Attached to Languedoc

Fabrics for saleThere are couple of things that I really like about Southern France. One of them is the table cloths and the fabrics. Yeap, I am very much into nice table cloth patterns, the kind you can find at Williams-Sonoma in US, and seeing them in Carcassonne made the ones I had more real.

Cassoulet

Le Cassoulet, the typical dish of the region, was really good. In all restaurants in Aude they serve Cassoulet. In some restaurants it is one of the options, in others that’s the only thing they serve. It is made of white beans, sausage and duck. As Mr. Fawlty (from Fawlty Towers) said in the famous series “If you do not like duck, you will get stuck”. Well, something similar here. BTW, it is really good. This was the first time I tried duck and all I can say is that the way French do it, it tastes much better than chicken.

CarcassonneI love how even on cloudy days people are drinking their coffee outside. When it is raining people are still sitting outside; With their umbrellas open, with the their newspaper and their cafe.

a Store in Carcassonne

I also love that everything is in French. Yes, I know we are in France, it is supposed to be in French. Still, it makes me smile and fall in love with French language over and over again.

CarcassonnePlazas are beautiful in Carcassonne. There are lots of trees, cafes, stores. This one holds a lot of charm and we ended every day on this plaza drinking coffee, walking or visiting farmers market.

cups in FranceRed and white cups. I had those at home for a while, but seeing them in a store window in France made me smile wide. The color combination and the quality of the ceramic enhance my morning coffee experience every day. This multiplied by three morning coffees daily means really enhanced mornings.

pastries in France Pastries in Cathare region reminded me of Russian bakery. As a kid my mom tried to bake those peaches, but they never came out nicely. Then, we used to buy them in the pastry shop sometimes or friends would bake them and bring them over. Seeing them in France brought some sweet memories. And yes, we got a box of those!

CannelésThose small things in the middle row are called Cannelés. Yeap, the ones that are 1.40E, they are also refereed to as humble French little cakes from Gironde & Bordeaux. Now I know that there must be a way to make them ok inside without burning the outside. And well done they taste very good.

LimouxThe houses in Limoux: Everything looks old, but cared for. It is real, people still use what was built hundreds of years ago. They live there, they do their business there. These long lasting relationships with things and land hold the real magic.

AugeThe houses and shutters are painted in different shades of blue. This one was one of the most beautiful combinations I saw. I know, it is old, but I still find it lovely. It made me dream of living in a house like that and seeing the hills with vineyards from the windows.

Canal du Midi, CarcassonneOne other thing I love about France is its rivers. They are wide, full of water and always moving. The rivers in France are like Russian rivers: strong, fast, dangerous and helpful. They are not a mere decoration, they are useful. Thus, it made me a little bit nostalgic crossing rivers in France. It also formed a strong attachment to the beautiful Languedoc.

France, February 17th 2013

The Roads of Languedoc-Roussillon

Roads in Corbières

One of the best things about Languedoc-Roussillon are the roads. Specially in February, when the country still looks austere and rough. France is yours while the mass tourism has not landed here yet. You drive across the mountains and hills covered by the patches of vineyards.Vineyards in Villerouge-Termenés

There are no green leaves yet, however, the first while flowers are sprinkled over the grass making the place alive. Those flowers tell you that the spring is about to touch the branches and to make it all grow and flourish.

Vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon

I liked it very much just like that. Empty. You can sense the power of the mountains, the warmth of the land and the silence of the locals. This is beauty. And you respect it.

Languedoc-Roussillon

On the road to l’Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire we drove through the vineyards. It was an 11 km long road from Limoux to St.-Hilaire that serpentined through the roughed valley of southern France. No cars, no people around. What makes it different from a similar road in Napa Valley (California, USA) is the unity with the earth and the village. In France there are no fences. You drive and the vineyards are there. You can stop and walk along them and through them. You can touch the branches, have a picnic next to the vineyard and be part of it.

Languedoc-Roussillon

The valley of Corbières and its roads, vineyards, villages and castles are magical. The history is right there, the people are right there and you are right there and a part of it all. I love being a part of the place where I am at that moment. I am enchanted by the fact that there is only one bakery in each town, one school, one post office, one fruit stand, one grocery store and one or two cafes. And there are road signs telling you where is what. You buy bread like locals buy it. You eat when they eat. And to be able not to be a tourist is amazing.

Signs to Saint-Hilaire

It is powerful to be able to be local. It is the fact of accepting what is around you. It is the matter of truly enjoying it; To like the cold air of Languedoc-Roussillon region; not to mind that there is no sun for days; And to enjoy the rain. It is great to feel the softness of the damp and warm earth under your feet in February, even if your boots get completely dirty.

Castle Villerouge-Termenés

I am glad that Pays Cathare had almost all the stores and tourist attractions closed in February. The roughness of the country, the narrow roads and the cold air make you feel strong and happy. The silence of the villages makes it real. The hills are unattractive and the snow covered Pyrenees, that separate you from Spain, make France your home.

Castle in Languedoc-Roussillon

France, February 16th 2013