Tag: French Country Food

Uzes Fete Votive

Summer’s in Full Swing in the South of France: It’s Uzès Fete Votive

There’s lots going on and plenty of people around to enjoy Uzès Fete Votive.

Uzès Fete Votive

A summer event that everyone looks forward to attending is Uzès Fete Votive. A few posts ago I was raving about the Fete and saying how happy I was that it was coming back to Uzes soon. The long weekend event I remembered had been spectacular. In fact, I wondered how this year’s activities could equal the previous ones. Sad to say, I was disappointed with the attraction I enjoy the most– the Procession of Pégoulade — the parade down main street.

But who wouldn’t be excited about this? As good as it gets!

Uzes Fete Votive

Abrivado in Uzes for Fete Votive 2016

What is a Fete Votive?

Uzes Fete Votive

St. Theodoret Cathedral n Uzes

Fete Votives are celebrations with long traditions in many villages throughout the south of France. The festivals were customarily held at the end of harvest time. Today you see signs announcing various Fete Votives anytime during summer and fall. The event honors the patron saint of the town. In Uzès the patron is Saint Theodoret of Antioch — the saint for whom the beautiful cathedral that stands majestically in the town is named. (The story of Saint Theodoret looks like something I’m going to explore for a future post. Stay tuned ….)

When Fete Votive comes to town, you know it’s here when metal barricades are set up alongside the main street, Boulevard Gambetta.  Running the bulls and horses is one of the first events — sponsored by various Abrivado clubs from the area and from as far away as the Camargue.  The town awards coveted prizes to the clubs that are the best animal handlers.

While an Abrivado looks like a mad rush of animals, riders and young men who follow behind grabbing at the bulls, it’s pretty much orchestrated and managed. There are stories, however, of bulls that break into the crowd — or spectators who get in the way of the “stampede.” Note: bull’s horns are covered with leather protectors, but just the force of a bull is enough to keep me out of the way! (Except to take photos, of course.)

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Uzes Fete Votive

Steak tartare at Ma Cantine

Uzès Fete Votive Fun with Friends

Activities for the Fete Votive seem endless. To be honest, I go to just a few. Getting together with friends for the Abrivado and the parade that follows is my own sort of tradition. This year, dinner at Ma Cantine was our place to be. The cafe is located right alongside Boulevard Gambetta. My friends and I didn’t miss a thing!  Ma Cantine offers house specialties during Fete Votive that include their freshly hand-chopped steak tartare. It’s not one of my favourite dishes, but plenty of visitors and locals love it. Add a bit of hot sauce and crispy fries on the side and my friends who tried it were in heaven.

Procession of Pégoulade

After dinner and close to dark it was time for us to leave Ma Cantine and join the crowds waiting for the Procession of Pégoulade – a parade that starts at the Cathedral and ends at the bottom of  the Boulevard. This year ‘s parade had a “back to the future” theme with a “robotic” float — ‘Turbulence Steampunk.” It was a ambidextrous steam engine with psychedelic lights and loud, booming music. Along with the float were “blowers”in belle époque costumes who ran in front and around the float shooting streamers of coloured paper and confetti at everything and everyone in sight.Behind the “blowers” were ladies wearing flowing silk dresses who were walking effortlessly on stilts. They thrilled admirers by stooping over to paint elegant designs on the faces and arms of any who stepped forward. The Fete Votive procession, with fewer and less grand floats than previous years’, was still an amazing sight to see as the process glided down the boulevard, silhouetted against the ancient buildings of Uzes.

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So … the challenge “how will they top the past years’ Procession of Pégoulade?” is answered. But there’s always next year.

Maybe you’ll be here to see it for yourself!

For photos and sounds from previous Fete Votive parades in Uzes, click here.

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The Romance of Roquefort

All you need is Love and Roquefort… or “How mold found its way into the first Roquefort cheese”

In response to our recent article on cheese etiquette, many readers have wondered just how mould from rye bread found its way into the first Roquefort cheese. Let’s just say that the French are great lovers who also love their cheese. As one might suspect, love and roquefort, therein lies a tale of great romance.

Love and Roquefort

By Nancy McGee, Contributor to Barefoot Blogger
Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette

Napoleon and Josephine, de Beauvoir and Sartre, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette…are just a few of France’s famous lovers, real or legendary. But way back, a largely unknown young couple were responsible for one of the country’s most enduring traditions. Their story is decidedly among the most romantic of all.

Ingredients for a Great French Culinary Tradition
All You Need is Love...

Once upon a time – almost two thousand years ago, as legend has it – a young shepherd took shelter from a raging storm in a cave on Mount Combalou near Roquefort. No sooner had he begun his lunch of ewe’s milk curds on rye bread when a beautiful young shepherdess appeared, rain-soaked, at the mouth of the cave. The chivalrous young man offered to share his lunch, but as they became better and better acquainted, so to speak, lunch was soon forgotten.

Love and Roquefort

When the storm abated, each went their own way – with stomachs empty but with hearts full.

While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night…

...a king was born – that is to say the ‘King of Cheese’ as French philosopher Diderot declared “Roquefort.

A month or so after the young lovers first rendezvous, the shepherd was tending his flock near the same cavern. Fond memories of that romantic interlude surfaced, as did the memory of the abandoned lunch. When he entered the cave, much to his surprise it was still there, but hardly recognisable! Mold blanketed the rye bread and had infiltrated the curds to produced deep blue/green veins.

Love and RoquefortThe shepherd, whose hunger knows no bounds, took a bite of the mouldy cheese.  One can only imagine his reaction – ‘C’est formidable’!

Yes, there’s more. This tale has a happy ending. The shepherdess returned and shared her lover’s passion for the new-born cheese. Together they quickly mastered the art of producing blue-veined cheese in the damp caves of Mount Combalou. An industry was born – along with several heirs who passed on the Roquefort tradition throughout the generations.

Love and Roquefort

As a postscript, the couple probably lived happily for quite a long time ever after. Recent studies have revealed the anti-inflammatory properties of mouldy, blue-veined cheeses – which could explain why French mortality rates from cardiovascular-related diseases are among the lowest.

Long live the King of French Cheeses!

Love and Roquefort

A Few Facts about Roquefort Cheese
Roquefort cheese is made from the perfumed raw milk from the Lacaunes ewe. Lacaunes sheep produce far less milk than cows, making the cheese rare and precious.

Today the mould from rye bread is injected into the sheep’s milk.

Mount Combalou provided a rock-like fortress – hence the name ‘Roc Fort’. In fact it was the only environment capable of creating the blue/green veins; other caves close by did not have the same effect.

Combalou collapsed a million years ago, leaving narrow cracks as long as half a mile beneath the surface. Cool air blows through them into the caves, providing perfect climatic conditions — 48 degrees year round — for cheese maturation.

Roquefort was Charlemagne’s favorite cheese and, according to Casanova, an aphrodisiac.

France produces over half of the world’s cheese and it exports more than any other country, including of course the much sought-after Roquefort. Let’s see what President Charles de Gaulle had to say:

Only peril can bring the French together.
One can’t impose unity out of the blue on a country
that has 265 different kinds of cheese.

Today, France is the home to over 1000 types of cheese. It’s a wonder how a modern President can hold things together?

Love and Roquefort

 

Check out more great information from Nancy about French food and etiquette on Barefoot Blogger’s page,  Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette 

Love and Roquefort

Nancy McGee, Absolutely Southern French

 

 

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille wasn’t high on my list of places to visit. A weekend spent there to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend from Uzès totally changed my mind. On top of being an incredibly beautiful city with lovely, welcoming people, Marseille is for foodies like me.

I’ve been to Marseille on several occasions since living in Uzès. Once to the warehouse district to claim a shipment and more than once to the airport. Neither area offers the best of the city. It was hearing that Marseille is for foodies, especially bouillabaisse, that called me back.

Is it food that makes Marseille so appealing to millions of travelers?

Marseille is for Foodies

Food in Marseille is as varied as the people: French, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Middle Eastern, African, North and South and Central Americans and more. Restaurants and cafes are on nearly every street and corner. There are over 1000 listed in TripAdvisor, including fifteen Michelin star restaurants. Along Le Vieux Port, where we stayed for the weekend, there were places to eat lined side by side.

My first meal in Marseille was a medley of seafoods at La Brasserie du Port. The waterfront restaurant was right below our hotel, Grand Hôtel Beauvau Marseille Vieux-Port.  The fresh, beautifully prepared seafood and the service couldn’t have been better. The view from the terrace of the brasserie — the architectural masterpiece by Norman Foster against the background of the ancient port — was stunning.

Marseille is for Foodies

The birthday girl’s selection for meals on her special day was eclectic and international — Indian for lunch and Columbian for dinner.  Palais du Maharaja,  chosen from TripAdvisor, proved to be the perfect place to satisfy our appetites for Indian food.

