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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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