Feu de la Saint-Jean/Fête de la Musique

Le feu

The Midsummer day is merely in reference to the period  of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. There can be a variation of dates between different cultures. In Estonia, Lativa and Scandinavian cultures, is it the most important holiday of the year with the exception of Christmas.

Before the flames

The French will celebrate the Fête de la Saint-Jean or le feu de la Saint-Jean, with bonfires reminiscent of pagan solstice rituals. The association with Saint-Jean was used when the Catholics adopted the tradition. In my village, the festival takes place near June 21st. The festivities are launched by a drumming group. Even though there is a DJ for the dancing to follow, the drummers stay to enjoy the festival and to lead the procession at 11:30 around the village for the lighting of the bonfire. A number of people carried colorful paper lanterns suspended on a pole as we walked about the village.

In some parts of France, the event is called Chavande and also known as Fête de la Musique. In some parts of the world it is known as World Music Day and associated with an event that was launched here in France on 21 June, 1982 and celebrates the gift of music. While music is usually a major component to any celebration here in France, it does not take center stage at this local venue.

Dinner space converts to dance space
Two members of the Drumming Circle
Two members of the Drumming Circle

The idea of the World Music Day was   conceptualized first in France in 1976 by American musician Joel Cohen who proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice.
The idea was taken up by French Music and Dance director Maurice Fleuret for Minister of Culture Jack Lang in 1981 and first took place in 1982 in Paris.
Since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with over 32 countries worldwide having their own celebrations in their own way, regardless of the season.

           Bisous,

Léa

 

Bon appetit!

Another Walk About my Village…

“My wish is to stay like that, to live quietly in a corner of nature.” – Claude Monet

“Just living is not enough… You have to have the sun, freedom, and a little flower.”   – Hans Christian Anderson

“Nature is the source of all true knowledge. It has its own logic, its own laws. It has no effect without cause, and no invention without necessity.”     – Leonardo da Vinci

20190424_075201 Grass disappears without electric or gas power. The mother and her two children are led to available grazing spots as needed. Their permanent home is located north-east of the village center in a pasture behind the chateau.

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20190522_091817How a neighbor’s garden grows and grows.  Father and mother on one side of the tiny intersection, son and his family where you see this garden. Together, they maintain this and a small orchard/vineyard across the road. As things ripen, the excess is sold to those who are in search of excellent produce after 5pm in the evenings.

20190522_091914-1The fledgling orchard they have created may appear small but more than adequate for their needs.  The olive trees in the center and a border of vines. In addition to what you see in these to photos, they have several vineyards on the north-east end of the village. If you walk down the road between the orchard and Michel’s house, you will find our village waterfall approximately 200 meters up the path.

20190522_092326  These lovely, proud roses greet those who would enter the post office from that direction. The perfume they emit is intoxicating. There is no way I can just walk by. I  must stop, inhale and say thank you. Behind the post office is a small area with a bench perfect for escaping that hot Mediterranean sun as the trees are filling out. In the evenings, you can frequently find petanque teams who are determined to bring their game back up to where it was the previous season. In late summer, every village will host tournaments and offer prizes for the winners. Despite the smallness of the area, it is adequate for a game and there is much more space for gaming a short walk down the path.

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This photo has been shared in a larger size than the others so that you can see the structure of this plant. The geometric centers and the petals are fingerlike in shape. The bees that hover and lite upon them to feed are huge, noisy and have a reddish, purple glistening back and wings. To the right of center, the photo is one such bee if you can spot it. Between the bees and the wind, I just could not get closer and keep them in focus. If anyone is familiar with the plant, I would appreciate knowing more about it. Directly behind the plant are the tennis courts followed by the swimming pools. Off to the right of the plant is the soccer stadium and beyond that, there is a campground which has some cabins for rent and also room for tents.

Thank you to all for indulging me in my little walkabout. Some may even see a few of the reasons I love it so. When you visit France, please remember that France is more than Paris and while there are similarities among villages, each has its own charms.

