Today we start week two in our house in St. Leon-sur-Vezere. The week has passed by quickly. We have been settling into our house trying to get used to the way of French country life as perceived by two Hoosiers. As an update to last week’s blog, our allergies are better. We are both on French over the counter drugs. We like the French pharmacies. Our allergy medicine costs us about $5 a week. Rita says at CVS the medicine would run us $25. We are still learning new French words not learned in French class. This week we learned: la tapette a mouches which is flyswatter, because we had to buy one for the house since we have no screens and the doors and windows are open much of the time; le brouillard, which is fog because the mornings are foggy; and une coupe, la couleur and les meches because Rita needed a cut, color and highlights this week.
We are trying to get into the French way of life, but we have suffered some setbacks. Last Sunday, we did things around the house in the morning. Then, we got dressed up and went to the grocery store. Unfortunately, we arrived at 2:30 PM and the grocery store closes on Sunday at 12:30 PM! We also have to get used to buying our bread each day. The bread, called baguettes, is baked daily and available for purchase at the boulanger, the bakery, before 8:00 AM. If we don’t go to the boulanger by noon, we don’t get fresh bread because they run out. Then, there is the boucherie, or butcher shop, where the meats are cut and sold fresh daily. They close in the afternoon and are only open a few hours in the morning and again a few hours in the evening. Finally, if you want fresh fruit, le fruit in French, or fresh vegetables, les legumes in French, you don’t buy them at the grocery store, you buy them at the fresh market which is held one or two days a week in the villages.
This week we bought some really fresh eggs, see photo of feather in egg carton. We visited Perigeaux and saw the beautiful byzantine cathedral Saint-Front see photo. Perigeaux is about 45 minutes from us and has a population of 30,000. It also has a medieval section with many restaurants and timbered houses. In our village, we there was a la petanque tournament. There must have been 100 people in our village of 400 who came to play. La petanque is also called boules and is similar to bowling. See photos.
Our nearest village of any size is Montignac. We went to the fresh market in Montignac yesterday to buy strawberries. Dordogne is the strawberry capital of France, cherries and raspberries. Then, we ate pizza for lunch at an outdoor café riverside along the Vezere River. The riverfront is well maintained and beautiful. We took another canoe ride on the river. This one did not end well either. I guess I shouldn’t let Rita steer the canoe. See photos.
One day we drove to Hautforte, France to see the Chateau Hautforte. We only toured the perimeter of the Chateau and took photos which we have or will post as soon as Rita gets around to it ( J K). But, it was impressive. It was first occupied in the year 1000! One of the owners was Baron Henry de Bastard. What was his parents thinking??!!
Another day, I was homesick for an American hamburger so we stopped at Le Tourny, a small café in Montignac so I could satisfy my homesickness. See photo of my burger. It came with a cooked egg on top. Actually, it was pretty tasty! And, of course the French fries, called frites, are always excellent. Watch out McDonald’s!
While we are out driving around, we try to visit some of those one hundred most beautiful French villages so we can cross them off our bucket list. This week we visited St. Amand-de-Coly. (Damn, I get tired of typing village names with hyphens.) It is dominated by a Romanesque fortified church which you can see in our photos. The walls of the church are 12 feet thick.
Next, we continue to be baffled by the French supermarket where we go for all of our entertainment. They don’t have self scan lines. They don’t have cash only lines. They don’t have “less than 10 item” lines. You also bag your own groceries and, if you want to be truly French, you don’t get your money out to pay until all of your groceries are bagged and put in your “caddie or chariot” French for grocery cart. Of course, all of this contributes to long lines at the checkout. It is so funny to watch people stand in line and observe all of this. It shocks us that it is not more efficient, but “c’est la vie.”
Finally, I have placed in our photos an aerial view of our village. The Chateau and Church stand out as landmarks in the photos. Our house is right next door to the Chateau, but it is not in the photo sorry. No we did not take the photo from a hot air balloon, but we wish we had. It is a photo of a photo on the wall at the town hall or Marie in French.
Next week, we take our first French cooking lesson. We hope to blog on French cooking next week.
We have re-read our blog above. I thought it was from Green Acres and Rita thought it might be from the Beverly Hillbillies. What do you think?
Impressions from St. Leon sur Vezere, Haute-Fort and Montignac!