X is a cross

“X is a cross” is how my Geography teacher taught me to remember which axis was the horizontal or x axis on a graph but, since we have been in this part of France, we have been struck by the number of crosses on display. The Cathar cross features prominently in this region and of course Christian, mainly Catholic, crosses abound. Here are just some of the examples and, of course, now I can’t stop noticing them everywhere!

The lovely weather has encouraged us to get out and about. “Let’s do this local walk, it’s called le Cirque de Mourèze,” suggested Rich, “It’s quite easy and flat, I expect it will be a bit like the walk around the Peak in Hong Kong.” It wasn’t.

It was, however, absolutely stunning and, although I never want to do it again, I’m glad we did do it.

I have subsequently been scouring the maps for flatter walks and chanced upon the track of the old disused railway line on Google maps. Unfortunately, most of the line seems hopelessly overgrown but then we stumbled upon a section that has been made into a cycle and walking path in nearby Lézignan-la-Cèbe. It started at the old station house which still bears the name of the village. I hope I can find a few more sections that are as well-maintained.

We have been exploring the different local towns having had days out to Florensac, Marseillan, Nézignan-l’Évêque and Lézignan-la-Cèbe. Can you spot another mural like the ones in Montpellier and Béziers in one of the shots we took?

Of course I have been adding to my collection of photos of local mairies or Town Halls. Here are Marseillan, Nézignan-l’Évêque and Adissan (with yet another lovely mural):

Thanks to the power of the internet I managed to find us a Pub Quiz in Pézenas (called Pézenas Pub Quiz so I guess it wasn’t that hard to find)! It’s on every other Thursday from September to June so we rocked up on Thursday April 12th and prepared to do battle in a Billy-No-Mates team of 2. The organiser took pity on us and put us together with 2 other newbies who happened to be French. The quiz is totally bi-lingual so we had no problems between us understanding the questions and called ourselves the Franglais team. We didn’t come last but we certainly didn’t come first either. It was a fun night and the next fortnight we had managed to wangle ourselves onto an established team. Still no prizes but another great night out was had by all (and we could walk home afterwards). Bonus! We’re missing our Spider’s Web team but now we’re with the No Brainers for the next couple of quizzes before it shuts down for the Summer.

 

Another fun thing we did this week was a 4-course vineyard lunch. It was preceded by a lovely walk around the vineyard looking at peacocks, Roman wells, local flora and ancient coral then we sat down al fresco for a delicious lunch with a different wine matched to each course. We met some very interesting people and enjoyed an amazing environment with delicious food and drink, all for 30 Euros a head. Yes, we did buy some wine to take away with us, well it would have been rude not to!

I had to share this pretty picture of apple blossom from the garden because now it’s all disappeared.

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And finally, we headed down to the weekly market last Saturday and couldn’t quite believe our eyes when every other person seemed to be wearing a traditional striped top… the atmosphere was buzzing and we later learnt that it was part of the annual Spring Festival or Printival which commemorates the local celebrity Boby Lapointe who was born and died in Pézenas. I put the photo onto Instagram as a caption competition. I wonder if you guys can come up with some good captions for what the lady (who looks remarkably like Jennie Martin) is saying to the little boy…

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À bientôt, bisous.

Wild, wet and windy weather!

Well, so much for the arrival of Spring! We decided to head 600 miles to the south in search of warmer weather. Look how that turned out… Everyone is talking about le vent (the wind) and, they say, when the wind finishes we have la pluie (the rain) to look forward to! Great.

We did manage a few walks in between the rainy and windy weather and the Spring flowers are starting to emerge…

On one of our walks I was delighted to see a baguette machine. Yes, 24 hour baguette access! Of course, I had to try one and, if I’m honest, it wasn’t as good as a fresh baguette from a proper boulangerie (bakery) but, when desperate… In fact a nearby village still had their old bread oven so I guess getting your daily bread is never a problem round these parts.

Back at the château, we realised we needed to use up as much food as we could before the big move so Rich decided to bake the first cake of his life… drum roll please… he managed a very decent Victoria sponge. So enthused was he by the results that he decided to graduate to chocolate cake only to discover that the Victoria sponge may have been a fluke…the chocolate cake was not a success but the marzipan top layer got eaten very quickly!

We were very lucky last week to receive our final guest at the château before the big move. Kerstin came all the way from Hong Kong to see us and we had several lovely days together exploring a château and the town of Rochefort. We ducked into the Marine Museum to escape the wet weather and, when we emerged, the sun had come out so we headed to the main square for a coffee.

After waving Kerstin goodbye, we packed all our worldly possessions into the car and headed south to Pézenas near Montpellier and Béziers. We stopped at exactly the same aire de service (motorway services) as we had done back in November and I took another photo of the carpark area that had seduced me back in the Autumn with its carpet of autumnal foliage. Spring is not impressing me thus far…

So now we are installed in a little rental house in Pézenas for the next few months… We are looking forward to exploring this area. Pézenas celebrates the famous French playwright, Molière, because I think he spent a while here while touring with his theatre company. There is a theatre named after him and even the place we are renting bears his name.

We’re hoping that the wild, wet and windy weather will soon make way for the promised sun of the south… in the meantime I will leave you with a picture of a cheese counter where we queued up and chatted to the ladies before and after us to find out their recommendations! Cheese is a serious business here in France and I have now added Chaource and Comté Vieux to my cheese knowledge.

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À bientôt, bisous.