Only in France…

It is no secret as to how much I love an aperitif! It’s such a lovely precursor to a delicious meal. For me, sitting outside a café, in the sunshine, enjoying a Kir Royal is bliss!

Several of my blog posts have already focused on this quintessentially French tradition.

However, I was surprised to discover recently that there is a ‘Fédération Française de l’apéritif ‘.

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It is situated in Paris and has its own Facebook page. Here’s a link if you want to find out more:

https://www.facebook.com/ffaperitif/

I must admit I ‘liked’ their page and their recent post concerning the Paris marathon bought a smile to my face. Europe 1 interviewed Christine, a seventy-eight year old marathon runner, who enjoys an aperitif, every evening! If you speak French and want to hear her interview, here’s the link (although I’m not sure about the smoking…)

http://www.europe1.fr/sport/marathon-de-paris-la-doyenne-lassure-elle-fume-et-prend-laperitif-tous-les-soirs-3288152

What about you? Do you enjoy an aperitif? If yes, I’d love to know which one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Mayor, a clown and a mug…

Not necessarily three items that one might expect to see in the same phrase! All will become clear…

I have written before about the organisation AVF which welcomes new arrivals to France; all nationalities and all ages.

Last month we were invited to attend the AVF welcome meeting in Castelnaudary. We didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be a really fun gathering. A welcome speech was given by the mayor (not too long…!) and was followed by a delightful musical interlude. This was provided by a local orchestra made up – mainly – by local school children. I couldn’t help noticing that all the pieces they played were English, including the Beatles and Adele!

After the music, all newcomers were presented with a gift bag containing a Castelnaudary mug, among other items. A very nice touch, I thought.

And the clown? Well, there were people of all ages, including children, and the clown provided entertainment while everyone was waiting for the main event to start. His speciality was making models out of balloons and he made some of the older guests some amazing hats. If only I’d taken some pictures…

The evening finished with a most welcome apéritif and general mingling! Those of us who were new to Castelnaudary had a badge to wear, so that other long term residents would make a point of welcoming us which they certainly did.

I was so pleased to see several people that we knew already, including some of my English conversation students. It really made us feel part of the community, especially now that we are on ‘kissing terms’ when we meet up with them!

In fact, I wrote a previous blog post about kissing -or not – when greeting people in France:

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/faire-la-bise-to-kiss-or-not-to-kiss/

What do you think?

How to make Kir Normand — The Good Life France

I have written before of my love of the French custom of having an apéritif; especially a Kir or a Kir Royale. Therefore, I was very interested to read this article that was in ‘The Good Life France.’ I don’t think I have ever tried a Kir Normand but I certainly will the next time I am in Normandy! I hope you will enjoy this article as much as I did.

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Kir Normand is a derivation of the classic French aperitif called a Kir which is traditionally composed of white wine and fruit liqueur. The Kir Normande is popular in Normandy, famous for its apple orchards and this liqueur really is all about the apple. Made from cider and mixed with Calvados, an apple brandy and…

via How to make Kir Normand — The Good Life France