Monday, July 30, 2012

Wisteria & Trumpet Flowers

The wisteria has been lovely this year. Normally at its peek in the spring, it is usually finished blooming by summer. However, with all of the rain & cooler weather it has continued to be beautiful right into July.

One of my neighbors has a porch completely covered in it, which creates such a lovely shaded spot to sit & enjoy the fragrance of the blossoms.

I asked her one day the name in French, & she told me "glycine". I then told her the name in English, to which she immediately said "Wisteria Lane?" I had to laugh, it seems that you just can not get away from some things American. Apparently "Desperate Housewives" is very popular in France.

Also pretty this year are the Trumpet Vines dripping with their beautiful orange & sometimes yellow flowers.

These vines are very reminiscent of my childhood. I always called the flowers trumpet flowers but am not sure if that is the proper name.

If anyone knows I would love to find out. Here they climb over doorways & hang dangling atop windows,

or grow over forming an arch. You find both of these lovely vines all over this area & this year they have both been especially pretty.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Color of Shutters

The choice of color for your shutters here in Southwest France is a big one. The decision not only expresses your individual taste but also can help to identify your house. In my little village we have no street names or numbers. We simply describe the location of the house & the color of the shutters when giving an address. I always say that I live near the bridge with shutters the same color as the bridge.

The popularity of colors has changed over the years. When we first came 21 years ago, bright colors were popular, like the bright blue above or the salmon color below.

But more recently I have noticed that the choices are more subtle, like this lovely soft cream .....

.....or this pale blue.

There are of course many different shades of green. Can you see how tiny the door is in this photo? It is not much larger than the shutter next to it. Really!

Dawne had asked about mosquitoes at night since windows have no screens. Although we do leave our windows open, almost everyone closes or partially closes their shutters at night, so really it is not a great problem.

You will find too, that almost every window no matter how small has a shutter.The darker shade of green below is on thin metal shutters that fold up like an accordion.

Red used to be a much more popular color, but you do not see as many red shutters today.

You may encounter a more subtle shade of shutter combined with a red door, however.

I would not say that the shade of mauve below is a popular color, but you do see it from time to time. I have no idea how they open these shutters with the medieval security bars in the way.

I have always loved this combination of sunny yellow shutters paired with the soft colors of the stone.

Plain wooden shutters are probably the most common.

And then of course there are always the well worn shutters with lovely faded patinas.

No matter what color you choose, your shutters are an important part of your home here in France.

Have a great weekend everyone !!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Words of Thanks

Although the days seem to pass by slowly, the summer itself seems to go by very quickly. It is hard to believe that it is already almost August. I have not had much internet time, so I have found it difficult to swing by your blogs to say Bonjour or merci for your comments. I have really wanted to respond to each of you but just have not found the time or the best way to do so. On the few occasions that I have tried, my iPad has not cooperated, making it all the more difficult.

Anyway, I thought I would give a quick shout out to you here & thank you for being so kind & following along. Here are a few personal responses accompanied by some recent photos.

Dawne ( French at Heart ), Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. You have raised a lot of great questions & I hope to answer them in some future posts. Especially, the story of how we happened to come here in the first place. I wish I could include some of the old photos of the house when we first bought it. But that will have to be an even later post as they are all back in the states & of course none are digital. Thanks again, I really appreciate your interest & your comments.

Elles ( Menthe Blanche ) Merci pour m'avoir écrit en français. Ça m'a fait plaisir de savoir que tu as vécu à Toulouse et que tu connais cette région. Je me souviens que tu as une amie près de Gaillac. Peut-être un jour tu viendras, et on pourra se rencontrer.

Émilie ( à la french ), Merci pour tes commentés aussi. You have a beautiful country & I feel so fortunate to think of it as my second home. Paris is my favorite city in the world. How lucky you are to live there! You mentioned that my photos are very small, I wish they could be larger also. I have tried every way I can think of to enlarge them but can not seem to do it from my iPad. I am sorry about that.

