Archive for the South West of France Category

Awaken to awesome Carcassonne!

Posted in South West of France with tags on May 29, 2015 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends,

You would have loved this article from The Wall Street Journal, ‘RESEARCHERS STUDY THE FEELING OF AWE’ and how great it was to discover that whatever makes us feel awe inspired will actually make us healthier and better people! We would become more humble, trusting and generous and have even better relationships!

Want to improve your life? Well then, GO DO SOMETHING AWESOME and come VISIT CARCASSONNE!

You may remember https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/awakening-to-carcassone-france/ but I’ll show you even more of just how awesome Carcassonne is in all her little details.

I wish you could have been there…so open this door in Carcassonne…

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and wake up to your awe inspiring day.

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With a mid morning coffee against a back drop second to none…

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And taste her succulent fruits from fine wooden boxes on market stalls…

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And delight in her specialty sweet shops,,,

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and later cruise through the afternoon on the Canal du Midi…

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To eventually walk towards Carcassonne’s sunset…

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To an inspirational evening…

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Those researchers were absolutely right. Awesome days in Carcassonne…Priceless.

Until next time,

Best wishes, Therese

Copyright@ 2015 Therese Waddell

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Awaken to a New Year in France

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Travel, Paris, South West of France with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour lovelies,

Well, well,… Christmas has come and gone and look at us, smack bang in the middle of a new year! Bonne Annee mon amis! We have a new beginning to continue the same life as last year or introduce something new. I know it’s difficult for some of you to get out of the routine for many reasons but I’m asking you to just contemplate an alternate road or patch of grass or another window of opportunity and HOLD that thought.

Can you imagine yourself here on french grass in Flavigny perhaps, in the heart of Burgundy?

(You do remember my escapades on the trek for more than chocolate? go to https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/tag/flavigney-sur-ozerain/ )

or take a peep down any one of the country roads you could be driving through on your next France adventure…

or look out from some other window- a french window. Come on! My french awakening sees no harm in discovering a new view which is very different from the one you’re seeing now perhaps?

Life is sometimes greener on the other side particularly if you’re travelling through the south of France…

or the north east corner…  (remember Colmar? https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/awaken-to-a-new-year-in-colmar/ )

or from this window in the east, at Quemigny-sur-Seine, France…

and more views from country France from modern frames…

and ancient ones in eighth century stone as at Mont St Michel (remember Awaken to Mont St Michel? See https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/tag/mont-st-michel/ )

And if you fancy yourself as more of a city mouse than a country mouse, you might appreciate looking out from the windows behind wrought iron balconies in Paris…

Or from that very special window in a beautiful french village in between.

The view’s not bad from here.

Just imagine.

Give France a thought this year. It won’t disappoint.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@Therese Waddell 2012

Awaken to Death in Revel

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel, South of France, South West of France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friend,

It’s my birthday week and it somehow turns my thoughts to life and death and the space in between. From year to year, this space is filled with every gammet of human emotion as well as our  dreams and biggest challenges. We all want this space to be magnificent. I hope it is for you right now.

Thinking about the cycle of life and death led me to thoughts of near death experiences. Those times when we experience a hint of impending finality here on earth and then perhaps something much more.

Have you ever had a near death experience? I mean a profound wake up call to impending death. I’ve read that these experiences are often documented with scientific and even religious significance but I’ve never heard of one that was connected to the taste buds…until mine.

Did you know that the French hold the honour of organising the world’s first ‘Near Death Experience Conference’? Yes, over 1500 delegates including doctors, patients and researchers gathered near the port of Marseille on this single day in 2006. I wasn’t present if that’s what you’re thinking.

A near death experience for me happened while holidaying in the beautiful south west of France in the village of Revel. I was left with one almighty aftertaste if you allow me to explain.

I had great recommendations of a fabulous Saturday market in Revel and I knew it was a lovely village to visit. Beautiful and interesting, it will keep you and yours happy for weeks and more as you wander around among the other nine thousand or so locals with plenty to see and do. But the main incentive for me this time was the hunt to find the perfect cake shop.

It was the divine trio of pizza, boulangerie and patisserie housed under the name of ‘Panetiere’ at 24 Boulevarde de la Republique in Revel which really caught my attention and as many of you will attest, finding the perfect cake is no easy feat. I’ve known maruding cake snufflers who go to great lengths to sniff out the best of cakes or pizzas  for that matter, like some truffle hunting pig and who do not fully exhale until they find their divine sweet or savoury treasure.

