Category Archives: History

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

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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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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

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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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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

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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

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Varen: Haven by the River Aveyron

I never cease to be amazed by the new things (to me) I discover in this region, where I have lived for 20 years. We haven’t set foot in Varen for ages and even then we didn’t stop to have … Continue reading

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Discovering a Former Railway Line

Do you enjoy travelling by train? I do, except of course when it’s cancelled or held up by the wrong sort of leaves or by vandals removing the copper from the electric cables, as happened to us recently in Sweden. … Continue reading

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All Fired Up: Bread Ovens

You may have seen these small, domed buildings, often tacked onto the back of a house, in French villages. They’re part of le petit patrimoine, not significant enough to merit historic monument status but important vestiges of past times, nonetheless. … Continue reading

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Restoration of the Lavoir in Caylus

Lavoirs, or wash-houses, are features of the landscape around here. In times past, this is where the women (naturally…) did their laundry. They were normally constructed by a spring or a stream, so if the women were lucky, there was … Continue reading

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#Paris in the Springtime #2

Here’s part 2 of the story of our first visit to Paris in 15 years. We had only three days in the capital, and so we were determined to make the most of it. Our shoe leather was definitely more … Continue reading

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French Flavours #3: C is for Cassoulet

I can’t allow the letter C to pass by without writing about cassoulet, the signature dish of southwest France. It’s been around for a long time and the correct recipe is the subject of controversy. What is it? A stew … Continue reading

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Puylaroque: Tranquil Village with a Turbulent History

The panorama from the viewpoint at Puylaroque is magnificent. Beneath the rocky outcrop on which the village stands, the plains of southwest France roll away towards the Pyrénées. On a clear day, you can see the mountains, but that is … Continue reading

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Forgotten Love Letter Saved for Posterity

Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways. In this case, it saved for posterity a wonderful letter that would otherwise have been consigned to the flames with a heap of junk.

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Beyond Time: A Journey Back to Prehistory Part 2

Last week, I started a journey back in time to look at some of the many prehistoric relics left in this region by our ancestors. This week, we’re dropping in on the artists who used cave walls as their canvas … Continue reading

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Beyond Time: A Journey Back to Prehistory Part 1

Ours is one of the more rural French regions, but transport networks criss-cross the countryside and commercial suburbs mushroom around its historic towns. And yet this part of France is peppered with the works of prehistoric artists and builders. They … Continue reading

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10 French Christmas Traditions

Like every country in Christendom, France has a range of Christmas traditions, local and nationwide. I explore a few in this post. Christmas used to be lower key, less commercialised and of shorter duration than in the UK. During our … Continue reading

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A Cut Above the Rest: Laguiole Knives

The Aveyron town of Laguiole sits at the edge of the stark and empty but stunningly beautiful Aubrac plateau. We passed through there several years ago on our way to the Aubrac cattle transhumance, which takes place every year in … Continue reading

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Halloween Traditions, Ghosts and Witches in France

I don’t need to tell you what today is. Halloween has become more commercialised in recent years in France and traditions such as trick-or-treating have taken root. I hope we live far enough off the beaten track not to encounter … Continue reading

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Walnut Time

The walnuts start to fall here in SW France around the end of September. By mid-October, it’s positively raining nuts. This year, we were afraid that our crop would be minimal. Many walnuts fell early and were blackened and mummified, … Continue reading

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Every Château Tells a Story #14: Le Château des Bordes, Lot

  When I started this series about the châteaux in our area, I had no idea that so many of them exist. There are the obvious ones – Najac, Saint-Projet, Belcastel – but also less obvious ones. Some are just … Continue reading

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