It takes a lot of semantic wandering to arrive at where we live in France. Tumbling down this road, we live in the Nouvelle Aquitaine, the Dordogne, the Perigord, the Perigord Vert, and finally the village of Bourdeilles. It’s way too complicated to ...


Felibrée Festival in the Perigord, La Dordogne, France and more...

Felibrée Festival in the Perigord, La Dordogne, France

It takes a lot of semantic wandering to arrive at where we live in France. Tumbling down this road, we live in the Nouvelle Aquitaine, the Dordogne, the Perigord, the Perigord Vert, and finally the village of Bourdeilles. It’s way too complicated to explain, but this is sort of the French version of region, state, county, city.  France now has 13 regions each with strong regional traditions. The language and cultural traditions of the Perigord are celebrated each year at the Felibrée Fair

Not too long ago most of the locals in our village did not speak French. They spoke a sort of patois that is called Occitan or langue d’oc. It actually wasn’t just our village, but all of southern France, each with their own nuances of patois. My neighbor remembers having her knuckles rapped by her teacher if she was caught speaking to her classmates the patois she spoke at home. Into the 1950s France was in the process of erasing this old language and having “French” be universal.

There were always those that wanted to preserve the old language and some of the traditions that were associated with this southern culture. Eventually they organized an annual fair and conferences. There are now courses in school for the language, language clubs sprinkled around the different villages, and folk groups that carry on the traditional dress, music and dance.

Once a year all things Occitan are celebrated at this grand Felibrée. This vivacious fair is held in a different location each year showing off the beautiful corners of the Perigord.

The Felibree is hosted by a different city or village each year.  The decorations are unlike anything you will see anywhere at any time other than in that village for the four days of the fair. Pride of place is important, but it is also the work behind that scenes that perpetuates a sense of place. It takes 500 worker bees all winter to make the 130,000 artificial flowers that will then be strung into garlands to hang above the celebrations in the streets of this years showcase community. There are usually anywhere from 5 - 10 neighboring villages or hamlets that take part in this massive work load. These communal hours spent together before the Felibrée are as important as the event itself. Winter is the time that communities gather together, folks sit for hours on end chatting while their hands work towards a common goal.

There will be dances, lectures, demonstrations of how things used to be done - children gasp to see laundry washed in buckets and wrung out by fingers turning to prunes, there will be bike decorations and mountains of food to be eaten, music and dancing and beautiful costumes, books to buy written in the old language - even a church service conducted in Occitan, t-shirts to buy and more dancing. It’s a fair!



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Four Garden Personalities

This past weekend was the annual Rendez-Vous aux Jardins in France. Over 2000 gardens are open throughout the country. We decided to stay close to home this year and chose 4 gardens that were within an hour's drive between Angouleme and Bourdeilles.  As you will see from my less than stellar photos it was a grey and rainy day, but it meant we had the gardens and their owners to ourselves. I am not sure what you can tell about a person's personality from their garden but, we truly encountered 4 distinct gardens and 4 gentle yet excitable garden creators. 

The gardens are shown in the order that we encountered them. Imagine our joy as we entered the gates of each of these examples of artistic garden creations.

Le Jardin de Chalonne

Cute and tiny in a monumental way.

Parc et Jardins du Chateau de Fleurac

To the Manor born....

 Le Jardin des Roses

The perfume of obsession

Jardin de Puy-Vidal

Regimentally casual

I promise that I'll show you our gardens next! 


Bourdeilles in May

The fun fair was in town and these American flags flew over the trampoline. Seemed like a funny thing!


Pudding vs Dessert

“I’ll bring a pudding”, Victoria offered.

“Hmmmm pudding is a bit odd to bring to a potluck,” I thought to myself, “but what the heck. I wonder if she’ll bring chocolate or vanilla.”

The evening arrived and Victoria showed up with a lavishly frosted chocolate cake. I was a bit flummoxed, but Tom (Mr Sugar) didn’t miss a beat, “Yummmm,, but, Victoria, Susan said you were bringing pudding?”

“I did, and here it is.” she paused and then laughed, “You were expecting me to bring a pudding pudding. I hope I haven’t disappointed.”

We had just experienced the beginning of many classic British American lost in translation.

For our British friends a pudding is any ole’ dessert. And as you know, for us pudding is the custard type dessert one eats when they are young or sick. Delicious, but not the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of a dessert. The chocolate cake was much more like it.

Recently I had a long weekend in England. About an hour after setting foot on that great big island, I started to notice something. Every other shop window was either full of scones and muffins or the most extraordinary cakes I had ever seen. There were puddings everywhere and not a custard to be seen.

Now-a-days I live in the land of elegant, sophisticated French pastries, but no one had prepared me for the happy, cheeky array of puddings that were going to be on display as I wandered the streets of merry olde England. 

Here are some photos of a few of the puddings I spied. And yes, I did finally break down and sample a slice of Victoria Sponge Cake - it was perfection. Well almost, because to me perfection is a scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream - and I had 2 of those.

The word dessert has it’s French pitfall as well. If an American pronounces dessert as they would say it back home a French person will wonder why they are talking about the desert - a strange topic of conversation at the end of a meal. I guess if one is lost in translation it would be less of a surprise to get pudding than a bowl of sand for the longed for dessert.


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