My dearest friend who masks sometimes as a formula 1 Driver, did just that. She had found Panetiere- PERFECTION in pizzas, breads and cakes. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost of pastry perfection across the entire south west of France and my french awakening could never ignore any great french culinary skills in pastry making! How could you?

Don’t get me wrong now. It’s not fancy in terms of Paris displays but it does offer divine little cakes and savoury morsels and marvellous pizzas. Rustic alluring pizzas at that. So divine in fact that their triggering of a single salivary gland has potentially high risk factors and I’m not talking about whispers of widening hips and calorific content!

So, here’s the patisserie…It doesn’t look much from the outside except that by now the wafting warm aromas of sweet pastry grew its beautiful tendrils in our direction…

and yes, yes, you will notice I’ve taken the photo from the middle of the road. I underestimated how long it would take to get to the other side and the pace at which the cars came speeding around the corner. Stupid I know. Patisseries and pizza parlours have that effect on me. I can’t help it… I think it’s genetic.

A car swerved to miss me and sprayed my legs with a sudden petrol gust in its momentum. I stood there motionless and of course, in shock. For an instant I felt a bright light. I can’t say how long I stood there. It wasn’t long enough to meet any dead relatives, but I felt transfixed to a bright light  in the patisserie window across the road.

About ten minutes later, on a bench around the corner, I asked myself,

“Was it worth it-the photograph? Sadly, No.

The pear tarte ? OH YEEES!”

For you too when you get to Revel, choose a little spot in the sun  to spoil yourself or find our park bench on Avenue Charles de Gaule around the corner from the shop. It will be the one covered with a few scattered crumbs!

I don’t remember what happened after that euphoric consumption. All I knew was that I had the aftertaste of near death in my mouth and I remained speechless for quite some time which is a shock to some. However, it didn’t stop our eating.

Jean Jacques Charbonnier, one of the French scientists who was present at the NDE Conference, claimed that his patients who had undergone near death experiences, actually felt that it was a positive thing and felt less attached to material things. I couldn’t agree more with the positivity but can one count a pear tart as a ‘material’ thing?

I would consider it ethereal. With a still warm, lightly aromatic poached French pear held in gossamer pastry, I knew why it tasted so sublime, so… heavenly. A gift from God, non?

Travel for miles for your pear tarte or your chocolate ganache if that’s your taste or you may not live to regret it.

Remember the Arbois chocolate hunt don’t you? https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/awaken-to-hirsingers-french-chocolate-in-arbois/

Life is too short. Death will come. Fill the space between with something magnificent.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese

 

Copyright@Therese Waddell 2011

Awaken to French Parterre Gardens

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French Gardens, South West of France with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

The French really know what they’re doing when it comes to parterre gardens. My french awakening to gardens across France was accompanied by a string of magical and unforgettable images.  Mathematical by design with such precision of symmetry and order, French parterre gardens originated in the fifteenth century by the very clever Claude Mollet during the Renaissance. Today, they have made a remarkable reentry into landscaping and still exude a calmness in our modern world of chaos and dilemma.

Look at this gorgeous back garden of a home in Lautrec, down in the south west of France…

We would all like one of these! You too will find them fascinating and truly beautiful. Even  though I deplore control in most other environments, when it comes to ‘French green’ it’s another story altogether, isn’t it?

The French demand for what I term controlled greenery, does not seem to paralyze the human spirit nor my french awakening and you too will discover that they bring a reassurance and calm while otherwise flitting about on your busy tour of France. French gardens in their formality and sophistication, maintain some certainty principle in their resilience to change over time and that in itself is very comforting.

Wander through a formal French garden and you will understand what I mean.

Here’s another garden with topiaries clipped into submission outside the fabulous Musee Goya in Castres…

and some statuesque evergreen obelisks marking the corners of the parterre garden of Versailles definately giving it je nais sais quoi- that unexplainable X factor. Elegant, non?

Getting around this garden by horse drawn carriage can be loads of fun. Take a look here:  https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/awakening-to-versailles/

But above all, take time to smell the French roses along the way… https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/where-it-all-began/

and wander barefoot at least at some time!

If you’re a quilter as well as a garden lover, try my very easy quilt pattern which was inspired by the order and symmetry of French gardens.

 

Order this pattern and more online at http://www.quiltingthejourney.com or email me at therese@quiltingthejourney.com for any enquiries.

Go on. Visit a French garden.

It will inspire you too.

Have a great day everyone!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2011 Therese Waddell

 

 

Awakening to French Quilts

Posted in French fabrics, French Quilts, French Travel, South West of France, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis.

This weather is really inducive to the arts or any indoor activity don’t you think? Outside drizzling rain and inside opportunites. Staying at home now and again in this sort of inspiring weather irrevocably brings me to what I love to do-designing, writing, quilting… My list is endless. My time like yours, is not. Therefore I BLOG, offering quick blurbs of France, which are essentially a combination of the things I love, especially on a day under a rain splattered roof.

So, how are you?

I’m thinking of quilts and all things French as usual so I invite you to enter the charming world of the French bedroom (chambre) in the small village of Lautrec…

As I listen to the trickle of the rain, this room and bed is looking more inviting by the minute with its cosy warm hues and turned down cover but then I remember the quilts…

My french awakening to fabulous quilting was realised in Lautrec- a village in the south west of France. See for yourself and examine a great example of a whole cloth quilt with its elegant pattern and highly developed style. Just lovely don’t you think?

I make a lot of quilts and design in colour (check out http://www.quiltingthejourney.com/) but there is definately something to be said about a fashionably plain white French quilt which highlights detail and shadow at every turn of the needle. What do you think?

Beautiful? I’m sure you would agree. Pity no one can agree on the exact origin of quilting, but the earliest reference to a French quilt was in a ship captain’s inventory from Marseilles way back in 1297.

I rather doubt any females today could tolerate the loathsome and often bloody battles on board a medieval sailing ship of the thirteeenth century. However, this very same quilt could have belonged to the French woman of a marauding Viking or a sturdy lass being transported amongst a fleet of crusaders fighting for the cause. We shall never know. (The identification label was well and truly missing from the back!)

Perhaps its owner was the sea captain himself, but to think a ship’s captain would ever admit to not only owning a quilt but carrying it under his muscular arm on his sea faring journey, is quite another story.

French quilts were common in the seventeenth century around Provence and have since then become extremely popular across the globe. The quality of French fabrics (tissus) I can attest is second to none, regardless of what is on offer elsewhere.

If you’re interested in the beautiful Provence Indiennes fabrics, you’ll enjoy this-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y97CbtO95iU

Only the very lucky own a French quilt.

Happy sewing and happy travels all of you!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes,Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Quilt Designs and Albi, France

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Painters, French Quilts, South of France, South West of France, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

What a nice thing to see my quilt design make it to the front page of the latest ‘Australia’s Patchwork and Quilting’ Magazine again. I’m so happy and truly honoured.

My quilt inspiration is the French term, ”joie de vivre’ which means ‘joy of life’. Its circular formation represents the circle of life which we all undergo and it’s really a celebration of the simple things of life with the bursting of blossoms and birds in flight.

Anyway, if you like this pattern, perhaps you may be inspired by my other quilts at www.quiltingthejourney.com Do have a peep…

So how are you today? Feeling over the moon myself.You know when I’m most happy I seem to migrate to France simultaneously. So, fancy being taken all the way to Albi?

Oh come on! Don’t be like that! You’ll love it when you do!

You just have to firstly release the clenched muscle grip on the vacuum cleaner, or saucepan and wasabi mayonnaise (Carolina) or vintage camera (Graham), quilting thread (yes, you CAN do it Quilary), or your quirky collections of shells and flea markets (Claudia), your touches of whimsy and pretty frippery( Hope Ava) or even your bike, (which means you Richard Tulloch) and any other restraint or temptation just for a while. OK?

Here we go then…

My french awakening to quilt designs actually began in the south west of France, so we’re going to the Tarn region directly to the very old (we’re talking Bronze Age) city of Albi.  Check out Christophe Bouthe’s amazing panoramic photo of the city at http://www.360cities.net/image/albi#357.80,28.40,70.0 radiating such a feeling of warmth because of its predominantly rosy pink hue.

The massive brick cathedral dominating the city is the imposing structure of the Gothic Cathedral de Sainte Cecile d’Albi. It’s actually the largest brick building in the world!

If the outside doesn’t take your breath away, draw breath at Viden Natzev’s panorama exposing the sumptuous interior at http://www.360cities.net/image/albi-cathedral-cathdrale-ste-ccile-1-france#0.00,0.00,70.0

It is so intricately detailed in colour and design with enormous frescoes (you can’t miss the Last Judgement frescoe under the organ- given it’s one of the world’s largest frescoes) and the interior is so totally unexpected given the monsterously bland exterior.

Like the outside though, everything is big here. HUGE. Saint Cecile’s bell, pipe organ, frescoes, screen of stone carvings, flying buttresses and ornate walls will quite possibly give you some neck strain but hey, this could counteract our posture at the computer, non?

So much for looking up…

Cathedrals like Saint Cecile always give me inspiration for my quilt designs. The famous French fashion designer and grand couturier John Paul Gaultier has made Albi his home. I wonder whether St Cecile, with her decoration, colour and architectural lines was ever his

muse for his sculptural costumes such as those seen on Madonna or in one of my favourite films, ‘The Fifth Element’ where the blue alien diva pours her heart out (literally). Take a look and I defy you not to notice those flying buttresses and window shapes in her head piece!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuDOlPaLnVw

Looking across the city now, the view from the bridge over the Tarn river which dissects Albi offers beautiful views. Fancy yourself here?…

See Saint Cecile’s Cathedral in the far distance.

The Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) was constructed in stone way back in 1040 where at the time, toll charges were issued. Later on, houses were built on it and over time it’s been rendered in brick and still in use today as you can see.

Walk back over the bridge and enter the world of Albi’s rustic market place. There’s another Marche Couvert (or covered market) in the Market Hall at 14 Rue Emile Grand selling the produce of generations of fine foodies and farmers,  but I like this one too oozing organic produce as well as flowers, French rattan baskets and sometimes fabric with a backdrop of the blue water of the Tarn! It’s really nice.

There are plenty of good quality boutiques, shops, restaurants and cafes in which to nestle…

Spend your time after a coffee walking through the winding streets of the old city to discover more fabulous places. The added wing of the Palais de la Berbie, with its lovely french gardens has been transformed into the Toulouse Lautrec Museum housing his fabulously famous posters which he painted in the red light district of Montmartre. The infamous Lautrec was born in Albi and his work is epitomised in scarlet inks with inner passion.

There’s also the Laperouse Museum commemorating the sea faring Jean Francois Laperouse, a must for any history buff. Laperouse’s family originated from Albi also and his expeditions to places including Australia before being shipwrecked in the Pacific, are very well documented here.

Many of you will prosper in Albi- you’ll be inspired and invigorated with the wealth of artistic and cultural affairs ready for the taking.  Others will find solace in its fantastic food and restaurants and local gourmet produce. For me, it’s definitely a must see when you travel to France  with its beautifully simple way of life. You’ll feel so good, especially at sunset when Albi is caressed in its warm glow.

Life doesn’t get better than this.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010Therese Waddell

Awaken to Cordes sur Ciel, France

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South of France, South West of France with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

It’s so good to be back with you! I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve had my fair share of drama this last month with more than a sprinkling of stress thrown into a large family who generally run on a hectic schedule of wants and needs. But this month was “exceptionelle” we admit and although I like the roller coaster, I felt like disappearing into some sense of hibernation on more than a few occasions. Which brings me to my favourite hiberating spot in France. Cordes sur Ciel or just plain, “Cordes”.

Beautiful, solid Cordes which can enclose the weakest of hearts and the most indecisive of spirits.  It’s located in the Tarn Department in the beautiful South of France and is a must see while on your next trip to France.

Cordes was built under the Count of Toulouse way back in 1222. It hasn’t changed much over all this time considering the turbulent history and the ravages of plague. Many grand maisons (houses) are still very much intact, such as La Maison du Grand Ecuyer.

It’s hard to believe that those protruding gargoyles are seven hundred and eighty eight years old!

You’ll certainly appreciate Cordes stability too…

when you take its petite train up passed toughened walls of  stone…

to amazing views at the summit. My french awakening was initially alarmed along the steep incline of the path which leads to its cool peak, but the view of the valley from the low lying clouds makes it all worthwhile. Calm.

Other people besides myself have hibernated in Cordes. Many artisans-painters, brilliant glass blowers, craftsmen and musicians and even wandering minstrels are in residence here celebrating their passion. Many of you my friends who I know appreciate the Arts and Crafts, will thrive here. Cordes is filled with the fresh blood of creativity and passion, in a rock solid framework.

Arh! Something many of us can only wish for.

Regularly, both local and International musicians and creative geniuses  come together in the famous Cordes festival- resonating their beautiful soothing tones over the valley below. And if that doesn’t get you up and dusted, Cordes Museum of ‘The Art of Sugar and Chocolate’ will surely entice any hermit out of his or her created shell. The sweet aroma works every time!

Sometimes when we’re at our most rocky heights, we need places like Cordes- these great  solid bastides of medieval times have always been there to protect its inhabitants from marauders and give us all some peace and quiet in times of conflict.

I’m so glad to be back!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell