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.

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

Posted in History, Places, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in French life | 10 Comments

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

Posted in French life | 20 Comments

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

Posted in Places, Teysseroles chapel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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

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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Centuries to Build, Hours to Destroy: Notre-Dame de Paris

One of France’s – no, the world’s – best-loved icons, Notre-Dame de Paris, caught fire shortly before 7 pm last night. The flames quickly took hold and, although the fire brigade was quick to react, it was impossible to save … Continue reading

Posted in History, Places | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Clock This

I hope you remembered to put your clocks forward last night if you’re in Europe, otherwise you’ll be a bit behind everyone else. We posted reminders throughout the house so that we wouldn’t forget, but there’s always at least one … Continue reading

Posted in French life | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Say it with Flowers: France’s Villages Fleuris

The garden is burgeoning and it’s that time of year when one’s thoughts turn to planning and planting. While driving around France, you might have noticed village signs declaring “Village – or ville – fleuri(e)” and sporting one to four … Continue reading

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

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 , , , , , | 9 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 , , , , , , | 22 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 , , , , , , | 4 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

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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 , , , , , , | 9 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