… Indian Food

… Columbian Food

Discovering Columbia tapas at Tapas La Picadita  turned out to be one of the best food finds of the weekend. The menu, the preparation and the friendly staff were so special that we came back the next night for more.

Marseille is for Foodies

… “Little Istanbul”

Even though it rained during part of our stay in Marseille, it didn’t keep us from wandering the streets near Le Vieux Port. A shop overflowing with bins and bags of Turkish delicacies stopped us in our tracks. We loaded up on dried fruits, spices, teas and candies to take back with us. And we laughed a lot!

Marseille is for Foodies

… Street Food

Somehow the rain in Marseille made the atmosphere even more picturesque and interesting. Food vendors and cafes were open for business… and happy to see us .

 

One stop for tea and coffee ended up in a karaoke! The proprietor thought I looked like Petula Clark. We all started singing “Downtown”! What fun!

Marseille is for Foodies

… Bouillabaisse!

I was really looking forward to a bowl of bouillabaisse. Who can go to Marseille without tasting it?

You need to book reservations two days in advance for some restaurants to prepare this Marseille favorite for you. Be sure to plan ahead. We chose to try the bouillabaisse at Grand Bar des Goudes in Le Goudes, a  village outside Marseille. The tiny town is in a district of Marseille on the way to the Calanques. Little did we know that it would take a couple of hours to drive to Le Goudes on a Sunday.  It didn’t help that throngs of people in cars, on bikes and on foot were heading that way after three days cooped up in the rain. Yes, we were late for our reservations, but the drive along the winding road and the views of Marseille were worth the hassle.

 

The view of the fishing harbor from the restaurant in Goudes was pretty special too.

Marseille is for Foodies

 

Back to the main attraction — the bouillabaisse. 

Bouillabaisse is a provençal fish stew traditionally created by the fishermen of Marseilles. It was concocted as a way to use up the bony rockfish they’d caught along the Calanques that they couldn’t sell.

According to the Michelin Guide Vert, “the four essential elements of a true bouillabaisse are the presence of rascasse, the freshness of the fish; olive oil, and an excellent saffron.” American chef and author, Julia Child, wrote in her book, My Life in France: “to me the telling flavor of bouillabaisse comes from two things: the Provençal soup base — garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, fennel, saffron, thyme, bay, and usually a bit of dried orange peel — and, of course, the fish — lean (non-oily), firm-fleshed, soft-fleshed, gelatinous, and shellfish.”

Not all bouillabaisse is created equal. The variety I sampled was missing some of the shellfish. I’m taking the fact that there may be the “perfect” bouillabaisse waiting for me. A good enough reason to return to Marseille, don’t you agree?

 

Did you know there’s a proper way to serve and eat bouillabaisse?

Have you been to Marseille? Do you have a favorite restaurant? Where’s the best place for the bouillabaisse? Please let me know. I will return! 

 

 

For more about Marseille:

The Doors and Windows of Marseille

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseilles: A Stormy Past. A Brilliant Future.

 

 

 

Saint Jean du Gard

The Cevennes: Saint Jean du Gard

I’ve never visited the Cevennes other than in Autumn, but it’s definitely the time and the place to go. Especially on a Tuesday. It’s market day in Saint Jean du Gard.

The mountainous town of Saint Jean du Gard’s history dates back to the twelfth century. It was then that monks from the Abbey of St-Gilles created the settlement on the banks of the Gardon River. With its religious beginnings, Saint Jean du Gard and the surrounding area — the Cévennes — became known as a stronghold for French Protestants (Hugenots).

The citizens of the area, mostly white-shirted Calvinist peasants (Camisards), famously banded together to fight royal control throughout years of religious wars. Many fled to America, England and Switzerland from 1685 into the early 1700’s to avoid ongoing persecution. More recent history of Saint Jean du Gard includes the town’s mention in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.

San Jean du Gard

Market day in Saint Jean du Gard

Because market days seem to be the focus of my explorations in France, I planned the visit to Saint Jean du Gard on a Tuesday.San Jean du Gard When I arrived in the town, I was happily surprised to see familiar sights. I had been here before on my trip a few years ago — the same visit when I discovered Uzes.

It was a rainy, overcast day but that didn’t stop me from wandering around to some of the same places I remembered and exploring new places for photo opportunities. First there was a stop at the “indoor” market area to see which local products were in season.

Apples, apples  more apples.

Apples everywhere. All varieties of apples and all types of juices. Many are the same as in the States. Only a few I’d never seen before. In addition to the raw apples, there were several versions of apple juice. Not being a big fan of fruit juices, I didn’t buy any to bring back with me. Nevertheless, it did make a great photo.

San Jean du GardSan Jean du Gard

 

Also in season were chestnuts. While doing a bit of research on Saint Jean du Gard, I learned that chestnut trees were once an important food crop and brought a degree of wealth to the area because of the popular “marron” nuts. San Jean du GardWhen planting mulberry trees to “nourish” the silk worm industry became more profitable than harvesting chestnuts, mulberry trees took over much of the landscape. Fortunately marrons are abundant enough in the markets today for all to continue to enjoy.

Root vegetables and pumpkins

You find pomme de terre (potatoes) on French dinner tables probably more than any other side dish. So it is no surprise there were bushels and baskets of white and red-skinned potatoes in every market, regardless of the season. It’s much harder to find baking potatoes (russet-type) in the markets where I’ve ventured. Certainly I haven’t seen Outback Steakhouse giant-sized spuds anywhere!

2013-11-05 09.47.14Squashes and pumpkins were on display in time for fall menus, including creamed soups. I prepare squashes like we do in the South– splitting a butternut squash in half and baking it with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. That’s unheard of by anyone I’ve asked here. Instead, they peel and steam the squash, then mash it. The one I have at my house is going to end up in a creamy soup.

2013-11-05 09.47.21

One vegetable that puzzled me, pictured in the photo on the right, was a giant radish. According to the vendor, it is eaten raw like its tiny kin. Presumably it’s almost as hot as horseradish. The truth I’ll find out about later.

There were not many varieties of green, leafy vegetables like collards and kale in this markets. But there were many types of veggies like endive, shallots, fennel, and leeks. Eggplant (aubergine) is very popular in France and prepared in many ways. Mesclun, spinach and other salad greens are in the market throughout the year. Having lived most of my life in the southern states of the US, there are not many vegetables here that I don’t recognize. Some I’m trying for the first time — fennel for example. Yum!

People watching in Saint Jean du Gard

San Jean du GardSneaking photos of interesting people is another reason I love market days. Saint Jean du Gard has its own special flavor for my spectator sport.

 

San Jean du Gard

Village views

Now, for some of the best views along the journey. Perhaps this will give you a feel for the town of Saint Jean du Gard. Even on a less than beautiful day, it’s a special place to see.

San Jean du GardSan Jean du GardSan Jean du GardSan Jean du Gard

San Jean du Gard

Along with the quaint village streets and scenes, tourists head to Saint Jean du Gard for the steam train ride through the mountainous areas of the Cevennes. The 45-minute roundtrip to Anduze is on my to-do list for on a sunnier day. Hikers and outdoors travelers head for this part of the Cévennes and the Cévennes National Park in the summertime in droves.The beauty of the hills and river, speckled with small farms and villages, also attract photographers and artists.

Did I mention? … there are pottery shops and wine domains all along the way.

More on autumn in the Cevennes:

7 Great Ideas for An Awesome Autumn Weekend Around Uzes 

Halloween Train to the Cevennes

An Autumn Week South of France

 

Mas d’Augustine Chambre d’Hôte: Ready For Business

It’s time to catch up with Jane and Gary of Mas d’Augustine, the classic French B&B outside Uzes, France. With the winter chores done and a few holiday getaways behind them, I asked Jane: “what’s it like to be welcoming guests again.”

Here’s Jane’s response:

“This has to be the best May we’ve had since we moved to Uzes – the weather was just stunning, beautiful blue skies, lots of sunshine and cooler evenings – it is definitely one of my favourite months.

French B&B

Mas d’Augustine

The garden looks beautiful this year, as finally it is maturing and our lawn really looks like a lawn rather than a cut field!  Considering it was just a huge expanse of sand and weeds when we bought the Mas back in 2010, it has come a long way. The extended vegetable garden is now planted and we will soon be picking our own salad leaves, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc

French B&B

New lawn at Mas d’Augustine

May was a very busy month and we had lots of clients from all over Europe. It is always difficult to get started again after the winter months and this year whilst we had a few guests over the Easter period it is not until May that the hard work really begins.

