Author Archives: nessafrance

About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.

Getting the Garden Back in Trim

  What a lovely time of year this is when the weather is fine! At last, after months of gloom and damp, the past few days have been not just spring like, but summery. It’s forecast to continue for the … Continue reading

Posted in Gardening, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Cuckoos and Winter Weather 2017-18

If you live almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, you don’t need me to tell you that it has been a dismal, gloomy winter. The technical reason, apparently, is a “heatwave” in the Arctic, which has pushed the Arctic Jet … Continue reading

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A Little-Known World War II Incident: the Croat Mutiny in Villefranche-de-Rouergue

Our local Médiathèque (library) is a hive of literary activity. In addition to the literary festival that takes place every October, there’s a series of author talks throughout the year. On Saturday, we heard Adrian Weale, a former UK army … Continue reading

Posted in History, World War I & II | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

On the Carpet: the Tapestries of Montpezat-de-Quercy

I’m pleased to say that I have done one of the five items I listed in my January post of things to do in 2018. It’s now getting a bit late for the truffle market at Lalbenque, but that will … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Five Museums in SW France You Must Visit

If you read Life on La Lune regularly, you’ll know I’m a history girl. And there’s plenty of it around in our part of France if you just scratch the surface. Also, many museums in France open for free on … Continue reading

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All Aboard le “Moscou-Paris”

It sounds rather like a jolly luxury express, doesn’t it? A competitor, perhaps, to the Orient Express, with starched white tablecloths, gleaming silverware and sycophantic stewards. If only it were. In fact, le “Moscou-Paris” is the meteorologists’ nickname for a … Continue reading

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Shaken, and Probably Stirred: Earthquakes in France

Have you ever been in an earthquake? I have, when we lived in Birmingham, and it was a very odd experience. I must admit that it wasn’t a very big one and there was no danger of the house collapsing, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Eight Years On…

  A little celebration is in order. Life on La Lune will be eight years old on Wednesday, which just happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Since February 2010, I’ve published some 586 posts, learned an awful lot about France … Continue reading

Posted in French life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Neither Resisters Nor Collaborators: Returning French STO Workers in 1945

Certain aspects of World War II remain taboo subjects in France, even among people who were not around at the time. For those of us whose country has not been occupied for hundreds of years, it’s difficult to imagine how … Continue reading

Posted in History, World War I & II | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Brits in France

Peter Mayle, the doyen of writers about the good life in France, died recently at the age of 78. His book, A Year in Provence (1989), describes how he restored an 18th-century farmhouse near Ménerbes in the Luberon with the … Continue reading

Posted in Books/writing, French life, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

That Which Should Accompany Old Age

Yesterday, we visited our elderly neighbour, whose wife died nearly two years ago. We often feel guilty that we don’t visit more often, but Monsieur F is almost 90 and now rather frail. He is very difficult to understand, even … Continue reading

Posted in History, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

When Should You Use Tu or Vous?

Today, I revisit a topic that I covered when I first started this blog nearly eight years ago. It’s an aspect of French society and culture that perplexes Brits no end and whatever you do, there’s a fair chance that … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, Language | Tagged , , , , , , | 49 Comments

5 Things to do in SW France in 2018

Meilleurs vœux pour l’an 2018 à tous mes lecteurs. I will still be writing 2017 on cheques until the end of February. Have you made New Year’s Resolutions? I find those lofty aspirations are all too easily broken. However, the … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2017: the Answers

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that le Père Noël was generous to you. How did you get on with the quiz? No cheating, I hope. Without further ado, here are the answers. See how well you did.

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Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2017

First, let me wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas. Thank you for reading the blog this year. I always enjoy reading your comments and emails. Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the Life on La Lune … Continue reading

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French Flavours: P is for Petits Fours

  As Christmas is approaching, this week’s post is a frivolous look at a mainstay of the French apéritif, le petit four. At a party recently, someone challenged me to investigate the origins of the name, and Life on La … Continue reading

Posted in Food/drink/recipes, History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

French Stereotypes: the French Don’t Speak English

Every nation is afflicted by stereotypes that other nations love to perpetuate. Englishmen wear bowler hats, drink tea all day, eat overdone roast beef and sport a stiff upper lip. Frenchmen wear berets, drink wine all day, eat garlic and … Continue reading

Posted in Language | Tagged , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Absinthe Friends

It’s the drink that symbolised the Bohemian culture of la Belle Epoque in late 19th  to early 20th-century Paris. It was consumed by Toulouse-Lautrec, Baudelaire and Satie, painted by Degas and Manet and immortalised in early silent films. This beverage … Continue reading

Posted in Food/drink/recipes, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

S.O.S. French Towns

A few days ago, I had coffee with two friends in the centre of Villefranche-de-Rouergue. This Aveyron town, some 25 km from us, is one of my favourite towns in the region. It’s an attractive place, steeped in history and … Continue reading

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French Flavours: Poule Farcie, a Classic French Dish

The ubiquitous roadside posters advertising French fêtes and other social events very often have “poule farcie” emblazoned across the centre. This dish has a number of advantages for large gatherings. It can feed a lot of people and much of it … Continue reading

Posted in Food/drink/recipes, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Film Record of an Aveyron Family Post-WWII

Just after WWII, Aveyron was a different country from much of France. It took a long time to get there from anywhere else, people spoke a different language and the way of life had existed for centuries. Change was happening, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Personalities, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hidden Treasure in Quercy

Imagine yourself at the bottom of this 30-metre deep hole, hacking away at the white rock with a pickaxe and piling the spoil into a wooden bucket.  It’s damp. Visibility is assisted only by the dim light of lanterns. The … Continue reading

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Mushroom Feast

I am very partial to mushrooms, but I’m hopeless at finding them – at least the edible variety. This year is a mushroom year. Something about the climatic conditions – a damp September? – has had them popping out of … Continue reading

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Well, Well, Well: Finding Water in Bygone Days

Sorry, I couldn’t help the pun. Water has been on our minds rather a lot this year, what with the contamination of our local water supply a couple of months ago. That now seems to be resolved, fortunately. However, our … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The End of Summer

Autumn is now truly upon us. We have had some lovely, warm days recently, but as soon as the sun dips under the horizon the air cools quickly. Some mornings, the temperature has been close to 0 degrees C already. … Continue reading

Posted in Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Every Château Tells a Story #15: Le Château de Puylagarde

The village of Puylagarde has several distinctions. First, it’s the highest village in our département of Tarn-et-Garonne at 425 metres. On a clear day, you can see the Pyrénées to the south and the Monts du Cantal to the north … Continue reading

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Vaour and the Templars

  Situated on the edge of the former royal Forêt de Grésigne, the town of Vaour conveys a strong sense of history. This is not surprising, since traces of Neolithic tombs and later occupation can be found in the forest. … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Summer’s Lease Hath All Too Short a Date: La Rentrée

Yesterday, the summer holidays ended in France as children went back to school, people packed away their holiday gear for another year and workers prepared themselves for the routine of métro, boulot, dodo (subway, work, sleep). The eight weeks or … Continue reading

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20 Years of la Vie Française

Last weekend marked the 20th anniversary of moving into our house in France. We had arrived in France a few days earlier, but we regard the occupation of the house as the true anniversary. This year I had a long … Continue reading

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Ma Vie Française #5: Author Olga Swan

My latest guest is a somewhat unusual occupant of this slot, in that she had une vie française but doesn’t anymore. More of that below. Olga Swan has had several novels published by Crooked Cat Books, including Vichysoisse, part of … Continue reading

Posted in Ma Vie Française Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments