France it was with a backpack, rail-pass with eyes and heart wide open! I was privileged to stay within the fortified cité for a week. That six weeks traveling France went by in a flash. The lovely bridge leads you into the heart of the town and all that lies beyond. Between the ancient fortress and the river Aude are a playground, picnic areas and vast parkland. To the rear are vineyards.

La Cité
La Cité

This ancient Roman town was established around the VIII Century BC, the Carsac oppidum was just two kilometers south of the present city. The town extends over more than twenty hectares on the apex of a plateau protected by both a ditch and the angled entrances. Due to demographic growth it was reorganized around the late VIIth Century. Another ditch was reinforced by levees and palisades of wood and made to protect the new extension. While we don’t know why, the Carsac oppidum was abandoned in the early Vith Century BC then moved to its current resting place on the mound which dominates the Aude plain. Vestiges acquired from archaeological excavations show us that it was occupied from the beginning of the Iron Age up until the Roman conquest. Among the artifacts are drystone walls, grain silos, bronze foundry ovens and pottery. The discovery of the vast number of goods, especially earthenware (amphoras, vases, goblets…) attests to the activities that took place in this colony which was accessible to trading in the region of the Aude and also the Mediterranean basin.

Drawbridge or main entrance
Drawbridge or main entrance

 

A pathway to the side off drawbridge
Drawbridge from the inside
Cité walls left of entrance
Cité walls left of entrance
Un café
Un café
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Temptation is everywhere!
Sweets for the sweet!
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
Souvenirs abound
Souvenirs abound
Off the beaten track
Off the beaten track
One of the many paths you can take
One of the many paths you can take
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
Below the walled fortress the river forks
Below the walled fortress the river Aude forks

 

This little bridge takes you across the river into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
This little bridge takes you across the river Aude into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club

The citadel takes its reputation from its 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long double surrounding walls which are interspersed by 52 towers. The town has approximately 2,500 years of history which has seen it inhabited or invaded by Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and of course, the Crusaders. It originated as a Gaulish settlement then in the 3rd century A.D., the Romans began to fortify the town. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1247 A.D., and provided a strong French frontier between France and the Crown of Aragon.

After the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the province of Roussillon was included as part of France and the town no longer had military significance. The town became one of the economic centers of France focusing on the woolen textile industry and the fortifications were abandoned.

The French government decided to demolish the city fortifications in 1849. The local people were strongly opposed. The campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument was staunchly aided by the efforts of Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille and Prosper Mérimée, a renowned archaeologist and historian. The government reversed its decision and the restoration work commenced in 1853. The architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was charged with renovating the fortress. Viollet-le-Duc’s work received criticism in his lifetime. Claims were made that the restoration was inappropriate for the traditions and climate of the region. Upon his death in 1879, the work continued under the direction of his former pupil, Paul Boeswillwald and later by the architect Nodet.

If you are interested in the area, may I recommend the book Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Her descriptions of Carcassonne are excellent and her story weaves in and out of the 12th century and modern day.  It was her book that I was reading when I first arrived in Carcassonne.

There are accommodations from four star hotels to the youth hostel within the fortified cité and it can provide an excellent place to stay during a visit. The train station is a short walk away from the centre of town and the airport is nearby. It is not to late to plan a holiday here in the south west of France the summer will be here soon but there are activities here all year around.

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

La mer, off season

From April until well into Autumn, our beaches stay filled. However, for some of us, it is still too beautiful not to go for a walk along the magnificent shore and perhaps enjoy a café, glass of wine or even a meal and stare out to sea. There are bits of obliging wood for writing messages in the sand and the sand is damp which is perfect for castles.

A quiet day at the beach
A quiet day at the beach
A willing you artist leaves his mark in damp sand
A willing young artist leaves his mark in damp sand
Tranquility!
With obliging bits of wood we draw and leave messages on the shore…
King of the hill, or at least the sand pile
King of the hill, or at least the sand pile
Enjoying the view...
Enjoying the view…
to the lighthouse...
to the lighthouse…
A few hardy souls!
A few hardy souls!
...
The sea air does increase the appetite and what could be better?
The sea air does increase the appetite and what could be better?

There is still some time before the tourists begin to arrive to enjoy filling the lungs with salt air, writing volumes in the sand,

While these photos were taken at Port-la-Nouvelle, there are numerous beaches along the Mediterranean which are happy to oblige.

Bisous,

Léa

Un mariagé français!

Recently, I attended a wedding in my village. The couple are the owners of our local café and have become friends in the short time they have lived here.

The grand salon at the maire (Mayor’s office) is where all marriages take place in this village.  The only official marriage recognised in France is the civil ceremony. If a couple chooses they can arrange to have a celebration in a religious venue but it has no legal bearing. Each village has a maire and would have a room or office where the ceremony would take place.

Le salon du maire
Le salon du maire
Henri, Audrey, Loic, Christian
Henri, Audrey, Loic, Christian

Here is the happy couple, Audrey and Loic with their two witnesses Christiane and her husband Henri.

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monsierur deputy Mayor and a member of the counsel

Weddings are usually held on Saturdays or Wednesdays and begin a 4:00pm.  For the most part, they are very casual and brief. The room is not conducive to a large crowd. The couple must have two witnesses and on this occasion, we were a group of about fifteen including the Bride and Groom.

