A Mr Hulot holiday experience at Pont de Salars, Aveyron, Midi Pyrenees

French swimming lake: Pont de Salars, Averyon, Midi Pyrenees

French swimming lake: Pont de Salars, Aveyron, Midi Pyrenees

We got invited out by our neighbours on Sunday – a trip to Pont de Salars to a swimming lake. Lovely sunny weather and a little beach. Very French – no foreigners there at all. Our French teacher described it as the ‘hidden’ France as it’s between some very popular holiday spots. Totally ‘Dejeuner sur l’herbe.’ Also very Jacques Tati – with beautiful girls sunbathing surrounded by people struggling to blow up lilos making funny noises, boys playing football and little kids screaming. Here’s a link to ‘Mr Hulot’s Holiday” if you haven’t watched this film you’re in for a treat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZGUIpdc0i4

A truly lovely, innocent day out – great swimming too and two nice little restaurants on the beach. We brought a picnic as we didn’t know they were there. Next time……..

Lovely French shoes!

My French shoes....ummm!

My French shoes….ummm!

I love these elegant French shoes, made of leather and lace, bought today at the Vide Grenier (car boot sale). They look very suitable for an upcoming wedding in January in London! I may have to give them to the bride following the something old something new adage. But if she doesn’t like them…….?

L’ Anglais en vacances!

Audrey, Katy and Sarah

Audrey, Katy and Sarah

A lovely restaurant tucked away in countryside near Caylus is the Auberge de la grange de Cros at Saillac –  so tucked away we got lost trying to find it!

http://www.aubergrangistes.com

Katy in Montaban - about to tuck into Moules et frites

Katy in Montaban – about to tuck into Moules et frites

A very French wine cooler

A very French wine cooler

At Limogne - more eating

At Limogne – more eating after the Sunday morning market

Entree: cream brulee of fois gras with crispy duck roll

Jon’s Entree: cream brulee of fois gras with crispy duck roll and thinly sliced turnip

Entree: Salmon with wasabi ice cream and thinly sliced apple

Martin’s Entree: Salmon with wasabi ice cream and thinly sliced apple

Entree: Veloute of courgette, mint and rocket

Katy & Sarah’s Entree: Veloute of courgette, mint and rocket

Sorry can't stop eating - back home now: watermelon with Banylus

Sorry can’t stop eating – back home now: watermelon with Banyuls

Banyuls is a fortified aperitif or dessert wine, similar to Port, from the Catalan Pyrenees – gorgeous! Very nice poured over any melon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banyuls_AOC

Toulouse Walking Tour – fantastic!

Toulouse bridge at night

Toulouse Pont Saint-Pierre bridge at night

If you want a really good insight into the history of Toulouse, then join Penny’s walking tour http://www.toulousewalkingtours.com/tours.php We went on a walk on a very hot day in July and it was great! Penny has done all the research for you.  She takes you on a really interesting walk (2 hours) through the old parts of Toulouse pointing out the significant sights.

Toulouse Place du Capitole

Toulouse Place du Capitole

The walk starts at Place du Capitole, a large open square at the heart of Toulouse. Here you’ll find different markets most days, and lots of lovely bistros, cafes, bars and restaurants surrounding the square. This is the important administrative centre of Toulouse, lined with mostly 18th century buildings. Toulouse is often referred to a as the Pink city (Ville Rose) because of the rose coloured bricks that many of the important houses and buildings were constructed with.

Penny takes you down to the banks of the Garonne river and shares stories about the big clothes washing industry that sprang up on boats moored up by this river. She  points out the location of the morgue and the hospital – usually located near each other.

Toulouse Basillique St Cerni

Toulouse Basillique Saint Sernin 11th century roman style church

Saint Serin is on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Penny said it’s really worth having a look inside this ancient church to see the artefacts inside.

The walking group

The walking group

What’s also good is that Penny is a local and points out all the best places to lunch or go for a drink. On her suggestion we had lunch above the market (Marche Victor Hugo) in one of the many little restaurants that use the fresh produce from the market – we had delicious grilled fresh fish. We wouldn’t have found it without Penny telling us about it.

Thanks again Penny! Brilliant idea for a morning day trip and lovely tea and cakes half way round.

French Agricultural Show (Fete de Battages) St Antonin Noble de Val, Midi Pyrenees

French Threshing Fete St Anthonin Noble de Val

French Threshing Fete – St Antonin Noble de Val

The French really value their heritage. Especially their agricultural heritage. We went to the ‘Fetes de Battages’ (threshing festival) on Sunday at St. Antonin Noble de Val and saw lots of these old machines in action. See this video below to get an idea of how they work:

Some were operated by animals – horses and cows, other larger machines needed the old tractors to get them working.DSC_0028

The Fete is on every year in August

The Fete is on every year in August

It’s a fantastic event and well worth going to, lots of old tractors, cars, agricultural machines and a great country feast in the afternoon and the evening with traditional French accordion music.DSC_0030The old mill for making nut oil was also opened, fascinating to see the horse being used with the old grindstone. To find out more have a look at these links:

http://www.saint-antonin-noble-val.com/Le-moulin-a-huile-de-noix.html

http://www.amisduvieuxstantonin.org/Pages/MonumentsetSites.aspx

My French Year – title of a book written in 1917 by Constance Elizabeth Maud

Book written in 1917 during World War I

Book written by Constance Maud in 1917 during World War I

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-French-Year-Classic-Reprint/dp/B0097SAYUW

I just found this book on amazon  and here’s me thinking I had an original title for this blog. Constance Elizabeth Maud travelled to France as a delegate of the Red Cross in 1917 during the first World War. Unfortunately I can’t find any photos of her, but have found other World War I images of the Red Cross in France:

Red Cross Train : www.iwm.org.uk

Red Cross Train by H Septimus Power : Photo credit Imperial War Museum http://www.iwm.org.uk

Here’s a photo of nurse Mary Vail Andress who was there at the same time as Constance. Photo credit http://www.wosl.org

MaryVail Andress

Constance was one of seven children of a Church of England clergyman, she was brought up in Warwickshire and educated partly in France and Germany; she often used this experience in fiction and non-fiction. She translated the memories (1907) of Mistral. Many of her books, such as Angélique (1912), A Daughter of France (1908), in which a wife returns to her husband, Felicity in France (1906), and An English Girl in Paris (1902), are novels of French life, but No Surrender (1911) is a suffragette novel, which draws on the real-life case of Lady Constance Lytton (1869–1923) and contrasts the upper-class feminist with a range of other suffragettes. Maud also published on music and contributed to Temple Bar. She died in Chelsea. http://www.answers.com/topic/constance-e-maud#ixzz2apq64Grj

Typical aveyronnaise French country cuisine

The menu du jour is always good value. This is a typical Averyonaise meal. Four courses for 12 euros. Here’s the first course:

Simple french food - first course salad with haricot verts, ham, tomatoes, lettuce

Simple french food – first course salad with haricot verts, ham, tomatoes, lettuce

2nd course, there was a choice of veal or duck:

Potato dauphinoise, veal cutlets, haricots verts

Potato dauphinoise, veal cutlets, haricots verts

3rd course:

Assiette de fromages: fromage frais with sugar and two other cheeses

Assiette de fromages: fromage frais with sugar and a choice of 3 other cheeses

4th course:

Whipped cream with lemon and blackcurrants on top

Whipped cream with lemon and blackcurrants on top or apricot tart

The Menu: