Category: Village Scenes in Uzes

Photos and stories about everyday and extraordinary sights and happenings in Uzes, France

Walk in Uzès

Home Again In Uzès

After two weeks away at language school in Aix-en-Provence, it’s wonderful to be back home in Uzès.

Join me on a morning walk to town. 

It’s Wednesday. That means market day with local vendors. They bring my favorite tapenades … like anchoïade… and only fresh, seasonal products.

Oh yes… mind the road. Construction is everywhere. There’ll be new walkways all around for the tourists. They’ll be here soon!

Home in uzes

Expat in France

5 Years an Expat in France

5 Years an Expat in France…

Would you believe? It’s been five years since I started my expat adventure in France. After all this time, I’m as as excited as ever about being here. And not a bit trepidatious at what lies ahead.

Highlights: 5 Years an Expat in France

Feeling at home

My little apartment that’s up 55 steps in a tower across from the Duché in Uzes is just as charming as it was on first sight. I still love it. The fact that it is in the middle of all the activity in Uzés is still a plus.

Expat in France

I love leaning out my window when I hear horses’ hooves clomping around the Place de Duché. Sometimes it’s a horse-drawn cart and driver who take care of the potted flowers in the square. Sometimes it’s a coach filled with tourists visiting the town.

Expat in France

I will say, however, there’s a change in the works. Not a move from Uzés, but a bit of repositioning. A chance to get to know the town from a new perspective. Stay tuned…

Making friends

Living in France is a constant whirl of activities with lots of friends. Some friends are French; others are expats; and some are “regulars” or part time expats who return year after year.

Expat in France

Initially, it wasn’t easy to make friends. Especially since I didn’t speak a word of French. Now that I’ve been here for a while, I’m recognized by locals, in the kindest way, as the “American who still doesn’t speak French.”

Travel, travel and more travel

Living in the south of France has to be the best place ever to see the world. That’s probably not the truth, but it seems so. Coming from the US, where it can take 7 hours to travel from Beaufort, South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia, it’s amazing how you can get from one country to another in so little time. Easy access to travel by train simplifies things, too.

Beginning the “Memories Tour”

A new adventure started in 2018 — the first of the “South of France Memories You Promised Yourself” tour with my great friend and best-selling author, Patricia Sands. We started a tradition of yearly women’s tours, organized by Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France, my partner in crime and tour planner extraordinaire from Sete. My first ever time tour leading may not have ended up as planned, but along the way I met sixteen new friends I will hold close and in my heart forever. Tour plans for 2019 are ready for you to join. Stay tuned …

Facing my fears

What could be more frightening than having a serious accident while in a “foreign country?” Happily I’m now acquainted with the French healthcare system. There could be no finer anywhere in the world.

Blogging

expat in FranceWhile I’m aghast how 5 years have flown by, I’m equally amazed I’m still writing and loving the Barefoot Blogger.

To tell you the truth, the “Barefoot Blogger” has taken on a life of her own. The person I write about now is an out-of-body extension of myself. As she fumbles her way through life and travels in and about France, it’s amazing she’s survived without more mishaps.

The best part about blogging is connecting with readers. Some visit Uzès and contact me to meet up. We’re like instant friends.

Loving France

Where can I possibly begin to express how much I’ve grown to love France. From early on I confessed I never imagined spending a lot of time in France, much less living here.

Life in Uzés over the past five years has been like living a dream. The longer I stay the more I’m attached to the rhythm of the town and its people. Coexisting with centuries-old architecture and ancient history has changed me.

Expat in France

Learning French

Surely you are weary hearing how I’ve struggled to learn French. Please don’t count how many times I’ve said: “I’m turning a new leaf. I’m taking French lessons.”

Not to disappoint, I have a new plan for in place for Expat Year #6. Stay tuned…

expat in France

Moving to France drama

Moving to France: The Drama

Five years ago the Barefoot Blogger started her extraordinary journey to live in France. Remembering some of my early days moving to France, the drama and friends is so much fun. This is one of my favorite blogs 2013 … enjoy!

If “Dancing Queen” from the movie “Mama Mia” came into your mind last Friday, it was me blasting the music from iTunes through my rooftop in France. I was celebrating that my internet connection and phone in the apartment were finally working!

To tell the truth, before then, I was close to a meltdown. My lack of French language skills was about to get the best of me. Imagine trying to place a service call to the cable or telephone company if you can’t communicate. There’s o way to get through an automated phone answering system if you can’t speak French!

The drama

Move to France dramaEveryday I was showing up at my friend Geoffrey’s house with a “Deborah-do” list. He’s the only bi-lingual person I know that I’ve felt comfortable asking ffavors. However, depending on him to deal with my never-ending household issues was getting to be a bit much. Even for me, the “Queen of do-me-a-favor ple..eee…ase.”

So last Thursday morning I stopped by the town’s tourist office to ask about a newcomers group I heard about last summer. The receptionist gave me verbal directions to the newcomers’ office. Wasting no more time, I set out to find it. After a few wrong turn I came to the athletic field mentioned in the directions.  A sign led me to a tiny building inside the fence at the far end of the playing field. The squat, stone structure looked like a baseball dugout shelter; except it had a door at the end closest to me and barred windows on the sides.

