Thursday, November 6, 2008

Aveyron Update

a beautiful old ruin

This week has flown by.  It's now November, we have been here for 1 month and we have a new president!  The longest we have ever stayed in France is 1 month.   I still feel like I'm on vacation, I don't think about home or worry about the business, because things are going great there.  But I also haven't gotten into a groove yet.  I'm sure that will come soon enough.

It's fall holiday here in France for the schools, so I don't have french class for almost 2 weeks.  I am sad about that, because I'm really enjoying the class.  I go Tuesday from 9-12 and Friday from 9-12, I have 12 other people in the class and we can't speak english, can't bring dictionaries or verb books and our teacher doesn't speak a hint of english.  There is alot that I miss, but it's great. I'm excited to go back on November 7th.

We turned the clocks back here in Europe on Saturday the 25th and I'm happy about that.  It wasn't getting light out until almost 8:30 am.  I'd much rather have it dark earlier in the evening and lighter in the morning.  

On Sunday the 26th, Bruce and I road from Cordes-sur-Ciel to Albi and back.  It's was about 65 degrees and beautiful and sunny and warm and we had a lovely ride.  About 2 hours and we took the backroads so there wasn't much traffic and beautiful views.   We then spent about a hour sitting outside at a café in Cordes...soaking up the sun.  Cordes "on the sky" - so called officially since the twentieth century, because of the way it rises above low lying mists on winter mornings.

The town was founded in 1222 by Raimon VII, Count of Toulouse, during the Occitan re-conquest after the death of Simon de Monfort. Cordes was the first and most important «bastide», built to welcome refugees after the Cathar wars. The town was encircled by two fortification lines closed by powerful fortified gates. Cordes remained the first stronghold of the Albi region for a long time. It became one of the major Cathar centres, and consequently would experience the cruelty of the Papal Inquisition. Following the Cathar period, Cordes experienced exceptional growth. The early bastide spread out beyond its early ramparts and new suburbs were built requiring new fortification lines (5 in all). Within three generations Cordes became a town of more than 5,000 inhabitants. Its prosperity sprang from the textile and leather industries, trading and finance.  Today Cordes is renowned for its luxurious houses and small palaces built by prosperous merchants and noble families between 1280 and 1350. Gothic decorations can be found in the architecture and some façades are decorated with high relief sculptures.

If you like being a tourist, this is the place for you. It is chock-full of people living in chocolate-box picture houses, over 50 resident artists, numerous restaurants, three museums and its own heritage industry. There are also numerous theatrical plays and seasonal festivals (including ones for the asparagus and truffle seasons).  It's a really beautiful village.  Last year Bruce and I bought these etchings from a man in Cordes, his wife draws the pictures (usually small line drawings of the village) and the husband prints them.

beautiful view

Looking up toward Cordes

It rained on Monday...all day and it was cold.  Tuesday we decided to venture out and drive up to Rodez so Bruce could look for another bike.  Yes, he needs another bike, one that he can ride in the rain, in the winter, to the village and not worry about it. Our road bikes are pretty expensive and it's just not practical to use them as commuter bikes.  I bought my commuter bike a couple weeks ago and it's been great.  We also met up with Betty from Cuisine Quotidienne  who lives just outside of Rodez.  It was great to meet her and she took us to a lovely restaurant called Chez Marie.  It's a fomagerie and also a restaurant (lunch only), all of the dishes are built around cheese, how can you go wrong with that.  Lunch was fantastic and Betty is lovely.  It rained all day in Rodez so we actually spent most of the time sitting in the workroom of the local bikeshop, because Bruce bought a Cyclocross bike (which means it's for road and mountain), he's pretty excited.  We also went to the local art supply store and he bought canvas, oil paint, acrylic paint, brushes, get ready for some pictures of his paintings.  We didn't walk around Rodez much, we'll have to go back when it's not freezing and raining.

On Wednesday it rained again in the morning and was nice in the afternoon, so we jumped on our commuter bikes and road into Villefrance.  We went to the market and had a café at our local hangout called Le Globe and then I wandered into this upscale kitchen supply shop that I've been eyeing since last year.  I spent a good hour just wandering around.  I just love kitchen supply stores.  Then on Thursday morning we woke up to SNOW.  Yes, snow.  Holy crap, it snowed in October.  Bruce hasn't seen snow in about 20 years, I haven't seen snow in maybe 7 or 8.  The flakes were huge and our jaws dropped when we woke up and saw it.  The dogs have never seen snow before.  Dashell loved it, Stella...not too much.  We had to get some vegetables and such so we bundled up and headed over to the Thursday morning market in Villefrance.  By the time we left we were soaked (even with hats, rain jackets) and very cold.  But we figured that we can't just sit here in the house and fester!   


