In the 2008 census, Albas recorded a population of 77. Despite that fact, it is home to a number of artists.
Year round, France is host to shows featuring local artists. With all the beauty, there is much to inspire.
Naturally, there are larger and more frequent shows during the tourist season.
However, there is usually art on offer in
the manner of Expositions of one or two artists at different venues.
Work on display includes paintings, sculpture to Performance Art, there is so much on
Being France, you will always find food and beverages and some
forms of entertainment. This particular event included a show of old automobiles. There is also some music such as a strolling band. Much of the art is for sale and the artists are on hand to answer your questions.
The French word commune appeared in the 12th century, from Medieval Latin communia, meaning a small gathering of people sharing a common life; from Latin communis, things held in common. As of 2008, there were 36,781 communes in France. Just over 200 of these exist overseas. This is a higher number than other countries in Europe and is largely due to the division of the Country during the French Revolution. (Wikipedia) The Communes are a community of villages/parishes/hamlets with the largest often having services for the entire commune. If there is an interest, this could be the subject for a future post. Next to the individual village, it is the smallest unit of government in the Country. Our local Commune, community of villages, invited inhabitants of the Region to join in a day of cultural exchange and celebration. The idea is to all those native to France and all those from other Countries to better know and appreciate their differences.
Each participant will bring a dish (for four) of his area or his country, to share. A number of participants will provide recettes (recipes) for the food they have brought.
If you would like to turn your hand to traditional Irish Soda Bread, here is a link to the recipe that Peter used and it was perfect the first time! http://www.dochara.com/the-irish/food-recipes/irish-soda-bread/
Animation is ensured by the guests, volunteers, who will testify to
the artistic, cultural or traditional way of life of the country or the area of which they are native. It must be admitted that a few will take an artistic interpretation to the idea. Additionally, a few of the French will embrace another culture coming in costume from that Country and bringing food that you would eat should you visit there. There is a prize for the best costume (trophy) and prizes for others who participate in the costume portion of the event. The trophy will be returned the following year for the next winner.
When vide grenier (empty attic) signs start appearing with any regularity, you know spring is on the way.
Before moving to France, I had a series of yard sales and when the house sold, there was a moving sale for everything that I was not taking with me. Occasionally, I would see a block sale advertised and everyone on the block would put out what was for sale.
In France, it takes on a completely new meaning. The whole village comes together to sell what they no longer need. Each individual or family will set up a table and members of the local village association will sell food and café, soda, bottled water or wine. Some villages will have music and more. There is usually a tombola (drawing for prizes). I have been to vide greniers where they had musicians and folk dancing!
You do not need to wait for spring to check out these events. They are part of the scenery all year long. However, they become more frequent in the spring and throughout the summer. There are vide greniers that are for raising funds for groups such as the pompiers (firefighters).
The first year after moving to France, I found two lovely tea services by Limoges. Each was so beautiful that I could not decide and ended up with two. One set was solid white with a scalloped edge and the other (much older) was white and the trim was gold, green with a bit of pink and quite elegant.
You never know what you will find. There are many treasures and more than enough of the used CD’s, DVD’s, old clothes, local wines, furniture, food specialities and more. There are also antiques and treasures to be had. Most of all, it is another opportunity to socialize with your neighbors and welcome visitors. There is plenty of fun for all.
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
My house is in the heart of the village. Yet, two doors away is the village smithy. Armand, his wife Jeanette and son Jean live over the forge. The forge, hearth, is on the ground floor and the family lives in the two stories above. While Armand and Jean often put in a busy workweek, Armand and Jeanette have both celebrated their 90th birthdays in the past year. Yet father and son work side by side in this ancient occupation. Despite his age, this artisan cannot abide being idle and will create with remnants of wood or metal a new life.
Forging or the process of shaping metal by localized compressive forces. The coal/charcoal/coke method has been a process used over thousands of years. Armand has a large raised hearth that is used to heat metals for shaping. I often walk past to see a stair rail, gate or other piece come to life. Some days there will be large and intricate stair railings or gates across the road that are newly forged and waiting for a second coat of paint.
This is an agricultural area surrounded by vineyards. Armand and Jean are frequently asked upon to refurbish vehicles used for harvesting. They must stoke the fires in the heat of a Mediterranean summer to make sure the vintners are ready to harvest come September. In between jobs, this artisan has created many a beautiful piece. I was the fortunate recipient of a Cathar Cross and there are at least a dozen iron musicians with their instruments atop the mantel in Armand and Jeanette’s home. The iron sculptures are between 9 and 12 inches high and stunning. I look forward to taking a few photos of them and when that happens will definitely highlight them here on this blog.