French B&B

Mas d’Augustine

Gary is so much better than me at getting up in the mornings, I really struggle to get out of bed before 9 am but once we start work that is out of the question.  He is always up first and takes on the task of laying the breakfast tables and cooking the bread and croissants.  I follow half an hour later and sweep the courtyard, water the plants and vegetable garden and then make up the fresh fruit salads. Once the guests start arriving for breakfast Gary is front of house and I am happily making tea and coffee in the kitchen.  Then the egg orders start and Gary loves walking into the kitchen and saying “two scrambled eggs, two soft boiled and four poached!”

French B&B

It took us a while to realise why we were so tired at the end of our first season…… there are no weekends!  Once May has started we do not get a day off until the beginning of October, breakfast has to be made every morning whether we just have a few guests or we are completely full.  We split the tasks very well between us, Gary has responsibility for all the laundry, washing and ironing whilst I clean and make up the rooms.  Gary looks after the pool and grass cutting whilst I do the gardening and cooking.  All the other jobs are shared and considering we are working together 24/7 there are very few arguments!

French B&B

Pool area at Mas d’Augustine

The only time we fall out is in the evening when we are offering the Bistro menu, I am very calm and organised in the kitchen and Gary gets a little stressed when we are really busy, mainly due to the fact that he is hungry and cannot sit down to eat until the dinner service is over.

French B&B

Gary taking care of the all-important wine service at Mas d’Augustine

We had a wonderful Table d’Hotes evening with some super guests from Belgium and Switzerland, and of course we sit down and enjoy the meal with them so it’s a lovely relaxing evening for everyone.  It is always so interesting to meet people from other countries and most of our guests become friends and we look forward to them returning the following season. But the most exciting time for me was the week we were visited by my son Edward and his friends.  They came to stay with wives and girlfriends to take part in the Aix-en-Provence Iron Man competition.  This was the first time most of them, including my son, had competed in such an event.  It involved swimming 1.9 kms in the beautiful Lake of Peyrolles in the city of Peyrolles-en-Provence.  Then a 90 kms bike course passing through Pays d’Aix and eight surrounding towns climbing up the mountain Sainte-Victoire and finishing with a 21kms run through the city of Aix-en-Provence and La Torse Park.

French B&B

Jane’s son running to the Iron Man finish line

We were able to watch the final running stage, as they had to complete 3 loops before passing the finishing line at the Rotonde in the city centre. They had an amazing day and they all completed all three stages to gain their Iron Man medals!

French B&B

Iron Man fans celebrating

Then it was back to Mas d’Augustine for a huge celebratory BBQ and an opportunity to try out the new barbeque which Gary built during the winter months.  The idea is to hold BBQ and boules evenings with our guests during the summer season.

As soon as the celebrations were over and the boys had left, it was back to cleaning and bed making to be ready in time for the new intake of guests.  We were fully booked and everyone was dining, so there was lots to do. But, on the Thursday, I went from cleaning toilets to modelling (for charity).  On the 25thof May there was an amazing charity fashion show, followed by a luncheon on the grounds of Chateau Arpaillargues, organised for Cancer Support France, www.cancersupportfrance.org.  We all had a great time modeling a summer collection of clothes from a dress shop in Uzes. The event was attended by over 90 guests, raising over €2,900 for the charity.

After the fashion show it was a quick lunch for me, just a couple of glasses of wine and then back home in time to prepare table d’hote for our ten guests.”

 

The French B&Bn Table d’Hote Menu 

Smoked salmon terrines with pickled cucumber and wasabi cream on a roqette salad

Roast fillet of pork with Ardeches vegetables, roast tomatoes and a port wine sauce

Strawberry and white peach vacharins, with a raspberry butter sauce

French B&B

“We had a lovely evening, the guests dining by the pool until the early hours.  I am afraid I left the clearing up to Gary that night and I fell exhausted into bed.”

Mas d’Augustine, a former silk farm built in the latter part of the 18th Century, retains many of its original features and has been restored with respect for the original architecture. For information about a visit with Jane and Gary at Mas d’Augustine in the village outside Uzes,  La Bruguière, check out the website: masdaugustine.com

 

More posts on Barefoot Blogger

The Inside Story: Owning and Running a Chambres d’Hôtes in the South of France

An Expat’s Life in A Chambre d’Hôtes in France: Jane’s Story

If Owning a Chambre d’Hote in France Is Your Dream, Spend a Day Picking Olives

A Slice of Life in the “Off” Season: A Chambre d’Hôtes in France

“Company’s Coming!” Owning and Running a Chambre d’Hôte in the South of France

Friends and Family for the Holiday at Mas d’Augustine

 

French B&B

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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

A Slice of Life in the “Off” Season: A Chambre d’Hôtes in France

Time to check back in at Mas d’Augustine and find out how the owners and managers, Jane and Gary Langton, are spending their time at the chambre d’hôte off season … with no guests, but plenty of chores. As we visit the Langtons, it appears that Jane has quite a few projects in mind. Let’s see how they manage it all…

“It’s a busy time of year in the Chambre d’Hôtes business………even though we’re closed,” says Jane.  

I suspect, most people think during the chambre d’hôte off season we have our feet up in front of the fire doing little or nothing before we welcome guests in April. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as there is just too much that needs to be done both inside and out.

I had planned for us to be working in the garden this week but we had to stop as, despite the beautiful blue skies and sunshine, it is just too cold. I have decided to increase the size of the vegetable garden this year so that we can offer a wider selection of organic home-grown fruit and vegetables. As a consequence, Gary has (reluctantly) agreed to remove the existing hedge (circa 5 metres high) which will enable me to plant a long row of tomatoes. Previously we had room for 6 tomato plants, but I want to include a wide selection of Heirloom tomatoes in all colours, as they are such an important ingredient in Provençal cooking and straight from the garden the flavours are really intense.

All the hedges bordering the property need to be cut, olive and fruit trees pruned and there are two Italian Cypress trees that need to be cut down as they did not survive last year’s hot summer. I also have a plan to improve 3 of the existing flower beds, which involves the building of a dry-stone wall, changing of soil and the re-shaping of the beds. I am hoping to create a new lavender bed, a white rose bed and extend the giant poppy bed. I think Gary is rather grateful for the cold snap, as he is not an enthusiastic gardener!

chambre d'hôte off season

One of last year’s flower beds

Before the cold snap started, Gary moved our lemon trees to their winter home up on the terrace and I have wrapped up the diplodenia – fingers crossed it will survive the freezing night temperatures.

Gary has just returned from a quick trip to London to welcome his new granddaughter into the family. Mathilda was born last Friday and we are looking forward to her first visit in the summer.

While he was away I pressed on with the redecorating. I have nearly finished painting the main kitchen, but decided to leave the ceiling to Gary. Next week we will start the office, closely followed by re-varnishing the front doors and re-painting all the windows at the front of the mas.

 

chambre d'hôte off season

 

chambre d'hôte off seasonPainting and decorating done, we will be tackling the garden to make certain everything is ready for the first shoots of Spring in mid-February. Then, in March, it will be time to clean the terraces and fill the pool, layout all the garden furniture, clean the summer kitchen and get the rooms ready for our first guests in April.

I like to add something new to the guest rooms every year, so we will spend a few Sundays visiting the local brocante and antique markets searching for interesting items.

There is one job that Gary looks forward to every year………. tasting the dishes for the newly designed menus. Over the next few weeks I will prepare all the new recipes for us to sample and critique.

We are enjoying hearty French classic dishes to help keep out the cold. One of our favourites is a traditional French stew. In the Languedoc region this stew is known as a Cassoulet. Made with meat, sausages and beans, it takes a while to cook and prepare but, on a cold winter night after a hard day in the garden, it’s definitely worth it.

chambre d'hôte off season

Cassolet

Cassoulet

A wonderful change from traditional casseroles, it takes a while to cook but the flavours are wonderful and very warming

Ingredients – serves 6

140 grms of pork belly

140 grms of smoked bacon

300 grms of garlic sausage

600 grms of haricot beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water

1 celery stick

1 small white onion

2 carrots

2 large plum tomatos

6 cloves of garlic

2 tsp of lemon juice

2 cloves, crushed

6 confit duck legs or 6 pre-cooked chicken legs

25 grms of goose fat or 2tbls of olive oil

1 tsp of dried mixed herbs

Method

1. Chop the bacon, pork belly and garlic sausage into bite sized chunks.

2. Drain the beans that you soaked overnight and tip into a large saucepan with the bacon, sausage and pork belly. Cover with water and bring to the boil, blanch for about 15 mins. Drain and set aside. Heat the oven to 120 c.

3. Chop the celery, carrot and onion and peel the garlic leaving the cloves whole.

4. Heat the goose fat or olive oil in a large oven proof casserole or frying pan and over a low heat sweat the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for about 5 minutes until softening. Add the tomatoes and herbs and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the sausage, bacon and pork belly to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, add the beans and then 1 litre of water.

