La Fête du Muguet

La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail, May Day in France is a public holiday to campaign for and celebrate workers’ rights. It is also an occasion to present  Muguet, lily-of-the-valley, or dog rose flowers to loved ones. Often it is just a single sprig of Muguet with a few leaves. However, some will incorporate a rose or even add several sprigs of Muguet to a much larger arrangement or plant.

How is the day celebrated: People across France give bouquets (or a single sprig) to their loved ones. In some areas, families will get up early to go into the woods to pick the flowers. Labor organizations will sell the flowers on the streets on May 1. Special regulations enable individuals and some groups to sell the flowers on May 1 without complying with retail regulations or paying a tax.

Parades and demonstrations to campaign for the rights of workers are organized by Trade unions and other organizations.  Campaigns for human rights and other pressing and current social issues will be out in number.

May 1 is a public holiday. Businesses will be closed as well as banks, post offices, and shops. Other than a high traffic tourist area restaurants and even cafes may close. In the major cities, the airport, railway station along the highways (tolls)  may be open.  There could be disruption to traffic in the heart of large cities especially Paris due to Parades and demonstrations. There could also be limited access to Public transportation so check before setting out.

On May 1, 1561, King Charles IX of France was presented with Muguet and was so enamored of the gift that he instituted the tradition of presenting them to the ladies of his court. In 1900 men began presenting them to women as an expression of affection or interest. Today, they are given as a token of affection/appreciation between family members and close friends.

When the eight-hour working day was made official on 23 April 1919 the first of May became a public holiday. During World War II, the holiday ceased but was resumed in 1947. One year later, it became known as La Fête du Travail or Labor Day. It is a day used to campaign for and celebrate the rights of workers across the Country.

Don’t forget to click on those photos!

 

  Bisous,

Léa

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 have 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 nearly eight 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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Belongings 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. 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. With the rise of fascism rampant in numerous parts of the world, I felt it imperative to reblog this post.

 

Bisous,

Lea

 

French Kiss Gratuit!

Free French Kiss!

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 These brave young men were walking across the plaza in the nearby city of Narbonne with their sign, smiles and three other friends (one female). However, they were the only two willing to be photographed. I suspect they were just grateful that this not so young woman was not going to demand that kiss. This is just a small example of just how friendly the French can be.

 

Despite the brevity of this post, I do believe the photo says it all.

 

Bisous, 

Léa

 

 

SAMEERAH AL BSHARAH: “Between Light and Shadows” Part II

Like part one, this was originally posted in 2015. However, I felt it well worth the repeat and there will be a few other, older, repeats in the next few weeks. A dear friend arrives from California on Thursday and I believe there will be some travel involved which should result in some interesting posts around mid November. Thanks for your continued support.

 

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Mort de l’accouchement

 

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Transformations humaines
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
...
Even the children are interested in the artist and her work

 

Olive grove where we parked
Olive grove where we parked
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room

 

Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Back on the road and heading home
Back on the road and heading home

 

Bisous,

Léa

Sameerah Al Bsharah: “Between light and shadows” the artist in exile – Part I

“Exile of Syria,” chiaroscuro of SAMEERAH AL BSHARAH

“BETWEEN LIGHT AND SHADOWS”

Sameerah Al Bsharah
Sameerah Al Bsharah

A short biography:
Sameerah Al Bsharah, Allama, was born on 1 January 1952 in Sweida (Syria). Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1977, she taught art education at the University of Damascus. Member of the Brotherhood of Syrian artists painters, Sameerah Al Bsharah has several exhibitions to her credit including the Syrian city of Latakia where she participated in the famous Biennale.

Living in Deraa, the family fled the conflict in 2012 and took refuge in Jordan, then in France in November 2014. Hosted by the Centre for Asylum Seekers Home (CADA) of Béziers, the family has obtained the status a refugee.

Sadly, I have no website or even email address to recommend to you and would suggest contacting CADA of Béziers for further information on the artist and her work.

 

Damas
Damas

 

Violence
Violence

The setting for this exhibit is Domain Langel just outside the village of Artisan. This tranquil setting surrounded by olive orchards and vineyards with honey coloured stone buildings waits to embrace the work of the artist as she translates through her paintings the torments of a country in turmoil.

While domain Langel continues their production of olive oil they also have set a goal of cultivating environmental education and cultural activities.

Veto
Veto
Des enfants de la Syrie
Des enfants de la Syrie
Upper: Transformations humaines / Lower: Des syriens a l'hopital
Upper: Transformations humaines / Lower: Des syriens  a  l’hopital

Over tea on the cold tiles of the kitchen, she carried her paintings and comments on: this is called <moustachfa> (<hospital> in Arabic) and reflects the expressions, the intermingling of bodies that may be encountered in Syrian hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of victims of war.

On another painting, three fish with sharp teeth represent that powerful attack of frightened people. Sameerah denounced the veto in the UN Security Council that would prevent international intervention and let the Syrian people defenseless. A composition black and white leaves perceive injuries, body and spirit.

L: Une mere et sa fille R: Femmes Lower: Le jeu des sectarismes
L: Une mere et sa fille R: Femmes Lower: Le jeu des sectarismes
Casque militaire
Casque militaire
Ca suffit
Ca suffit
Le bien et le mal
Le bien et le mal
Transformations humaines
Transformations humaines
Triptyque du plateau de Hauran Région de Syrie méridionale, très fertile.
Triptyque du plateau de Hauban
Région de Syrie méridionale, très fertile.