The fence gate was open and just inside the gate a dirt path led to the entrance door. When there I turned the worn knob and pushed my weight against the heavy, wooden door.  Expecting to see a reception desk inside, or at least to hear a “bonjour”, I saw only a hallway of closed doors and heard muffled voices coming from behind one of the doors.

Moving to France dramaWalking towards the voices I reached the room that, I hoped, would be full of English-speaking people. Opening the door and sticking my head inside the tiny, dimly lit room, my eyes met the glares from at least a dozen men and women, all sitting around a table. They were probably conducting a very important meeting of some kind, which I rudely interrupted. But surely they would understand. I was on a mission.

I needed someone, anyone, to come to my rescue… to speak English.

Before I was totally into the room, a kind young woman stood up from behind the table to greet me at the door . But by then, I had blurted out “does anyone speak English?”

No one said a word. They just looked at each other, waiting for someone to speak up.

Silence.

“What??” I said to myself. ” No one speaks English? What kind of a “welcome”  group is this?!”

Fortunately, none of that ‘head-talk’ came out of my mouth. Nevertheless, I’m sure every person in the room, from the look on their faces, got the message and said in their own heads: “Ugly American!”

Meanwhile, the nice lady who was standing with me quickly grabbed my hand, pulled me into the hall, and closed the door behind us. With sign language and a few French words that I could understand, she managed to communicate that I should come back the next week for French lessons.

In total despair, I walked home. Right past Geoffrey’s house.

As fate would have it

Friday morning I was surprised to hear my new cellphone ringing. I’d purchased it for calls in France and I couldn’t imagine who would be calling me. It was Geoffrey. He announced he had found the perfect person to help me with my phone and internet problems. His English friend, Andy, could help me out for a few hours — for a small fee.

Eureka! Within a couple of hours of showing up at my apartment, Andy worked miracles. The internet, the landline, the wifi connections … all were up and running. On top of that, the plumber was on his way to find out why I had no hot water, and to turn on the radiators. I had been taking cold showers for five days and the apartment was cold at night. No wonder I was getting hysterical.

While my new best friend had fulfilled his intended mission, he inadvertently informed me he had a van.

A van! A strong, young man with a van! My prayers were answered. Now my ten boxes that were stuck in a warehouse in Marseilles could be rescued !The boxes filled with clothes and household items were shipped from the States in August and had been “held hostage” since early October. I was having a spat with the handling company and customs agent about taxes. (Another story, another time.)

Quick trip to Marseilles

This tale is best told by pictures.

Driving the two hours to Marseilles was no problem. Finding the warehouse where the boxes were stored was another story. Our GPS map didn’t take into consideration there is massive construction work underway around the port in Marseilles.

Moving to France drama

 

At the warehouse everything looked orderly and well-managed. Then my boxes were trucked on a forklift to the door.

Please no! These can’t be mine!

Notice there are no pictures of Andy hauling the boxes up the 55 steps to the tower apartment. I didn’t have the nerve!

Moving to France drama

Home at last!

Moving to France Drama: Stress, yes. But fun along the way

When I look back on my first month living in France, I can easily say the “good times” have outnumbered the “bad”.

Hanging out with Geoffrey almost every day has been an adventure in itself –with enough stories to fill a book. It’s given me a great chance to meet some interesting “characters”. These are not the kind of folks you’d meet at fancy social gatherings. They are the people you’d pass on the street. Luckily I’ve had a chance to get to know them and experience their ways and antics. Here are just a few …

Rugby Reggie

Reggie is from the French Basque country. “I’m Basque” he proudly proclaims in his raspy, deep voice to anyone within listening distance. He lives on the same street as Geoffrey and spends a lot of time on his doorstep. When he’s not teaching the young boys in town how to play rugby. Reggie (shown on the right) and his good friend Matthew gave me permission to use their names and pictures in the blog. I told them they could say “Hi” to the many women who like to read about life in France.

The day this picture was taken Reggie and Matthew moved a mural and wrought iron patio set  I bought from Geoffrey from his house to my apartment. Little did they know that, aside from carrying the mural and patio set through the streets of Uzes, with no vehicle, they’d also have to climb the 55 steps to my “tower” apartment.

The part that no one knew was that the mural was too big to come up the winding tower steps.Did that stop Reggie the Basque? Of course not! With a stroke of shear genius, Reggie figured out how to hoist the mural up the side of the tower wall and maneuver it sideways into the upper window of the apartment. Voila!

Michel and Nicholas come for dinner

Perhaps the two most delightful characters I’ve met in Uzès are Michel and Nicholas. Both were invited, along with me and Geoffrey’s girlfriend Nandine, to have dinner with Geoffrey on a Sunday afternoon.

Geoffrey prepared a special French meal for us with the Mont d’ Or cheese I bought at the Saturday market.  “Mont d’ Or” means “mountain of gold” in English. It tastes like honey from heaven.  The cheese comes in a round bamboo container with a paper lid. To prepare Mont d’ Or you remove the box lid and stuff two or three cloves of garlic deep down into the middle of the cheese. Wrap the container in aluminum foil and bake the cheese for approximately 30 minutes, or until it is nicely melted.

Geoffrey served the Mont d’ Or with boiled potatoes, a salad with vinagrette dressing and fresh baguettes. For dessert we had formage blanc with rum raisin sauce, sprinkled with roasted almonds.