6. Bring the mixture to the boil and add the lemon juice, cloves and season with salt and pepper.

7. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook uncovered for 2 to 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally, the beans will soften and thicken the juice.

8. Remove the cassoulet from the oven. Now add either the confit duck legs or your pre-cooked chicken legs, place them under the beans and cook the cassoulet for another 2 hours for duck and 1 hour for chicken

Serve the cassoulet in bowls sprinkled with chopped parsley and plenty of crusty French bread.

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Proud Granddad Gary and Mathilda

At the chambre d’hôte off season there’s always time for a horse ride

chambre d'hôte off season

Stay tuned …

Mas d’Augustine, a former silk farm built in the latter part of the 18th Century, retains many of its original features and has been restored with respect for the original architecture. For information about a visit with Jane and Gary at Mas d’Augustine in the village outside Uzes,  La Bruguière, check out the website: masdaugustine.com

My Life in France: Taking Stock and Next Steps

Three years ago I made one of the biggest decisions in my life. I moved to France. Alone. To compound the weight of my choice, I knew very few people in my new “hometown” of Uzes and I didn’t know the language. 

Any who have followed me on the journey from South Carolina to the south of France know I started out my expat life with a three-year plan. (For those who are new to the saga, click on the hot links for more of the story.) I sold my belongings in the states, except for a few very “special” things, and said goodbye to my friends and family. With a long-stay visa in hand, I moved into an empty apartment in Uzes which I quickly filled with brocante furniture and dreams. That was September, 2013.

It’s 2016. Where has the time gone?

Travel

Before moving to France the only places I’d been in the country were Paris and Nice. Now I’ve visited more than a hundred French towns, villages and cities, mostly in the south and southwest. There have been short trips to Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, Istanbul and a tour of Nepal since 2013. Also, I spent three 6-month stays in the US, one of which was for dental surgery, the other two were to help welcome a grand baby boy into the world, then a grand baby girl.

French Holidays and Fetes

Bastille Day was the only French holiday I knew about before moving to France. Funny, it’s not even called “Bastille Day.”It’s “Fête Nationale française” , July 14th” or bon fête.” Festivals like Fete Votive, and Nuit Blanche,  music festivals and Ferias were totally new to me.

Customs

French customs. It’s a subject I learn more about with each passing day. From “what to eat when” to “how to cut cheese,” there seems to be “rules” for everything — or at least, good etiquette. For example, whenever you are with a friend(s) and you have your first cocktail or drink, there’s always a “toast.” The proper language is a vote santé which is spoken while lifting your glass, clinking your glass with everyone in your party, looking each person you’re toasting straight in the eye, then taking a sip of your drink. Any step in this ritual that you omit curses your sex life for years. (No comment)

Fashion

How do they dress in France? It’s one of my favorite finds. Mind you, I live in the south of France, very close to Provence. Fashions here are as varied as the people who live here. From blue jeans and t-shirts to frilly bo-bo or provençal styles, you see it all. What I love the most is that it doesn’t really matter what you wear. You can be as flamboyant or as reserved as you like. It’s all OK. I will say, however, you can spot a tourist if he/she’s wearing a baseball cap.

French cooking

OMG! The best food ever! I don’t know where to start on this subject except that I’ve enjoyed every food moment. Everyone knows about breads, pastries, cheeses and wines. What I didn’t know was how French foods and palettes change within the regions of the country. A mystery to me was why Paris restaurants offer rich, creamy foods and dishes that are not as easy to find around Uzes. Simply, it’s because there are very few, if any, pastures and cows around here. Rocky, garrigue terrain surrounds this area. So foods are more in line with the Mediterranean diet — olives and olive oil, goat and sheep cheeses, and lots of garlic.

Another treat to living here has been attending cooking classes. There are two world-class cooking schools in Uzes — Cook’n with Class Uzes and Le Pistou.  Each one offers a different type of experience  — which makes both a “must” to do!

Dining out is my passion. It’s more than a weekly event here since there are so many bistros and cafes that offer a “plat du jour” at such reasonable prices. Then there are the many restaurants with dishes that are superbly designed in taste and appearance. Truly masterpieces. I miss my tacos and sushi, but I realise you can’t have it all!

French bureaucracy

Even the French laugh about the struggles you go through getting things done around here. Mostly, you know it’s going to take two to three times longer than you’d hoped to get things done. Which is partly why I chose to live here. To learn to be patient. There are daily lessons.

Visitors

Everyone says when you move to France your long lost friends appear from “out of the woodwork.” Agree. Visitors have come here I haven’t seen in 40 years. If I had to come to France to meet up with them again, I’m thankful for the move. Many of my closest friends from the US have stopped by to check out my new “digs” and to play in France and beyond. More are signed up for future trips.

Friends

New friends made along the way are the best of all rewards for changing continents. Never did I imagine I would meet so many lovely people — just by moving to Uzes. The French have welcomed me with open arms. They award me daily with big smiles when they recognize I’m trying to learn the language. The town is a magnet for tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all over Europe. Barefoot Blogger followers who have let me know they’re in town have become my best buddies.

What’s Next?

Life’s so unpredictable, who knows what the future will bring. Right now, I’m happy as a clam in France. The only drawback is that I’m so far away from my adorable grandchildren. I’m missing them at their most precious ages –toddlers. We “FaceTime” every week, though, and I’m hoping they will be ready to travel this way soon. I’m thinking I would have liked a”grandma in France” I could visit.

In the back of my head I feel there’s still another big move left in me. Maybe to Spain where I know a little more of the language than I did French. As I’ve said before: “while I have the energy and curiosity to travel and experience this great big world of ours, I’ll find a way to get there.”

Frankly, change is better for you than you can ever imagine.

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chambre d'hôte life

If Owning a Chambre d’Hote in France Is Your Dream, Spend a Day Picking Olives

How many of us have dreamed of owning a chambre d’hôte in France? Jane and Gary have taken the lunge and they’re willing to tell us all about their chambre d’hôte life. Today they’re picking olives at their B&B – Mas d’ Augustine in the south of France. There’s a favorite recipe from Jane’s kitchen too, so enjoy! 

chambre d'hôte lifeChambre d’hôte life … from Jane …

It’s Olive Time.

I’ve just been for my morning stroll around the gardens, checking what needs to be done today, as even in the winter there is always so much to do to make sure we have a beautiful garden ready for our guests next year. I’ve decided that the olives are ready for picking, the weather is sunny and bright, albeit very cold for the next couple of days, so it’s perfect olive picking weather! We only have 8 trees, but they produce about 50 kilos of olives which in turn provide us with about 7 litres of our own olive oil to enjoy the following year.

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Armed with step ladders, bowls and our olive crates, we decided to make a start. It’s not exactly difficult to pick olives, just rather tedious and very cold.

 

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I think the dogs and cats enjoy the task far more than we do, racing around and around the trees and then lying, panting in the winter sunshine.  Merlot, our Beauceron, is very troubled by olives……. he tries to eat them and then spits them out in disgust. You can tell he is completely bemused as to why we would want to tenderly collect these disgusting, bitter little fruits.

In our first winter at the Mas we didn’t know when to harvest our olives until someone advised us to pick them for oil. Picking that first year, in December and in the sleet and rain, was miserable – it was so cold and it is impossible to pick olives wearing gloves. I had no idea what they were supposed to look like; some were green and some were black and so, to be on the safe side, I put green ones in one crate and black ones in the other crate. This obviously made the task even more tedious, as every tree had both colours and we were careful not to mix them.

chambre d'hôte lifeAfter 2 days and 10 long hours of picking in awful weather we had 2 crates of olives, one black and one green. The next morning we proudly took the olives to the local moulin. Not understanding the process and, at that time, with very limited French, we stood in the queue to have our olives weighed. To my absolute horror they took my crate of green olives and tipped them into the crate containing the black olives – all that work to keep them separated was a complete waste of time!

I now know that the green olives produce a very green, peppery oil and the black ones a much smoother golden oil, the idea being to blend the colours to give a rich smooth oil with a good peppery finish.

We were given a ticket with the weight of our olive crop, 49 kilos and told to come back in 4 days to collect our oil.

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The next Friday we returned to the moulin, a little unsure what to expect and handed in our ticket. What a lovely surprise when we were given 2 plastic containers containing approximately 7 litres of olive oil – not a bad result!

chambre d'hôte lifeThe following year, having taken advice and consulted the internet, I realised that our trees needed to be cut back as they were far too tall and very dense. Apparently, a good olive tree should be shaped like a martini glass with enough room between the branches for a swallow to fly through without touching its wings. We had some serious pruning to do! Unfortunately, due to our hard pruning, the next year our crop was very small and the year after that all the olive trees in our area were badly eaten by insects, with the remaining olives beaten from the trees by terrible storms – so for two years we had nothing to take to the moulin.