Loic and Audrey sign the register
Loic and Audrey sign the register

 

The deputy mayor is the first to congratulate the happy couple
The deputy mayor is the first to congratulate the happy couple

 

A small group of well wishers!
A small group of well wishers!

In the center of the group you might notice the three boys. The youngest, Mateo, in the middle are the children of Audrey and Loic.

The balcony outside the salon for the ROYAL wave!
The balcony outside the salon for the ROYAL wave!
Loic et Audrey
Loic et Audrey
Ensemble
Ensemble

 

 

Now we are off to their café to toast Audrey and Loic and their happiness!

Félicitations!
Félicitations!

 

...

 

Mateo
Mateo

A few regular’s came by the celebration and joined in.

Presse-citron, the oldest son getting a few tips from dad
Presse-citron, the oldest son getting a few tips from dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

L'amour!
L’amour!
To the future!
To the future!
Hmm, Mateo...
Hmm, Mateo…

In this post, I have decided to let the pictures do the talking. I hope you have enjoyed the wedding!

Bisous,

Léa

Saturday Night Paella!

The early birds are arriving...
The early birds are arriving…

Saturday night and Spring is here. Do you stay at home for a quiet meal with the family? Do you venture into town to dine at a restaurant? Or would you prefer to enjoy the evening with about 350 of your family, friends and neighbours? In my humble opinion, it didn’t take long to decide especially with Paella on the menu. As all meals, this begins with an apéritif and a social hour or two… The evening began at 19h30 (7:30pm) and dinner begins to be served about two hours later..The room will fill quickly but this first photo gives you an idea of how the tables are laid out. The tables are filled with bottles of water and a variety of wines. Fresh baugettes are passed around and added as needed. There are always a few courses and this will be no different. After the paella there is a cheese course then glasses filled with a creamy panna cotta with a raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.   Despite the effort to leave space for dancing later, it would not be possible initially. Never fear, this is France and room is always created for Dance once the food has been eaten. However, the paella pans are so large, each one will need a table in the aisles to support it as plates are loaded.

Muscat, rosé..., que voulez-vous boire?
Muscat, rosé…, que voulez-vous boire?

As you enter the foyer, you commence greeting those around you and continue until you have made your way across the room a time or two. There are quite a number of very young children running about and not a collision not a single tear. The stage end of the foyer is quickly commandeered by the little ones. They have found a large flat section of box and it quickly becomes part of a dance/gymnastic routine that is very creative at times. There is music on the side for background at the beginning and the dancing later.

Socializing is what it is all about!
Socializing is what it is all about! Alain, Christiane and Pierrette

 

Dance, dance, dance...
Dance, dance, dance…
Creative expression!
Creative expression!
My dear friend Daniella is saving my seat for me. You can see my camera case on the end.
My dear friend Daniella is saving my seat for me. You can see my camera case on the end.
Paella... bon appétit!
Paella… bon appétit!
Mangez, mangez...
Mangez, mangez…

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As the initial hunger pangs are quieted, conversation resumes.
As the initial hunger pangs are quieted, conversation resumes.
Josiane with family and friends
Josiane with family and friends
Amis!
Amis!

...

Le maire, just re-elected!
Le maire, just re-elected!

 

a last dance with maman...
a last dance with maman…

A memorable time was had by all and a wonderful way to celebrate community!   Bisous,   Léa

Fête Locale Durban 2013

The most recent fete in our village was last weekend.

Men from the audience recruited to learn the can can!
Men from the audience recruited to learn the Can Can!

Fête Locale Durban 2013 was celebrated over three days and nights. Friday night began with the apéritifs. Later a music and dance act (Plumes de Nuit). The

Bonne appètit!
Bonne appètit!

Master of Ceremonies and several women dancing. Among the dances was the can can.  Food was for sale: Salade, Plat du jour: rôtis de porc, haricots verts, pignon tomate confites.  Also available were Fromage et Glace.

At 11:00, the band, LONDON, started and the dancing went on until five the next morning. This is typical for these festivals.

The second night began with apéritifs and then a meal including: Salad of fresh spinach with strawberries,  Lapin  à la moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard) tomates provençales, fromage, Confiture de pastèque brulée, café, vin compris.

People who had not attended the dinner from this village and surrounding villages started arriving as the dinner was ending. There were other things to entertain such as rides for the little ones and a few arcade type games. at 23h or 11:00 pm the evening’s band ( FEELING) kicked off and went on, once again, until 5:00 am.

A Pètanque team
A Pètanque team

The final day of festivities got an earlier start.  At noon, Moules Frites were served to those who had purchased their tickets in advance. At 14h30 teams reported for the Pètanque tournament.  If you are interested in learning more about the game, please check out my post from February 14, 2012.

At the same time there was also trout fishing and pony rides for the children. Then at 19h, the band EQUATEUR made their appearance. It was a small group that played basically folk and local favourites. It was a warm up for 22h when the Disco began. If anyone was hungry, you could purchase a salad of greens, tomato and cucumber, brochettes of turkey with a yogurt and herb dipping sauce, cheeses and/or ice cream.

As usual, a good time was had by all.

A pony ride!
A pony ride!

Bisous,

Lèa

A pony ride!
A pony ride!
Bonne chance!
Bonne chance!
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!
Whee!
Whee!
Bonne chance pour les enfants!
Bonne chance pour les enfants!
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!
Trout fishing
Trout fishing
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!