Celia's blog

Musings on life in Lodeve, Languedoc

Posts Tagged ‘French life’

Goodbye 8 a huit

Posted by celiahukins on 03/09/2012

<8 a huit
The huit a 8 is no more. For many years it has been a focal point of life in Lodève. Here’s a photo of it with St Fulcran’s relics going past at the annual procession on May. Of course the annoying thing was that the shop wasn’t open from huit a 8 at all, but closed for lunch and maybe opened later than 8.00 am, and closed at 7.30

The shop has been replaced by a Carrefour Express – the layout inside the shop inevitably the same as there is only a small space, but of course different merchandise. The new owners are from the Gard, north of here. I’ve only been in once or twice, but it seems more expensive; none of the cheap “Grand Jury” brands which were very reasonable. As you go in there is a cabinet with expensive aperitifs and foie gras – not quite what the Lodevois will buy.

I read in Midi Libre that Thierry the butcher from 8 and huit will continue to work there. I hope his lamb gigots are as good as they used to be; he understood about cutting thick slices for the barbecue.



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November day out

Posted by celiahukins on 15/12/2010

I’ve got a bit behind with the blog, mainly because I left this last post on my French computer and forgot to save it onto the memory stick. But here I am back in France again. And here is the post I wrote. Remember November, before all that nasty white stuff started to mess everything up?

A bright November morning, sun rising over the hill, a bit nippy and breezy. A morning for – a walk in the hills? A visit to the seaside? How about a trip to Ikea? No, it’s not as bad as it sounds. From Lodève to Montpellier it’s a pleasant drive, not too much traffic, and as you drive along you can see the hills and the shades of gold and rust autumn colours of the vineyards and fields.
Locating Ikea itself is more difficult – you turn off the A9, the signs say it’s just one minute away and you can see it just over there but the road turns in the wrong direction and the building recedes into the distance. I think I need to rethink my route; must be going wrong somewhere.
Anyway I still made it to Ikea in time for breakfast. If you get there before 11 am you’re offered breakfast for 1 euro – orange juice, croissant or pain au chocolat and a hot drink. I think they used to give you a chunk of baguette as well, but it’s still good value and sets you up for shopping.
Ikea Montpellier is at one end of my favourite shopping centre which opened about a year ago. What I like about it is that it’s all outside and there are various cafés where you can have lunch in the sun whatever the time of year. The palm trees give it a distinctly Mediterranean feel. I couldn’t find any photos which really do it justice; I shall have to try my own next time. But here is a link – not very inspiring I must admit

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May flower festival in Lodève

Posted by celiahukins on 14/05/2010

It’s the week of the Saint Fulcran celebrations in Lodève. I wasn’t here for the procession, which I saw last year, but I did get to the flower market, which was one of the many events in a week of festivities. And the fair was popular as well.

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A November weekend

Posted by celiahukins on 25/11/2009

The friends who came for the weekend (Bristol to Béziers flight) reminded me how many things the Languedoc has to offer. It was the second time they had visited; this time we spend Friday in Béziers, enjoying the cathedral and wandering round the old town, and of course having lunch. We ate at le Cristal on the Allées Paul Riquet where I had been in the Spring, and enjoyed a wonderful fish stew. Next time I must find another car park which has spaces you can actually get into. We parked in the car park under the Place Jean Jaurès and the pillars are always in the way.. We drove back to Lodève in the late afternoon – time to reacquaint my friends with a pastis for an aperitif.

You can’t let Saturday morning go by without a visit to the market at Lodève. We bought goats cheese, olives, tielles, pears and clementines. Then it seemed a good idea to pause for glass of rosé before going back up the hill for lunch. We wondered about eating some oysters from the adjacent stall, but gave them a miss as we had the tielles to eat for lunch at the house. We ate them outside in the sunshine with a salad of local tomatoes.

The olive shop in Clermont l’Hérault is another essential stop on a weekend tour, and we went there on Saturday afternoon. As well as olive oil, they have a wonderful range of things made with olives and olive wood, including soap, shower gel and various cooking implements, and local produce as well. It always keeps my visitors happy, but unfortunately as they only have hand luggage booked with Ryanair, they are limited as to what they can take back.

On Sunday we drove up to the Cirque de Navacelles, which looked quite different at this time of year. After that we drove across the plateau to Le Caylar. There was thick fog on the way but we decided it had cleared enough to drive on up to the Millau bridge, and it wsa certainly well worth the drive.

Here’s an article from the Independent on a weekend in Beziers

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Posted by celiahukins on 07/11/2009

A pissaladiere is speciality of Nice and the South of France, a French variant on a pizza.
I made mine with the ingredients I had bought at the market (see previous post). I mainly followed Elizabeth David’s recipe from French Provincial Cooking, but cheated by using a bought pizza base. I‘ll make my own next time. I took1 kilo of Cévennes onions, sliced thinly, and cooked them slowly in olive oil with the lid on the pan for 40 minutes until they were soft and golden. I then added 2 skinned tomatoes and some garlic and cooked with the lid off until they were all amalgamated and the water evaporated. Then I added anchovies and black olives on the top.
There are lots of possibilities for amending this recipe, and Wikipedia has some good links.

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A walk at the seaside

Posted by celiahukins on 08/09/2009


When we went to this beach it was August and still hot We drove past Frontignan towards the Plage des Aresquiers (I’m still not exactly sure where that is) and walked along the spit between the lagoon and the sea for about 45 minutes. We could have carried on for another 45 minutes and reached Villeneuve les Maguelone, but we needed to get back to the car.
We had the beach almost to ourselves. We shared a picnic bottle of red wine and ate quiches from the bakers. As the waves came and went you could collect the shells they left behind. On the way back to the house we stopped at the fruit stall in Montagnac to buy some melons and local peaches for our evening meal.

And now August gives place to September. There is a chill in the air in the evenings. It’s la rentrée and the children are back at school. And we’re back in Birmingham, thinking of summer days.

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Harley Davidson bikers in Lodeve

Posted by celiahukins on 01/09/2009

Harley Davidson bikers
Lady biker outfitI always find it surprising how many things go on in Lodève. We thought it was a sleepy little town when we had our house built 6 years ago. Last year I was surprised to find a procession of Harley Davidson motor bikes roaring round the Lodève streets, cheered on by the locals. This year we didn’t want to miss the ceremony and arrived in plenty of time on a sunny Sunday morning. First of all we wandered round the stalls set up for the event. On the left you can see what the well dressed lady biker should be wearing.
Admiring the bikesWe admired some of the bikes (Triumphs as well; sorry – I’m not a motor bike expert), watched the band march in, and found a shady spot from which to watch the procession. At last at 12.00 (it should have been 11.30, but that’s France for you) the bikers appeared. They are an international group who meet up at Agde each year. It has become popular for them to drive to Lodève for a Sunday day out.

Bikers' day out
To find out how the French pronounce “Harley Davidson”, look at this 1968 video of Brigitte Bardot. The bikers are known as “Les Brescadous”
CORRECTION – it’s “Brescoudos” – sorry!
Web site is

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Summer in Lodeve

Posted by celiahukins on 24/07/2009

A poetry reading It’s high summer n Lodève now, and the Poetry Festival is in full swing. I’m not there unfortunately, but I‘ve read about it in Midi Libre . A favourite site for keeping cool during the Festival has for several years been by the Soulondre river; events are held there – you can sit with your feet in the water – and you can buy food and local produce from a range of stalls. People sit around until early in the morning enjoying the cool night air. Then when it’s breakfast time you’ll find them at the cafes around Lodève enjoying a coffee before the next day’s events begin.

We were in Lodève at the beginning of July. As the temperature climbed above 30 degrees life slowed down. Our neighbours adopt the Spanish lifestyle for the summer, having a siesta from 1 until 4 pm, and their evening meal about 9.00. This is a very good idea but not always easy for the British to get used to. It was lively in Lodève. The cafes were busy, and the tourists were out in force. At le Petit Sommelier the tables are beginning to spread across the square, but don’t extend as far as they will in the high season. We go for lunch at Pizzeria di Maori. We sit outside under an awning. They have an interesting cooling system which sends out fine sprays of water from overhead pipes at regular intervals. It’s a family owned restaurant – the grandchildren do the serving. You can have pizza, a salad, a grill or other things such as moules frites – something for everyone in fact, including the vegetarians.
We have to leave Lodève just before the 14 July celebrations. This is the time of year when I have to give up the house for the summer. I really don’t want to, but then I realise that we rely on our rental income to maintain the property, so with a sigh I give in. It’s always a last minute panic tidying up the house and trying to find a home for everything, especially when you’ve had all winter to scatter things around. Luckily the mas is a good dumping ground for all the odd things which we need to put away. When we’re back at the end of August the weather should be slightly cooler – and soon we will be able to spend our summers in Lodève!

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Country life

Posted by celiahukins on 06/06/2009

La Couvertoirade
This photo is cheating really; it was taken at La Courvertoirade on the Larzac plateau north of Lodève, but I think it’s appropriate to this post.

Having returned to Birmingham after 3 hectic but very enjoyable days in Paris and Giverny, I looked back on the notes I’d written below. I’d spent just over a month in Lodève, and found Paris rather a shock to the system – although the city dweller in me soon got over that. Anyway, here are my notes from my country life.

It was a busy Sunday morning in Lodève. As I got out of the car (I’m finally getting a bit better at parking it) I saw a group of people walking purposefully along. Obviously tourists – the first group I’d seen so far this year. They followed their leader to the Statue de la Vierge and listened intently, as French people must do when being given information.
Then something else disturbed the Sunday morning peace. The 8 a huit, one of the few places to open on a Sunday morning, was closed because of an “incident technique”. (I’m not sure what that was but once or twice when I’ve been in there they have had to restart the electrics, so they must be a bit dodgy.) Most people were making their way to le Petit Casino, a small grocer’s which does have good local produce anyway. It was somewhat disorganised, with the 5 or 6 people queuing up to pay taking up most of the room in the small shop, and those who weren’t locals getting quite fretful as they waited. However the shopkeeper was pleasant as ever, wishing me “Bonne journée madame” as I left, even though he didn’t have time to make small talk, such as remarks about wrapping up the strawberries so I wouldn’t eat them all on the way home.
So I got my fruit and veg but nor my oven cleaner…

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Friday lunch in Beziers

Posted by celiahukins on 17/05/2009

Le Cristal
A sunny Friday morning in Béziers; as we drive south from Lodève the weather improves and the clouds clear to reveal blue sky. We stand outside the cathedral and look down over the plain and across to the Larzac hills which you can see in the distance. It’s pleasant walking around (though we never find Tourist Information) and soon it’s time for lunch. We survey the cafés along the Allées Paul Riquet (he who designed the Canal du Midi) and finally decide on Le Cristal. We sit outside the restaurant, rather than at the other tables on the Allées which have plastic awnings over them today as it’s windy and perhaps not that warm. I decide on the plat du jour with a glass of wine for 10.90 – bouillabaisse with rouille. My friend has spaghetti with prawns and pistou. We become aware that all the conversation around us is English; fragments drift across, talk of friends, children and weddings, grandchildren’s schools, visits to chateaux. However it feels very French in spite of our English companions and we have a relaxing lunch.

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