This year is much better and we have taken about 40 kilos of mixed green and black olives down to the moulin for pressing and are currently awaiting our plastic bottles!

BFB Note: 

Funny how Jane talks about “we” yet the photos tell a different tale. Lots of photos of Gary’s chambre d’hôte life and only this one of Jane… hmmm….

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From Jane’s Kitchen at Mas d’Augustine 

CHICKEN TAGINE WITH OLIVES AND PRESERVED LEMONS

SERVES 2

Ingredients
2 chicken breast and 2 thighs
olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1.5 tsp. turmeric
1.5 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. coriander seeds, cracked
350ml white chicken stock or vegetable stock 130g large green olives, pitted
1 preserved lemon cut into wedges
10g of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the sliced onions over a high heat until soft and caramelised. Put them into a tagine dish or an ovenproof pot.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade

Season the chicken pieces, add a little more oil to the frying pan and fry the chicken until golden.

Turn down the heat and add the chopped garlic, turmeric, paprika and cracked coriander seeds.

Cook for a few minutes to bring out the flavours then add the stock, bring to the boil and pour into the tagine dish.

Sprinkle over the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and put in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the lid, check the seasoning and drizzle in a little olive oil.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with bulgur wheat or couscous.

chambre d'hôte life

A proper Tangine dish

Mas d’Augustine, a former silk farm built in the latter part of the 18th Century, retains many of its original features and has been restored with respect for the original architecture. For information about a visit with Jane and Gary at Mas d’Augustine in the village outside Uzes,  La Bruguière, check out the website: masdaugustine.com

 

 

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. 

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Visit Uzes

An Expat’s Life in A Chambre d’Hôtes in France: Jane’s Story

After visiting new friends Jane and Gary Langton at Mas d’Augustine, the chambre d’hôte they own and run in the south of France, I asked if they would talk about chambre d’hôte living with me and Barefoot Blogger followers.  Happily, they agreed!

The original post about the Langstons, The Truth About Owning and Running A Chambres d’Hôtes in the South of France, told us the history of Mas d’Augustine, the eighteenth century silk mill converted to a luxury B&B that’s located outside of Uzes. The personal bits of the first story were told by Gary. Now it’s Jane’s turn to talk about chambre d’hôte living.

chambre d'hôte living

Jane preparing lunch for our visit

Whose idea was it to own and run a B&B? Yours or Gary’s or both?

Jane: “A small boutique hotel has been my dream since my thirties.  I wanted to work at something I love doing. My vision was to combine my love of beautiful things and my passion for cooking into a business. To create a holiday place where guests could enjoy a stylish décor, superb food and exceptional service.  Unfortunately, chambre d’hôte living was far from Gary’s dream. It was probably his worst nightmare.”

Did it take much persuasion to convince Gary?

Jane: “It took a lot!  Fortunately he couldn’t come up with an alternative way for us to work together in the sunshine,  so he gave in !”

How did you decide on a business in France?

Jane: We thought long and hard about our where we would locate and we considered various different countries.  South Africa was probably my favourite destination but we thought it was too far away from our combined family of seven children. We considered Spain because I had lived and worked there and I loved the sunshine, the food and the wine. However, I was not keen on the ex-pat lifestyle on the Costa del Sol. France seemed the obvious choice — as long as we headed south. 

chambre d'hôte living

Pool area at Mas d’Augustine

What was the condition of the property and house when you bought it?

Jane: “Once we decided upon France, we searched the whole southern coastline and came across Uzes by accident.  A friend recommended that we stop by Uzes and visit the Place Aux Herbes at lunchtime if we happened to be nearby. We did and we loved it !  Focusing our search in and around Uzes, we looked at about fifty properties until we found Mas d’Augustine. It was love at first sight for both of us.  The old mas was badly in need of some TLC but it offered us the opportunity to create our five ensuite guest rooms  — and still have our own private family house with two ensuite rooms.”

What prepared you for taking on the project of a B&B?

Jane: “Nothing prepared us! It has proven to be much harder work than I anticipated!  I have cooked and cleaned for a large family for twenty years, at the same time carving out a successful career, so I thought this challenge would be easy —  it wasn’t. It is incredibly hard work.”

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How do you divide up responsibilities?

Jane: “We have a very clear division of responsibilities. There are certain jobs involved with chambre d’hôte living that Gary simple will not do. For example, he will not clean the bathrooms. Gary scrubbing toilets is just never going to happen.  So I clean the rooms and make up the beds. I’m very fussy, so in the long run, its easiest for me to just do them myself. Gary does all the washing and ironing and he does it well. There are no creases in our bed linen. He takes charge of the front of house and I take on all the cooking. Gary loves to talk and I love to cook, so it works. Gary looks after the pool beautifully, it’s always glistening. I’m in charge of the garden and have had lots of successes and lots of failures trying to work out what grows down here and what doesn’t.  I spent ages planting daffodil bulbs only to find they bloomed in January when we were closed. By Easter, when we opened for guests, I just had lots of straggly leaves! Gary, under strict supervision, does all the chopping and hedge trimming. Left on his own, my flowers seem to disappear.”

chambre d'hôte living

 

What has been the most fun about renovating the property?

Jane:”The original renovation was great fun, we spent 18 months creating the finished property. From the shell we bought, it now looks exactly as I imagined, inside and out. So it is my dream home.”

 

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What has been the least enjoyable part about your new life venture?

Jane: “The worse part has been sorting through all the French bureaucracy to get ourselves, and the property, registered and operating legally.  Gary had to take two courses in French, in order to understand how to get the correct licences for a Chambre d’Hotes in France.”

What’s the hardest part?

Jane: “Getting up every morning to prepare breakfast. There are no days off once the season starts. Its every morning.”

What did your family think?

Jane: “First of all, they said we had made them homeless by moving abroad, but once they saw the project, they understood why we wanted to do it.  Now they love coming over whenever possible and all think they have the best back garden possible!”

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Courtyard and garden at Mas d’Augustine

 

Do you ever regret your decision?

Jane: “Not at all, we are both very happy with our new lifestyle. We work together extremely well.  Going from seeing each other just at the weekends to working together 24/7, it was a risk. But it’s great fun and we both love it!”

Describe the very best day you’ve spent so far. 

Jane: “The best days by far have been our daughters’ special celebrations here: Frankie’s 21st birthday party with all her friends and Kathryn’s wedding for 40 guests and family.”

chambre d'hôte living

 

And the very worse day?

Jane: “The worst day was right back at the beginning.  We completed the sale on the house in August 2010 and scheduled to move down in December.  In August, we planned and ordered our new kitchen. The idea was for it to be installed prior to our arrival in December, in time for Christmas.  When we got to October and had heard nothing from the kitchen company, we became suspicious.  Then we got the news. The company had gone into receivership. So not only would our kitchen not be fitted but we had lost our very sizeable deposit.  We moved down in December, the house was freezing, the fire just billowed smoke and we had no kitchen! But we sorted the fire, got the heating going, bought a little hot plate and, using this and our George Forman grill, we had a great Christmas lunch!”

Since you love to cook, will you share a favorite autumn recipe with us … or two?

Jane: Of course. Here are two recipes we enjoy serving ourselves and friends in November — after the guests have left for the season. They’re easy to prepare and remind us it’s Autumn.  Spicy parsnip soup and a lovely apple cake. 

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Spicy Parsnip Soup  

A tasty warming soup for the winter months, made with simple ingredients.   You can omit the chili if you prefer less heat and the flavor will still be wonderful. This soup makes a filling lunch, or serve smaller portions as an impressive starter to your evening meal.

chambre d'hôte living

Spicy Parsnip Soup

Ingredients – serves 4

2 Large parsnips

½ Onion, finely chopped

20g Butter

500 mls Chicken stock

150 mls Cream

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Ras el Hanout

1 Large clove of garlic peeled and crushed

1 Piece of ginger (about 3 cms long), peeled and grated

1 Small red chilli, deseeded and chopped – optional

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Peel, core and slice the parsnips, place them in a saucepan with the butter and sweat until they soften.
  1. Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli (if used) and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft, but not browned.
  1. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes to allow the flavour to develop. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the parsnips are very soft (about 15 mins).
  1. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then liquidise until really smooth.
  1. Place back on a gentle heat and stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste with black pepper and sea salt.
  1. The soup can be thinned down by adding water if required.

To serve, reheat the soup gently and serve garnished with some finely chopped parsley or coriander, crispy croutons and some crusty bread.

our breakfast buffet for our guests and then also as a dessert, warm with cinnamon ice cream.


Apple Cake

Apples are in season now!  This cake was a great success with our guests, lovely and moist and not too sweet!  It would also be really good served slightly warm with some vanilla ice cream.

chambre d'hôte living

Apple Cake from Jane’s kitchen at Mas d’Augustine

Ingredients – serves 8

3 Eggs

25g Ground almonds

225g Soft butter

200g Castor sugar

25g Vanilla sugar

(I use vanilla sugar in this recipe but, if you can’t find any, use a tsp of vanilla essence and 225g of castor sugar)

500g Apples (Granny Smith or similar)

225g Self-raising Flour

2 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp of Powdered cinnamon

Butter for greasing the tin

Lemon juice

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan assisted). Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose bottom cake tin with baking parchment.

 

  1. Peel and core the apples, then chop into cubes and toss in the lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Set aside.

 

  1. Whisk the butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until thick, pale and creamy.

 

  1. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

 

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold gently into the mixture.

 

  1. Gently stir in the ground almonds and chopped apple. Mix thoroughly.

 

  1. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour.

 

  1. Check the cake after 30 minutes and, if it is becoming too brown, place a piece of tin foil or baking parchment loosely over the top.

 

  1. After one hour, check to see if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into its centre – it should come out clean.

 

  1. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Serve cold on its own for tea or breakfast, or warm as a delicious dessert with crème fraiche, mascarpone, cinnamon or vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!!

Mas d’Augustine, a former silk farm built in the latter part of the 18th Century, retains many of its original features and has been restored with respect for the original architecture. For information about a visit with Jane and Gary at Mas d’Augustine in the village outside Uzes,  La Bruguière, check out the website: masdaugustine.com

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Lyon bouchons

What Does a Southern Gal Think of Lyon? “Hog Heaven!”

Lyon, France is famous for its bouchon restaurants. In the southern states of the US, we call it “home cooking.”

Lyon bouchons are known for their modest food made from inexpensive ingredients like organ meats. We have chitterlings, tripe and hog’s feet served in restaurants throughout the southern states of the US. We call them “innards” and “parts.”  Bouchon takes “parts” to a new level — cow’s foot, veal nose, veal paunch (stomach) — just to name a few tasty bits.

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Bouchon restaurant menu

 

Lyon Bouchons

Bouchon gastronomes in Lyon were where the silk merchants frequently ate during the day. Now there are so many restaurants that serve bouchon there is a rating system to help differentiate the “authentic” from the “tourist-traps.”

Lyon bouchons

Since 1997, Pierre Grison and his organization, L’Association de défense des bouchons lyonnais (The Association for the Preservation of Lyonnais Bouchons), bestow annual certifications to restaurants as “authentic” bouchons. These restaurants receive the title Les Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnais and are identified with a sticker showing the marionette Gnafron, a Lyonnais symbol of the pleasures of dining, with a glass of wine in one hand and a napkin bearing the Lyon crest in the other.” (Wikipedia)

 

Bouchon de l’Opera 

Bouchon de l’Opera is a little restaurant with a big heart. When I arrived without reservations I was seated at one of the two small tables the owner’s wife designated as “unreserved.” Looking around, it was obvious all the other settings were for groups of six or more. Soon the place was filled with couples and friends who seemed to know the place well as a friendly stop after work.

Decorations in the homey cafe are vintage kitchenware with a big emphasis on “piggy” collectibles. 

There were only two people working in the restaurant — the owner/chef and his wife.

Lyon bouchons

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l’Opera

The chef was chopping away on salad fixings, then he’d turn to stir a pot on the stove. It was all open to view if you peered into the back.

His wife was scurrying around the front of the house with menus and carafes of water and house wine.

“English menu?” she asked, figuring quickly that the tall blonde she’d seated didn’t appear to be French.

Fortunately there was a menu in English. The items would have been hard to explain in French.

 

Yes! I ordered the Bouchon de l’Opera salad…

Veal’s nose and cow’s foot and all…

It reminded me of the andouillette at the markets in Uzes. Unlike the cajun variety of andouille, the French sausage is made from pork intestines (chitterlings) and stomach (tripe). It was just a bit more unusual to see it served here with pieces of herring.

Lyon bouchons

Bouchon de l’Opera salad 

 

My main course, or “plat,” was another extraordinary taste-test: home-made pike quenelle — a mixture of creamed fish, bread crumbs and egg served in a cream sauce.

 

 

Lyon bouchons

Pike Quenelle

 

 

Lyon bouchons

Tripe with cornichon “mayonnaise”

Tripe: another bouchon plat choice 

Tripe (cow’s stomach), breaded and pan-fried. It was served with a cornichon (gherkin) “mayonnaise” that tastes much like tartar sauce.

 

Served with vegetables

Although it was quite in disguise, pumpkin was a side dish. Alongside, a French variety of potato pancakes. Lyon bouchons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dessert …

There was no way that I was going to finish the night without a dessert. Below are just two of the choices –terrine glacée au chocolat noir and the tarte tatin et sa confiture de Beaujolais nouveau. Fabulous!

The Oddest Place You Will Find That Makes Olive Oil

The Barefoot Blogger is on a quest to find out about olive oil.

The Languedoc region of France is the largest producer of wines in the country. Mixed in with the acres of vineyards are a multitude of olive trees. So, while France lags behind Spain and Italy in producing olive oil, a lot of “moulins olive à huile” (olive oil mills) are right around where I live in Uzes,

Olives and vineyards side by side outside Uzes

Olives next to vineyards outside Uzes

Just outside Uzes, I found a moulin olive à huile in the oddest place.

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Moulin olive à huile in Saint-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu

 

The road-side moulin is in the tiny village of Saint-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu. The town runs along the street between Uzes and Bagnols. If you don’t know where to look, you’ll miss the moulin.  

But not this day. Signs and Halloween decorations marked the spot.

A drive around to the back of the “compound” revealed a holding tank for olive oil … and the remains of an 11th century chapel.

Moulin à huile Saint-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu

Moulin à huile Saint-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu

A garage-like building that contained the olive mill 

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… and a neighborhood store with fresh fruits and vegetables, chèvre cheese, saucissons … and screaming spooks and spiderwebs. What a treat!

Shop decorated for Fall and Halloween

Shop decorated for Fall and Halloween

 

 

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Fresh chèvre cheese

 

 

 

 

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Saucisson-sec, a specialty of France

In a pickling jar stashed under a table, olives that had been saved from the press, were ready to be scooped up and sold. 

Freshly marinaded olives

Freshly marinaded olives

The olive oil pressing had been finished for the day; nevertheless, I was given a demonstration of the equipment and the process.

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Bushels of olives ready for the next day's work

Bushels of olives ready for the next day’s work

More garages were out in the yard. All stocked with regional goodies.

Walnuts

Walnuts

 

 

Of course, wine!

Of course, wine!

 

 

After loading my car with vegetables, olive oil and wine, the owner handed me two cadeaux (gifts) — chestnuts and a sack of marinaded olives.

 

Before I could get in the car I was led to the front of the store to see the most prized decoration — a model of the aqueduct at Pont-du-Gard.

A model of Pont-du-Gard mounted on the roof of the shop

A model of Pont-du-Gard mounted on the roof of the shop

 

 

When Lucy and I pulled out of the driveway, I was grinning from ear-to-ear about my day’s find and the fun I’d had visiting these delightful people and their shop.

 The grin turned into a big laugh when I looked back at the store window. 

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The end of another day in my amazing new world.

Is it any wonder why I love France?!

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Uzes visit

6 Insider Tips for An Unforgettable Day in Uzès

One of the hardest parts about visiting a new place is knowing exactly when during the year you want to go and what you want to see when you get there.

An Unforgettable Day in Uzès 

Now that the Barefoot Blogger calls Uzès“home,” here are some hints for a one day Uzés visit. On this trip you’ll have time to experience the rhythm of the town. That’s the best way to see it.

How to get to Uzes
There are a number of ways to get to Uzès by air and train. If you are arriving from the US, fly into Paris, London, or Barcelona. Check on the best fares. From each of these cities, I suggest you board a train to Nimes or Avignon, France. In fact, there’s a direct train from London to Avignon. If you prefer to fly, head for Marseilles, Nimes and Avignon, but schedules are often interrupted by airline strikes, so keep on guard for notices. (See “A Photo Guide to SNCF/TGV Trains at Paris’ CDG Airport-Updated”)

When you arrive in Nimes or Avignon, there is bus service to Uzès with regional buses that depart on a regular, reliable schedule. The bus station in Uzès is in the middle of town, number #6 on the map below, close to most destinations in the historic district.

How to Get to Uzès” from other locations.

 Tip #1

Visit on a Saturday or a Wednesday for a market day in Uzès.

Both the Saturday and Wednesday markets in Uzès are centered in the Place aux Herbes. It’s at  #17 on the map below. Start out early in the morning on whichever market day you choose because the crowds start arriving around 10am. In the summer, you will be shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists by noon.

Uzes visit

Map of Historic Uzès

Saturday Market – When I visited Saturday Market in Uzès for the first time, I fell in love with the town. In fact, Saturday’s one of my favorite days of the week living here. The market vendors are in the Place aux Herbes with fruits and vegetables, cheeses, and all the flavors and foods that make this part of France so wonderful. Throughout the plaza and along the main avenue that circles the historic part of town, more vendors line up side by side selling men and women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, hats and more.  Musicians are on almost every corner playing French, Spanish and even Dixieland sounds. 

Uzes visit

Musicians in Uzès

Uzes visit

Musicians in Uzès

Uzes visit

Claude the Cheese Man

Uzes visit

“Cat” with beautiful leather bracelets, located on the main street of town.

Wednesday Market – The market on Wednesdays in a scaled-down version of the weekend event. Most of the vendors are selling food items that are local to the region. The market is mainly in the Plaza aux Herbes which gives visitors a chance to get a good look at the permanent shops located along the main streets and alleyways. 

Uzes visit

French Farmer

Tip #2 

Stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants along the boulevard or plazas.

Take your choice of restaurants along the main avenue for lunch. Make yourself comfortable, like the French do, and take a long — sometimes two hour — break to eat, drink wine and relax. Most restaurants serve from noon to 2pm. If it’s a very busy day in town, scope out a place you want to stop for lunch before market, then make a reservation for “dejeuner”.

Uzes visit

Map of Uzès historic area

Tip #3

Stroll through the historic area (map above).

There are so many things to enjoy seeing, like the Medieval Garden, the Fenestrelle tower, and the Cathedral of Saint Théodorit with it’s classic French organ. Pull out your camera and capture some amazing photos that the people and town provide. Narrow, cobblestone streets lined with 12th century architecture are everywhere.

Uzes visit

Uzes visit

Tip #4

Visit a special hideaway frequented by Uzès insiders: Valle de l’Eure.  It’s not easy to find but it’s worth the venture.

If you want to pick up a snack or a picnic for the park, Gaiffier’s Green Grocer is on the way. Ask there for directions to the entrance to Valle de l’Eure which is just down the road toward San Quentin la Poterie. There’s a stone archway on the righthand side of the road that leads into the parklike area. The public swimming pool and tennis courts are on the left. Follow the path that’s beside the tennis courts until it ends at the “stairway” shown below. It’s a long way down the steps, but as they say in France: “oh la,la!”

Uzes visit

Gaiffier Green Grocer in Uzès

 Tip #5

Make your way back to the center of all the action — Place aux Herbes — to enjoy the fountain, shop! and take in all the sights and sounds around you. On market days, the vendors are out of the way and the plaza is back in time for you to enjoy a glass of wine, a pastis or an aperitif before dinner.

Uzes visit

Fountain at Place aux Herbes

 Tip #6

Dinner at a restaurant with an outdoor patio.

If you can stay long enough for a lovely dinner under the skies, there are several nice restaurants with outdoor patio/gardens. If there’s a crowd in town, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. They will welcome you anytime around 7pm, but not before. One of my favorite places is Les Comptoir 7. The food is excellent and the service is superb.

Uzes visit

Foie grae entree at Le Comptoir 7 in Uzès

Uzes visit

Scallops with risotto

Uzes visit

Dinner with friends in the patio garden at Le Comptoir Sept

Enjoy! Come Back Often!

For  more information about these favorite spots, check out these posts:

Saturday market: Virtually real time

Village Scenes in Uzès: The Green Grocer

Tasty Bites in Uzes

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Just Another Summer Tuesday Night in Uzes

The Barefoot Blogger is getting a bit blasé, I’m afraid, about all the activity below my apartment windows on Tuesday nights.

I mean, there are only market vendors with jewelry, food and all sorts of handiwork. There’s a bit of music and, of course, tango dancing at the Mairie (town hall). Sounds boring, right?

NOT!!!

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

 

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Tango dancing at the Mairie on Tuesdays brings together dance lovers and tango club members from near and far.

 

 

 

Dancers swirl to their favorite tango music in this beautiful setting in the center of Uzes.

 

 

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

 

 

 

 

Wandering around the plaza gave me a chance to stop by for a short visit with one of my favorite artists. (More about Marie and her work coming soon!)

 

 

 

 

There’s always something new to try from the weekly vendors. l’Aligot de l’Aubrac is a mixture of cheese, heavy cream and potato stirred up in a huge pot. It’s served here with grilled sausage and onions.Yum!

 

 

 

 

Not bad for a summer Tuesday night in the neighborhood….

 

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

 

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Saturday Market in Pezenas, France

Saturday Market in Pezenas, France
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One day last summer, while I was heading back to Uzes from Sete, I detoured from the home-bound route to visit Pezenas. I had heard the Saturday Market in Pezenas is one not to miss.

As you very well know, market day is my favorite time to see new places in France, Even though it meant leaving Sete early in the morning, I was anxious to get on my way. If you don’t get to a Saturday market by 10am,  it’s really hard to find a parking place.  Also, by 1pm the vendors are pretty much closing up.

It’s a short window of time to “go and do.”

Saturday Market in Uzes is a hard act to follow. Pezenas was going to have to be pretty special to get in the rankings.

Let’s just say, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Flowers and more in Pezenas' Saturday market

Flowers and more in Pezenas’ Saturday market

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One of the “most beautiful towns” in Languedoc

Pezenas, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in the Languedoc-Roussilon area of France, was once the political center of the États du Languedoc and the home of Parliament. The Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) stands on one of the main squares (Place Gambettat) which, on market day, is surrounded by shoppers and tourists.

Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) on Place Gambetta in Pezenas

Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) on Place Gambetta in Pezenas

moliere  Moliere in Pezenas

The French Ministry of Culture designated Pezenas a Protected Area (Secteur sauvegardé) because of its over 30 historical monuments, including a monument dedicated to the French playwright, Moliere.

Apparently Moliere spent only a few days in Pezenas where he put on several of his less important theater works. Nevertheless, the town honors his contributions to the arts in France. For me, I need to learn more about Moliere than I picked up from the movie “Mozart.” In the film, Moliere was depicted as far from a “nice guy.”

Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic

One of the more obvious monuments in the center of Pezenas is a fountain with the statue of Marianne — a familiar symbol of the French Republic. Marianne triumphantly holds the flag of France in her left hand and a bolt of lighting in her right hand. The lighting rod symbolizes human rights “Droits de l’Homme”.

Statue of Marianne in Pezenas

Statue of Marianne in Pezenas

She stands atop a column which is surrounded by cherubs riding dolphins. On the column is inscribed with the motto of France: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” The statue in the Cours Jean-Jaurès. was molded in 1880. The fountain was built in 1887.

"Marianne", a symbol of the French nation, standing in Pezenas

“Marianne”, a symbol of the French nation, standing in Pezenas

Architecture in Pezenas

During my short half-day stay in Pezenas, I was struck by the awesome architecture in the town. I understand most of the large building were hotels or homes. The French and other Europeans of long ago loved to stay or visit in Pezenas because of its beauty, culture and proximity to the Mediterranean.  Many of the town’s structures qualify for the  “Inventaire des Monuments Historiques” for their “porte à colonne et ponton” or “entrance with columns and carvings.”

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Doorway in Pezenas

Doorway in Pezenas

Pezenas doorway

Pezenas doorway

Mostly, I was blown away by the vaulted passageways. They are not uncommon in France, but here they seemed more colorful, friendly and inviting.

Street scene on market day in Pezenas

Street scene on market day in Pezenas

Passageway in Pezenas

Passageway in Pezenas

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Food and more

For a solo female traveler, one of the things I often judge about a place is how comfortable I feel having a meal alone.  In Pezenas, the scenery around the eateries — especially those in the city squares — is enough to keep you company. Here’s my view at lunchtime that day.

The Plat Du Jour

Plat du Jour in Pezenas

Plat du Jour in Pezenas – Gratin de Fruits de Mer

Jeweler in Pezenas

Jeweler in Pezenas

Later, after spending more time than I should visiting with the designer at a fabulous jewelry shop …

… here’s the view when I stopped for an afternoon refreshment.

 Pezenas is a MUST GO BACK TO! place. There’s so much more to see and do. Especially in the summertime. There are festivals galore. Stay tuned for more …

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Travel Diary for Foodies

Travel Diary for Foodies
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There’s no better way for a “foodie” to recap a year’s travel than to revisit meals and favorite foods devoured along the way.

Enjoy the journey!

