Celia's blog

Musings on life in Lodeve, Languedoc

Posts Tagged ‘Living in France’

Goodbye May

Posted by celiahukins on 02/06/2012


Could May be the best month? The tourists haven’t yet arrived in force, the mornings are cool and fresh and the nightingale sings. By lunch time it’s nearly 30 degrees and definitely rosé weather.

Saint Fulcran’s festival is over. Unfortunately there was heavy rain for the fireworks display; the fireworks worked but the electrical system for the band didn’t, so there was no music. A return to normality then? Well no. Next the circus arrived, with much hooting of horns from the lorries. Once again there was no parking on the Esplanade, and as ever all the other spaces fill up and you are condemned to circuits of the one way system hoping to find some-one leaving a space. OK – maybe best to leave the car at home, but often I need it to go to other places as well.

Afterwards it’s good to return to the peace of the garden.

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Market day

Posted by celiahukins on 16/04/2011

Sorry there have been no blog posts for a while. I’ve been visiting Paris, the Loire valley, and spending some time in the UK. Now I’m back in Lodève and have been enjoying the sunny weather and watching the blossom appear on our front bank. Each day the excitement of something new – until the bank is full of yellows, whites and purples and we take it as a matter of course.

In the local markets there are radishes, asparagus, broad beans, and lots of lettuces. Clermont l’Hérault (a 20 minute drive from Lodève) has been spruced up this year; the cafés now have new outside seating areas and menus printed on boards outside. But the Wednesday market is still the same – the three fish stalls, the lady selling eggs as well as her home made pies filled with herbs or chicken, stalls for olives, cheese, fruit and veg, and stalls for just about anything else – shoes, handbags, fabric, mattresses. Not forgetting of course the obligatory accordeon player. This week I found some tin trays with a fish decoration to add to the one I’d already got.

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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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Sunny parking lot

Posted by celiahukins on 26/06/2010


A long overdue blog post. I’ve been travelling again – Berlin this time – but here I am back in France for a 3 week break before the renters arrive.
When I last wrote about parking lots I wasn’t very happy about them taking over the countryside. However I have to say I approve of this one. It’s the Intermarché supermarket car park, a 5 minute drive from Lodève on the A75. Our neighbours told us about Intermarché’s reduced price produce at Christmas, and I’ve picked up some good bargains. The shop still isn’t very busy and another advantage of going there is to see the view from the car park. You step out of the car and feel the freshness of the air around you. I’m not sure how busy it will be in the summer when the tourists arrive. At least it will provide an alternative to the checkout queues at SuperU.

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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
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/48-hours-in/48-hours-in-bziers-1673662.html

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Pissaladiere

Posted by celiahukins on 07/11/2009

Pissaladiere
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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Travelling light

Posted by celiahukins on 18/09/2009

Travelling light
Out of season it’s easy and cheap to commute between the UK and France, thanks to Ryanair and Easyjet. You can do it for 5 euros with Ryanair, but there are several tricks you need to know. One important one is to have hand luggage only. As I have a wardrobe in the UK and a basic one in France (the French one mainly thanks to Primark) I don’t usually have that much to carry by way of clothes. And if I take the bus from Montpellier to Lodève it’s easy to walk up the hill to the house.

Overloaded rucksack

The first time I went through Paris with a rucksack I was very embarrassed as I always feel you should dress smartly there. However, now I’ve got used to rucksacks I don’t mind the backpacker image (and maybe backpackers are more chic than they used to be?)

It’s important to remember that you’re only allowed one piece of hand luggage. Sometimes (depends how they’re feeling) Ryanair are very sticky about this. So you have to be able to stuff your handbag, laptop etc into your rucksack somehow, although it seems to be OK to carry your books, newspapers etc in your hand.

Asus pc
There isn’t room for a big laptop, so I have an Asus pc which fits neatly into my handbag. You have to get the laptop out (along with your liquids) to go through security, then put it back in again.

Hand luggageIf I have the car at the airport I can manage a reasonable sized case (weighing no more than 10 kilos, dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm) which can hold quite a lot, but of course no liquids or sharp items.

This means not only wine on the France UK trip, but also your favourite shampoo / mouthwash / corkscrew on the UK France leg.

Oh all right, so this can be complicated, but it’s worth the hassle for a 5 euro flight.

Some other money saving tips
– thanks to Money Saving Expert

Make sure you’re on the airline’s mailing list to pick up cheap deals when they are announced. And of course you need to check in online.

Use a Visa Electron (Cash Passport) card. You can get this at Thomas Cook or order online at Travelex. I’ve recently got round to getting one and it has been well worth it, saving me the £5 credit card fee on a £5 (or 5 euro) flight. You preload the card with the amount of money you specify. You don’t have to put much money on.

Next week I’m having a wee trip to Aix en Provence, Cézanne country. (I had booked an Easyjet flight to Montpellier but then we got a booking for the house, so I thought I’d use the flight anyway). After that it will be back to the commute.

Her’s a link (nearly up to date) to all you need to know about
flights to the Languedoc

And here’s a link to the song which inspired the title of this post…

Read the rest of this entry »

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A walk at the seaside

Posted by celiahukins on 08/09/2009

Seaside

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.
Coquillages
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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