It’s hard to decide if the meal that Sunday, or the company, was more entertaining. Geoffrey’s friend Michel is quiet and introspective. Nicholas is rowdy and comical. Most of the conversation around the table was in French. Nevertheless, I could understand a lot that was said from the occasional French words I know and from the animated facial expressions and laughter.

Who wouldn’t have fun with guys like these?

(RIP Nicolas – 2018 – We miss you)

Stay tuned. More friends to meet. 

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Memories Tour Day 11, Part 2

After a busy morning at Pont du Gard and the quaint pottery town of San Quentin de Poterie, the gals on the South of France Memories You Promised Yourself tour excitedly landed in Uzés.

As you can imagine, I talked about Uzés constantly before I unexpectedly ended my time on the tour. So everyone was geared up to see just what made the place so special. Apparently, they weren’t disappointed.

Let’s read on with Patricia Sands, author and tour leader extraodinaire, and learn about the places the “sensational sixteen” enjoyed in my new hometown, Uzés.

After our visit to breathtaking Pont du Gard and charming Saint-Quentin-la-Potèrie, our intrepid travellers continued a short distance down the road to the town of Uzès….” (Click here to continue.)

Memories Tour Uzés

Behind French Garden Walls: A Bit of Silk Mill History

When driving down the backroads of France near Uzés, it’s a common sight to ride alongside tall stone walls. You know these beautifully laid stones must conceal something amazing. Perhaps behind French garden walls there’s a story to be told.

Behind French Garden Walls

Not too long ago I was privileged to be invited to visit inside the stone walls of a property I’d passed by often. I was given a tour through the magnificent seventeenth century home and the gardens, as well.

It was everything I’d imagined. And more.

Behind French garden walls

The home is owned by a charming Belgian woman whom I’ve been privileged to know over the last two years. She bought the property in 1992.

Behind French garden walls

Built in 1684, the house was part of a farm that later was devoted to the production of silk worms. A “Magnanerie” to the French.

Behind French Garden Walls

My friend was unsure of the dates the property was used for silk worm farming, but during a period of time after the house was built, the silk industry in France was heavily supported by the government. “There were 2000 mulberry trees planted on the property at one time,” she said.

Behind French Garden Walls

History shows that under Louis IV, grants, free water usage, interest-free mortgages and more were offered to encourage silk production.

Behind French garden walls

By 1815 the French were dominant suppliers of silk traded around the world. There were over 2300 communes in France that cultivated mulberry trees and milled silk, employing up to 350,000 people. More than half of them were in and around the Cevennes.

In 1809, the Prefect of the Gard counted 1,140,680 mulberry trees and 4,713,000 in 1831.

Silks from France experienced a blow in the mid-nineteenth century when an epidemic fatal to silkworms hit the region. Never fully recovered from the setback, the Franco-Prussian War, the opening of the Suez Canal, and the introduction of nylon, were the final death knell to the silk industry France had known.

Behind French garden walls

Behind French Garden Walls

A vineyard of 1200 apple trees replaced the chestnut trees behind the garden wall sometime during the twentieth century, my friend said. She removed most of them to install an array of gardens, filled largely with roses.

Behind French garden walls

Today the garden and house are open only to invited friends and visitors. I visited in the Fall then asked for photos taking of the gardens during the summer. So you can see how the seasons change so beautifully around the Magnanerie.

Behind French garden walls

The interior of the home is arranged and decorated just as artistically as the massive property.

Behind French garden walls

I hope you have enjoyed this visit behind one of the garden walls of France. For any who might be more than intrigued, the home and property are for sale.

Behind French garden walls

Perhaps it’s your turn to live the “dream.”

Behind French garden walls

Farmers' Market

Village Scenes in Uzes: The Green Grocer

The French love their fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why there are farmers markets in France in nearly every town, once a week or more often. In between, lots of places have their hometown green grocer.

In Uzes there are market days on Wednesdays and Fridays. The green market of Jean Claude Gaiffier helps fill the fresh food gap in between market days with local produce, epicurean items and wines. The cheerful shop is open every day of the week.

Hometown Green Grocer

Gaiffier’s is located at an intersection of Uzes that leads into town. San Quentin la Poterie is down the road to the right about 15 minutes away.

hometown green grocer.

Gaiffier Green Grocer in Uzes

The food market is run by Mr. Gaiffier who speaks only French, and his son Christophe who speaks some English.  Whenever I visit the shop, which is several times a week, both Mr. Gaiffiers are happy to pick out the “perfect” cantaloupe for me. Often there’s a fruit or vegetable I don’t recognize. They tell me the French name and sometimes share thoughts on how its prepared.

Hometown Green Grocer

Mr. Gaiffier senior and I have an understanding about cantaloupes. I was told that the best cantaloupe is a “female.” When I asked Mr. Gaiffier how you tell the gender of the fruit, it took a long time for him to understand what I meant. “Femme” doesn’t make sense, somehow, when you’re describing a fruit. Finally I picked up a few of the melons and showed him the difference in the way the bottoms are put together. He got it. Now when I ask for a “good” melon, he goes straight for the ones without the bumps.

Frankly, they’re all good!

Inside and out there is a selection of colorful fruits and vegetables, sausages, dairy items and lots of wine, — most are locally grown and produced in our region.

Hometown Green Grocer

Here is a sampling of the produce that is available right now — only a short walk from where I live.

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It’s like having a French farmers’ market at your doorstep every day.


