Author Archives: nessafrance

About nessafrance

We moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I'm fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs. I also write historical novels and short stories.

Bonne Année 2020. Weather Roundup for 2019

First, belated Meilleurs Voeux. Every time we go into the village, we are greeted with enthusiastic kisses and handshakes from acquaintances and good wishes for 2020, “surtout pour la santé” – above all for good health. This will continue until … Continue reading

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Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2019: the Answers

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and enjoyed the quiz. Here are the answers to the 9th edition of the Life on La Lune French Christmas quiz. Ready? Award yourself one point for each correct answer. Remember that some … Continue reading

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Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2019

A very happy Festive Season to all my readers. I’d like to thank you for reading the blog, which is approaching its 10th birthday in February 2020, and for your thoughtful and interesting comments. Welcome to the 9th Edition of … Continue reading

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Favourite Blogs about Life in France

On 14th February 2020 this blog will be 10 years old. A lot of words have flowed sous le pont since then in almost 700 posts. And the number of life in France blogs has proliferated since 2010. However, there … Continue reading

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Long Overdue Trip to the Fronton Vineyards

Hands up if you’ve heard of the Fronton vignoble. If you don’t live here, you probably haven’t come across it, like us before we moved to France. It’s a very small wine-growing area, and only a limited proportion of the … Continue reading

Posted in Food/drink/recipes, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are You une Huile or un Gros Poisson? Find Out Below

No matter how long you live here, or however good you think your French is, you always come across new phrases and expressions, some of them quite bizarre if translated literally. Like our own idiomatic expressions in English, there’s usually … Continue reading

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Cornflowers and Poppies: Symbols of World War I

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11th November, the day the Armistice came into force in 1918. Tomorrow is a public holiday in France, and remembrance ceremonies will take place at war memorials throughout the country. Wearing a … Continue reading

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Autumn’s Bounty: Pumpkins and Pumpkin Recipes

Where we live in southwest France, size is of the essence; in fact, the bigger, the better. One of our local villages held a competition a couple of years ago for the biggest, heaviest and oddest shaped. I am of … Continue reading

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Every Château Tells a Story #17: Le Château de Bournazel

So much for my theory that tourist sites are less crowded out of season. Le tout Aveyron turned up at the Château de Bournazel yesterday, giving the hard-pressed guide some logistical problems. “This is the first time we’ve opened in … Continue reading

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Autumn Food Fêtes and Festivals

We’re definitely in autumn now. This year it has started off rather damp and gloomy, although the weather is often glorious at this time. But I make no secret of the fact that autumn is my favourite season. After a … Continue reading

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Back to Belcastel

This week, we celebrated an important wedding anniversary and returned to Belcastel in Aveyron to do so in style. This plus beau village is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Vieux Pont, which specialises in Aveyronnais produce and local recipes … Continue reading

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Abandoned Village: Saint-Amans-le-Vieux

Today was a beautiful, if still too dry, autumn day, so the SF and I decided to bestir ourselves and make the most of this fine weather for a walk. “Where shall we go?” We are faced with an embarras … Continue reading

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Bowled Over: One of France’s Favourite Sports

Under the plane trees on the outskirts of a southern French village, an ancient tradition is taking place. A knot of men is gathered, fortified by glasses of Pastis. The sun dipping behind the trees makes zebra patterns on the … Continue reading

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Cordes-sur-Ciel: Dramatic and Timeless

I’d forgotten what a long way up it is. Seventeen years had obliterated our memory of the steep hike up to the cité of Cordes-sur-Ciel perched on its hilltop, which was long considered inaccessible. But we weren’t going to wimp … Continue reading

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From Monks to Mona Lisa: L’Abbaye de Loc-Dieu

Imagine a place the locals dreaded so much that they named it locus diaboli, the devil’s place. A lonely, remote spot near the major trade route between Rodez and Cahors, with dark woods bristling with bandits lying in wait. And … Continue reading

