Maison De La Roche, Luxury gites and apartments http://www.maisondelaroche.com Family run luxury holiday apartments in the South of France Sun, 28 Jan 2018 07:31:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 We’ve changed our name!! http://www.maisondelaroche.com/weve-changed-our-name/ Sat, 07 Jan 2017 12:17:13 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=621 The region formerly known as Languedoc Roussillon which then became Languedoc Roussillon - Midi- Pyrénées has now been announced as Occitanie

The restructuring of France’s regions in January 2016 meant that the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées were merged together to form a new super region that covers a large part of southern France, including a section of Mediterranean coastline and part of the Pyrénées mountains

The countryside varies from the Pyrénées mountains, Mediterranean beaches, the marshy Camargue and the Cévennes mountains. The beaches are quieter than there counterparts along the Rivera so are popular with families and the region includes two popular UNESCO World Heritage sites – the medieval cité of Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi.

Map of new regions of France 2016

Must visit places within in Occitanie

The fairy-tale walled cité of Carcassonne is instantly recognisable and one of France’s most visited attractions. Reputedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Carcassonne was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and is now an UNESCO World Heritage site. Across the river from the cité is the ville basse where the majority of the town’s inhabitants live.

Picture of the walled cité of Carcassonne

The vibrant city of Toulouse is the largest city in Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées and has a large student population and a stong aviation industry. Toulouse is known as la ville rose because of its pink-coloured architecture. The centre is framed by the Canal du Midi and the St-Sernin cathedral is considered to be one of the finest Romanesque buildings in the world.

Montpellier is one of the largest cities along the Mediterranean coast and also has a large student population who attend Montpellier university, one of the oldest in the world. The Place de la Comédie, Jardin des Plantes and the elegant 18th-century hôtels particuliers are not to be missed

The town of Perpignan was once Catalonia’s second city after Barcelona and it still feels more Spanish or Catalan than it does French.

Part of the region enjoys a Mediterranean coastline with popular resort towns, including the port of Sète with its lively water-jousting tournaments, La Grande Motte and Le Grau du Roi. The stretch of Mediterranean coast which joins the Spanish border is called the Côte Vermeille and includes the stunning beaches of Argelès-sur-Mer, Banyuls-sur-Mer and Collioure.

View of collioure-port

In Roman times one of the most important towns in the area was Narbonne, the capital of Gaul. It was a prosperous port at the crossroads between Aquitaine, Italy and Spain and you can still see Roman influences in the uncovered Via Domitia road and the Horreum subterranean galleries. Narbonne’s other claim to fame is as the birthplace of legendary French singer Charles Trenet and you can visit his former home.

Image of Narbonne, France.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Canal du Midi runs from Marseillan near Sète to Toulouse where it joins the Canal de Garonne. This breathtakingly beautiful canal is popular with boaters and cyclists and is a great way to see the region.

There are plenty of vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées and so you have plenty of choice including wine from the Corbières, the Minervois and Gallic wines. Limoux produces a good sparkling wine called Crémant de Limoux, and legend has it that the secret of the sparkling wine was smuggled back to Champagne by Dom Pérignon. In terms of food specialities from Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées you can choose from aligot – a hearty dish of potatoes, cheese, garlic, cream and butter – foie gras, cassoulet which the town of Castelnaudry claims to have invented and Roquefort cheese.

Picture of cassoulet

sourced from Complete France online magazine

]]>
Summer Time and the Rivers are flowing http://www.maisondelaroche.com/summer-time-and-the-rivers-are-flowing/ Mon, 01 Aug 2016 09:42:50 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=598 I always say that Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons… Autumn because its all cosy and rustling leaves and beautiful colours and shorter days and darker nights and jeans and boots and we can plan our annual Bonfire Night party and Christmas is coming…. And then Spring because I am fed up with Winter and its long drawn out cold days. I love the blossom and the buds and the longer nights and sunnier days and the anticipation of what is to come!! So yes for me anticipation is everything but then SUMMER ARRIVES and the birds are singing and the rivers are beckoning and the beach is waiting and there is just so much to do.

And I try it all: Canyoning (yes scaredy cat me)
DSC_0610 DSC_0613

Kayaking (yes scaredy cat me again )

FB_IMG_1436596270718

Kite surfing (trust me its good for guy gazing)

DSCF7164

Rivers and Beaches

ribaute

Inflatables on lakes (good exercise …………for the kids …..I’ll look after the bags)

IMG_20120813_135215_0

Eating out

DSC_0199

and of course
Sun tans (The half a stone I have put on thanks to good eating and Rose evenings with friends seems less scary when tanned) – No photo here!

But what I do love mostly about SUMMER is the way it makes us feel when we wake up and how it can drag teenagers away from the sofa and become children again and how it makes us feel …well Happy!

]]>
Maison de la Roche-Olly Smith http://www.maisondelaroche.com/maison-de-la-roche-olly-smith/ Sun, 26 Jun 2016 15:33:00 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=587 olly-smith

We were just joined by Olly Smith the journalist and wine expert. He wrote a lovely review on his blog and I have copied it below:

The reality of this way of life is perhaps summed up most perfectly in Honor Marks, a Brit who has made her home in Maison de la Roche in the heart of sleepy Ferrals-les-Corbières. I first heard about Maison de la Roche and met Honor through Paul and Alex Hollywood who rightly raved about the place – and the person. Honor welcomes anyone and everyone into her home which she runs as a gîte together with her daughter Holly and dog, well, bear really, Bob.

Read the full article here…Olly Smith

]]>
Cookery Courses on the Canal du Midi http://www.maisondelaroche.com/cookery-courses-on-the-canal-du-midi/ Sun, 19 Jun 2016 20:54:25 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=569 PMS375

I was really excited recently to meet Heather and David an enthusiastic couple that have created a cookery school right on the banks of the Canal du Midi. Imagine gathering all your local ingredients, learning how to put them together and then enjoy the results by one of the most beautiful Canals in the world. Inspired by her passion for food and cooking I wanted to know more.

cooking class

I would love to know about what inspired you to set up the cookery school

Having spent my career around food organising events for the pharmaceutical industry I had a passion for food which started in Brittany and on the Cote D’Azur many moons ago. Over the years I attended cooking classes wherever we travelled and loved learning about the different styles of food. I was able to retrain as a chef in Australia and served my apprenticeship with award-winning caterers who specialised in privatefunctions for the diplomatic community. We then moved to the French Alps where we spent four winters cooking in luxury chalets.

eating by the canal

Your reason for your love of the Languedoc – what bought you here ?

We decided four years ago that we wanted to open a cooking class to teach classic French food. In December 2012 we began to look for ideas and places to set up our classes. We travelled the Canal du Midi in 2008 and again in 2010 and loved the region for its wine and natural beauty. In January 2013 we discovered Millepetit and it fitted the bill nicely as a place we could create our cooking classes by the Canal du Midi.

canal

Where do you get your inspiration?

There are so many inspirational chefs over the years who have created wonderful French food. Escoffier is probably the best start point for anyone interested in French food. More recently Rick Stein’s French Odyssey pulls together modern ideas with a traditional basis. Orlando Murrin, who wrote “A Table in the Tarn” a few years ago was without doubt our inspiration for both changing careers and moving to France – we stayed in his guest house a few times and his food writing on sourcing French ingredients is a must for anyone living here.

fish

Talk me through a typical day and do you cater for all ages?

We offer a one day hands on Classic French cooking class followed by a three course lunch, which the ‘cooks’ have prepared, on the terrace beside the Canal du Midi under the shade of the iconic plane trees. We have five choices for each course which guests can select from our website – the first to book generally select the day’s menu. Soufflés, duck and chocolate have so far proved the most popular menu!

The class is suitable for any age, our youngest cook was 9, our oldest 87. Some wonderful junior cooks who have shown up their adult counterparts with their knowledge and techniques. Last year we had seven teenage girls prepare lunch for their mothers. Managing a group of 14 year olds was daunting at first, however they were delightful and impressed us and their mums!

cooking classes

How do you source all your ingredients?