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Les Mardis Nocturnes D’Uzes

There’s a party going on every Tuesday night, right under my window. Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes. I’m not complaining. It’s vendors with jewelry, leather goods, wine and, of course, there are musicians.

Nothing compares with the Saturday or Wednesday markets  in Uzes. Yet these Tuesday events, clearly for tourists, have the added attraction of a nighttime ambiance in the Place des Duche.

Tuesday market at the Place de Duche, Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Zumba in Uzes

The event runs from 6-11pm and starts off with Zumba.The Zumba sessions are led by a local class and visitors are welcome to join in.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Soon the marketplace is busy with people.  By night it’s loud and filled with music and happy sounds.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

Later, musicians take center stage at the Mairie (town hall).

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Candy and nougat

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Jewelry vendors with handmade necklaces, bracelets and more

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepes made on the spot

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepe making with either Nutella or the buttery sugar variety are favorites.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Silver jewelers add initials to bracelets and necklaces

 

 

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Balloons are for kids here in France, too.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Dogs are well-behaved

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes Handmade head dresses are modeled by beautiful young women.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

 

No matter how I try to stay in on Tuesday nights, I just can’t miss  Les Mardes Nocturnes D’Uzes. Who could blame me?

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Scarves on sale blow in the summer night’s breeze.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Ruins of the city walls look over Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

For more about Uzès visit here

2014-07-27 22.11.10

Golden Girls’ Tour of France and Italy

Friends contact me for thoughts on where to travel around the south of France on “girl trips.” Let me share the adventures of my buddies, the Golden Girls, from our tour of France and Italy.  Perhaps you’ll get some ideas. 

Two of my long-time friends from work days in North Carolina asked if I’d like to join them on a tour of France and Italy. With the chance to see unfamiliar parts of France and Italy, plus the prospect of traveling with Arlene and Linda, how could I resist?

Tour of France and Italy Itinerary

Tour of France and Italy

Day 1-4 Uzès
Day 5 Pont du Gard, Nimes and Avignon
Day 6-7 Sete, Bezier and Bouzigues
Day 8-9 Pont Vendres and Collioure, France to Pisa, Italy
Day 10-12 Florence, Italy and surroundings
Day 13-16 Rome and surroundings
Day 17-20 Akiris Nova Siri, Italy (a resort along the “arch of Italy’s boot”)

So it begins…

Tour of France and Italy: Day 1-4 Uzès

My two guests from the Carolinas arrived in Uzès a day late after missing the flight to Marseilles from Paris due to an airline strike. They were dead tired. Showing them the 55 steps to climb to my apartment in the tower was not the best way to welcome them, but the excitement of it all gave them the adrenaline they needed to get to the top. Photos below are borrowed from each of my friends.

Tour of France and Italy

The “tower”

Tour of France and Italy

Just a few of the 55 steps

Tour of France and Italy

Top of the “tower”

The guest room was ready and waiting, along with the view — the home of the Duke of Uzès.

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

After a night’s rest they were ready to take in the sights and meet some of the locals in my new “hometown”, Uzès.

Tour of France and Italy

The shops along the plazas

Tour of France and Italy

Hen party at Le Provençal

 

Saturday Market in Uzès

No visit to Uzès is complete without a visit to the Saturday Market. If you’re planning to come this way, be sure to plan to be here on Saturday. It’s the reason I fell in love with this place. It’s still one of my favorite ways to spend a day.

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

 

Tour of France and Italy
A Golden Girl’s View of Uzès

One of the best parts of entertaining friends new to Uzès is to see their reaction to the surroundings.

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

 

 

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

Tour of France and Italy

 

Stay tuned!

 Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

Chariot races

 

For more about visiting Uzès, check our About Uzès

 

 

 

 

Live Abroad Solo

Want to Live Abroad Solo? Learn How to “Let Go”

How did I decide I wanted to live abroad solo? My friends at Cook’n with Class asked me to answer that question and write a guest post for their blog. Let me share the story with you.

When people say to me: “you’re so brave to move to France alone;” or “how could you venture off to a ‘foreign” country where you know no one;” or “how do you manage not speaking the language,” I’ve had to search for a way to describe how it happened.

As simply as possible, I say, I learned how to “let go.”

There are lots of things in life that tie you down. Raising children. Caring for an aging parent or a dependent family member. Poor physical health. A job. Not “enough” money. Those are all real issues that affect all of us at some time in our lives and any one of them makes it difficult for us to let go. For me those constraints were behind me. My boys were raised, my parents were deceased, I was divorced and I was retired. As for “enough” money. I had to figure that one out. Really? What is “enough?”

What’s “enough?”

Live abroad soloDetermining how much money I needed, how much space I wanted, and exactly where I was going to live were vital to know. When I discovered that I could live in France in a lovely place and space, and that I could live for less than in the US – and better — I let go of “will I have enough.”

Too much “stuff”

Once I decided I could live abroad, I had to deal with my “stuff.” Believe me, I had a lot of stuff from 40 years of housekeeping and from being a compulsive buyer and collector. It should have been harder but it was pretty easy to get rid of things after I’d made up my mind. I knew I didn’t want the hassle of moving things to France so I imposed on my son, and some very good friends, and we held an estate sale. In two weekends everything I owned was gone — except for a few small items now in storage in South Carolina. Interestingly, most of those bits and pieces belonged to my mother.