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Missing Cat: Chat Perdu

I wrote this post this morning after our cat had been missing for 15 days. An hour later she miaowed and walked back through the door as if nothing had happened. She was hungry and a bit perturbed, but apparently … Continue reading

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Rally Round: the Caylus Car Rally

It isn’t exactly the Paris-Dakar rally, but it’s an annual event that we really enjoy taking part in. The Caylus rally is not about speed; it’s about discovering the local historic heritage during a 50 km circuit with eight checkpoints. … Continue reading

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Timeless Monument: The Cathedral of Cahors 900 Years On

2019 marks the 900th anniversary of la Cathédrale Saint-Etienne in Cahors. The cathedral is even older than the ill-fated Notre-Dame de Paris. Yesterday, 27th July, was supposed to be the official anniversary, since it was on that day in 1119 … Continue reading

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The French Countryside isn’t Quiet: Spread the Word

Lying in bed early this morning, through the open window I heard cockerels crowing, a tractor doing some heavy-duty work not far away, cow bells jangling, dogs barking, pigeons cooing and the sparrows that nest in our walls chirping and … Continue reading

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Drought in Southwest France

First, let me wish you a joyeux Quatorze Juillet. Today is la Fête Nationale in France and one of the most important holidays in the calendar. Today is sunny and hot. In previous years, we have been known to light … Continue reading

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Summertime, and the Living is – Busy

Life on La Lune has been a bit quiet recently. One non-negotiable reason is that we had huge problems accessing the internet during the past week. While it is back, it’s wobbly. The other reason is that summer has arrived, … Continue reading

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Favourite French Films: Marcel Pagnol’s La Gloire de Mon Père and Le Château de Ma Mère

† A few months ago, I posted on Life on La Lune’s Facebook page that we were re-watching the films of Marcel Pagnol’s classic Provence novels, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. Do watch them if you get the … Continue reading

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Quirky Quercy Art – or Quart

Some of you will remember the late lamented Fyfe Robertson, a British TV journalist known for his trenchant views. A somewhat quirky figure himself, with his tweeds and deer-stalker hat, he had his own series, ‘Robbie’, in which he roamed … Continue reading

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Noses to the Grindstone? La Meulière de Clayrac near Cordes

Our walking group has recently taken some interesting routes, which have introduced us to the patrimoine (historic heritage) of the region. Some of the sites are quite off the beaten track and we hadn’t come across them before in our … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Does Voting Take Place in France?

For people like me who are not French citizens, voting here is a rare event, confined to the municipal elections (every six years) and the European elections (every five). The last time I voted was in March 2014, for the … Continue reading

Posted in French life, Top tips | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

A Walk Around Caylus

It’s been an eventful 10 days or so. My latest novel is now out, involving quite a lot of last-minute effort. And the Irish Embassy in Paris phoned on Tuesday to say that my citizenship application had been accepted. My … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Life of an Agricultural Labourer in France in 1900

Originally posted on Vanessa Couchman:
Market place in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, which had several large monthly agricultural fairs at one time. The fountains are a 21st century addition. At the turn of the 20th century, the world of agricultural labour in France…

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Saving Face: Some of the Less Obvious Gems in SW France

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I’m following the example of fellow blogger Midi Hideaways, who wrote a recent post about the statuary and carved stone faces on buildings in the towns of the Languedoc. In this post … Continue reading

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A Special Day for Life on La Lune

Today is a rather special day for us. More of that below. It’s been a rather eventful couple of weeks, which explains my erratic blogging record just now. Having taken part in a concert in the hilltop village of Puycelsi … Continue reading

Posted in Places, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Emma Calvé: Forgotten Singing Star of the Belle Epoque

Originally posted on Vanessa Couchman:
?Emma Calvé, Wikimedia Commons, SIP 89-12, by Reutlinger Have you heard of Emma Calvé? I hadn’t, until I read about her in a French novel. However, she was one of the brightest stars of her…

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