While you are out and about enjoying nature, please remember all she has given us, her survival and ours, is in our own hands.

Bisous,

Léa

La Belle Époque 1871 – 1914… on the street where I live

Recently, I offered a post on the street where I live. As I went through some older photos, later, I found two that I had made off old postcards, on the same street more than a century ago. I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy seeing them.

kaartdurban

If I am correct, my home should be just past that group of people seen exiting, or perhaps entering, a house mid-way on the left.  While the foot bridge has a set of steps in each direction, the other side is not visible from this view. It is the second set of steps that appear further back that exist today as you can see if you check out the post of 5 August 2018. Inbetween the sets of stairs, you can see the old pump which still exists, and works, though rarely used.   

If you look closely at the road, you can see some tracks for the old train that used to come through the village. A neighbor has just informed me that a small steam train ran from Portel des Corbières to Tuchan until the 1930’s. At different points it would connect and one could get into Narbonne which had a large number of trains that could take you to many destinations. 

Some of the houses have interesting patterns on their walls which have long been covered up by renderings. Those patterns would be consistent with the era  As you can see it is winter time as the trees are bare and the people at the top of the staircase appear to be bundled up against the cold weather.

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From this second photo you can see there was an épicerie (grocery) just next to where the café was located at that point in time.  No doubt you could stop in and pick up a fresh baugette with ham and or cheese and a thick spread of butter and wash it down with a glass of wine or beer. That is not where it was when I moved here over a decade ago nor where it is now located at the other end of the village. You get a look at the foot bridge that is no longer there, What you don’t see is that there was attached an outdoor toilet, how appropriate across from where everyone is eating and drinking.  The café in this photo had been altered by its owners years later and for many years served as the village pharmacy. At some time after WWI, a number of balconies where added including the old pharmacy as you can compare if you look at the post referred to earlier. https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/on-the-street-where-i-live-a-challenge/

I can see, to the left, how high the wall along the river used to be. It has been lowered some years ago. As you can see, the wall is higher than most of the people near it. I am barely five feet tall myself and the wall now, in some areas, is little higher than my waist. Before you ask, nothing around here is level so we shall move on.  It appears to be Spring or possibly early Summer as the trees are quite filled out with leaves and some of the citizens are in shirt sleeves. As you can see, everyone is glad of the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors on a beautiful day as the sunlight filters through the trees. I find it fascinating that in these photos could be former owners of my own home.

Perhaps I can find more such photos and if so, I shall share them here on the blog.

 

Bisous,

Léa

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

14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.

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The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 

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A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.

 

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Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!

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À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 

Bisous,

Lèa

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.

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Sylvie

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Loto cards & prizes

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Usual Suspects

 

tiff infomation

A few more suspects

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Bon appetit!

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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

Cabaret: Après-midi avec le Maire

monsieur le maire et son épouse
monsieur le maire et son épouse

Each year, monsieur le Maire hosts a soirée. If you follow this blog, at some point you begin to realise that the French take their sense of community seriously and love to enjoy the company of family, friends and neighbours.

Notice of the date is delivered about the village with a request for those who will attend to R.S.V.P. as they do want to have sufficient to serve all in attendance.   Those needing a ride will be accommodated.

At the appointed time, villagers begin arriving and immediately the socialising commences. As everyone takes a seat, the Mayor welcomes the participants then gives a brief update of plans for the year.

It is now time for the entertainment to begin. This year we were treated to songs by a chanteuse, Nadine, who was accompanied by Yves. Her songs took us through a melody of French and American songs. There were numerous costume changes and at one point she re-created the famous scene of Marilyn Monroe having the wind send her white dress flying high! While there were a few lulls in the entertainment due to costume changes, she made up for it with her unbridled enthusiasm. Of course, no review of Marilyn would be complete with a rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.

...

As she wraps up her performance, plates of pastries and other treats began to arrive. The decorated tables sported plates of chocolates. Small pots of flowers and tiny straw butterflies were strewn about. Once your plate was served someone followed up pouring you a glass of Blanquette. For those who prefer there were bottles of water on each table.

