Category Archives: Places

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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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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20 Years of la Vie Française

Last weekend marked the 20th anniversary of moving into our house in France. We had arrived in France a few days earlier, but we regard the occupation of the house as the true anniversary. This year I had a long … 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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Water, Water, Everywhere – But Not a Drop to Drink

The joys of living in a rural French commune. We currently have to collect our drinking water daily in bottles from the Syndicat des Eaux (local water board), which for us involves a round trip of about 18 kilometres. The … 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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Finding Our House in France

Today is a very special one on La Lune. It’s 20 years ago to the day since we first saw our house. During our five days’ house-hunting in France, among the legion of properties we saw only two fitted the … 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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Paris in the Springtime #1

People often say to us, “You must visit Paris all the time!” Actually, we’ve been there only twice as tourists in our 20 years in France, and I’ve been there for the day (!) a couple of times for work. … 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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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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A Walk Around Castanet

Last week, the weather here was truly appalling, especially on Wednesday and Thursday, with high winds and torrential rain. And other parts of southern France suffered much more than we did. This November has been particularly wet, although not cold. … Continue reading

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Appetising Return to Belcastel

Last time, I wrote about a ghostly story linked to the château de Belcastel. This week, we had the opportunity to make a return visit to this plus beau village in Aveyron. Not only does it occupy a delightful setting … 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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5 More Hidden Gems in Southwest France

  This coming weekend the annual Journées du Patrimoine take place throughout France. You can visit historic buildings and monuments, some of which are not normally open to the public, and many of them offer free entrance. I have already … Continue reading

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Calvignac, Lot: Untold Stories?

 I often find the smaller places in rural France more interesting than the big cities or the real tourist honeypots. They have their own intriguing histories, their hidden features, and to me these are more satisfying than the roads much … Continue reading

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5 Hidden Gems in Southwest France

This region contains so much to see and do that it’s easy to visit only the obvious places, those that get the most publicity: the plus beaux villages, the Viaduc de Millau, the better-known markets, the famous festivals. Dig a … Continue reading

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Caylus Car Rally Revived

  Our village formerly held an annual car rally. This wasn’t a race with souped-up vehicles – fortunately – but a “rallye touristique”, i.e. following a circuit between checkpoints around the commune. The event faded, as these things do, but … Continue reading

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Every Château Tells a Story #13: Le Château de Cénevières, Lot

The Château de Cénevières towers over its village and the River Lot, which meanders far beneath. The castle commanded a formerly important strategic position and the river, which was once well-plied trade route. My local writing group went on an outing … Continue reading

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C’est la Fête!

It’s that time of year again when every street corner (and your windscreen if you stop for long enough) bristles with posters advertising local fêtes, vide-greniers and concerts. Some of the early ones have had to contend with appalling weather … Continue reading

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Inside le Château de Najac

At least a dozen years have elapsed since I visited the interior of the ruined château de Najac in Aveyron. This imposing 13th-century castle is a landmark for miles around, best seen from the opposite slope on a misty autumn … Continue reading

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Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: A Plus Beau Village de France

About a month ago, I revisited Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, to interview a writing friend, Tracey Warr, who was spending time there as a writer in residence. Saint-Cirq is a plus beau village de France, overlooking a meander of the River Lot.

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Cantal Revisited

I’m always torn between sharing places I love with other people and keeping them to myself. After a fierce internal tussle the altruistic side won. The Cantal is a part of France to which we keep returning, although our last … Continue reading

Posted in Auvergne, Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Our Village Fête: Yesterday and Today

  We went to our village’s Fête de Pentecôte (Whitsun fete) last Monday. It’s still an important local event, but in times past it was among the bigger fêtes in the region. We have a lovely book of photographs showing our … Continue reading

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Every Château Tells a Story #12: le Château de l’Astorguié, Parisot

Last week marked the 19th anniversary of the first time we saw our house (no, it’s not the one above). Looking back at estate agents’ details of other properties reminded me that a small château close by was also for sale … Continue reading

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