A new story set in the south of France…

Just to let people who may be interested know, I have my first novel on Amazon, printed and Kindle versions. Having waited in vain for agents to even acknowledge my e-mails, I have decided to self-publish because I would like people to READ it. It’s called Zazou and Rebecca, and is set in Southern France, […]

via A bit of self-publicity… — belovedalder

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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

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
...
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

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

The Galette des Rois

Modified – Originally posted 29 December 2011

“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.” – Julia Child

The Galette des Rois

Galette de Roi
Galette de Roi

Celebrating the Feast of Kings.
At this time of year you will see Galette du Roi (or La Galette des Rois) in all the boulangeries in France. The Galette, which celebrates the biblical three kings, appears in the New Year around Epiphany, or the Feast of the Kings. This is normally celebrated in France on the first Sunday (after the first Saturday) in January. Despite this fact, I did get a whiff of warm from the oven galettes in the shop just a few days ago.  Being on my own, I managed to resist temptation of being forced to eat the entire thing. I have no doubt there will be plenty on offer in the weeks to come. Besides, such a treat demands it be shared with friends.

The typical Galette du Roi of the Indre is made of flaky pastry like a pie and filled with frangipane, an almond cream paste. There are regional variations, and some enterprising bakeries offer a different filling for every day in January. However, if you purchase it in a supermarket or discount store, it will be a factory made pastry with the basic filling. Inside the cake is a very small ceramic figurine called a fève ( a bean, which is what they put in galettes long ago). The person who finds the fève is declared the king (le roi) or the queen (la reine) and gets to wear the paper crown that comes with the galette.

If there is no French pâtisserie where you are, I have included a recipe. Don’t be intimidated by its origin as you can use pre-made puff pastry/phyllo dough and have great results. The photo was taken at the pâtisserie of two delightful and slightly mischievous elves known as Valérie & Nadine.

Valirie et N
Valérie  et Nadine H

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ground almonds
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
2 sheets puff pastry
powdered sugar

Directions:

Grind almonds in food processor
Beat sugar and butter
add two (2) of the eggs and almonds.
You now have Frangipane!
Butter a flat baking sheet
unfold thawed puff pastries and using a pie pan as a template cut into two circles
Lay one circle on buttered sheet then spread Frangipane in the center
and if you like, place a dried fava bean or ceramic figure in the Frangipane
Using the last egg, beat and paint the edges of the dough
Place the other dough circle on top and seal the edges very tight!
Brush top with egg.
Bake ~ 25-30 min at 375

The galette is quite rich and it will serve 12 people.

Bisous,

Léa