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

 

 

Homme de la Renaissance

Patric and friends
Patric and friends at Bio Marche

Homme de la Renaissance or The Renaissance Man. We hear of him but often there doesn’t seem to be much convincing evidence of his existence in the 21st Century. Yet there is such a man who walks among us here in the south of France. I am privileged  to know one and fortunate enough to witness some of his many talents on a regular basis. Patric was born in Lyon and moved to this area in 1975.  He has two sons and two daughters with 7 grandchildren and one on the way. He lives in a nearby village in an Eco home which he designed and built on his own. He is a vegetarian and grows much of his own food. Just who is this man? Is he a musician? A writer? An artist? Yes! He is all of these and so much more. It was my first year in France when I met Patric. For insurance purposes you must obtain a certificate from a chimney sweep, each year, that your fireplace has been cleaned and is safe to operate. I asked around and the number I was given was for Patric. He swept chimneys for 32 years and just retired two years ago.

Patric at work
Left by Arlette Mouton et Patric – Right by Shemon Ben Youssef

Music: Patric can play any instrument that he comes in contact with. He also teaches music. Art: Patric studied at Ecole Boulle in Paris. Among his many talents, he is an accomplished wood craftsman, glassblower, painter,  and photographer. He enjoys drawing with pen & ink. Patric has worked as a Wood crafter for eight years, at Masonry for five years while still making himself available for his other passions. His love of nature has motivated him to combine sketches and photographs with his writings into a book about edible plants. Perhaps if there is sufficient interest, I shall post further on the book when it is released. Patric loves to travel and related a story of when he was 17 years old how he rode a bicycle with a small motor all the way to Morocco. He has seven cats and his nickname is Patou which is a big shaggy dog found in the Pyrenees. The paintings were done by various artists with the exception of the self-portrait with the clock. Patric has had postcards made from them and uses those as his business cards. While the supply is dwindling, he quickly brought me all the ones I did not have after I saw him in Albas recently. Please do click on the photos so that you can see them better. When I saw Patric last week, I asked him if I could do a post and have him give me some information. For all his accomplishments, he is a modest man. Had it not been for his partner, I would not have had half the details you see here. She was generous and most patient to spend the time with me to uncover some of Patric’s many gifts. Bisous, Léa

Patric
Patric at Bio Marche
Patric with fellow musician at Albas
Patric with fellow musician at Albas
Drawing by Violette Vincent/ Painting by Sabine Delrieu
Drawing by Violette Vincent/ Painting by Sabine Delrieu
Left by Shemon Ben Youssef / Right by Brian de Carvailho
Left by Shemon Ben Youssef / Right by Brian de Carvailho
Patric - A self-portrait
Patric – A self-portrait

 

 

Albas 2012
Patric and friends in Albas 2012

L’Art Caché II – 2017

As one who lives to write, I appreciated this next artist immensely. Isabelle tells stories with bits of rock, pebble and other bits. I was thrilled when she walked me about her mosaics and sharing their tale. It was a visceral experience and you could feel the different tableau’s secrets.

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The daughter and the distant mother

 

Isabelle Delacampagne’s work is not limited to the mosaics you will see here. Yet this story was so compelling and the work so evocative, I prefer to stick with the tale. The story is of the all too short life of the young girl in the red dress, her parents and her journey. The entire set is on the website delacampagne.com. Her email is: isa@delacampagne.com and there is much more there than was even on exhibit. She is absolutely on the list of the artists whose atelier/workshop/gallery I should love to visit and do an exclusive post on. 

 

 

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The cruel father

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The artist with the final mosaic in the story.

There are many more mosaics to the story and other pieces that space here does not allow me to share. I do hope you will visit her site. 

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Artist Marie-Jose Maleville

You can visit Marie-Jose’s site at http://mjmaleville.com 

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Erick Fourrier sculpts with wood and plastic. It was fascinating to watch him at work. That is not an opportunity one has often. His website includes a link to a video of the artist on youtube, erickfourrier.fr

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Erick Fourrier, the artist at work                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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There is much more to see on the website so I do hope you will check it out.

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As you may notice, the old barn where monsieur Fourrier’s work is exhibited, was at one time utilized making wine. Wine making is the major industry in this region and though it may take second place to sheep in Albas, it still is part of the lives of most of the residents.

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Perhaps some of you don’t feel the last two photos are relevant to the art featured here. You may be right but I feel that the setting is very much a part of an exhibit of Hidden Art.

