First, let me wish you a very Happy New Year: Bonne Année. The usual French greeting “surtout pour la santé” (above all for good health) is particularly apposite this year, as France hits record numbers of Covid cases. We have lived with this blight for nearly two years, and we all crave some semblance of normality as our horizons dwindle. I hope Life on La Lune will supply some temporary distractions this year.
First distraction: the 6th of January is traditionally Epiphany, when the three kings visited Jesus. In fact, it’s celebrated in France either on the first Sunday in January or on the 6th, whichever comes first. Sunday came first this year, but people continue to celebrate Epiphany today.
This last festival of Christmas is marked by a special pastry, la Galette des Rois, a marzipan confection enclosed in a pastry case. Also enclosed in each galette is a trinket, known as une fève. Whoever finds it (hopefully without cracking their teeth) is monarch for the day and gets the cardboard crown sold with each galette.
The SF and I have both been the lucky recipients of a fève on separate occasions. Here they are. A bit of cake still sticks to the lion, I see.
Read more about Épiphanie in the link at the end.
The mystery of the disappearing bridge
Second distraction: the year began with soaring temperatures. Some places recorded their warmest ever start to the year. It’s reverted to type now, with negative temperatures this morning and a cold northerly wind. Before it did, we took advantage of the springlike weather to do a favourite local walk.
We started from the hamlet of Félines, which has a splendid view over the rolling countryside. The walk takes you along the top of a ridge before plunging down through woodland to le ruisseau de Laval.
Normally, this brook is a gentle trickle. We have even seen it completely dry. This time, it was a fast-flowing torrent after all the recent rain. The run-off was still flowing down the track towards the stream.
This caused us a slight problem, since the well-placed bridge below, snapped on a previous occasion, had disappeared.
The Communauté des Communes had put it there, since this is an official footpath. We find it hard to believe they had removed it. The only other explanation is that somebody has pinched it. I know building materials are scarce for the moment, but this is ridiculous. The stepping stones had also been displaced, making crossing a potentially hazardous exercise.
Following several minutes of fruitless deliberation, aka argument, the SF announced, “I’m not going back the way we came” and proceeded to splash across. Somewhat less gung-ho, I eventually followed. Thankfully, neither of us got wet feet, so we continued happily on our way in bright sunshine.
There’s nothing like a good walk to make you feel better about things. Since we are fair weather walkers, we hope we can do more walks this winter.
Third distraction: we took the now well-beaten path to Najac on New Year’s Day to collect a takeaway lunch for two from l’Oustal del Barry.
We enjoy the drive there, through undulating countryside with tantalising glimpses of les Monts du Cantal in the distance on a bright day. Najac itself always looks different as you approach it, depending on the weather. Sometimes the ruined fortress rises from the mist; other times the whole village stands out on its ridge with perfect clarity seen from afar.
A hot-air balloon accompanied us for part of the way, but I didn’t get the chance to snap it. In fact, it appeared to be coming down, but fortunately there were plenty of open fields around for it to land in. At one point, we had interference on the car radio (we were listening to Daniel Barenboim conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in the traditional New Year’s Day concert), which may have been the balloonist alerting someone to their location.
The weather was good enough for us to eat our lunch outside, although we saved some for later. The menu? Terrine de canard en croûte, chapon (capon) au champagne and délice au chocolat.
Finally, we will celebrate 25 years in France and at La Lune this year. Can you believe it? A quarter of a century! So there will be some bloggish celebrations to come this year, and I hope you’ll join me in them.
For now, stay safe and well.
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