Monday, June 29, 2015

Cordes sur Ciel

  One travels over the years without quite knowing what one is searching for, wandering amid the clatter, caught up with desires or regrets, and one arrives unexpectedly in one from those two or three places which await each one of us in this world. The traveller who, from the terraces of Cordes, looks at the summer night sky, knows that he needs to travel no further, because the beauty here, day after day, will remove any loneliness.
Albert Camus

I made a recent visit to the beautiful hill top town of Cordes sur Ciel, the medieval village that 
found so compelling. 

The little Saturday market at the foot of the village was bustling & is always fun for a change of venue.

The climb to the top is steep & requires some real exertion but it is a lovely climb non the less & well worth the effort. It certainly gives you pause to think about life in the Middle Ages & what it must have been like. 

Although it has become much more of a tourist town over the years I still value the beauty that Camus once saw in this historical treasure.

So if you happen to be 
You might want to put this spot on your wish list.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Des Fleurs

Our village is filled with beautiful flowers for every season. When I first arrived in late spring the irises were still in bloom & what a treat that was to see. 

Now that we have past the summer solstice we are in full on summer with a profusion of colorful blossoms. Poppies & calla lilies, & pretty summer roses are just a few of what one sees as you walk about the village.

Windows are filled with geraniums & gardens are alive a vibrant mix of summer posies.

The ancient wisteria which is dripping with flowers in springtime has a second flowering in summer & competes with the butterfly plant in color & beauty.

Not to be out done my small flowerbed also adds to the happy flowery atmosphere of our colorful  little village.

Wishing all of you a very happy summer weekend filled with flowers.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Une Amie

Yesterday at the Sunday market in St. Antonin I was happy to meet up with  the adorable Molly Meng, a friend from the blogger world. Although she has let her blog 
languish a bit, it is always a good read when she is writing it & she promises to commit to it seriously again very soon.

Molly is here in Southwest France  with her sister Karri Meng, who hosts yearly  creative getaways to France through her California based business 

I have borrowed a few of the lovely photos from their website
but I suggest that you explore all of them yourself at your leisure to get a real feel for the amazing adventures they offer.

It is a real family affair. Every year Karri, Molly & their wonderful mom Kick share their knowledge of France & it's crafts with lucky participants. They put together a most interesting & creative way to visit this part of the country all the while enjoying all of the best that France has to offer. 
So if you are 
& actually want to make it a reality maybe you should consider one of French General's exciting summer workshops.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


My thoughts are with Charleston after the  unimaginable & heartbreaking tragedy that occurred there last night.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Des Commerçants

One sees many signs & advertisements for businesses both large & small. There are of course the realestate adverts which one finds regularly on buildings & in windows. 

Then there are all the shop windows, the pâtissières & the boulangeries & all of the many others local enterprises. I do love shop windows but even more I love the petits commerçants or the small businesses one finds right in French homes.

For example I love the stone in this window holding the affichés or flyers advertising a chambre de hôte within.

Or this tiny sign painted in a window in beautiful traditional French script. The meaning is a play on words for the French phrase méli-mélo which means hodgepodge or jumble. On certain days of the week the owner opens her door & welcomes visitors to her small shop in the front room of her home. And you guessed it, she offers her customers a hodgepodge of merchandise, some antiques & some gently used items as well as a wonderful mismatched collection of old linens & lace.

There is also this window where a gentleman sells chickens, rabbits & ducks as well as the occasional bouquet of flowers from his home.

You might wonder about the photo below since there is no sign to indicate a bussness. This is where I went with my French friend on Saturday to buy eggs. No there is no sign, you simply need to know the farmer. You unlatch the door & enter with your recycled egg cartons & there on an old enamel table are eggs for the taking. You get the number that you need & leave your payment in a cash drawer in the table.

We didn't see anyone but the beautifully  plumed chickens roaming about & the sound of a rooster crowing in the background. That for me was the most magical way to go shopping for eggs.