There are still quite a number of photos to share and artists to exhibit. I do hope that you will return for more Hidden Art. I should also like to send big kudos to Eurocultures for allowing me to continue to bring this art and these artist to you. Please check out their site:  https://eurocultures.fr/evenements/lart-cache-3/

 

Bisous,

Léa

L’art caché I – 2017

The lovely village of Albas (population: 77) once again invites us to indulge ourselves in an enchanted exposition of Art. This is the fifth year that I have had this wonderful opportunity and each year I look forward to the coming event.  A number of the artists exhibiting are not local. One that I spoke to came from Brittany. Yet the generous locals make their gardens, barns and other such areas available for the exhibits.  The name of the event, translated, is Hidden Art and it could not be more appropriate. Upon arrival you are given a map of the village and numbers on different sites which correspond with the names of artists at the bottom of the page. However, unless you have been here at least once or twice there is no telling the wonderful surprises that await you. Also there are always different participants. 

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Bienvenue!

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To the left of the above sign is a small door into a barn and our first exhibit of this expo. The artist, Michel Alquier. 

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Les deux femmes
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Michel Alquier

Please visit Michel on his website michelalquier.free.fr it is in French but translates easily. You can email him at michelalquier@free.fr and I have no doubt he would love to hear from you.

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Bertrand Claverie

As I am often early for most things, especially this expo, there is a good chance of catching some of the artists still at work setting up. That is the case here with monsieur Claverie. You can see more of his work at bertrandclaverie.com or write to him at claverie.bertrand@wanadoo.fr 

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One does work up a thirst at such events and provisions had been made. Each year I have attended a different person has opened up a small area adjacent to their home for the serving of coffee and pastry. 

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The pastry on offer this year were German Fruit Crumbles. I did observe a few to be devoured so early in the day. The small garden was lovely and perhaps a photo will help you decide? 

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There is always so much to see so there is little time to loiter over coffee. One of the things that took me by surprise the first time I attended this Expo was the level and quality of whimsical art.  We are now in the space occupied by Edith Brehaux and what a delight it is. Please check out her website: https://terrarigaud.jimdo.com  You will find that it translates to English at the click of a button. You can write to her directly at brehauxedith@orange.frDSCN3659

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When possible, I have included the artist in my photos. Alas, there is so much to choose from… I do hope you will take that step and look at the websites of those you enjoy the most and perhaps others as well? 

I shall begin working on Part II as we have only begun. I do hope you will join me for the rest of this series and perhaps beyond?

Bisous,

Léa

Quote page…

Perhaps you have never visited the Quote page? If you have, it may have been awhile. I have just added some new quotes. Some may inspire you. Some may make you angry. Some you may write down for further examination. Regardless, if any of them get you thinking, inspired your creativity, or help you see another side to a situation, then I have done my job. Here are a few to get you started. If you have a favourite, I would love to know. Now please check out what else is there. 

 

“People feel like the system is rigged against them, and here is the painful part, they’re right, the system is rigged.”  Elizabeth Warren

 

“Peace cannot be kept by force; It can only be achieved by understanding.”              Albert Einstein.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Thomas Jefferson

 

I hope you have found something that captures your imagination among these examples. Now, please check out what else is new on the Quotes page… 

Bisous,

Léa

L’ART CACHÉ PART II -2016

As promised, we return to the remote French village of Albas for our L’Art Caché or Hidden Art. For those who appreciate a bit of whimsey, we have it. For those who like elegant Japanese pen and ink drawings, we have it. I truly believe that this Exhibition has something for everyone.

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Marion de la Fontaine – Sculpteur Plasticienne
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Marion de la Fontaine
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Marion de la Fontaine
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Marion de la Fontaine

See much more of Marion’s enchanting characters and other work, check out her website mariondelafontaine.fr

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Elysabeth Béclier

Please check out Elysabeth’s other work on her website. I know she will welcome your inquiries. Visit her at beclierelysabeth.fr or email her directly at elysabeth.beclier@wanadoo.fr

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Kunio Matsumura
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Kunio Matsumura

Check out the website for his contact information. http://www.artistesasuivre.org/2012/matsumara.htm

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Kunio Matsumura
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Kunio Matsumura

 

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René Herpe

René’s website is filled with plasticienne sculptures and his paintings. You don’t want to miss them or the video of his work. After looking at his site, I shall anxiously await his next gallery show! rene-herpe.fr and for direct emails rene.herpe123@orange.fr 

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René Herpe
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Tiffany Vailier-Billot
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Tiffany Vailier-Billot
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Tiffany Vailier-Billot
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Tiffany Vailier-Billot

Look in on Tiffany’s website for additional information and many works for your perusal. Check out her vast portfolio at vailier.fr 

It is my hope that you have enjoyed our visit to this charming village and the work of all the artists. However, I find myself with at least enough photos of artists you have yet to see for an additional post. Please check back for L’ART CACHÉ PART III.

