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.

Tilting at Windmills

One of the things I love about living here is local people’s interest in le petit patrimoine, the vestiges of a rural life that has faded away. Groups of enthusiastic volunteers contribute to their restoration to rescue them from oblivion. … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Story of the People at La Lune

I’d love to know who lived in our house long ago. Elderly neighbours have always been hazy about this, perhaps because it doesn’t really interest them. This week, at last, I discovered a story about previous occupants.

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Very Welcome Visitors

We knew they were there, because we’d heard them. But we didn’t know exactly where. They kept themselves well concealed, only moving about at night, until we stumbled upon their secret hiding place.

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Post-Impressionists Head South to Rustic Provence: Guest Post

Life on La Lune: I’m very keen on art, so whenever I visit a place, I always seek out the art gallery. The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists particularly appeal to me. They have a few connections with Southwest France: Toulouse Lautrec … Continue reading

Posted in Personalities, Places | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Technology Lands on La Lune

Life on La Lune passed its 9th  birthday last week on 14th February. A few things have changed since then, not least our ability to access the internet. When I published my first post (the present one is the 628th), we … Continue reading

Posted in French life | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Bells, the Bells: the Magic of Church Bells in Rural France

In Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the loud ringing of the cathedral bells has turned Quasimodo, the bell-ringer, deaf. Some of you will no doubt have seen Charles Laughton hamming it up inimitably in the 1939 film. I … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

La Chandeleur: Candles, Customs and Crêpes

Today is la Chandeleur or la fête des chandelles. I had never heard of it before we moved to France, but I had heard of Candlemas – lovely name – which is the British equivalent. To those of you in … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Maigret: France’s Favourite Flic

Before you ask, flic is colloquial French for a police officer. Commissaire Jules Maigret is probably the best-known French fictional detective, created by the novelist Georges Simenon (who was actually Belgian). When we first moved here and my French was … Continue reading

Posted in Books/writing, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Five French Weather Phrases

The Brits have a reputation for talking about the weather. Hardly a surprise, since you can experience four different seasons in one day in parts of the UK. It was a surprise to us initially that French people also talk … Continue reading

Posted in Language, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Épiphanie, the Day of the Three Kings, in France

Now that New Year’s Eve has passed, I can wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2019. In France, it’s considered bad luck to do so before midnight on 31st December. Although we have turned the corner of … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, Food/drink/recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

French Christmas Quiz 2018: the Answers

I hope you had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate it. How did you get on with the quiz? Now is the time of reckoning. The answers are below. And there were a couple of trick questions, but if you’ve … Continue reading

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French Christmas Quiz 2018

A very happy Festive Season to all my readers. Thank you for reading the blog this year and for your stimulating comments and emails. Welcome to the 2018 – and 8th – Edition of the Life on La Lune French … Continue reading

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Mistletoe in French Tradition

When I lived in the UK, mistletoe was a rarity, only to be found in over-priced bunches in garden centres during the run-up to Christmas. Moving here, I saw that it grows abundantly in our area. Some species of tree … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ma Vie Française #8: Chris Bockman, Sniffing Out News Stories in SW France

There’s been a slight hiatus in posting, as I’ve been dealing with some family health issues. However, this week, I’m delighted to bring you another interview in the Ma Vie Française series. Chris Bockman has been keeping his finger on … Continue reading

Posted in French life, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Béret Nice

Along with the Eiffel Tower, the baguette and the Citroën 2CV, the béret has become a (caricatured) symbol of French culture. Thus, it was adopted by people like Ernest Hemingway, who wanted to look French even if they weren’t – … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wild Boar

When we moved here in 1997, it was not uncommon to see whole troupes of these animals, of up to 20 individuals. We have also seen the occasional lone male. Since then, our sightings of them have been much rarer. … Continue reading

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Millau: Towers, Markets and Bridges – Guest Post by Angela Wren

  I’m thrilled to welcome back to the blog Angela Wren, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting at an authors’ event in Carcassonne in September. Angela is a Francophile, who has visited many more corners of France than … Continue reading

Posted in Books/writing, Places | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

France’s Flower of the Dead

For a fortnight or so before 1st November (Toussaint; All Saints’ Day) pavements outside French florists’ shops and undertakers, and whole marquees at supermarkets, are heaving with chrysanthemums in pots. But don’t be tempted to offer a pot as a … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, History | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ça Sent la Rose

  Roses must have one of the loveliest scents of all flowers. They have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and thousands of varieties now exist. Unfortunately, they don’t do well here in our poor soil and they didn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Gardening, History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

French Flavours: Pounti, Traditional Auvergnat Dish

During our recent visit to Cantal, we had the opportunity to taste again a dish that is traditional to northern Aveyron/southern Cantal: pounti. Before we first visited that area, 25 years ago, I had never come across this dish, not … Continue reading

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

Villeneuve d’Aveyron: Ancient Paths and a Historic Gem

What do you think this building is? A small château or fortified house? A barn? All will be revealed below. Autumn is the best time for walking in this area. The days are warm and sunny, it’s usually dry underfoot … Continue reading

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

Ma Vie Française # 7: Elizabeth Moore, Fulfilling a Long-Held Dream

This week, I’m delighted to welcome in my series of interviews another Francophile, who has a long-standing attachment to France. Elizabeth Moore, who writes as EJ Bauer, turned the distressing experience of illness into an opportunity by travelling from her … Continue reading

Posted in Ma Vie Française Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coming Back to Cantal

We have lost count of the number of visits we have made to the Auvergne, the mountainous region in south-central France. It’s not so spectacular as the Alps or the Pyrénées, but it has a charm and a character all … Continue reading

Posted in Auvergne, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Mystery Tour on the Way to Cantal

Revisiting old haunts can be tinged with disappointment. I once returned to a place where I had lived 30 years before and was saddened to see how much it had changed. Happily, Cantal has never fallen into that category. This … Continue reading

Posted in Auvergne, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Rentrée Time

Here we are in September again. How did that happen? Surely Easter was only last week. Actually, I don’t mind. This is my favourite month of the year, perhaps because I was born in September (cards and presents welcome). We … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, French life | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Return to Cahors

I do like Cahors, an ancient city and capital of the Lot Département. Why is it, then, that we visit so infrequently? It’s more appealing than our own Préfecture, Montauban, and it doesn’t take much longer to get there. The … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Ma Vie Française #6: Author Jane Dunning

Today, I continue my occasional series of interviews with people who have made their life in France or who have a particular attachment to it. Jane Dunning’s love affair with France began in earnest in the 1990s and she has … Continue reading

Posted in Books/writing, French life, Ma Vie Française Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

British, French or Irish? Or all Three?

I don’t write about politics on this blog. Of course, I have my views, but I generally keep them to myself. So I haven’t mentioned the ‘B’ word (okay, Brexit) in my posts so far. However, I can’t ignore it … Continue reading

Posted in French life, Rants | Tagged , , , , , , | 37 Comments

A Local WWII Resistance Group: Update

  Today, the causse above the riverside village of Cazals is a tranquil place with superb views of the Gorges de l’Aveyron. It’s covered with juniper and scrub oak and the only sounds are birdsong or the occasional whirr of … Continue reading

Posted in French life, Places, World War I & II | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Canicule: the Dog Days of Summer

It’s either a famine or a feast. We spent the winter and most of the spring grumbling about all the rain; now we’re taking refuge from the heat. Much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing unprecedented levels of heatwave: notably … Continue reading

Posted in Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments