Category Archives: History

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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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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

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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

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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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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

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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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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

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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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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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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

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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