In a village there is something for everyone

“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.

20170705_114209 - Sylvie

Sylvie

20170705_114354 - prizes

Loto cards & prizes

20170705_114406 - Loto cards

20170705_123331 - gathering 1

20170705_124149 - gathering 3

20170705_125528 - Usual suspects

Usual Suspects

 

tiff infomation

A few more suspects

20170705_125807 - bon appetit 2

Bon appetit!

20170705_125818 - bon appetit 3

20170705_140147 - Michael et Serge 2

20170705_143957 - more than one way to play... 1
Choose your weapon, plastic discs or nuts and bolts?
20170705_144013 - Denise et Claude, tough competition!
Denise et Claude – tough competition!

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…

Bisous,

Léa

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Nathalie Dento et Fabienne Laheurte

 

Exposition: La Galerie BeauN'Art
Exposition: La Galerie BeauN’Art

A beautiful summer evening and art. What more could one ask for? While I had viewed some of Fabienne’s ceramics in the Albas expo, L’Art Caché last month, there is no such thing as too much art. Even better, it was the opportunity to meet both artist and have a tiny chat. They were happy to discuss their work but being the opening, others clamoured for them as well so I shall do the best I can with what I have and actually, find their work to say it best.

Peinture - Nathalie Dento
Peinture – Nathalie Dento

“Each of my paintings tells my life, it is the track of my emotions, my fragrant road multicolored joys, sparkling…  neutral, gray or transparent depths, research, sadness and mourning which translation is the dark, this … forever.” – Nathalie Dento

Some of these paintings spoke to me on a much deeper level. I’ve always had a strong connection with the sea and when a work of art can transport me there, when I can feel it’s pull physically, it pulls like the tide. At times they can pull me under to explore the underwater world and at times they open up to the light and help me see beyond.

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Nathalie’s paintings are so striking to view. You can contact her at: toidumonde11@gmail.com

While I do enjoy the openings and the assurance of getting at least a glimpse of the artist or artists, it also limits the accessibility to the work and the opportunity to capture the best or even a level field for photographs. Will this stop me from attending openings in the future? Not likely. Yet there are times I would be tempted to sneak back and see if I could improve the quality of my work when time and distance make this a possibility. Alas, openings are those rare occasions when all artists involved are likely to be in attendance.  Both women are eager to discuss their work but time does not really allow this under such circumstances.

Fabienne Laheurte
Fabienne Laheurte – Sculpteur

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There were smiles all around!
There were smiles all around!

Due to the small space that was available at this time, Fabienne was unable to display much of her work due to the limited floor space. However, when I did my post last month for L’Art Caché in Albas, I was fortunate enough to experience some of the artists other work. Please visit the second of the L’Art Caché posts, https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/lart-cache-albas-2015-part-ii/ to view more of what she has to offer.  You can also contact Fabienne through atelierlaheurte.blogspot.com or email:  fabienne.bernasconi@wanadoo.fr

Bisous,

Léa

La Fête Nationale

 

When it is spoken of in English speaking countries, 14 July is usually called Bastille Day or (French National Day). Here in France, it is La quatorze juillet (14 July) or La Fête Nationale (Formal name). The actual storming of the bastille was 14 July 1889

Make reservations?
Make reservations?

The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the heart of Paris. On the morning of 14 July 1789, the people stormed the building and released the seven prisoners it contained at the time. Yet this action had nothing to do with the number of inmates but the fact that the storming was a symbol of the abuses of the monarchy and was the critical stage which erupted into the French Revolution.

Grab a beverage and start socialising!
Grab a beverage and start socialising!

There were three events that led up to the revolution. First was the revolt of the nobility, refusal to aid King Louis XVI by withholding taxes, the second was formation of the National Assembly and the third event was the storming of the Bastille and the ensuing Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
A Counsel member chats with the DJ - a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A Counsel member chats with the DJ – a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A great view of the castle and fireworks
A great view of the castle and fireworks
Henri et Georgette - await their respective spouses
Henri et Georgette – await their respective spouses
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette

The masses formed the National Guard, sporting tricolour or cockades (cocardes) ribbons knotted together of red, blue and white. These cockades and soon the color scheme itself, become symbol of the revolution and continue today as symbol of France itself.

 

And the dancing begins
And the dancing begins

While the date for the destruction of the Bastille was indeed 14 July 1789, the date for French National Day was actually 14 July, 1790 to commemorate the 1790 Fête de la Fédération. It is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and reconciliation of all French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution. Celebrations are held all over France. A largest and oldest military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign quests.

Dance the night away... at least until 5am
Dance the night away… at least until 5am

Here in my small village, there will be a meal (repas) attended by all who wish. Each year a different village organization takes charge of preparing the dinner, selling tickets procuring music and everything else that is involved. As the meal comes to a close fireworks are shot from the village chateau. The tables and chairs get moved way back and the dancing goes on well into the morning. Despite the fact that I was, once again, invited to spend the day in Carcassonne where there is the second largest fireworks display outside Paris. However, the evening with my friends and neighbors cannot be matched by a mere firework display. It is one day I truly do not want to be anywhere else.

Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well
Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well

Seating fills quickly but you can make a reservation by stationing someone from your group or by placing something at one point, tipping forward the chairs you will be using and also with a pen or marker put the name and number of guests you require seating for. While this may sound simple, the claim is respected and your seats await you.

Barbe à papa (Papa's beard) AKA Cotton Candy
Barbe à papa (Papa’s beard) AKA Cotton Candy

 

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

Peyriac-de-Mer and a vide grenier

Summertime along the Mediterranean in the lovely village of Peyriac -de-Mer, what could be lovelier? Well on 5 July, there was the additional option of browsing the village vide grenier.

Peyriac de Mer Centreville

Peyriac-de-Mer Centreville

Peyriac-de-Mer’s last census (2008) was just over one thousand. However, there are always visitors. They come for the food and for the wine. There are several wine caves and since I was last there, a second café has been added.

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A centre courtyard
A centre courtyard
Bon appetit!
Bon appetit!
Vide grenier
Vide grenier
Étang - Pond
Étang – Pond
Étang

The étang or ponds that line along the Mediterranean are breeding areas for flamingos. They usually begin arriving in October but I noticed them in mid-September last year. They feed of the rich shrimp beds and have their young then move on in April.

More vendors
More vendors
Finding a friend
Finding a friend

I knew my friend, Jiranan, would be a vendor at the vide grenier but not where she would be. I managed to take the photo above before she noticed me. She is on the right kneeling with her copain (boyfriend), Olivier.

The vide grenier area and a small playground are located behind the foyer on the road to the next village to the north-east which is Bages.

Up close...
Up close…
L: Olivier  R: Jiranan
L: Olivier R: Jiranan
Foyer
Foyer

In most villages you will find a large smooth surface such as the one above in at either the foyer or the mairie. Many events, festivals and village meals (repas) will be centered there. While the area will be filled with chairs and tables early on, the circle will be cleared after eating and the dancing begins. Music is often part of the entire evening.

Walking around any village you will find benches for reading, visiting or just catching your breath. While larger towns have workmen that care for planters and gardens in our small villages these are cared for by volunteers.

Le bureau or shop where you can buy tobacco, newspapers, magazines...
Le bureau or shop where you can buy tobacco, newspapers, magazines…
Les deux cafés
Les deux cafés

The café on the left is one I had been to before on visits to the village. However, it appears to have changed owners and except for the basic structure, has no resemblance to the previous café. The small one on the right is new. The village also has a small store, boulangerie, realtors, numerous wine caves and art galleries. Like many of these villages, there is a large portion of the population that is involved in the arts. There are art events frequently but not this time.  Even with two cafés, many people were out searching for a place to sit and enjoy some refreshments.

Noix des Saint-Jacques Salade
Noix des Saint-Jacques Salade

The above salad is more beautiful in person. It is scallops and shrimp and of course, all local. The dark spots are a touch of balsamic vinegar and there were two different types of sprouts. A perfect pairing with a local rosé!

Gallery
Gallery

Beneath the green awning directly ahead is one of many small art galleries. This one in particular is currently featuring pottery. However, you cannot go far without finding another gallery.

This charming village is located about 20km from my village and I drive past it frequently on my way into Narbonne.

Like everywhere else in France there are weekly markets, music festivals, theatre and more.

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

 

 

Vide grenier – empty attic

It seems that many Countries have something like a vide grenier or empty attic. In some places they may be a car boot sale, yard sale, garage sale, block sale… Here in France we empty our attics which are much more common than a garage and the village is invited to put out their merchandise. Of course there are always a few new things, and an artist or two but most of what is on display will be items in search of a new home.

Metal sculpting
Metal sculpting
More metal sculpture
More metal sculpture

While most of the vide greniers take place from early spring and throughout the summer, you can find them year around if you search. There are websites where you can look to see what is available in the area you want and the one that comes to mind quickly is vide-greniers.org. They will have other information such as Brocantes (second-hand) which may include more antiques but DO NOT ASSUME! The best way is to check it out for yourself. There is always a group within the village that will host it and charge a few euros for the space to help raise funds. The same group will host the refreshment bar or buvette.

One persons treasure...
One persons treasure…

The next one in this village is on 25 May and will be hosted by the SAPEURS/POMPIERS or Emergency Services/Fire Fighters. They always have the largest turnout for vendors and customers and I would rank their buvette at the top of the list.

Old instruments...
Old instruments…
Moulins (Mills) and more
Moulins (Mills) and more
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phonograph...
phonograph, balance
45's
45’s
Buvette
Buvette
Grilling sausages...
Grilling sausages…
more treasures
more treasures
Soap racing
Soap racing 14 Mai

The races on 14 May offer a bit of a demonstration today. As you can see from these photos, no two entries are alike.

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Of course this is a great opportunity to socialise with friends and neighbours. As more tourists arrive for the season their ranks will swell at the greniers. Not to mention, some of the vendors come from other villages and people do travel to greniers outside their home village frequently. The activities culminate in a dance which goes until the wee hours… Get your dancing shoes on!

Bisous,

Léa