Leaving Montpeyroux . . .

In  two weeks   I’ll be on a flight heading for Seattle.  I’m actually leaving Montpeyroux a few days earlier in order to spend some time in Paris.  This morning, was my last French lesson for a while, this afternoon I started packing up the apartment.  I’m very excited at the thought of seeing family and friends in the States again and also looking forward to September when I move into my new place in Laurens.  Life feels very good, full of interesting experiences.  Last Friday, I had a little get together for Montpeyroux friends and neighbours. Seems so much longer than ten months since I arrived in the village not knowing anyone. Fortunately, Laurens is close enough that I can still stay in touch with everyone.

I’ve written about a new project I’ll be starting in September with Brigitte Chevalier of Domaine de Cebenne. As part of that project, I’m writing an article for a local English language publication on an adopt-a-vine progam Brigitte has started. If you’re looking for an unusual gift–a grape vine in the south of France?–you might consider adopting one yourself! The blurb below is part of a longer piece I’ll be writing for the next issue.


They’re dark and gnarled with age, but the Carignan vines in the Domaine De Cébene vineyards, some of them planted around the time of the first World War have a story to tell.  When Brigitte Chevalier bought the vineyard, many of the ancient vines had already been uprooted,  Brigitte begged the seller to spare the rest.  “These old ladies have so much to give,” she said.  “They’re part of Languedoc’s viticultural history.” But, as  befitting their age, the Carignans, planted before machines became commonplace in the vineyard,  require a lot of tender loving care.  The special tools involved and the long hours of labour are both time consuming and expensive.   
Would you like to feel part of Languedoc’s wine history?

What better gift, to yourself or to someone else, than to ensure that these old ladies continue to tell their story through the wine they produce?  By becoming a godparent and sponsoring a Carignan vine, you will receive the Domaine De Cébene newsletter, Les Feiuillerts De Cebenne, invitations to wine tastings and special events and, of course, Belle Lurette, the prize winning wine made from these grapes.  More importantly, you will be playing an active role in helping to conserve Languedoc history.

Lot’s more to write, but feeling in a bit of a rush. Some recent posts from Facebook:
March 31
My neighbour, Jeanine, who is in her late 80’s and speaks not a word of English. On the day of my party, I went over to make sure she had received my invitation. She grabbed my arm, led me into her kitchen and showed me a bag of mussels she’d just bought. She was going to prepare her specialty, moules farcie. She asked me if I’d like an apertif, looked disappointed when I declined–it was only noon and I still had a lot to do–so I thought to hell with what I still had to do and accepted her offer. We sat in the kitchen drinking something that tasted like planter’s punch and eating bread spread with tapenade and she told me all about the love of her life who was a famous French singer. Later, she came over with a cast iron pot of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. She suggested that instead of serving it at the party, I keep it for myself. I followed her advice, sort of. Saturday, I shared it with a friend, we were both happy. Returned the cast iron pot just now, and asked for the recipe. She declined. People are always asking her, she says, but she never gives it out. When you visit me next time, she said, I will make if for you again. We had another chat, this time over coffee and gateaux, about men and she talked again about the love of her life who died many years ago. I told her that talking to her was helping my French, the whole experience also made me very happy.

March 27
Norbert, a friend in the next village, runs an antique shop with all sorts of interesting odds and ends and very irregular hours. A few weeks ago, I’d seen a rustic wooden table and chairs which I thought would be perfect for the new apartment. They were chestnut, he thought, from the mountains. Today, I drove over to pick them up. Although I parked as close to the shop as I could, the street is very narrow and as Norbert was trying to cram the table into my car, an enormous truck pulled up. The driver wasn’t smiling and I was ready to drive around the block so that he could get by. I should have brought out my camera at that point as Norbert, all nonchalance, glanced up, then strolled over and removed a couple of the metal guards (you can see one at the edge of the first picture) that line most of the village streets, Montpeyroux included. This allowed the truck the few inches of extra space needed to get through. The truck driver gave a thumbs up, Norbert grinned and finished loading the chairs. I’d always wondered what those guards were for, now I know.

March 16
Why wallflowers are so named, never thought much about it before, but they spring exuberantly from the village walls. Good, albeit windy, Sunday walk to work off last night’s overindulgences. Wind whipped the olives tree branches, showing off the silvery undersides and sending my allergies into overdrive. Mimosa growing on the hillsides. Beautiful time of year, even for the allergy prone.

By La vie en France

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