Bisous,

Léa

VIVE LA FRANCE~

Fête Nationale (or to English speakers Bastille Day) is the biggest day in the French Year. Not only is it a time of family, friends and celebration but it is nearing the height of the tourist season. On quatorze juillet (14 July) large crowds gathered all across France to join in the celebration of LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÈ, FRATERNITÉ from Paris to the tiniest village in the Country. 

I find it highly unlikely that more than a very few of you out there can be unaware of the attack in Nice last Thursday. It is all over the media and I am not here to reiterate what has been said so many times. What I do want to say is that the French are all too aware. Yet paranoia is not a French attribute. We do not live in Fear. We will not give our Liberty, Equality nor our Fraternity to those who wish us harm, or for that matter to anyone. Three National days of mourning began on Saturday ending tonight. 

Just as we join ranks to celebrate, we also come together to mourn. At noon across France today were gatherings a few words from the maire (mayor), a moment of silence and usually concluded with The Marseillaise which is the National Anthem of France.

On Saturday I was in Carcassonne. While the flags were at half mast or in the case of smaller flags which could not be lowered a black ribbon was tied around the flag, life in France goes on. We refuse to live in fear. From the following photos you can see just how vibrant and lively the locals and tourists continued with their day. I was there for approximately five hours and saw two police making their rounds on foot which is normal. Take a look at a few photos from Place Carnot where I met my friends and of course, Saturday is a market day there.

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Place Carnot, Carcassonne 16/07/2016
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Le marché Place Carnot, Carcassonne
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Le marché Place Carnot, Carcassonne 16/07/2016
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Les Corbières 18/07/2016                                                                       
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Les Corbières 18/07/2016                                                                        

There are times, like this, where it would be lovely to be a bit taller or perhaps in front? I had hoped to get some actual photos of the maire speaking. Alas, it was not possible and I do apologise. However, I did want to create this post that shows the resolution of the French people. Our gathering, like most, is outside the office of the mayor. Up those front stairs to where the first floor (where the balcony is) is the chambre de mariage (for weddings) and next to that are the offices of the mayor, his secretary and other members of the counsel. This is a rather large building and there are classrooms on both sides of these offices over two floors which is our village school. Regardless, that is another post. LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÈ, FRATERNITÉ 

Paix, bisous, et VIVE LA BELLE FRANCE!

Léa

L’ART CACHÉ Part I – 2016

Once again the small village of Albas hosts its annual L’Art Caché or Hidden Art. I’ve been attending for four years now and bring back photos to share with you. This is my favourite of the local art exhibits and I look forward to it long before it comes. I do hope that you find something that appeals to you among what I have here. I include the artists names, email address and/or website as available. Do yourself a favour and stop by the different artists and see what is on their sites. They have so much more to offer than what is represented here. The exhibition is brought to you by EUROCULTURE and it is one of the many events they stage and support all year.

 

 

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Marie-Hélène Roger

You can reach Marie by email at rogermarieh@gmail.com or visit her website at marieheleneroger.com.

 

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Marie-Hélène Roger
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Marie-Hélène Roger

 

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Marie-Hélène Roger

For those of you who have not see the previous years of this exhibit, let me just say that the reason it is called L’Art Caché or Hidden Art is because the work and the artists are set up all about the village in private courtyards, barns, vacant houses and it changes each year. Marie, above, has her work installed in the little stone bus shelter.

“Pure and simple volumes, emancipated forms. A sculpture that reveals all sides, changing, both stable and moving. A sculpture that is touched, caressed.”  – Jacques Duault

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Jacques Duault
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Jacques Duault – Sculpteur

Jacques keeps the lines simple, natural so that the marble can speak. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen marble such as the one just above.

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Jacques Duault – Sculpteur

Please stop by Jacques website: jacquesduault.com or email him at jacquesduault@orange.fr.

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Anne Sarda – Artiste Plasticienne
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“I am the woman of my life”
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1881 – Present Women’s Historical Events

From 1881 to the Present, Anne has created her sculptures to represent achievements for women to cover the late 19th century, the 20th century and on to today. Please stop by Anne’s website at annesarda.com. There you can also find links to her nature work, photography and works with wood.

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Marie-Hélène Carcanague
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Marie-Hélène Carcanague
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Marie-Hélène Carcanague

Please stop by Marie-Hélène’s website and see what she has in store for you at: peinture.cacanague.fr

While I had planned more photos for this post. For some reason WP is not letting me download more photos. However, there are many more and various artists that I am still anxious to share. I do hope you will return for Part II of this delightful exhibition. Also feel free to stop by the website for Eurocultures who are responsible for bringing us this work. Visit eurocultures.fr

 

Bisous,

Léa

Un gout de Narbonne

Un goût de Narbonne! (A taste of Narbonne!)

The city of Narbonne looked nothing like this when Roman troops descended on it. Yet they left their mark as did others. Today, you can still walk along the Via Domita and it is  the heart of this city. As you travel through these photos, be sure to click on and really take it all in.

 

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Plaza Centrale de Narbonne et Canal de la Robine

From this side of the canal you can proceed to the first small street to the right. There are shops on both sides and from some of them you can look out over the canal. At the end of the street is the heart of the village and VIA DOMITA lies directly in front of you.

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Canal de la Robine avec Les Halles

Les Halles has been in this enclosure since 1901 and is only closed a few days of the year. There are stalls all around and in clusters in between. On offer is fresh seafood, breads and pastries, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, olives and so much more. There are restaurants inside but they are all set up as bars and the food cooked to order. If you want to have lunch there, don’t wait too long as they get crowded quickly. Different seasons and festivals will have specialties on offer. Of course, there is plenty of wine. Do your shopping early as it closes up at noon except for the restaurants.

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Les Halles depuis 1901
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l’estagnol Restaurant

Just after Les Halles is l’estagnol restaurant. It has changed little over the years I’ve been here. A few menu changes and decor but the biggest change is the additional space in front. As the season progresses, additional chairs and tables will be brought out to the newly tiled area between buildings and the canal. Thursdays is market day in Narbonne and as large as the extended plaza is, the vendors and café’s fill it so you can just about make your way through.

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Bon appetit!

A light but delicious lunch at l’estagnol was just the thing.

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L’art

l’estagnol like many of the other restaurants and shops have begun displaying are by local artists. I prefer to sit outside, weather permitting, or a window seat. However, I had not seen this work before so decided to take the rear view.

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Plaza grande centrale

It is my hope that these photos will give you an idea of just how large this area is. Make sure you are clicking on each photo to get an enlarged view. To the right you may notice the elevator to provide improved access to the canal.

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Plaza grande centrale

A view of the other side of the canal with the heart of the city in the back right corner.

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Le canal de la Robine

The canal is still a bit quiet but that changes rapidly as the tourists stream in. Narbonne is a very popular destination here in Europe. Often I’ve sat at a table in Place de Ville and practically made a game out of the variety of languages coming from the nearby tables.

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Walking over the canal

This little street opens out to the heart of the village . If you turn right you go back to the grand plaza. Left will take you to the tourist office.

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Le coeur de la ville – The heart of the city
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Centre

Soon many more café tables and chairs will encroach on the center of the city. You could not choose a lovelier place to have a café or glass of chilled rosé. On sunny days I will spend an hour or so at my favourite café reading and people watching.

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VIA DOMITA

Yes, you can actually walk on the VIA DOMITA.  There is a plaque on one end and a map on the other. The next photo and a few others were shot while standing on the ancient road to Rome.

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Hôtel de ville

Behind the windows where you see the flags is a very large room, ballroom size.  It is hung with elegant tapestries and filled with ornate chairs and other such furniture. The mayor’s office is also inside as are other offices.

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Entry to museum and chapel

Once you enter this arch way, it is much like walking on the Via Domita.

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Saint-Juste

Saint-Juste is one of the most impressive cathedrals. Alas, no photos were allowed inside. I’ve taken many photos from other cathedrals, including Notre Dame de Paris but not here.

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Cour Saint-Eutropé Cathedralé

There are a few more photos of this cathedral but with all the other photos I’ve taken, I’ve decided to do a part II so we shall return to Narbonne soon.

When I began putting this post together, I had made many historical notes but then decided to just show you around a city I spend so much time in. If you come to Narbonne one day, you may see me out on the Place de Ville with a book or journal and a glass of rosé.

Bisous,

Léa

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

My sincere apologies for the gap between the first post from this exhibit and now. The computer and internet issues have been great and replacing the computer is not an option at this time.  If you missed the first part it was posted on 15/08/2015. For those who missed part I or would like to refresh your memory here is the link: https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/sameerah-al-bsharah-between-light-and-shadows-the-artist-in-exile-part-i/However there were a few photos that I did want to include not to mention showing you the beautiful landscape surrounding the gallery. Therefore, despite the delay, I have chosen to offer this post.

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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)
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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