Alongside these poignant testimonies of the Syrian conflict, other paintings pay tribute to Syrian beauty: lush scenery, smiling women and tranquility.

The paintings  that Sameerah presents were dismantled from their frames before departure. Many stayed in Syria or Jordan; it was impossible to take everything into exile.

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La chaise
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Pause
La fin de Pharaon
La fin de Pharaon
Une femme et un miroir
Une femme et un miroir

Due to factors beyond my control, the photos I offer are poor representatives of the work on offer. There is much more to add and therefore, this will serve as part one of an amazing exposition.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR A BETTER VIEW.

Bisous,

Léa

 

French Kiss Gratuit!

Free French Kiss!

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 These brave young men were walking across the plaza in the nearby city of Narbonne with their sign, smiles and three other friends (one female). However, they were the only two willing to be photographed. I suspect they were just grateful that this not so young woman was not going to demand that kiss. This is just a small example of just how friendly the French can be.

 

Despite the brevity of this post, I do believe the photo says it all.

 

Bisous, 

Léa

 

 

Vendange

As per usual, the summer has flown by all to fast for some of us. I must admit that I include myself in those numbers. However, the Autumn does have some delicious things going for it and what could be better than French wine? 

One might imagine that things get rather quiet in a small rural village after the tourist season draws to a close. Yet, that is not the case. As early as late August, the vignerons begin the harvest. There will be some unfamiliar faces as young people from all over europe arrive to help get the raisins (grapes). From before seven in the morning until the last shards of light fade away the streets are a hive of tractors, grape harvesters and vehicles filled with pickers on their way to the vineyards and large trailers brimming with freshly harvested grapes.

The Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine-producing region in France. More wine is produced in this one small region than in the entire United States.  A wide variety of grapes are grown here such as Grenache, Syrah as well as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. While Languedoc wines cover a rather broad spectrum, from white to red; sweet to dry and of course sparkling which pre-dates Champagne (but that will be another post and another time). The region proudly cultivates the vines on over 700,000 acres here along the Mediterranean coast. It is thought to be the single largest wine-producing area in the world.
The Languedoc-Roussillon is arid, warm and brimming with sunlight. The rugged terrain of herbs, brush and resinous plants infuse the wine with their scents and flavours. It is the ideal terrain and climate for growing grapes. While the quality became secondary to quantity for a time in the early twentieth century the hard working vignerons  committed themselves to turning it around with remarkable results.

A neighbor, Remy,  makes a lovely collection of organic wines and also grape juice. If I am lucky, I can buy a few of the days pickings that did not end up in the vats. Gait is a manager for Remy and has the “honor” of having the buckets of grapes from all the pickers loaded into the large container on his back (porter). Being quite tall, he must bend to allow the pickers to dump the fruit into the container on his back which quickly fills. He follows around all of the people who are cutting the clusters of grapes and then transports his container when filled to the trailer which will quickly be transported back to the cave and on its way to the vats. While it is true that large machines harvest a vast amount of the grapes, a number prefer the hands on approach. Additionally, some of the terrain is such that this is not a viable option.

DELICIOUS!
DELICIOUS!
Tomek
Tomek (seasonal worker from Poland)

Most of the workers are seasonal and some speak little french.
The perfume of fermenting grapes begins to fill the air as fêtes de vins fill our weekends with tastings, dances, music and more. They last well through November even though the last grapes have been harvested. While these photos are all taken at Domaine Sainte Juste, and Embres – Castlemaure there are a several wonderful options in just this small village alone (pop. 700). There are many more vineyards just a few kilometers away. Embres – Castlemaure is a cooperative and Durban has a wide variety of Vigneron (wine grower) There are at least thirteen seperate caves here. In addition, there are many who have smaller vineyards and make wine just for personal use or sell to a cooperative. If you want a workout, try your hand at the porter’s job. The receptacle on his back hold 60 kilo or just over 132 pounds. They carry those on their backs up hill and down for several hours a day during the harvest. 

Vineyards are everywhere
Vineyards are everywhere
Porters, Corneilus and Yost
Porters, Corneilus and Joost

If you want an extreme workout, try the porter’s job. The receptacles they carry on their back hold 60 kilo or a little over 132 pounds. They are carrying these up and down hills and then taking them to the awaiting trailer to be hauled of to the cave.

Fill those containers and keep moving!
Fill those containers and keep moving!

In our village, a huge party is hosted after the vendange for all who participated. There is music, dancing and refreshments. This lasts well through the night.

Alas, this year, March was quite warm and enough to coax out those early shoots. April followed with two separate nights of frost and destroyed crops all over France. While some did not have severe losses, one of our local vignerons reports a loss of about twenty percent. Losses could be found on one side of a road with the opposite spared. 

With the wine safely pressed and in the vats, the wine festivals commence. They are everywhere and one can pick and choose which to attend. 

 

Remains of the day
Remains of the day
Embres - Castlemaure Cooperative
Embres – Castlemaure Cooperative
Fruit on the vine
Fruit on the vine

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

 

 

Remy owner Domaine Saint Juste
Remy owner Domaine Saint Juste