Recently, I introduced you to Marchè Noël in a small village of approximately 700 people.
In a town like Narbonne or Carcassonne with a population of over 50,000, the Christmas Market is on a grander scale and the items available more varied. There are often rides for the young children and even a giant slide or a temporary ice rink assembled in the town square.
Both towns are tourist destination in southwestern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon
Narbonne was the first Roman colony outside of Italy, and was located at the crossroads of the via Domitia, the Roman road linking Italy to Spain. In a future post, we can explore more about the famous via Domitia. While I have not noticed traditional carol groups, the giant puppets wander around the streets of town.
Carcassonne draws thousands of tourists each year. Carcassonne’s medieval fortress is a city unto itself. The town of Carcassonne was built up around La Cité and the River Aude. The temporary skating rink is set up in Place Carnot which is the center of Carcassonne and filled with shops and wonderful cafes. While it looks very cold, the ice on the fountain is added for effect. Most likely, you would be comfortable sitting outside with a cafe or hot chocolate. Between the center of town and La Gare (train station) a giant slide is erected and cabins are set up to sell crafts, food, chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), vin chaud (hot spiced wine) and other seasonal and regional delights. Both towns have much to offer and will be visited again in future posts.
While I admit to going overboard with the pictures today, choosing was challenging. If you enjoy these photos, Saint Malo is definitely a place for you to visit. The pictures pale in comparison to its beauty and there is truly something there for everyone. It is the home to the largest marina in France and an hour’s drive from Mont St. Michel. The sunrises, sunsets and endless miles of beaches and so much more make it a site for romance. Its astonishing splendor steeped in centuries of history will certainly inspire and stir you. If you tire of soaking up the local culture, shopping and café’s the glorious beaches are only steps away.
The National Fort is a brief stroll during low tide and gives an excellent view of the harbor. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time for wandering down cobbled streets, time for the best crepes, for just losing yourself (or for some, finding yourself) in this enchanting fortress city.
St-Malo was built in the Middle Ages a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance. It was built using the same granite stone as Mont St-Michel. Modern St-Malo traces its source back to a monastic colony established by saints in the sixth century. It later became infamous due to the ferocious pirates/mariners who had established themselves there. In 1590, St-Malo declared itself an independent republic that lasted for four years. English ships attempting to pass the Channel were forced to pay tribute.
St-Malo receives more visitors than any other place in Brittany. The credit for its popularity is often given to the magnificent old citadel. While I can see that there is some truth to that, it offers so much more. Brittany itself is an enigma in France. Its treasures await you regardless of it being your first time or a yearly tradition. No matter what you choose to do with your time here, the memories will linger on.
The region of Brittany is distinct from other regions of France because of its Celtic heritage. Approximately thirty percent of its population speak Breton a Celtic language similar to Cornish and Welsh. The language, customs, and costumes are preserved mainly in the more isolated west. However, you can find the beautiful and intricate handmade laces in numerous shops around Brtittany. Rennes is Brittany’s route focus, traditional capital, and cultural center. Its university is a center of Celtic studies.
Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Christmas Markets (Marché de Noël) of France vary from city to town and to each village. The smaller the venue, the more you are inclined to find the real treasures made by local artisans.
Sunday was our village Marché and it is for one day only. Larger villages and towns may extend it and if you are in a city they usually begin their festivities in late November through Christmas.
I found some lovely creations from homemade wooden toys and household wares to paté, fromage, saucisses, and fois gras, to knitted sweaters and caps made from mohair supplied by the artist’s own animals. Of course, there are also tables of fresh pastries, and hot and cold foods. A café or glass of wine will wash down the delicacies. There are many of your neighbors on hand and a chance to meet someone new. There is usually a tombola (drawings for prizes) to benefit the group who sponsors the event. Our local marché was to benefit Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture (youth club and arts center). Of course the local football (soccer) team had a booth to raise funds.
The origin of the markets goes back to Alsace and Germany in the 14th century under the name of Marché de Saint Nicolas. Throughout centuries the fête has had numerous changes in its name often linked with the politics of the time. As recent as the late 20th century, cities across Europe founded their own Christmas market with cabins or country cottages in which vendors sell their merchandise. While some of the items are marketing products you could easily purchase in shops, there is still a large number of local artisans with unique and creative items you may not find elsewhere. Numerous cities include attractions such as a transitory skating rink, train or other children’s ride. Whatever you are looking for you just may discover something more.
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/