If this seems like a dream to you head over to Paulita's 
to see what other Francophiles have to say.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

La Menestra de Verduras

Sometimes when you travel there is just one outstanding meal that stays with you & lingers in your memory. That was the case for me when we traveled to Spain last year & I tasted for the first time la menestra de verduras, a traditional Spainish vegtable stew. In a little resturant in a dusty, sun drenched town where clearly only locals were dinning, I was served a steaming bowl of beautiful green vegetables in a rich garlicky broth infused with olive oil. Not really a soup there was just enough broth to soak up into thick slices of crusty country bread. 

Although there are many versions of this dish, some of the main ingredients seem to consistently be artichokes, asparagus, green beans, peas &/or fava beans & whatever leafy greens are in season. And sometimes potatoes.
Because the late spring, early summer vegtables have been so especially beautiful & abundant this year, I have been enjoying trying out my own interpretations of 
menestra de verduras.

The hardest part is probably preparing the artichokes. Once that is done it is just a matter of cooking & assembling the vegtables. On line you can find any number of Spanish speaking videos demonstrating how to make this recipe. It seems that they all cook each vegtable separately. 

Being American, however, it seemed much more efficient to me to cook everything together in one pot. I started with the potatoes, if using. I tried it with & without potatoes  & both versions are good. Then adding slowly each new ingredient as it needs time to cook. The peas & asparagus being last.

I sliced my artichokes thin & sautéed them with garlic in extra virgin olive oil until they were slightly browned & tender. I removed them & then sautéed the spinach (or Swiss chard is good too) also with garlic. Drain the boiled vegtables saving the broth. Then combine all into one large pan with a bit more olive oil, salt & pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice & just enough of the broth to moisten to taste. 

It is clear from the many different versions of this recipe that this is a dish that any cook can make their own. If you are a person who loves your greens the way I do, then it is definitely a dish you would want to try.

This video is just one of many that I found on the Internet. In this one they emulsify the spinach to add to the broth & in others they thicken the broth with flour . I prefer a thinner broth myself. And in yet another video they fried their artichokes & garnished the top of each plate with them. I might try that next time. 

Happy cooking & enjoy your greens!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Une Promenade de Nuit

In the southwest of France the weather has gone form chilly & rainy to unseasonably hot almost over night. Temperatures have been in the 90's during the day but drop pleasantly in the evenings. So going for a walk at night can be a lovely & refreshing thing to do.

You are looking at the village from the opposite side of the riverat around 10 you can see it is still quite light out at that hour.

Then coming back across the bridge as you enter the village. Have I mentioned that our bridge was designed with plans from the office of Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the 
Eiffel Tower.

You can just feel the quiet of the village in this photo. There is no sound but the chiming of the town clock & the croaking of the frogs.

Looking to my right is the sillouette of the château. It's funny to think of a 12th century château  with a TV antenna but there you have it.


And back home again. Time to go to bed & wishing everyone sweet dreams, especially if you are 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quelques Petites Choses

My pretty rose is fading now & every morning I sweep away the petals that have fallen, like little red hearts, in front of the house. There is something so satisfying about this simple task & something so sweet about each tiny petal. 

I like to fill my collection of little bottles & vases with blooms from my flowerbed. Everyday the kitchen mantel has a different display of color.

I had seen a little free library like this in Charleston before I left & was enchanted by it.
 Now St. Antonin has one too.
 La petite bibliothèque libra has both French & Englidh books.

How about these tiny little treats!
A cross between a muffin & a cupcake these petite lemon flavored delicacies are not much bigger than a cherry. Perhaps it is this sort of portion control that keeps French women so slim.

Wishing everyone a good end to the week & a happy weekend to come. 
And whatever you do, don't forget to celebrate the small things!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Roses sur les Fenêtres

The roses have been so lovely  this year. May is really the month for them & they just could not have been more beautiful. Here are but a few of the amazing windows covered with roses that I have seen recently. 

So if you happen to be Dreaming of France  & a rose covered cottage maybe some of these photos will inspire you. 

Happy dreaming & may your week be rosey?