Living abroad solo means saying “goodbye” to family and friends

If you think moving abroad means you’ll never see your family and friends again, you won’t go. From experience I can tell you. You will keep in touch with those who mean the most to you. In fact, living abroad, you’ll be surprised how much family and how many friends you have. I’ve entertained and enjoyed guests I haven’t seen or heard from in 50 years. They’ve come to visit me in France.  Others stay in touch through social media, telephone, email and Facetime. We’re probably more connected now than ever before.

 

The best news about friends is that you make more -– from all over the world.

Grandchildren are another matter. My adorable grandbabies didn’t exist when I left for France. My son and daughter-in-law blessed me with a grandson three years ago and a granddaughter last year. Those two pull my heartstrings.  Every week, or more often, we talk on Facetime. It’s mostly because of them that I visit back to the US. They’re growing so fast and I don’t want to miss their childhood. So I plan, I budget, and I promise myself I’ll see them twice a year in person.

 One step at a time

For me, “letting go” meant I had to have a goal. I had to sit down with myself and face my fears. What was holding me back? Once I acknowledged the obstacles, I worked on them, one by one. Visa? Apartment rental in France? French bank accounts? Everything fell in place. Just by letting go and taking one step at a time.

“You can do it.”

Live abroad solo

Duche in Uzes on a summer Tuesday night

Live abroad solo

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

What’s  happening in Uzes, France on July 14th? I set out with my camera to see how the French celebrate in this small town. It’s all about family, food, dancing and fireworks. This year, it was also about brocante. A hundred or more brocante dealers showed off their best wares in the town’s parking lot — a beautiful spot overlooking the valley.

Uzes, France July 14th

Brocante in Uzes, France

Uzes, France July 14th

China, pottery, porcelain treasures galore.

Uzes, France July 14th

Colorful wares and colorful brocante dealers.

Uzes, France July 14th

El Toro for your man cave?

Uzes, France July 14th

Perfect gift or the man who has everything.

Uzes, France July 14th

Uzes, France July 14th

Every man’s junk is someone’s treasure.

Uzes, France July 14th cafes in town were packed with visitors, couples and families eating, drinking and enjoying their long weekend holiday.

Uzes, France July 14th

All waiting for the music and dancing …

Uzes, France July 14th

 And the fireworks.Uzes, France July 14th

Here are some interesting facts about the July 14th French holiday:

1-  French don’t call the holiday “Bastille Day”?

It’s called “July 14th”, just like “July 4th” in the States. The formal name is  La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration).

2- “Storming the Bastille” was not all about freeing political prisoners.

Rebels freed four crooks and two “lunatics” and, according to Wikipedia, one “deviant” aristocrat. The Bastille was chosen as the target of the rebellion because it was a symbol of the abusive monarchy — a place stocked with weapons and ammunition.

3- The French Revolution was not the beginning of an independent French republic.

The French Revolution of 1787 is considered by historians as a major step towards establishing the concept of “independent republics.” The world saw the uprising of the people of France as an example to create their own political change;

The French, however, were anything but “independent” afterwards. They enduring years of terror led by Roperpeare’s government; and later, a military empire led by Napolean.  It was the Third Republic in 1870 that gave way to national elections and political parties in France.

Charles de Gaulle founded the French Fifth Republic and served as its first president from 1959 to 1969.

 

A Quick Jump Across the Pond

Tomorrow I’m heading for a quick visit to the States. It’s been ten month since I’ve seen my two grand babies and it’s their birthdays!

With a five-week trip away from Uzes ahead of me, the weekend was busy with packing and saying “goodbye” to friends. The Saturday Market and cafes in town were packed. It reminded me of that day four years ago when I first visited the town. The weather is perfect and spirits have lifted. Winter is over. Spring is here!
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 

I’ll keep in touch while I’m away. It’ll be interesting to return to family and friends in the US after such a long time. When I return to France there’s more fun ahead. Including a stopover in Paris and travel stories from the South of France. … stay tuned!

 
 

Uzes Saturday Market

Winter Market in Uzés: It’s Not Quite the Same

If you’ve visited the Uzés Saturday Market during tourist season and hate the crowds, you should be here in February. The market is almost the same, minus the throngs of people.

Uzes Saturday MarketThis weekend’s market day was sunny and cold — a crisp 45 degrees when I set out. Clear blue skies and a light wind.

 

Uzes Saturday Market

 

While some of my favorite vendors were in place, many shops were shuttered and closed.

 

 

A local hangout, Au Suisse d’Alger, was minus its usual outside market-watchers. Yet there was a bustle inside where it was warm and cozy.

 

 

In the market an assortment of new produce was proudly displayed and on sale.

Uzes Saturday Market

 

 

Market regulars were busy as usual. 

 

On such a beautiful day, all who could be there were out to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

 

Winter market in Uzes

 

 

Winter market in Uzes

 

Main Street for Uzés Saturday Market

On the main street, or Rue Gambetta, there was a marked difference in the numbers of street vendors. Although there were many more than earlier days of winter when the weather was in the 30’s. 

 

Winter market in Uzes

 

Still you could count on those who gather at the Café de l’Esplanade to be there for coffee and to pick up their fresh oysters. 

Winter market in Uzes

 

Best of all, inventory at stores and on the street were priced to go.

 

 

Yes, the 3 pairs of boots are mine! At 15 euros a pair, could I resist?

Uzes Saturday Market

When the sun is shining you can depend on the French to dine outdoors. Market days are a time for friends to gather wherever there’s an open table.