We are in a wonderful region of France with readily available seasonal produce. Here at Millepetit we have our ‘own’ maraîcher who grows a range of vegetables and fruit in the fields alongside the Canal. We buy his produce the day it is picked so it is always fresh. We use olives, oil and herbs grown right on our doorstep; and honey from hives along the Canal path. One neighbour is a vigneron and produces a delightful vin rosé 50 metres from our door. We buy vin blanc and vin rouge from Chateau Canet in the Minervios who make their wines from grapes grown in the foothills of the Montaigne Noir. We feel very blessed!

cooking canal - Copy

For more information please go to http://www.canaldumidicooking.com/

]]>
Guest Blog – Santiago de Compostela Camino by Eva Hamori http://www.maisondelaroche.com/guest-blog-santiago-de-compostela-camino-by-eva-hamori/ Wed, 11 May 2016 05:52:00 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=546 LIFE IS A PILGRIMAGE. THE WISE MAN DOES NOT REST ON THE ROADSIDE INNS. HE MARCHES DIRECTLY TO THE ILLIMITABLE DOMAIN OF ETERNAL BLISS, HIS ULTIMATE DESTINATION.” SWAMI SIVANANDA

santiago camino sign

My mobile kept dropping the call from the tourist office but I was nearly home. From the corner of my eye I saw a character straight from one of my favourite sitcoms, The Golden Girls. She looked much like Betty White carrying a ratty pack on her back giving the impression of a slow moving turtle. She walked in worn Greek sandals, her grey hair a skew with a walking stick in each hand methodically planting them in front of each foot making her way up town. She looked lost. I slowed down to ask her if she needed some help when I noticed her red lipstick. I instantly liked this person! She said she was on her way to Santiago de Compostela to visit the holy shrine of Saint James. This would be my first encounter with a pilgrim and she was looking for a B&B on Rue Louis Aragon. As luck would have it, she was looking for me!

santiago map

Encountering Pilgrims on the Camino

Steady streams of pilgrims have visited us ever since that first meeting. Among the most memorable was an Australian banker on a month sabbatical searching for the meaning of life after he reached burn out, a Belgian woman doing the entire length of the Camino for the second time within a year as an homage to her late husband, and a very rich man wanting to know what it was like to solely rely on the generosity of strangers to get from one end of the Saint James path to the other. I happily obliged and did not charge him, even though his gear alone was worth more than my car. C’est la vie! And lastly there was the charismatic man who resembled Jesus Christ himself with a full beard and long hair looking far older than his 32 years on earth. With holes in his shoes he searched for freedom. After our lengthy conversation, I think he had already found it. I can’t help think of the song, What If God Was One Of Us? every time I think of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela.

I have packed leftovers for students walking the route with little money, made vegetarian lentils and hummus for a group of Indian Buddhists who couldn’t find good vegetarian food on route, and made sandwiches for people whom I wished would stay for more conversation. Tears have streamed down my face both from hearing tragic tales of heartache, gutwrencher love stories and terminal illness, but also during robust bursts of laughter sharing funny stories over a glass of Languedoc wine.

The common thread among these amazing people was the El Camino. Fewer of them seem devoted to God (or even Catholic) and more seem to be folks ticking ‘The Way of Saint James’ off their bucket lists. It is an interesting way for backpackers to experience the French and Spanish countryside. It takes you to villages with beautiful churches, along medieval ruins and through breathtaking countryside. Surprisingly, many do it alone. I rarely hear back from these travellers, of course not- they only stay for the night, but I collect their stories in my memory, both for future reference and for inspiration. I learned something from each of these wanderers as they briefly warmed my life.

They have ignited a new dream in me to also walk to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

santiago walk

Interview with Clare and Steve Patrick from the UK

Where did you start and finish the camino?

We did the Camino de Santiago just this past fall. The walk took six weeks starting in St. Jean Pied de Port and followed “The Way of St James” to Santiago de Compostela. However, we didn’t stop there but continued on to Muxia and Finisterre on the Atlantic coast. A total distance of 900 Kms.

What were your reasons for doing the Camino?

Clare wanted a big challenge and to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, a condition her mother suffered from and subsequently died of 3 years earlier. She raised nearly £3,000 (€4,000)

Donations can be made direct to the Alzheimers Society via www.alzheimers.org.uk/donate

Was accommodation easy to find and did you book long in advance?

We set out from St Jean Pied de Port at the beginning of September last year, and although accommodation is plentiful along the entire route, because this time of year is very popular because of the favourable weather, places to stay became more difficult to find. We hadn’t booked any accommodation in advance, as generally there is no need to, but because it was so busy, we started to make reservations for up to a week ahead after we had set off. This wasn’t a problem as most places along the way offer free wifi.

Did you use certain Websites to help with your pilgrimage along the Santiago de Compostela route?

There are several forums about the Camino on the Internet and which are a great source of information.
www.americanpilgrims.org“>

shell-sign-santiago--696x522

Shell signs lead pilgrims to Spain – Photo by Clare & Steve Patrick

Capestang and the Camino de Santiago

Before moving to Capestang, I only knew of the Camino from a movie called ‘The Way’ starring Martin Sheen. I related the story to my own journey of self-discovery.

It is often referred to as The Way of Saint James and, in France it is Les Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle. However, most commonly, it’s simply called, The Camino after the Camino Francés – The Way of the French.

In the past Capestang was passed by two registered paths that went around our little village en route to Santiago de Compostela. We missed out on many pilgrims so close to us. Four and half years ago I added our gite, Le Petit Platane, to the Santiago de Compostela website and received dozens of lovely visitors who detoured along the Canal du Midi to visit our beautiful church along broken paths. Many knew the history of our collegial and wanted to visit the Canal du Midi. The municipality hopes that by connecting these two routes directly to us, and registering with the Santiago de Compostela, that the paths will be now clearly marked using the correct shell signage and yellow arrows, bringing the pilgrims to our lovely collegial and village along The WAY!

Capestang is on the path to Santiago de Compostela called ‘The Way of the Foothills” ‘La Voie des Piémonts”

The Village of Capestang is now officially part of the Santiago de Compostela on the route from Montpellier to Toulouse, called “The Way of the Foothills” “La Voie des Piémonts” which then enters Northern Spain through the bordering Pyrenees Mountains. This region is a beautiful leg of the walk offering 100 hours over 479 km through breathtaking scenery of the Mediterranean Sea, walking over rolling vine covered hills, and along the Canal du Midi straight across France.

Our town hall has just received our Pilgrimage stamp to show proof of the pilgrim’s’ passage through our village, which is available at our tourist office, the town hall, our church and our castle to stamp. This entitles travellers to stay in “Albergue’, ‘Pilgrim Only” hostels on route, and also special pilgrim meals at some local restaurants.

santiago post

sign reads: Saint Jacques de Compostelle 765 kms – Photo by the Patricks

The Camino Frances

The French route, called the Camino Frances, starts at St. Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and finishes 780 km later in Santiago de Compostela Spain. The route is broken down into 32 stages with accommodations and food easily accessible.

Pilgrims follow bright yellow arrows and scallop shell signs along the walking paths, and they stamp their passports at each stop. The passport ends up a treasure to the pilgrim, reminders of the villages and countryside they have travelled over, and of course the remarkable people they met along the way.

Who was Saint James?

James, son of Zebedee, was the patron saint of Spain who was one of Jesus’s disciples, brother of disciple John and the first to die a martyr. His remains are said to be buried in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and once discovered, King Alfonso II built the cathedral over it in 829 AD after an account of a miracle on that exact spot was said to have occurred. The king was the first pilgrim to visit the shrine.

