Une question de langue

One of the things I have always loved the most about France is the language. I feel as if I morph into a different person when I’m speaking French. I wonder if everybody feels like this… I wonder if it’s the same for other languages…I’m guessing: yes!

Anyhow, we’re now back in Castelnaudary and on this occasion decided to drive down. We caught the ferry from Newhaven and broke our long journey south by staying in a hotel outside of Tours. It was an unremarkable hotel, one of a chain, but ideal if you just want somewhere to lay your head that is clean and comfortable. However, the staff were exceptionally accommodating and friendly.

At breakfast this caught my eye:

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It wasn’t the coffee machine that intrigued me, although it did produce surprisingly decent coffee. It was the expression ‘nuage de lait’ which I’ve never noticed before, perhaps because I always drink my coffee black!

I’ve known about a ‘larme de lait’ – a tear 💧 drop of milk but this is the my first experience of a ‘cloud of milk’. What a charming expression!

All kinds of images came into my head:

I’m afraid I can’t credit for the two photos above. They are from freeimages.com  The cloud was taken by Kimberley V and the coffee by se hui (Shirley) Kim.

Do you come across phrases that really catch your attention and charm you?

Please share if you do!

I am linking this post with #AllAboutFrance

Why Castelnaudary ?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France, over the years, and in lots of different places. My first ever trip was to Paris and I’ve returned countless times since. I spent a year in Tours, as a student and a year in Metz as a teacher. I’ve spent months in Grenoble and Angers, on courses. As a family, we’ve visited Brittany, Limousin. les Landes, Charentes and that’s just for starters!

So, why Castelnaudary to buy our home? Even my husband has asked me this question! It’s quite difficult to put a feeling into words … the Canal du Midi, the location – between Toulouse and Carcassone – a sense of the ‘real’ France and much, much more…

Why did you chose your home in France? Or anywhere else? Was it heart or head that influenced your decision? I’d love to know.

A flying visit…

We returned to the UK in November and hadn’t really intended to visit our house, in France, until March. However, the pull was too strong! We wanted to see how our second home had survived the winter and we’d also  received a message from Manu, who was looking after our house, about a mysterious crack that had appeared in an external wall.

We arrived in Toulouse to beautiful blue skies.

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And, once we’d reassured ourselves that the house was still standing, we hot footed it along the canal towpath, into Castelnaudary.

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The ‘Grand Bassin’ of the Canal du Midi looked particularly striking, on a cold, crisp, January day.

When we’re in France, food is never far from our minds, and having had a 5.00 a.m. start, we were feeling father peckish, to say the least. Our timing wasn’t great, as we arrived at our favourite café, at one minute to two; with the  lunchtime service usually  finishing at two. However, Madame took pity on us and sent one one of the waiters to the nearest boulangerie for a fresh baguette.

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Never had a freshly made cheese and ham sandwich tasted so good! Especially when washed down by two beers.

I have enjoyed watching the Canal du Midi change according to the season. In January it was fascinating to see all the boats that have come into the port at Castelnaudary and moor for the winter.

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Including those that are rented out in the summer for holidays on the Canal du Midi.

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No trip would be complete without dinner at our local and favourite restaurant: Le Clos Fleurie. It was good to be back! Every course was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the café gourmand… Are you a fan?

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The final highlight of our visit was lighting the open fire for the first time. Manu had organised a chimney sweep for us during our absence and it was wonderful to relax in our lounge in front of this:

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Although our visit was only brief, it was brilliant to experience another aspect of our home in Castelnaudary. Above all, it was fantastic to bump into people we knew, as we walked around the town. Having a sense of community is so important and we’re already looking forward to a longer stay in March.

Missing France and A Rant

It’s been a little while since I lasted posted; partly because we’ve been back in the UK for Christmas, New Year, and various family birthdays – and dog sitting!

Also, I’ve been totally poleaxed by what has been happening in the world.  First Brexit and now Trump ! I voted to stay in the E.U. which now, apparently, makes me a Remoaner. Fine, I don’t see why should I keep quiet, surely that’s the point of freedom of speech? And don’t get me started on Trump – no, seriously don’t get me started. There are not enough words to say how much I deplore everything he stands for. Rant over…

I’ve been reflecting over the many aspects of France I have been missing and I have decided to share these in photos.

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What would you miss the most? I’d love to know.

Are you…very superstitious?

As it’s Friday 13th I thought it would be interesting to revisit the subject of superstitions and the differences and similarities between superstitions in France and the UK.

Are you very superstitious? I like to think that I’m not really but, nevertheless, find myself walking around ladders, saluting magpies, and uncrossing knives; much to the amusement of my family! However, this got me thinking again about the differences between superstitions in France and the UK. I am fascinated by cultural similarities and differences, in general. I am already aware of several superstitions from France but my research has helped me to discover even more!

If a bird defecates on you, in the UK, this is considered good luck! However, the French believe that it is stepping in dog poop that will bring you good luck – as long as it is with your left foot! With the amount of dog poop that I see around in France, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get lucky!

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Hanging a horse shoe outside your door can bring you luck in France, if hung in the French way. This means hanging the shoe upside down – well, not as far as the UK is concerned! We believe that all the luck will drain out, if the shoe is inverted.However, for the French the luck will pour down on you!
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Superstitions about black cats vary a lot, depending on what you read and where you happen to be. Black cats are traditionally supposed to be the familiars of witches and if one crosses your path, in France, this brings bad luck. In the UK, it’s good luck when this occurs because the black cat hasn’t noticed you!cat-1387052-640x512

I was very surprised to learn that, in France, if a pregnant woman sees an owl, the child will be a girl.

The number thirteen has always been lucky for me but generally it is perceived as unlucky in the UK. However, the French will stock up on lottery tickets on Friday the 13th but also believe that having thirteen people around a dinner table is very bad luck indeed.

There are many more aspects of superstitions I could write about and I would be very interested to know if you are superstitious and particularly about any other French superstitions that you may know.

Must hurry;  I’ve just knocked over the salt cellar and need to throw some salt, over my left shoulder, into the eye of the devil…and I must remember not to put my new shoes that have just been delivered on the table!

In the meantime, here’s a clip about French superstitions – ironing my husband’s underpants? I don’t think so. I’ve got far more interesting things to be getting on with..!

Bonne Année!

This quote turned up on my Facebook page. I rather like it, although I am a couple of days late in posting. Apparently, it is from Molière. I had to study Molière at school and for my degree. I’m afraid I’m not a fan…and I haven’t been able to verify the source, despite much searching. Perhaps one of my lovely readers might know?!

The second photo is of: The Moulin de Cugarel. This is in the old town in Castelnaudary where we have our house. I haven’t seen Castelnaudary in the snow…yet!

Happy New Year!