 

 

Uzes Saturday Market

Cafes outside with customers

Uzes Saturday Market

 

Happy, happy day! Oh La Vache was open again after a too-long winter break. Their “CocoRico” chicken sandwich was still same. The best! Grilled chicken, aubergine and melted chèvre. Oh la la! (Not to mention a pichet (50cl) of rosé – to share, of course!)

Uzés Saturday Market Day

To top off the day, a stop at Gaffier’s Green Grocery was a “must.” Always the same: the freshest produce, wine at great prices — and a welcoming smile.  

Uzes Saturday Market

 

And, oh yes, it’s the only place in town to buy fresh herbs out of season. After a day at the market, my next mission? Gravlax! 

 

Uzes Saturday Market

 

 

Stay tuned …

Uzes Saturday Market

Homage to Truffle Hunting Pigs

Saturday night I served a fancy pork terrine bought in the Loire Valley to friends who were in town for the Uzes Black Truffle Festival. That bite of pork could have been my last. I’m in love with pigs.

I’ve always had an attraction to pigs, namely Porky Pig, Piglet, Babe and Miss Piggy. However, the attraction never kept me from having more than my share of pork barbecue, pork chops, ham and bacon. Yesterday, though, I fell under the spell of a truffle hunting pig. She was awesome.

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Truffle hunting pig in Uzes

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Snout down finding a truffle

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival Activities

Let me set the stage …

Sunday morning, under a bright sunny sky, there was a brisk Mistral wind blowing across the main plaza in Uzes, Place aux Herbes. Crowds of couples, families and singles were scurrying towards the centre of the plaza to join in on the Black Truffle Festival festivities.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Morning view of Place aux Herbes in preparation for the Truffle Festival

 

In the square there was a huge tent and dozens of little food stands, each filled with vendors with their renditions of truffled delicacies. 

Merchants with truffle paraphernalia were set up to sell knives, bags, truffle shavers and more.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Truffle gadget vendor in Uzes

 

There were even tiny tree starts implanted with truffles at their roots so you could take one home.

Uzes Black Truffle Hunt

A “truffle pen” filled with dirt and small trees was set up along one side of the plaza. It had been seeded with black truffles that were free to any man, woman or child with a dog who could find them. 

 

Not one dog found a truffle, but one stole the show. Nancy McGee’s 2-pound Papillon, Jewel. 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Jewel the truffle dog

 

 

 

 

Jewel was the show stopper … until the truffle-hunting pig arrived. 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

“Madame Cochon” rooted where others n’er dared to go.

 

She snorted and dug until every truffle was sorted out.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Finding a truffle

 

Surely Madame Cochon’s talent was due to the mutual admiration between she and her master. You might even call it piggy love. 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

Who could resist such a loveable pig?

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

 

Even the piglets-in-waiting were envious. 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival Auction

Meanwhile, back at center stage, a truffle auction was starting. Truffles that had been blessed at an earlier church service were up for sale to the highest bidders to raise money for charity.

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Blessed truffles for auction

 

Each truffle was carefully cleaned, weighed and sold, starting at 1000 euros per kilo.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Truffle auction

 

All was supervised by the ever-present Compagnie Bachiques — a group of wine-loving men who show up at every wine event, dressed in the colors and golden coat of arms of the Duchy of Uzes. It is their duty to spread the word about wines from the region and to proclaim:

 

“VINO NON AQUA” 

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Uzes Black Truffle Sales

 

All through the day curious and truffle-hungry guests mobbed vendors who were selling truffles by weight. 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Selling truffles by weight

 

 

Precious truffle oil, butter and cheese sold fast.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

Those seeming to have the most fun were those who just showed up for the experience, the food, the company and the wine.

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

What truffle delight did I buy? A little block of truffle butter, cheese with truffles and a small jar of truffle pate that I’ll  have to give away — it’s made with pork! 

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

Barefoot Blogger “do I shop or take photos?”

Oh yes … and dare I forget? Nancy and I polished off  a few Truffle macaroons with a nice pot of tea before she left for her drive back to Sete.

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

Another fun day in the South of France!

Uzes Black Truffle Festival

 

“French Bo-Bo” Style for the Holidays is Trés Chic

You know if I’m spending the holidays in Uzes, I’m going to visit l’Atelier des Ours. It’s just down the street and it’s irresistible, especially this time of year. From the moment you enter l’Atelier des Ours, you leave this world and float away on a cloud of snowballs and ruffles.

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

Fluffy flowers and lace trim the place from top to bottom

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

 

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

 

You enter a fantasy world that takes you back to another time and place

 

 

A simpler time. When little things mattered

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours 

 

A time when “dressing up” meant adding a flower, a scarf or a bow

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

 

At  l’Atelier des Ours every detail matters

 

Visit l'Atelier des Ours

Atelier des Ours

Atelier des Ours

Atelier des Ours

 

Fashion comes to life in the simplest ways 

Atelier des Ours

 

Winter favorites take on new flair 

 

It’s one of my favorite places, l’Atelier des Ours. 

 

Perhaps it’s because Papa Bear faithfully watches out below, guarding the street where I live. 

 

Atelier des Ours

 

Atelier des Ours

 

Silly mice in Uzes, France

Uzes Christmas Market In Real Time

Christmas Market is in Uzes right now. If you cover your eyes and click your heels together, you can imagine you’re here!