The chanteuse took a short break and changed out of costume then joined us for a small respite. However, she soon picked up her microphone and the music started again. The dancing commenced and the party continued for quite some time.

Bisous,

 

                                                                                                                                                               Léa

...

Bernard gets into the act...
Bernard gets into the act…
Marcel et Viviane
Georgette
Georgette
Plates assembled and ready to be served
Plates assembled and ready to be served
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Pierrete et Rolande
Dancing...
Dancing…
Costumes finished, Nadine keeps on entertaining
Costumes finished, Nadine keeps on entertaining

Spectacle 27 Janvier 2013

Bonjour Christian et Henri!
Bonjour Christian et Henri!

One of the many things I love about France and the French is that they truly enjoy life and celebrate it completely. Last Sunday, the village association invited us all to socialise and share; food, music, wine, blanquette and most of all, each other. The tables were covered with white table cloths to allow the green ivy and olive branches to stand out.

This event was organised by Durban Village Association. The event adds to the social calendar at a time when many things are on the quiet side and the small admission of three euros each goes toward the Associations coffers which fund improvements in and around the village.

Les Chant des Corbières, one of the local choirs, was asked to perform and we were happy to do so. Albeit, being in the choir, I was unable to take any photos during the performance. The songs performed included; Les Tourterelles, L’Epervier, Cangaceiro, Je Reviens, El Condor Pasa and Des Jonquilles. Le Chef (choir director) Jacque has included a significant number of songs in Spanish to our repertoire this year.

Newest choir member, Emilie with her son
Newest choir member, Emilie with her son

Like all other social events, people mingle about chatting with their friends and neighbours before settling down to a table. After everyone was seated the choir was introduced and the singing commenced.

After singing, the choir members joined the others. Some sat with their families and the rest of us claimed a table of our own. Plates of chocolates, cookies and a clementine were passed out then someone offered us each servings of Galette des Rois and Couronne du Roi. There were bottles of Blanquette at each table and water of juice as desired.

Friends catching up!
Friends catching up!

A tombola was next on the agenda. Each of the several winners received three bottles of wine and one included a large plant. Of the eight or so winners, three of us at our table had winning tickets!

Tombola Prizes!
Tombola Prizes!

Our next village social is planned for 3 February 2013. Our host will be le maire (The Mayor).

Bisous,

Léa

Maureen, Vice-President Village Association distributing prizes!
Maureen, Vice-President Village Association distributing prizes!
From the choir: Georgette, a winner!
From the choir: Georgette, a winner!
Prizes pile up at the choir's table!
Prizes pile up at the choir’s table! Madame President,Andrée, wins both wine and a lovely plant!
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Couronne du Roi
Monsieur et Madame Vidal welcome you!
Monsieur et Madame Vidal welcome you!
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Le Chant des Corbières
Dance, dance, dance!
Dance, dance, dance!
Choir President Andrèe
Choir President Andrèe
Can't get enough dancing!
Can’t get enough dancing!

Vendange

Remy
Local beauty

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.

The Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine-producing region in France. More wine is produced in this one small department than in the entire United States. There is a wide variety of grapes 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 cast. It is thought to be the single largest wine-producing area in the world.

Remy (owner –  France) et Gait ( Holland- manager)

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 (vine growers) committed themselves to turning it around with remarkable results.

In the photo is one of our local wine producers, Remy, who 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 “honour” of having the buckets of grapes from all the pickers loaded into the large container on his back. 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.

Tomek (seasonal worker – Poland) 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, there are a several wonderful options in just this small village alone (pop. 700). There are many more just a few kilometers away.

Remember, you can always click on the photos to enlarge them.

Bisous,

Léa

Domaine Sainte Juste
les raisins (grapes)
Vendange
Steve (England – worker)
Tomek et Gait
Domaine Sainte Juste
Remains of the day
Vats, table de degustation (tasting table)
Local Miel (honey) available.

The taste is simply unbelievable and you cannot eat just one
More vats