Today I’m waiting for Meisha and Julie to arrive here in Durfort for our workshop at La Cascade! Then in two days time, our ten ladies will be joining us for a week of artmaking and fun! This past week has been a busy one. Besides getting ready for the workshop, I took a trip up to Giroussens (near Gaillac- about an hour away) to see the current exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Ceramics. It’s a small but very interesting museum in a lovely village high on a hill.
The most interesting pieces were the “spilled” teapots and teacupsand the ceramic vessels that were split into sections and paired with other media- glass and wood.
There is also a lovely exhibit of contemporary amphoras. On the Amphora subject- about an hour or so away is a museum devoted to Amphoras- It’s on my list to go to.
Our village had a festival this past weekend too.The Festival name translates as Artisans and Crafts persons from another time (une autre fois). It was wonderful. Blacksmiths, our local coppersmiths, basket makers, woodworkers along with several booths featuring contemporary crafts.
One of my favorite booths was the man making beautiful wooden shoes. It’s amazing to me how many people come to a small village (like ours) to spend the day just wandering the fair and exploring our village. The cafe prepared a lovely lunch meal which we shared with friends under beautiful blue skies and warm weather (FINALLY)!
Berniquaut is an archaeological site high on the hill in between our neighbor village of Soreze and our village Durfort. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times, over 30,000 years ago. It was a farming and a pastoral community during Roman times and was chosen because it was a natural defensive place looking out over the Lauragais valley..
There are several roman ruins being excavated each year- more than 100 structures -meaning there were several hundred inhabitants here. Eventually the inhabitants left this high spot (it was completely deserted by the 13 C) and resettled in the lower villages of Sorezeand Durfort.
It’s a moderate hike up to Berniquaut from our village. A graceful uphill walk of switchbacks taking about an hour. At the top you have glorious views looking down on Durfort and Soreze.
Dan and I took a picnic lunch and sat under trees enjoying sandwiches of Pyrenees cheese, moutarde potato chips (french mustard chips) and fresh tangerines. Along with a slice of French Strawberry cake I had made the day before.
The first Friday of every month there is an outdoor antique fair in Toulouse. Lucky for us it’s only an hours drive away. Or better yet, catch the bus from Revel to Toulouse for 2 Euros and just enjoy the ride thru the beautiful countryside. The bus lets you off right there at the fair.
Last Friday I went to this fair for the first time with my friend who lives in the next village. We caught the early bus at 7 AM and we’re at the fair in Toulouse by 8:15. Right on the corner is a delicious patisserie so we got a Pain au Chocolat to have with coffee at the fair. Many vendors were still setting up so we walked the show once, then stopped for a noisette with our Pain au Chocolat. A noisette is small coffee (espresso size) with a dash of milk. Good fuel for circling the fair again!
Lots of interesting furniture, linens and home decor- Antiques and things from mid-century too. And some strange costumes and uniforms.
Before hopping the bus back to our village we enjoyed the wonderful indoor market in Toulouse- Marche Victor Hugo. It has been going on since 1896! There is everything you can think of there and all displayed beautifully! I walked the market while my friend had fresh oysters and a glass of white wine. Wonderful day!
May 1st in France is the same as our Labor Day in the US. A day to celebrate worker’s rights. It’s also a day when the big plant sale in Revel happens and is one of our favorite events to go to. We look for plants for the pots out front of the house and also for the back garden.
We arrived to our sweet village about a week ago. Easy trip from Florida to Madrid to Toulouse. It’s my favorite route to get here. Takes a few days to settle in fully. Electricity must be turned on, water, hot water heater, clean and unpack, organize and get the car started!
And we’re off and running. To our favorite grocery store Lidl for lots of good things- including big blocks of Parmesan (so inexpensive), cornichons, lovely breads, walnut vinegar to make my Roasted Shallot salad dressing. More about food later.
The big news in Durfort is the opening (2 weeks ago) of our new village restaurant-Le Table de Durfort. It is beautiful! Quiet and elegant (yet casual) atmosphere and the food! Absolutely delicious.
Dan and I went with our French neighbor last Tuesday for a wonderful meal. The chef Julien has quite a resume and is a lovely man. He came out to chat at the end of the service.
I started with an appetizer (entree) of duck confit in delicious pastry bundles with a lovely sauce. My main dish (plat) was a ballottine of chicken in a comte cheese sauce with beautiful veggies. Soooo good. I finished with dessert- Fondant au Chocolate (molten chocolate cake) with a salted caramel sauce- to die for. The chef thanked us with a complimentary glass of champagne. The evening was magical and we are so lucky to have this restaurant in our village now.
Next week I’l be leaving for France. It’s like going home as this is my 15th summer there at La Cascade- a real milestone. I so miss Gwen Gibson, who created La Cascade, but Nese – the new owner and chef has done a wonderful job keeping the magic of La Cascade alive.
I’ll be teaching/co-teaching three workshops this summer- very excited to share this experience with so many.
And starting at the beginning of May, I’ll post weekly adventures here for you all to enjoy. See what we do and all the inspiration that abounds around us and join us in 2019!
Please check out our schedule of classes for 2018 and 2019HERE.