 

Uzes Christmas Market 2016

Uzes Christmas Market 2016

 

The Saturday Market was hurried this weekend for the setup of the annual Marché Noél Saturday evening. Through Monday the Place Aux Herbes is filled with vendors operating out of white-topped stalls selling all types of holiday gifts and foods.  Wrap your taste buds around these morsels

 

 

My favorite jewellery maker is in town with more of his fabulous designs…. and a big hug and kiss for me, too!

 

 

Along with the woolies for sale and games for children and families, the market has something for everyone.

Handmade woolens in Uzes France

 

 

Furs at Uzes Christmas Market

 

 

 

 

Click on the slide show below and imagine the music ringing through the town. 

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Everything from religious santons to a silly mouse …

Santons in Uzes France

 

Silly mice in Uzes, France

Christmas in Uzes

 

The holidays are in full swing here and new shops are opened to welcome the crowds.

Le Comptoir de Mathilde 

 

 

Le Goûter d’Uzés

For my first full Christmas in Uzes, everything is merry and bright!

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Bread Pudding and French Connections

Today I was enjoying the last of my Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers —  for breakfast — bread pudding. After I woofed it down, I stopped for a moment to think that I should be thankful for every bite, for everything about my simple bread pudding meal.

Take for example, the bread. I made a special effort to choose that specific bread at Mr. Gaffier’s corner grocery store. There were many choices, but this loaf of sliced white bread was specially recommended by the young woman behind the counter.

Gaiffier Green Grocer in Uzes

Gaiffier Green Grocer in Uzes

“It will be perfect for croutons for your soup” she said in her perfect French.

The raisins in the bread pudding were given to me by my dear friends, Paula and Rich, when they left Uzes for the States. White raisins. Just right for bread pudding.

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The eggs in the pudding came from the young man at the Saturday Market in Uzes. He picked out the perfect fresh eggs and delicately placed them into a small box for me.

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The sugar was left over in the sugar “pot” from Thanksgiving dinner. I purchased the sugar and creamer in the tiny village of Najac on my trip back from the Dordogne.

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The milk came from Carrefour, the large supermarket I visited a few weeks ago to stock up on basic essentials.

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Walnuts and pecans were in my freezer, leftover from aperos I’d made for friends when my son was visiting in October.

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The baking dish was from IKEA, reminding me of the day I was lost trying to find the store in Avignon.

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Along with the bread pudding, I had tea in a “proper” teapot that I purchased on my way from France to the US last year on a stopover in the British Cotswolds.

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The tea cup was from my favorite potter in St. Siffret. I bought it in the summer at a “pottery marche” in Collias.

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When was the last time you looked at your meal and took into consideration every item on the table. Where did it come from? How much effort went into putting it in front of you?

It was a small lesson in humility for me. Just a simple bowl of bread pudding.

So much to be thankful for. 

bread-pudding

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southern france holiday

Uzes: A Food Lover’s Southern France Holiday

You would be forgiven for thinking that Paris is the best place to experience French food. However, surprisingly many would argue against such a claim. While it is at the forefront, and to some extent the gateway to French cuisine for the average traveler, there are many other wonderful food hubs across the country that rival Paris’s thriving restaurant scene.

https://bfblogger.com/2016/11/06/southern-french-food/Though, that doesn’t mean the city isn’t without its fair share of amazing restaurants. Chez Dumonet for one, helmed by Chef Jean-Christian Dumonet, was at one point dubbed by Fodor’s Travel as the best restaurant in Paris. Chez Dumonet is so well known now that this restaurant is on most foodies bucket lists when the visit the capital.

Getting to visit such a place gives travelers a real sense of the roots of French cuisine. In The Scene’s ‘Presents’ series, a video blog was published about ‘Honest French Food’, and Chez Dumonet’s classic French dishes were described as “masterfully assembled” which in turn has attracted lots of patrons from all corners of the world in recent years.

There are, happily, many other wonderful food hubs across the country that rival Pariss thriving restaurant scene…like Uzes, way down in the south of France. 

Uzes is a hidden gem. The NY Times Travel Magazine described the town as one of the “best preserved and most meticulously renovated towns in the South of France.”

southern france holiday

A Food Lover’s Southern France Holiday

In Uzes the people have retained their identity in every aspect of daily living, from the architecture to cultural practices to the way they prepare food and their cooking traditions.You would be forgiven for thinking that Paris is the best place to experience French food. However,

Amazing foods, cafes and restaurants are everywhere. The food markets in Uzes are bustling with vendors that sell only the best and freshest, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and breads. These markets were included by The Guardian amongst the best food markets around the world.

If you’d rather pass on checking out every stall and just fancy watching people make their way around in the morning, head to Terroirs within the Place aux Herbes. Simply sit down and sip your cup of coffee or tea while watching one of the finest markets within the whole southern region of France spring to life.

La Table 2 Julien at Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers serves sumptuous food at lunchtime that you can pair with a glass of your preferred wine.

Uzes has ‘natural wines’ which, according to Real Food Warrior are made only from sun-ripened grapes and free from any additives.

For special occasions there’s Le Comptoir du 7, one of my favorites.

The newly-renovated Hotel Entraigues is a rising star on the restaurant scene in Uzes with Chef Axel Grousset-Bachelard returning to his hometown, determined to outshine any competition. His “nothing is fixed’ menu” is short and imaginative, featuring market-day fresh, local products that “excite the tastebuds,”according to Chef Axel.

You can also have a bistro meal on the spot in cafes and restaurants scattered around the area. They are worthy additions to your culinary journey.

In case you’re wondering about food etiquette during your Southern France holiday, be sure to see Nancy’s McGee’s post about cutting cheese.

Do you have restaurants in Uzes, or nearby that you would like to add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Christmas in France

Christmas in Uzes? Here’s a Preview

This year I plan to spend Christmas in France. Friends say there’s nothing in the world quite like it. 

One year I was in Uzes until late December so I got a hint of how special the atmosphere is around here. There are festive decorations on street lamps and above the roadways and walkways in town, store windows are filled with holiday gift items, and piped-in music blankets the airways. It is truly magical.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!

 

 

 

Time for Fete Votive Uzes. Which Year Was Best? You Decide.

Fete Votive Uzes 2015 was spectacular. How will this year’s event compare?

By far, one of the most exciting events of the year in Uzes, in my opinion, is Fete Votive. Next week it’s live along the main street in Uzes with lights, action and extraordinary booming sounds. The imaginative “électros soirée” on August 5, 2016 will be the third I’ve experienced. Oh what a night that will be! 

Below are photos and a video from 2015 and there’s a link to highlights from Fete Votive 2014 for you to preview.  When I post the Fete Votive 2016 extravaganza, let me know which you think is the best of the best from the three years.

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

 

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A true fantasy!

Here’s just a sample of the sight and sounds…

Will they outdo themselves this year? All I can say is, “I can’t wait to see it!”

See Fete Votive Parade 2014 revisited here. 

Here’s the schedule for this year’s event — 

 

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Expat in Uzès

A Day in the Life of an Expat in Uzes

Friends often ask me “how do you spend your day as an expat in Uzes? Since you’ve asked, here’s an example of one day this week.  

I started the day with café crème and a treat, pain au chocolate, at a local cafe with friends. We were all heading for French class at l’Université Populaire. Yes, I’m going to give French another try and this time I’m going to succeed! My friends gingerly persuaded me that I needed to go with them — not just because I need to speak the language, but especially because they needed another person to sign up so they could hold the class. A little hot coffee, a tin of sweet biscuits and a fabulous teacher — Claudine — made the lesson go much faster than I expected. And more fun!

Morning French Class and Brocante

The Université Populaire is only a few steps away from my favorite brocante store, so who could resist? I stopped in and spent a few minutes looking around. Then I dropped a few euros to buy a small piece of furniture for my apartment — a carved chest. How do you like it? (photo below). It’ll be perfect to store things in my bedroom. I’ll add a couple of square pillows for seats.  I’m still trying to decide if I can live without the headboards you see below. For the guest room… hmmm.

While shopping I sighted a tapestry rolled up on a chair near the front door of the store. I immediately thought  of my friends Paula and Rich. They’ve been looking for something “medieval”to decorate their apartment. I called them and suggested they come down to see the tapestry.

 

Lunch at the Place aux Herbes

Expat in UzèsBefore I continue talking about my day in Uzes, let me introduce you to Paula and Rich. They are friends from California that I met a couple of years ago. I’ve mentioned them in several previous posts and on Facebook. Now they’re my apartment neighbours and “partners in crime.” They love to “go and do” as much as I do.  Rich and I are taking French lessons together. Paula’s pretty proficient at her new language. You’ll hear a lot about them in future posts, I’m sure. 

Paula and Rich joined me at the brocante. They loved the tapestry! On the way back to the apartment we stopped at a restaurant in the Place aux Herbes for lunch and to people-watch. A favourite pastime during tourist season.

Neighborhood Repas (Pot Luck)

Nowadays, I often take a nap in the afternoon. The temperature in the south of France is warm — in the high 80’s — and it’s a bit humid. (Compared to Atlanta? NOT!) Things pretty much shut down in Uzes and so do I. This day, after my nap, I had a chore to do. I had picked up some fresh pineapple, melons and cherries from the market in front of Université Populaire and I needed to prepare a fruit bowl to take to a neighborhood party. Everyone in our apartment building was invited for “repas”  — a pot luck dinner — and we were meeting on the rooftop terrace at around 7pm.

Here’s something I’ve learned about entertaining in France. If you’re invited to someone’s home for “apero” the hosts serve drinks and some type of simple food — a small bowl of nuts, chips or pretzels and perhaps a canapé — like tapenade on a toast crouton. Apero last for only an hour. Afterwards you might go together for dinner.  If you’re invited for “repas” you can expect a light meal along with drinks.  For a neighbourhood gathering the guests bring food to share. 

A dish that some of my French friends bring for repas is  chilled, creamed vegetable or fruit “soup.” For our neighbour’s gathering, there were two kinds of cold soups — avocado and beetroot. Both were presented in small bowls. The avocado soup was lightly flavoured with lemon, garlic and herbs. The beetroot soup had diced beets and walnuts on top of the slightly garlic-y, creamed base and a hint of herbs. They were both divine!

Oh.. by the way … never think about using beets from a can around here. It’s a travesty! 

Along with our delicious spread of food and good neighbours who have different levels of French and English language proficiency, it was a clear, beautiful evening. Up above the rooftops of Uzes we had quite a view

 

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Expat in Uzès

Rooftops of Uzes

I love this place!

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