On Friday we saw a break in the clouds and jumped on the bikes and went on  a ride, about 30 miles and it was actually quite warm (well, let me re-phrase that) quite warm for here...i'd say it was around 60.  I cant' believe I'm saying that's warm.  We headed north to an area we had never biked to before, it was of course stunning scenery.  Everywhere we go it's like a painting.

When we got home we decided it was time to go out to dinner, since we haven't been out to dinner since we arrived.  We went into the little village of La Fouillade (about 3 miles from here) and went to "le vieux chene" - translated  "the old oak".  We walked in and it was about 6:45...there wasn't anyone there, except the owner, his wife, his daughter and her little girl.  Of course, we were too early, they don't start serving until 7:15.  So we sat and had some wine and started to talk to them.  Then all of a sudden we start hearing "Paul Weller"....our favorite musician.  We both had to laugh and knew this would be a good place.  The owners Paul and Linda have lived here for about 4 years and they just took over the restaurant/bar/b&b.  They are from Cambridge England and are so nice.  On Friday they have a set "themed" menu and tonight was Italian.  We had soup, pasta with bolagnaise sauce, garlic bread and tiramasu, yummy.  Next Friday is Fish and Chips and the friday after that Curry night.  We stayed until about 10:30 and met some other people who were really nice and ended up at the bar talking with everyone.  Great place and great people.  We were so happy we went out.

Last Saturday was "All Saints Day" here in France, so everything was closed...but that didn't matter because it rained...again!  We had friends over for dinner last night - Jacques and Fabiane.  Lovely night with good friends, good food, good wine and a warm fire.  Perfect.

Sunday it, you guessed it, rained again.  The forecast calls for a couple more day of rain, with clearing here and there and then nice.  Oh please stop raining.  Coming from Los Angeles, where it rains maybe 5 days a year, this is really difficult for us.  On Monday we went shopping for rain boots, because leather boots don't do well in the wet.   These boots ROCK, they were 8 euros and they are dark green farmers boots, so we can put them on and head out with the dogs and our feet don't get soaked.   We have had to have a fire almost every day it's been so cold and if we keep going like that, we'll run out of firewood 1/2 way through the winter.  Everyone has told us that the farmers are saying it's going to be a very cold winter.  Help me!

Tuesday it rained again.  We did venture out because it's only water.  Yesterday was a long day, because we got up at 4:30 am to see the elections unfold and we were so happy that America did the right thing and voted Obama as our new president.  It was a cold and rainy (big surprise) day, so we just stayed in and napped.  Our friends Jacques and Fabrice came over with champagne in their army hats and streamers congratulating us on our victory.  Yes, the french do have a sense of humor.

Jacques and Fabrice

Today, it's freaking raining again.  OMG.  But we are heading out to the open market because we need cheese, veggies, wine, spices, etc...on with the rain boots, rain jackets.  We hope that life here in the Aveyron won't be all rain or we will be bummed out for the winter.  It sure makes you realize how spoiled we are in Los Angeles, you take the no rain and warm weather for granted.  


Barbara said...

WOW !!
I don't think that you too must have very boring days !
I'm learning a bit about Cordes as I read; I never have been this far South in France.

That sounds like an interesting French class; total immersion time. No books, huh? That will build up your French .

Have a nice day and keep on having fun!

peaches said...

Hey there. I don't even notice the rain anymore. But I have been busy finishing the books: Fedex collected them yesterday- yeay. Going off to Provence tomorrow for a week of reading and painting (rain is great for reading) but hope to update my blog with my sketches of you before I go. But it means crossing the street in the rain to the summer house where my scanner is. I am going to get organised for winter when I get home.

Randal Graves said...

You've seemingly got months and months worth of stuff going on in one post!

What beautiful country and all the food talk is making me hungry, but that's drowned out by your French class experience. I cannot imagine NOT being allowed access to my 501. ;-)

Our Juicy Life said...

barbara - actually we thought we'd come here and chill and it seems we are busy all the time. So different from our lives in LA where we were homebodies, i'm sure it will settle down when people get bored with the americans.

Our Juicy Life said...

C- hey back. I'm so excited for you that you are going over to Provence. Hopefully it won't be as stomy as it is here... You have been here too long if you don't notice the rain, but if I had a studio like yours, I'd forget it too. Congratulations on finishing the books, ah the studio, the winter house, the summer house - tough life Peaches.....

Our Juicy Life said...

RG - We are freakin exhausted...what happened to a quiet life in the country. I wanted to get a weekly update because each day isn't so exciting by itself.
I know about not having our trusty 501....i guess what happened is the place used to allow dictionaries and 501's but people were always speaking "their native tongue" and looking up this and looking up that and not paying attention or listening to the teacher so they said NO. I think for the beginner french it's OK, but we are in 3rd year and our teachers believe in total immersion. argh!

Leesa said...

Hey there!

LOVED reading this post.. I feel like I just caught up with your week-- though it felt like a month.... just that ONE post!! Soooo much stuff... Sometimes I DO feel busier here- working part-time and doing other things... I really SLOW down in the winter/cold weather-- like I don't feel like going outside... So. Cali girl, too-- L.A. born and raised- and San Diego (a little cooler than L.A. but STILL beautiful weather)!! I was VERY spoiled all of those years with good weather....
I notice that here in France- when it rains--- it usually rains all over the country... I'm just glad you guys are living in the flooded region near Lyon... YIKEESSS!!!!! They've GOT to have it pretty bad there...
SOOOOOOO HAPPYYYYYYYYYYY that Obama won! That's what I was thinking- that Americans finally WISED UP!!!! I was really worried before the elections... But, now I really feel like a proud American again... and not an ashamed one of the Bush years.... Great VICTORY for the U.S. and for the WHOLE world, too!!!
I love your pics- esp. those cute SHEEP!! And I was a little green when I read it was about 65F there... It feels so much colder up here in 92! You guys are further south so you get warmer weather... And VERY COOL that you guys got to meet Betty!! And .... that everything is going so great!
Keep on enjoying La France!!

La Framéricaine said...

You might just have to talk to B&B about Malaga! Who knows, perhaps there is no one there right now or for winter.

Once I get there, I won't even be able to think about Los Angeles and "the weather" or lack thereof in SoCal!!!

Your social life in France sounds divine!!!

Megan said...

Great pictures, I especially like the one of the sheep.
I remember when we brought our dogs (goldens) from South America to Colorado. The first time it snowed they went wild. What IS this stuff?

Loulou said...

Looks like a busy week, despite the weather. I think that you might have to get used to the rain during the winter...think warm open fires, red wine and plenty of cassoulet.
How wonderful that you met Betty! She's such a sweetheart!
And I am jealous that you went to Chez Marie, a place she's been telling me about for ages.
Look forward to your next update.

Our Juicy Life said...

Leesa - we have noticed too that the map of france has all rain, but yes, we are spoiled s. californians. It was 65 but lately no, just cold and rainy, although people are telling me "this isn't cold"...i really don't mind the cold as long as there is no rain, the rain just chills you to the bone. Yeah, proud american!!!

LF - maybe will have to visit Mallorca, checked the weather and sunny and 65. hummmmm....

Megan - wow you brought your goldens from S africa to colorado now that's a trip. I think most big dogs like goldens love the snow and don't mind the rain since their coats are basically waterproof.
poor stella, she gets wet so fast.

Loulou - everyone is telling me that this rain is not typical, that it usualy rains a bit in november and maybe some in feb, but nothing like we have been having. like i said to leesa, i don't mind cold, but the rain and rain and rain and clouds and grey is a bit depressing, can't ride our bikes in the rain, but can in the snow.

Maybe next time you are in Rodez we can call meet up at Chez was so amazing.

Betty C. said...

Hi guys, I just found this post! Thanks for the mention! I have been back to Chez Marie twice since our lunch to buy cheese -- it's really the best place in town for that.

You see, aren't you getting varied weather? I like weather, which is one reason I like Aveyron.

The picture of your French friends is hilarious! I've been doing some champagne-drinking myself! But not in uniform...

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Thought I would come over and have another read!!! I feel exhusted just reading about your travels..amazing.

I was even more amazed when I saw Cambridge mentioned, and the little restaurant you went to. I go to Cambridge quite a bit, my brother and my mum don;t live too far from their, my niece lives and works there, and my best friend Sally, goes there to visit her boyfriend..we have lots of happy shopping and coffee days there! :-)

Betty C. said...

Didn't you tag me for a meme or am I confused? Because I can't seem to find yours....

Anyway, here is mine:

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