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

 

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A black cat in Montmartre

If one is to be Le Chat Noir, this is the part of France to be. Alas, my Chat Noir is down on the Mediterranean with me and two sister felines (not black).

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In the old days, Montmartre was the end of some Metro lines. “Direction Montmartre”. Not any more. It’s actually hard to find the appropriate station to go to “Matha’s hill”. I recommend Lamarck-Caulaincourt. No stairs, just walk up from the back. (The first half of this post has just been wiped out by WP. Grrr. Start from scratch. Patience, patience.)

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Le chat noir, the black cat, has become a symbol of Montmatre. Who doesn’t have this sketch on a mug? A cabaret, it was founded by Rodolphe Salis in 1881. It soon drew a crowd of artists and “bohemians”, establishing the reputation of the “hill” as a haven for artists, then and now.

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Sleeping angel. Montmartre, 2018.

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Urban strawberries. Strawberries? Seriously? Yes. Check the leaves. (Do not expect any kind of logic here. This is a Montmartre Pot-pourri)

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Le théâtre du chat noir. To lure…

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URGENCE ECOLOGIE! / Ecology Emergency!

20190513_124051 Two days after seeing this poster on my weekly shopping trip to Narbonne, I saw an announcement in the local paper for a demonstration on the 25th of May. There was no question, I had to be there. 

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It may appear a bit disorganized but it was very early and people were still arriving. I do apologize for the photos I wanted to share but missed. My phone/camera was showing nothing but a blank, dark, screen. I don’t know how much of that was due to the strong Mediterranean sun but I am grateful to have the few photos I managed to get. The drummers were from two groups, one in Narbonne and the second joined us from nearby Carcassonne. They kept us all in beat and let everyone know we were there. There were close to 100 drummers in total. I can’t begin to imagine how many people were there as I couldn’t see past them all. 

20190525_163917-1   World March For The Climate / It is time again

20190525_164003  And The Sea?

The last two photos are the two sides of the sign I was given to carry. Signs were collected upon our return so that they may be used again. I do wish I could have photographed each and every sign as they all had at least one message that needs to be heard.

20190525_161032     Plastic, no thanks / PLASTIC = NO MERCY

20190525_163340    Your climate is heating up / You can guard it!

20190525_151844  Outside the Narbonne Courthouse, we paused to listen to a few speakers from Les gilets jaunes / The yellow vests. As they have every Saturday for the past several months, been in force. We had paused at each of their locations along our route and they were most supportive. Despite being there for their cause, some of them joined us for part or all of the march. 

20190525_141627  TAX ON THE MEAT  – As a vegan myself, I appreciated how the word meat has blood dripping into the land…

As many of you are aware, livestock is a major contributor to global warming, accounting for at least 18 percent of all global warming gases. For those who have been unaware, it is past time that you educate yourself before it is too late. The meat industry is not going to tell you. We must band together, share what we do know and hold the government and food industry accountable. The internet is rich information, alas there is always misinformation so be wary of your sources. Our responsibility is to know and to act. The children know and in rising numbers, they call on us to account for our neglect and to join them. Greta Thunberg travels Europe by train or with her parents in their electric car to speak to the world on Climate Change and what we all must do. YouTube is filled with her speeches. She has been nominated for the Nobel Prize and has just recently turned sixteen years of age. All over the globe, they are walking out of schools protesting. We are not doing enough and so the children have picked up the gauntlet and are shaming us for we have left them vulnerable with little to no future in sight.  Here is a link to Greta addressing the EU and I hope all will listen to this girl’s words. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWsM9-_zrKo

 

Thank you for bearing with me. I will not apologize for my diatribe. What I would love to know is where you are on this planet and what steps you are taking to save the world that has given us so much and what changes you will make so that our children and grandchildren can survive? 

Bisous,

Léa

– Last weekend, possibly the final weekend of glorious sunshine for another year, we went to Strasbourg, the final birthday celebration, a city that is fully French, was once German for almost 50 years and is now filled with pretzels, flammenkueche, and all around adorability… And good cocktails! What? I’m Irish!!! Seriously, I wanted to […]

via FRAMING FRANCE; STRASBOURG — Deuxiemepeau; Picturing Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

La vendange, once again

Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them. 

Fruit of the vine
Fruit of the vine

It seems that most everyone here is involved in La vendange (grape harvest).

Sunshine on our shoulder...
Sunshine on our shoulder…

More grapes are grown in this region than anywhere else in France.  Even before the last of the grapes are picked, the celebrations begin.  The festivities seem to never end as each village hosts its own so there is always one to attend, throughout November, and sample the wares.

While it seems that increasing numbers are being picked by machine, much of the land here is just too steep for them. It is backbreaking work and the cutters used to take the fruit are very sharp.

It is almost a rite of passage that young people from other parts of Europe head down to the vineyards of France to pick grapes and enjoy the country. At the end of the vendange, our village hosts a dance. The wine festivals come later but since there is no set time for vignerons to begin their harvest, it will usually stagger over the months of September through early November. There are places like Leucate where they produce a Muscat (often very sweet) and begin in the August heat!

The vendange I followed and photographed, took place in the tiny village of Embres. It is only a few kilometers from my village and they produce one of the best wines around. My friend Cees (Cornelis) insists Embres wine is the best! They produce a

Embres - vin cave
Embres – vin cave

range of reds, white and delicious rosé.  He will not get any argument from me.  While it would have been lovely to get inside the vin cave to photograph the process, it is just to busy and I would have only been in the way.  Perhaps there will be a future post inside? During the vendange, you can barely get into the little shop where you can buy a bottle of Trois, Pompador or any of their other delicious wines.

One of the pickers is a charming woman named Paloma who was asked to help out a few years ago and said she would give it a go! While many of the pickers are young, they are by no means the entire force. At the beginning of the day, Cees walked up to Paloma and tried to secure a lovely pink rose in her hair. With all the bending, it didn’t last too long but was a lovely thought.

On this team, there were two porters, Cees and Yost. They walk about the vineyard with a large plastic container strapped to their backs. They must keep an eye out for the smaller buckets of the pickers

Cees attempts to secure a large pink rose in Paloma's hair
Cees attempts to secure a large pink rose in Paloma’s hair

which fill rapidly with the grapes and need to be emptied and carried off to the waiting trailers. Each of the containers holds between 50 to 60 kilos of grapes. Imagine yourself carrying around over 100 pounds extra on your back in the hot sun all day.

There was evidence of feasting by sangliers (wild boars) they can do a lot of damage to the vineyards. One local hunter went as far as to have one stuffed and mounted on the roof of his bergerie (sheepfold) where he lives. The unlucky sanglier will end up on a plate and are considered good eating.  Yes! People do live in old bergeries here. They buy them, renovate and sometimes extend the sheepfold into charming and comfortable homes. However, that just may be another post?

Bisous et bonnes santés,

Léa

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Michele, leader of this group of vendangers
Michele, leader of this group of vendangers
Sanglier on the rooftop of a bergerie just outside Embres
Sanglier on the rooftop of a bergerie just outside Embres
Raisins (French for grapes)
Raisins (French for grapes)
The other porter on this team, Yost
The other porter on this team, Yost
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Cees and his Lamborghini
Cees and his Lamborghini