The Merry month of May…

Especially if you’re in France!  May starts with a Bank Holiday and there are several more to follow. On May 1st  there is the celebration of  not only Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) but also La Fête du Muguet. This translates as Lily of the Valley Day.


I have written about these celebrations before!

The next Bank Holiday takes place on the 8th May and is to commemorate the end of World War II in France. It is known as ‘La Fête de la Victoire’  and is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies.  Traditionally, the French president lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lights the flame at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I was quite surprised that our local supermarket had a ‘special’ opening on that day. 


The final Bank Holiday  is on the 25th May; Ascension Day which falls on a Thursday. As a result, many people take a day of their annual leave on the Friday to be able to take a four-day weekend. This is known as a ‘pont’ or a bridge. It is quite usual to hear the phrase ‘faire le pont’.

And, then there’s Eurovision! No Bank Holiday for this, of course, but all part of the May madness. I did watch it when we were here last year as I wanted to see what it would be like without Graham Norton. This year I managed to avoid miss the contest somehow.  I must admit that I do like the French entry which came twelfth. It’s by a singer called Alma and the title is ‘Requiem’ . This video of the song is worth watching for the background shots of Paris:

Are you a Eurovision fan?  I’d love to know…

I’m in a SPIN…

Well, not me personally! Although some of my family and friends have commented on my current to-ing and fro-ing between the UK and France and some of them are surprised that I’m not in more of a spin.

I’m actually talking about the series ‘Spin’ or ‘Les Hommes de l’Ombre’.

Here, in the UK, the third series is currently been shown on More4. I love this programme! We don’t tend to watch much television, when we’re in France. If we do, we tend to watch more films.

Generally, I watch a lot of thrillers: Line of Duty, Broadchurch, Unforgotten, the Killing, the Bridge. I’m sure you get the idea!

However, Spin is something different; a political drama – very topical, as it turns out.

The cast has been brilliant. The first series included Nathalie Baye, one of my favourite French actors. The second and third series has Carole Bouquet but two of the main characters are the Spin doctors themselves, who have appeared in all three series.

They are played by Bruno Wolkowitch and

52nd Monte Carlo TV Festival Closing Ceremony - Golden Nymph Award

Grégory Fitoussigf spin

You may recognise him from the series ‘Mr Selfridge’, a programme I have never seen.

Unfortunately, the current series is the final one. Perhaps someone can recommend another French series I could enjoy? Have any of my readers also watched ‘Spin’ ? I’d love to know!


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:


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  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

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!

Gendarmes in our garden!

             Why you might be wondering? What had happened? An accident? A robbery?


Actually, none of these! I have recently discovered an unfamiliar creature in our garden in S.W. France. From a distance, I thought these little bugs were a type of ladybird – must have been the colours! After much research (wasting time reading all sorts of ‘stuff’ on the internet!) I discovered that these striking looking insects are often called ‘les gendarmes’ by the locals.

Apparently, (more research!) this is because red and black were the colours of the original gendarme uniforms when they were soldiers and part of the army. Are you following?!

However, for English speakers, these fascinating insects are known as ‘firebugs’. I must admit I had never seen nor heard of them before coming out here.

I have usually seem them in large groups and they appear to love the sun. They eat the seeds of lime trees and mallow but are generally not viewed as pests.

This is a close up of a firebug on the outside wall of our house. They move surprisingly quickly!firebugs4

And another one on a garden chair!

Here are some random facts about firebugs: they hibernate, their diet includes dead insects  and they have been accused of cannibalism…

Have any of my lovely readers seen firebugs? Can you add any facts to my somewhat limited knowledge?

I am linking this post with the very brilliant: #AllAboutFrance!

How could I say ‘no’…?

To what? You may be wondering!

We were attending the ‘Foire des Associations’ in Castelnaudary. This event takes place every September and, as far as I can ascertain, all over France.


This is an opportunity for all the local clubs and societies to get together, in a kind of market place situation, to encourage people to join in with whatever they may be offering.

The one we attended was held in the local gym and was pretty impressive. Each club had a stand, where one could ask questions and find out more information. There was something for everyone, of all ages. As well as sports, there were a wealth of other activities and opportunities to volunteer, as well.

My husband headed for the tennis club representative and I had a look at the AVF. This is the ‘Accueil des Villes Françaises’. Here is a quote from their leaflet:

‘You haven’t lived in or near Castelnaudary for very long. You would like to make contacts, find a helping hand for your new life. So, come along and meet us on Monday afternoons (except during school holidays). See you soon!’


Ideal, I thought! There were several people running this stand, one of whom turned out to be Madame la Présidente! She was very welcoming and friendly and before I knew it I had agreed to teach two English conversation classes, on a voluntary basis! I have always loved being a teacher and I am qualified to teach English as a Foreign Language, so why not?

I also thought this would be a great way to get to know more people and to contribute to the community.

I also signed up to (re) learn Spanish and persuaded my husband to come along with me to the first ‘Rencontre Franco Anglaise’; a joint British/French  get together.

Will keep you posted on our efforts to integrate!

Reflections on Eurovision 2016!

I’m not a massive Eurovision fan; some years I have watched the contest and others I haven’t. I’ve even held the occasional Eurovision party! However, I thought it would be interesting to watch Eurovision while in France to get a different perspective on the contest.

Marianne James and Stéphane Bern were the French commentators. I’m sure they’re very good in their own way but I did miss the commentary of Graham Norton…

France’s 2016 Eurovision entry was sung by Amir, a 31-year-old Franco-Israeli singer. He achieved a respectable sixth place in the musical extravaganza. His song ‘J’ai cherché’ contained lyrics in both French and English, and I rather enjoyed it.

I won’t comment on the disappointing results of the U.K. However, I did feel sorry for the chirpy duo: Joe and Jake or Jim and Jon or …. I don’t think that their song or performance merited the 24 out of 26 position. But I do have to ask: when did Australia become part of Europe? I must confess to being rather a light weight when it came to watching the whole of the contest. I must have fallen asleep at some point because Australia were in the lead when I dropped off but when I eventually woke up, Ukraine had been crowned winners!!

Just in case you didn’t see the French entry, here’s your chance:

Are you a Eurovision fan? What did you think of the French entry? I’d love to know your thoughts.