Liza ( Postcards from Colorado), I am always so happy when you drop by. I love hearing from you & seeing all the wonderful things you post on your blog. Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

Tomoko ( Green Tomato ), I am always mindful of how amazing this blogging world is when I think of our friendship spanning different countries & cultures. Thank you for being such a consistent follower of my blog. I am always delighted to hear from you.

Ruby ( Forest Dream Weaver ), I was especially interested to learn that you had been to Albi. It is not one of the better known French cities but it is such a lovely one. It makes me happy to know that you enjoyed visiting it as well.

Pauleta ( An Accidental Blog ), I am forever grateful for your constant presence on my blog. Your comments are a real encouragement for me. I wish I had more time to read all of your posts. I am especially interested to learn more about your French adventures.

Kristen ( A Sunny Spot ) I hope the weather has been nice in Boston. Oddly enough it has been quite cool here this summer not at all the norm but very pleasant.

Barbara, , Linna, Ren, Renilde, Suse & Jody thank you all !!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vide Grenier

I have been lucky this year in that for the second half of the summer I have had the use of a car. My trusty bike has been sidelined for a while, & I am enjoying taking adventures further afield. One such adventure has been going to "Vide Greniers". The translation in English is "empty the attic" or as we would call it in the US, a yard sale. These are large communal affairs with everyone from locals who are doing just that, emptying their attic or more likely their closets, to small dealers who specialize in collections of various items. I did not end up buying anything, but I had a lot of fun looking & taking photos. Here are some of my favorite things.

I have always loved the small French bowls, once used like cups to drink morning coffee, so I simply had to take a photo of these.

I liked this assortment of pottery & enamel, all lovely finds for someone's kitchen.

There was just something appealing about this collection of alarm clocks.....

.....more enamel ware & coffee pots.....

....& a suitcase full of dolls & related toys.

There is really a sense of history when wandering through these sales & looking at all of the old objects, like the telephone above or all the old baskets below.

Do you see the long narrow one in the center that was used for the dough of baguettes to rise before baking?

How about these old car doors? They are from an early model Renault I believe they said.

The rows of tables went on & on with all manor of pretty things to look at.

There were lovely old linens ....

..... & pretty patterned porcelain.

One of my favorites was this old painted metal bed. It was hard to get a photo that really showed its lovely shape. It seemed as if it had literally just come out of someone's barn, it still had bits of hay & debris clinging to it. But it was easy to imagine it in a young women's lovely wallpapered boudoir around the turn of the century.

Sadly I did not end up buying anything not even the sweet little bowl above. It was already gone when I went back for it. Lesson learned!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 Juillet

Every 14th of July the medieval hilltop town of Cordes Sur Ciel hosts a festival. The celebration has little to do with Bastille Day other than falling on the same national holiday. The festival at Cordes instead celebrates its history & the life of the middle ages.

I had the pleasure of experiencing this festival some twenty years ago & remember being perfectly enchanted by it. The colorful costumes & the reenactment of life in the middle ages in such a beautiful & authentic setting was captivating.

This summer I decide to try the festival again, the first time since that original visit 20 years earlier. A lot has changed in 20 years & tourism has had a lot to do with it. Although now much of the magic has gone & the festivities are much more geared toward tourists, Cordes still remains one of the most beautiful medieval villages in the area & for that reason alone the festival is worth while.

I can never help wondering what life must have been like when these towns were first built & were in their prime. So to see people acting it out is quite an education.

But I would have to say that it was difficult to take photos that did not include medieval men & women talking on cell phones, smoking cigarets or drinking bottled water, not to mention all the other tourists.

But in spite of all the touristy shops & restaurants that have sprung up over the years, one can still feel the haunting presence of the past in Cordes.

The whole community comes out for this festival & enjoys dressing up for this event. Everyone takes part both young & old. The children especially seem to have fun stepping back in time.

The costumes are thoughtfully created....

....& the authenticity of medieval life fascinatingly reproduced.....

.....old tools are used to manufacture medieval goods....

.... & recipes from the middle ages bubbled away in pots smelling quite delicious.

The celebrations will continue into the night but for me it was time to return to the 21st century.

To all of my friends in France I wish you a very Happy 14 Juillet & to all a Bon weekend !!!