Since the Early Middle Ages, people from around the world go on the pilgrimage crossing Europe to make their way to Spain. The different well trekked routes branch throughout Western Europe and all roads lead to one destination through Northern Spain. The old town of Santiago is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For the Catholic faith the Santiago pilgrimage route remains an indulgence to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for their sins.

How to get your Pilgrim Passport and Compostela Certificate

To receive the Compostela Pilgrimage Certificate of completion from the Pilgrim’s office in Santiago Spain, you must either walk a minimum of 100km to Santiago Spain or cycle 200km with valid dates and stamps in your pilgrim passport to prove it.

To obtain your Pilgrimage Passport please visit https://www.santiagodecompostela.me/

Isn’t it time to put Santiago de Compostela on your bucket list?

article by Eva Hamori you can read more by her at her blog site www.thatshamori.com

]]>
Antiqueing with Honor by Imogen Jamieson http://www.maisondelaroche.com/antiqueing-with-honor-by-imogen-jamieson/ Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:08:34 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=530 SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

With a glimmer of the sun and the promise of warmer weather here in the UK, I have been wistfully thinking about my friend Honor at Maison de la Roche and recalling that although we have spent many happy hours together over the years, we have never ever ever been antique-ing. Down in the Languedoc, there are a proliferation of amazing antiques fairs and to go sniffing out a bargain as the early morning sunlight chases away the dark, is something I hanker after. Antique purchasing followed by a pitstop at a café for croissants dunked into a mug of steamingly hot milky coffee just seems to be the perfect way to start a day. Then to the market, a basket full of fresh locally grown groceries and home for lunch and an afternoon by the pool. Book my ticket to Maison de la Roche right now!

Car_Boot_Sale_and_Market_at_Filey1

My finger is hesitating on the buy flights now button for just a couple of reasons. The primary one is that my children are fast approaching a summer of public exams and so to desert them now just strikes me as total selfishness (excuse me whilst I polish my smug mother halo!) and the second, which I say with some trepidation, is that whilst I lean towards classical minimalism myself – think antique furniture painted in white and grey tones, clean lines and simplicity – Honor, is at times, rather alarmingly Queen of Kitsch!
Honor can refute this all she wants but underneath the bluster we both know I am right! Who amongst her circle can forget the purchase of the vulgar, but oh so comfortable, porn star sofa a few years ago? And that’s just one small example of how her eye hones in on all things eclectic and outlandish. Secretly, I envy her chutzpah as although this bold and confident approach could seriously jar, Honor’s home and Gites are full of style with twists of eccentricity that delight.

pink rabbit

I feel the UK high street does pedestrian rather brilliantly and I have no objection to basic furnishings from M&S, Next, John Lewis etc. However, for me, the heart of a truly charming home beats in its individuality and whilst I wouldn’t exactly call “mediocre” a bad word as after all, there are times when most of us want to be unremarkable in some small way, when it comes to furnishings I believe it’s far better to ditch bland sameness in favour of va va voom.
France is well known for its brocantes and flea markets and once the sun starts to shine, so the markets start to mushroom and most weekends there are wonderful events in the area around Maison de la Roche. Honor will point her guests towards these markets and frequently accompanies them. With luck and a willingness to rummage, who knows what irresistible booty you might uncover. An antique French mirror, enamelware, linen sheets, glass, china; there is normally an abundance of the beautiful and unique and the thrill of purchasing something that is going to enhance your home by giving it a twist of the extraordinary is a wonderful thing.

enamel-coffee-pot-collection

Do be aware that prices vary significantly and knowing how us non-natives love and value the rejected tat precious antiques they want to part with, French sellers will sometimes increase the cost of their wares to top dollar. However, there is fun in the negotiation and for some, an opportunity to resurrect their schooldays French is irresistible.

Thankfully, Honor’s French is pretty good and if you have managed to persuade her to join you on your treasure hunt, she will assist although I do urge you to ensure she hasn’t included some avant-garde objet for herself as she barters! As you travel back to that glorious azure swimming pool at Maison de la Roche you could discover yourself sharing a seat with who knows what oddity and how you will mock until you spot it in its new home looking effortlessly chic and tremendously desirable! After all, a true artist is one who trusts their own eye.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Imogen Jamieson is a freelance writer who writes for various online magazines and real live journals. She is quintessentially British with a endearing sense of wit and humour and a very good friend.

]]>
BASTILLE DAY JULY 24TH http://www.maisondelaroche.com/514-2/ Sat, 16 Apr 2016 15:53:01 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=514 THE MOST AWESOME FIREWORK DISPLAY YOU WILL EVER SEE

CARCASSONNE JULY 2016 Not to be missed

Fireworks illuminate the night sky above the historic fortified city of Carcassonne, southwestern France, during the annual Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANISERIC CABANIS/AFP/GettyImages ORG XMIT: -

Fireworks illuminate the night sky above the historic fortified city of Carcassonne, southwestern France, during the annual Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANISERIC CABANIS/AFP/GettyImages ORG XMIT: –

Undoubtedly THE best firework display I have ever ever seen and these photos can not do it justice. To get here we followed a convoy of cars to find the last parking spots in Carcassonne (The city was blocked off by the 70,000 people who visit here every year!) Cars were even parked on roundabouts and in the middle of roads. We sat in a field up behind the old city and had brilliant seats (for free!) It started with the sunset

carcassonne fireworks blog.jpg 3

And then we sat jaws wide open for the most incredible displays I have ever seen – and the crowd were speechless, it was an amazing site to behold

carcassonne fireworks blog.jpg 2

carcassonne fireworks blog.jpg 1

They had planet shaped fireworks and heart and lip shaped it was incredible and all choreographed wonderfully.

This year I am definately going to make the effort and go into the town itself and watch it from the best possible viewing point.

I still (at time of writing ) have two gites available if you would like to come and see this (and join in the village’s own festivities with fireworks the night before AND watch the Tour de France pass by a nearby village!)

For now I will leave you with this video

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOMK1j3a1cU

]]>
Libby Page – a living local talent who captures the Canal du Midi with colours you didn’t even know existed http://www.maisondelaroche.com/libby-page-a-living-local-talent-who-captures-the-canal-du-midi-with-colours-you-didnt-even-know-existed/ Wed, 02 Mar 2016 11:18:11 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=462 Libby

I want to introduce you to an amazing talented friend of mine Libby Pageur Born in Bath in England Libby is currently resident in Narbonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France. Libby has a BA in Fine Art specializing in sculpture from what was the Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon College of Art). Libby currently has professional affiliations with galleries Inspiré in Azille, Southern France ( https://www.facebook.com/InspireAzille/) and Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne, Southern France (http://www.vuesurcours.com). She has also exhibited in Lyon and the UK but works mainly with private clients.

FLAMEtwobeone-400x284

Moving to the south of France nearly ten years ago Libby travelled within the region and found herself asking how she would mix up the colour of this cloudless blue sky, the riotous autumn vineyards, the bright spring poppies or the distant mountains.

Finally it was the Canal du Midi with it’s beautiful tree-lined banks that pushed Libby to take these colour-filled musings and try attempt to pay homage to the splendour that was all around me. The Canal, as we know it today, is coming to the end of one glorious chapter as it’s majestic plane trees are being felled due to disease.

Libby 4

Here is a Coded Message from Libby herself!

Libby 2

Let me introduce you to my friend Libby, she an Artist”
I feel my toes curl slightly inside my shoes and hope my mouth is showing a natural smile rather than a grimace.
“Oooo! My nephew is an artist! What kind of paintings do you make?”
I pause.
“She paints landscapes”
“Oh, lovely. My nephew paints…”
The conversation moved on but I was lost in my thoughts. Landscapes? Do I? I checked back through the mental files of what I had painted in the last year. Canal, Forest, Salt Marshes. Then the previous year. Canal, canal, canal.
I have to admit it; I can see how someone might come to the conclusion that I am a landscape painter. But this realisation came as a total surprise.
Why? You might ask. How on earth are you not a landscape painter? Practically everything you paint is a landscape.
I was gliding down the canal a few years ago asking myself what it was that drew me to these monumental trees vaulting over me like caryatides holding aloft their leafy ceiling.
This architectural train of thought led me back to a theme which has been present in my work ever since I trained as a sculptor; a fascination with columns.

WSAColumns

An installation made in 1998 from withy and tissue paper.
A little bubble of joy rose inside of me as I comprehended that I had finally found a motif in which I could combine this love of rhythm and structure with the colours that I have delighted to play with ever since I was a child. I would hang my rainbows on these beautiful branches.
Did you ever keep a secret journal? Did you practice mirror writing or change the vowels around? Did you spell the names of your boyfriends backwards so none would know? Did you try that thing with the lemon juice as invisible ink? Did it have a lock?
Our inmost thoughts seemed so precious then, vulnerable and not to be exposed to the elements. Perhaps I have remained a child. Shunning the trend to declare my most intimate or mundane moments on various social media sites, I have instead kept up the art of coded writing. These days my chosen code is colour. The lemon juice thing never was very successful!
I show you my paintings and you see trees, water and light. You see autumn or spring, evening or day. I see blue path weaving through red banks and it is a reminder to let faith forge it’s way through passion. This sage green next to that orange red encourages our hearts that both wisdom and sorrow, success and failure make up the paths that we must walk along.
Is this timidity? Am I shy, hiding behind the canvas as a child might hide behind her parents legs? Perhaps, a little bit, if I am honest, yes.
Yet, moreover, I respect the fact that you would rather take a walk down a beautiful canal than into the vagaries of my emotions. I’d rather take you by the hand and stroll by the calm water under the shade of the trees, talking as we walk, or just enjoying the silence.
I wrap up my thoughts in colour and present them to you, a message in a bottle. Perhaps the hidden meanings will resonate with your own secrets, unspoken.
When someone appreciates an autumn evening that I never intended to paint, or recognises a specific spot on the canal that they are fond of, I am delighted.
My code is safe, uncrackable.
So, I will wear the label of Landscape Painter, but now you’ll understand my secret smile.

I personally own several of her prints (I am addicted) but I did treat myself to an orriginal and its the most precious thing I have ever bought

Pigasse-2013

For more information or to purchase a print or commission a painting contact Libby via http://libbypage.eu/

]]>
When Online Dating meets La Vie en Rose http://www.maisondelaroche.com/when-online-dating-meets-la-vie-en-rose/ Fri, 12 Feb 2016 10:23:30 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=447 annette 3

True life story from local friend Miles Barrington

8 years ago I was managing a sports shop in Bristol. Life was busy and stressful, and I was very much living the city life. Then, one Sunday in the winter of 2009, everything came to a head.

I’d been stood-up by a blind date during the week, so I was in a fairly foul mood, and the shop had a power cut. I had too many staff in so I decided I was going to go home, send some emails to girls on the internet dating site I was a member of, and then watch a war movie for the afternoon with a beer or two.

That’s exactly what I did that afternoon, except I never got to the war movie. One of the girls replied very quickly and we got into a conversation. After half an hour, we started a phone conversation on Skype and we spent seven hours talking on that Sunday afternoon.

In the course of that conversation (I had a glass of wine or two) I had somehow booked a plane ticket, and the following morning I flew down to Beziers to meet her. I stayed five days, during which the conversation barely stopped. Five months later, I had redecorated and rented out my house, then I quit my job at the ski shop and moved out to France.

That was July 2009 and I’m still here, with the girl who changed my life – Annette. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a job, but together we make it work.

I decided to set-up Languedoc Property Service – having studied engineering at Uni, I can offer homeowners help with all sorts of maintenance and DIY. The work can be anything from popping in on a regular basis to check for burst pipes, or more extensive repairs, renovations, pool installations or landscaping.

annette 2

My business has grown through word of mouth – but also thanks to Annette. (My pile of keys now weighs over 2 kilos!) Annette develops websites and promotes businesses on the owner’s behalf. Her speciality is raising people’s profile online – and within six months things had already taken off for me.

After renting various properties over several years, we decided to buy our own – and in late 2012 fell for a 200 year old maison de vigneron. It’s a striking property with some lovely features and a lot of potential – it also requires a lot of work, not to mention money!

One of the things we both have in common is a love for the Languedoc countryside. It’s very wild, very natural; one of the most untouched areas of France. I love the scenery, the lifestyle, the food. When I came over I was almost vegetarian and I’m now a huge fan of steak tartare. How things change!

One of my other passions is cycling, and the riding here is really fabulous. I try and get out twice a week, and with the landscape and the heat, it’s stunning. Cresting a hill after a long climb and seeing the Mediterranean laid out before you is pretty special.

When I met Annette she had a Weimaraner, Nibs, and although I’d never had a dog before I was quickly converted to dog ownership. When Nibs died Annette was devastated, but we now have another Weimaraner, plus a rescue dog from the Carcassonne SPA. They are tremendous fun, and keep us out and about enjoying local walks, and of course, lunches!

Annette 1

I’ve always enjoyed a lot of variety and I’ve certainly got that here.

My life is now a far cry from the one I had 8 years ago but in a strange way it seems that all paths were leading to where I am now.

Annette and I said all along that we were destined to meet at some point. 10 years earlier would have been even better but I’m still here with my lovely girl, thoroughly enjoying life in the real south of France.

annette 4

Links

www.languedocpropertyservice.com

www.lafranglaiseweb.com

]]>
Guest Blog – meet Eva from My Expat Life at That’s Hamori http://www.maisondelaroche.com/guest-blog-meet-eva-from-my-expat-life-at-thats-hamori/ Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:15:28 +0000 http://studioweb.net/--honor--/uk/?p=439 Hi, I’m Eva Hamori from My Expat Life – That’s Hamori http://thatshamori.com bringing you a blog post from Capestang.

C.A.C 34 (Collectif d’Artistes de Capestang)is an active association bringing the arts to our region. It is a treat for the senses.

How did they start? It started with an idea. A few years ago, the kindergarten teacher of Capestang realized that in her class was a large group of musician parents. She asked them to unite to perform during the children’s festival and created a practice group. By getting the children to dress up and participating in the first musical event, they started a tradition. They now paraded through the streets of Capestang annually.

From there the parents became good friend, having children all the same age and realizing they had so much in common. CAC34 was eventually created to keep local musicians playing throughout the year.

What is so special about the region that brings creative souls to congregate in one spot? Is it an energy crossing point; those ley lines during solstice, or perhaps ideal weather conditions just close enough to feel the sea breeze, the warm sun and the cool northern winds to ignite creative juices? I am not sure, but something brings the artists here.
Could it be the same essence that bought great painters to the region. The same enchanting currents that bring writers to spill out their novels while experiences French culture?

At a C.A.C. event you will find local wines for about 1€ a glass, food plates with homemade quiche, salads and cheeses for about 5€, snacks for kids cakes and desserts about 2€/plate and the ambiance is free. The organization unites to cook and serves the clientele, which further supports the community we live in.

village event capestang

These local musicians play at the Mediatheque, Salles des Douche, Maison du Peuples, and Nelson Mandela Centre depending on the venue they organize. Bringing in musician friends from around the region that are not working in the low season, they hire them at a good price and let them stay for free in their own homes. This brings a circulation of popular and unique music to experience in our community.

I even got the opportunity to sing during an even myself! Alain (on accordion and Bertrand (guitar) kindly asked me to sing a few songs in English and I graciously agreed.

Eva Singing

Our village further supports the arts by supporting loyally supporting these events, and we book our table far in advance.

If you have a chance to experience a C.A.C. 34 event I highly recommend it!
For more information on the C.A.C.34 events follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cac34capestang/

If you would like to guest blog on this website and you have something interesting to share about living in France or things to do please contact Honor at enquiries@maisondelaroche.com

]]>