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.

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 , , , , , , , | 2 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 , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Story of Notre-Dame des Grâces

Set at the edge of a grassy plateau overlooking the verdant Bonnette Valley, this little chapel is visible for miles around. It commands a magnificent view of the countryside, with the ancient province of Quercy on one side and the … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Summer in Southwest France

Summer is here, les grandes vacances have begun and the foreign number plates in the area have multiplied. And to go with them, a little present from the French government: a drop in the speed limit on secondary roads from … Continue reading

Posted in French life, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Saint John’s Day Customs in France

Yesterday marked la Fête de la Saint-Jean, which occurs on 24th June each year, although the festivities normally take place the night before. It’s a not uncommon example of a pagan celebration taken over by the Catholic Church to commemorate … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Every Château Tells a Story #16: le Château de Saint-Michel de Vax

What a boon the internet can be – in small doses. And we’ve had only a small dose of it recently. More about that in a later post. I can find out almost anything, without moving from my computer in … Continue reading

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

Buried Treasure at Teysseroles Chapel

I’ve written before about the visit of the departmental archaeologists to Teysseroles, where we are helping to restore the 15th-century chapel. This is a requirement when works are planned at a historic monument, to ensure that nothing of significance is … Continue reading

Posted in History, Teysseroles chapel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

A French Country Wedding

                     Weddings were in the air a fortnight ago, with the latest royal event. As is often the case, my historical research appetite was whetted. So let’s go back a century … Continue reading

Posted in Customs, History | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Whitsun Walk on the Wild Side

Pentecôte (Whitsun) is the time for our village’s annual fête. It’s become a tradition for Caylus Notre Village (CNV), an association that promotes and protects local monuments, to organise a series of guided walks around the commune as part of … Continue reading

Posted in Places, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Loze: a Tiny Village on the Causse

Sometimes life takes you over. I’ve brought out two books in the space of a month and sung in two concerts, in Gaillac and a tiny hamlet near Puycelsi, in the past 10 days. I’m notorious for trying to do … Continue reading

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

Orchids in SW France

If my memory is correct, we first saw our house here in SW France 21 years ago today. The weather was glorious, as it has been recently – very welcome after a gloomy few months. In 1997, we noticed in … Continue reading

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

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 , , , , , , | 20 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

Posted in Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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 , , , , , , , , | 31 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

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

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

Posted in Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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