Celia's blog

Musings on life in Lodeve, Languedoc

Posts Tagged ‘February’

A visit to Lacoste

Posted by celiahukins on 05/03/2012

Sitting in the warmth in the Le Minuscule having a green tea I happened to read in MidiLibre that a tour of Lacoste was being organised for the Saturday afternoon. Lacoste is the hilltop village you see when you’re driving back from Clermont after a trip to the Wednesday market. If you’ve come from further afield, it’s a reminder that you’re nearly home. I was intrigued to see what it was really like, so I contacted a friend and we decided to go.

Of course I had to go to the market on Saturday morning first. The weather was warm and I got out a lighter jacket. In fact it was still cool in the shade there although it had been hot up at our house in the sun. Now that the days were getting warmer, memories of the intense cold we had suffered soon faded, although there was still little sign of growth in the garden. At the market it did feel slightly springlike. I bought some pasta from the pasta lady – she stuffs ravioli with local cheese or ham – and endives with ham in béchamel sauce (a good French dish) from the traiteur. Then it was back for a quick lunch outside (don’t fall asleep in the sun; I set my alarm clock) before setting off for Lacoste.

We took the easy road to Lacoste via the outskirts of Clermont. We met in the Place du Village, about 70 of us, mostly French, all wearing with strong walking shoes, some carrying poles. We worried that this might be a difficult walk and we weren’t suitably dressed – but in fact it was just a stroll round the village as we had expected. The leaders were interesting and enthusiastic as they had had involvement in the extensive restoration work.

We walked round the ramparts and then went on to the church of John the Baptist and then to the splendid crucifix, 5 metres high, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century and restored in 2004. Sadly their Powerpoint presentation didn’t work, but we didn’t really need it anyway.

From the village there are views over the plain to Gignac. The best way to approach Lacoste is from the Clermont side where the slope is gentle, as we did; on the way back you can take the steeper route which winds down the hill.


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A walk round Saint Privat

Posted by celiahukins on 25/02/2012

The weather gets warmer, even hotter, and I’m behind with the blog again. On a Thursday walk just as it was beginning to get warm, we walked round Saint Privat. We scrambled around a bit but didn’t quite manage to find the path we were looking for, but enjoyed walking in the sun.

Saint Privat is an interesting village where many of the houses have been carefully renovated. To get there you drive out of Lodeve past the priory of Saint Michel de Grandmont.

And then it was home for lunch in the sun.

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A trip to the seaside

Posted by celiahukins on 19/02/2012

Last Sunday the wind was blowing but the sun was shining so we set off for the seaside. We wanted to explore a different part of the Agde headland, so we headed for the Rochelongue beach which is just to the south of the Cap. From there we planned to walk along the beach to le Grau d’Agde, where the Hérault flows out into the sea and where we could have lunch – an important part of the trip.

There was a cold headwind and by the time we got to le Grau d’Agde we were ready to retreat inside. The cafes were just beginning to open up for the season, with the prospect of half term and Valentine’s Day ahead. We quickly scanned the menus outside those that were open and decided on L’Astoria as soon as we saw it

From the 15 euro menu we had a starter of oysters and mussels, followed by dorade for him and lieu noir (pollock) for me, and then a crème caramel. We had a 50cl bottle of Picpoul de Pinet. Outside the gulls sat on the restaurant sign.

The restaurant was run by a young couple. The grandmother brought their son in to say hello. Ou est maman? he asked. After a short visit they wrapped him up warmly and the pair set off again.

After lunch it took a while to put on our layers of clothes before we could venture back outside. We strolled inland up the Hérault for a little way; this is the area where the boats are moored. Then back to Rochelongue, with the wind behind us now.

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Freezing February

Posted by celiahukins on 11/02/2012

Cold in Lodève as it is everywhere in Europe. But not as bad as many places in France; we don’t have any snow. At least it’s sunny although the tramontane and mistral blow. Temperatures are minus 6 at night and don’t get much above 1 degree in the day. The wood stove keeps us warm.

Out with the walking group, all dressed in layers of thermals. Although it’s windy in Lodève, there is no wind at Saint Jean de Fos, which is where we are heading. Warm enough to stand and look at the river and admire the frozen waterfalls. A view over to the Pont du Diable – unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. At the end of the walk we sit in the sun at the café in Saint Jean de Fos discussing English politics as seen by The Guardian..

In the garden everything is frozen. Robins dart around, their feathers fluffed up, looking for food.

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Lunch at the Cap

Posted by celiahukins on 08/03/2011

You nevbr quite know what weather February is going to offer. After a few dull days towards the end of the month, one day turned out to be sunny. Although the Méteo had only promised quelqes éclaircies (sunny periods), by 9 am the sky was blue and there was no wind, so the seaside called.

It’s an easy drive to the Cap d’Agde. I drove along to the Avant Port which is at the far side of the Cap and parked in a place which is now familiar as I’ve parked there several times. From there it’s about 30 minutes each way to walk round the headland to the other side of the Cap. I was going to buy a sandwich there from a bakers I’d been to before – but of course it was closed, as were almost all the shops and restaurants. February is the month for doing up your property.

However, back at the Avant Port the restaurants were open and busy. I sat outside in the sun and had seiche a la plancha (the plat du jour) for 9 euros 50. With potatoes, ratatouille and aioli it made a very good lunch. Afterwards I sat on the beach and continued to enjoy the warmth of the sun.

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Spring supper

Posted by celiahukins on 06/03/2010

27 February – the first Spanish asparagus from the market, and a double yolk egg from our neighbours’ hens.
There isn’t much asparagus around yet, but soon the stalls wil be overflowing with it and I wil have to look for yet more innovative recipes.
I was woken up at 5.30 by the light from the full moon.

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February in Lodeve

Posted by celiahukins on 13/02/2009

February morning

February morning

It’s good to be back, after spending January in Birmingham. It’s 5 years since we had our house built, and now I fit easily into the way of things when I come back.
My new route – train Birmingham – Bristol, 1 and a half hours, bus to the airport, flight Bristol – Beziers – was painless. I left home at 7.30 was met at Beziers airport at 2.30 and was back here by 3.30. Lucky I made it – if I’d been earlier Bristol airport was closed because of the snow, if later there was fog. And there were no flights taking off from Northern France.

Yesterday I went to the market. There are 2 main local markets. The Lodève one is on a Saturday morning, but there is also one at Clermont l’Hérault (20 kilometres away) on a Wednesday morning. It was fresh with a chilly wind, but sometimes the sun was warm. I wasn’t looking for very much, as I had only myself to feed, but I found some of my favourite Muscat grapes. I bought some Chantecler apples which we’ve just discovered and some clementines from Spain. I stopped at the olive stall to buy some olives stuffed with anchovies (my favourite) and some black tapénade. I bought some Pérail sheep’s milk cheese from the Larzac – the stall holder explained that it was just the beginning of the season and he was starting to make it again. Then I found some herb pastries which I enjoyed for lunch.

I’ve been meeting up with friends and acquaintances. Most mornings I walk into Lodève and have a petit déca at Le Minuscule. Gisela, the owner runs Thursday evening entertainment. This week there is a Brazilian singer and she’s booked up. I say I’ll just go for the concert at 9 pm and forgo the food which she provides earlier – another time. My usual paper shop is closed for 2 weeks – winter holidays. I go to another and am greeted by an English voice – it’s Rachel Thornton, the author of The fast guide to Lodève, which is a very good account in English of Lodève’s history and culture, rather like the one I was planning to write myself but had never got round to.
Rachel’s husband is a glass blower – they moved from the UK about two years ago and I first heard about them from a contact on friends reunited.

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