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Christmas Market, Uzes

Chicken Stewing at Christmas Market, Uzes

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Meat Pies, London, England

Meat Pies, London, England

Fruit Tray for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fruit Tray for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Wine! France!

Wine! France!

Garlic! L'Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Garlic! L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Ham Biscuits for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Ham Biscuits for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Punch with Fruit Ring, "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Punch with Fruit Ring, “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

"Four Seasons" Pizza in Uzes, France

“Four Seasons” Pizza in Uzes, France

"Bouchon de Lyonaisse" Salad in Lyon, France

“Bouchon de Lyonaisse” Salad in Lyon, France

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists' Fete in Uzes, France

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists’ Fete in Uzes, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Brioche with Caramel Glace

Brioche with Caramel Glace in Lyon, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

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Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse and New Chaussures

Les Halles de Lyon

Day Two in Lyon was a rainy day so a perfect time to do some shopping. Not that I need an excuse to shop! First stop was the city market in Lyon , known as “Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse.”

Les Halles de Lyon

The outside of the building is less than thrilling; the 50 or more merchants inside, however, make it colorful and more upscale than most city markets I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s Lyon’s reputation as a “foody” town that makes the presentation of meat, poultry and regional items look so interesting.

Les Halles de Lyon

Les Halles de Lyon

Les Halles de Lyon

Les Halles de Lyon

Les Halles de Lyon

Some things French will never be appetizing to me…like lapin (rabbit). I guess my boys raised too many cute bunny rabbits for me to detach myself from serving them as a meal.

 

Les Halles de Lyon

 

Many of the “innards” served in bouchon cafés were displayed in the meat cases. Fortunately I ate them before I saw them.

Les Halles de Lyon

Next Stop: New Chausseurs

Afternoon on the rainy day was spent where so many others decided to go, too — the shopping mall. Like its counterpart in the US! The mall in Lyon is big, multi-leveled and modern. Santa displays and other “Joyeous Noel” decorations were everywhere. Stores with French and American national brands were intermixed with movie theaters and eateries. If people around me weren’t speaking French, I might have been in any large city in the world.

My mission for the mall was to buy shoes (chaussures) for Nepal. After a day and a half following my six and a half foot son (2 meters) around Lyon, I knew I needed some help for hiking in Nepal.

By the way, in case you’re wondering about the physical training plan? Let’s just say I’m walking at least five miles a day…with lots of the trekking up hills. I had no idea that everywhere we’d go in Lyon would be up or down a hill. Hopefully the walking is helping to offset the wine and rich food diet

Finding hiking shoes in the big mall was no problem. Finding them to fit my size foot, stuffed with the recommended two pairs of socks, was an ordeal. Mon Fils suggested I try a men’s size shoe. Setting aside my female pride, I tried and bought a pair of Merrill’s men’s hiking shoes. Really? Who cares!

Happy Feet

Les Halles de Lyon

More about Lyon

What Does a Southern Gal Think of Lyon? “Hog Heaven!”

Lyon’s Musee des Beaux Arts: “The Most Elegant Woman in Paris”

Lyon: A Feast For the Eyes


Les Halles de Lyon

Lyon Day One: Hog Heaven

Lyon Day One: Hog Heaven

It didn’t take long for for Mon Fils (my son) and I to settle into our hotel and find a restaurant in Lyon that’s worth writing home about. We arrived by train at five in the afternoon and we were ordering “bouchon lyonnaise” style at the Bouchon de l’Opera by eight.

Lyon, France is famous for its bouchon restaurants. In the States we might call the fare “home cooking.” Many restaurants here offer the same type of “country” food, But the quality and flavor vary widely because of different family recipes.

Early bouchon gastronomes in Lyon were the silk merchants who frequented the downtown café. Now there are so many restaurants that serve bouchon there is a rating system to help differentiate the “authentic” from the “tourist-traps.”

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Since 1997, Pierre Grison and his organization, L’Association de défense des bouchons lyonnais (The Association for the Preservation of Lyonnais Bouchons), bestow annual certifications to restaurants as “authentic” bouchons. These restaurants receive the title Les Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnais and are identified with a sticker showing the marionette Gnafron, a Lyonnais symbol of the pleasures of dining, with a glass of wine in one hand and a napkin bearing the Lyon crest in the other.” (Wikipedia)

 

Bouchon de l’Opera 

Bouchon de l’Opera is a little restaurant with a big heart. Mon fils and I arrived without reservations so we were seated at one of the two small tables the owner’s wife designated as “unreserved.” Looking around after we sat down, it was obvious all the other settings were for groups of six or more. Soon the place was filled with couples and friends who seemed to know it well as a friendly stop after work.

Decorations in the homey cafe are vintage kitchenware with a big emphasis on “piggy” collectibles. 

Within a few minutes we saw there were only two people working in the restaurant — the owner/chef and his wife.

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l'Opera

Owner/chef at Le Bouchon de l’Opera

The chef was chopping away on salad fixings, then he’d turn to stir a pot on the stove. It was all open to view if you peered into the back.

His wife was scurrying around the front of the house with menus and carafes of water and house wine.

“English menu?” she asked, figuring quickly that the tall blondes she’d seated didn’t appear to be French.

Fortunate for us there was a menu in English. The items would have been hard to explain in French.

 

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Yes! I ordered the Bouchon de l’Opera salad…

Bouchon de l'Opera salad

Bouchon de l’Opera salad 

Veal’s nose and cow’s foot and all…

It reminded me of the andouillette  I’ve bought at the markets in Uzes. Unlike the cajun variety of andouille, the French sausage is made from pork intestines (chitterlings) and stomach (tripe). It was just a bit more unusual to see it served with pieces of herring.

My main course, or “plat,” was another extraordinary taste-test: home-made pike quenelle — a mixture of creamed fish, bread crumbs and egg served in a cream sauce.

 

Pike Quenelle

Pike Quenelle

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Tripe with cornichon "mayonnaise"

Tripe with cornichon “mayonnaise”

Mon Fils totally enjoyed his plat choice…

Tripe (cow’s stomach), breaded and pan-fried. It was served with a cornichon (gherkin) “mayonnaise” that tastes much like tartar sauce.

 

Served with vegetables

Another unusual dish caused us to ask what it could be. “Pumpkin.” Alongside were a French variety of potato pancakes. IMG_4318

 

 

 

 

For dessert …

There was no way that I was going to finish the night without a dessert. Just as the other courses were extraordinarily prepared, the Terrine glacée au chocolat noir and the Tarte tatin et sa confiture de Beaujolais nouveau were fabulous.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Family is visiting Uzes! Nothing could make me happier than to show my son the sights and to introduce him to my new friends.

The first stop was the Saturday market in Uzès. Even though the tourist season is over, the market this week was busy. These days there are many English-speaking voices in the crowds.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Saturday Market in October Uzes

 

Claude, the cheese man, was one of our first stops at the market. His “green” cheese with pistachios is one of my favorites. When he met my son, who is fluent in French, they started teasing with each other right away.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Claude the Cheese Man

 

The farmer with the chèvre from the “French Farmer” post was handing out his cheese samples, as always. When I told him about my blog where he was featured, I was surprised he already knew about it! Apparently, someone shopping that morning had written the link to the site on a piece of paper for him. He pulled the wrinkled note out from under his cash box to show it to me….with a big grin, I might add.

For me, it was the final shopping day before packing up my belongings to head to the States for a visit. There were clothes I’d been eyeing for some time that now, I couldn’t resist. Oh.. that I could pass up some of these tops and jackets! 

Family Is Visiting Uzès

 

Family Is Visiting Uzès

While walking through the rows of vendors, I ran into friends I’d met last week in San Quentin La Poterie. It’s an interesting story about how we became friends.

For months I have been receiving emails from a cafe in San Quentin that puts on monthly musical events and dinner. The cafe is tiny and tucked in between pottery shops on one of the narrow streets of the town.Family Is Visiting Uzès

This particular night an English friend who is moving to Uzes was in town, so it was an excellent time to try out the dinner concert. We were early getting to the cafe, and we had our choice of seating. Instead of going to a table for two, the hostess suggested we sit at a table for six. She knew that four French ladies had reservations and that some of them spoke English. She thought it would be fun for us to get to know each other.

Fortunately, my friend speaks French quite well because when the ladies arrived, only one spoke English. For a short while, the conversation was a bit reserved since we could not all join in. However, in no time, we were laughing and communicating with broken English and French the best we could. The evening was such a success that my friend and I were invited back for a birthday party.

Family is Visiting Uzès

Thanks to the hostess at the cafe, now I have more new friends for my family to meet in Uzès… and a party on Saturday night.

Family Is Visiting Uzès

Friends meeting Pete for lunch after the Saturday Market at Le Provencal. Check out those yummy salads… even better with fries on top!

 

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