Category Archives: from Dayle

Sunflowers thru the summer

The sunflowers in our region of France are one of he most beautiful sights you will see when you are here for my workshop. The fields go on for as  far as the eye can see- that special “sunflower yellow” is electric against the blue skies.

Typically the sunflowers start blooming the last week of June- first week of July. The planted  fields are staggered so that there are fields in high bloom for all of July and a good part of August.

Sunflowers are grown mostly for their seeds and are also ground and pressed into an oil. Huile de Tournesol is in all of the grocery stores here.

I watched the sunflowers on their journey this year. The high blooms are exciting but there is another beauty as they brown and drop their regal heads.

Drawings from the Summer

One of the art projects I try to do in France every summer (emphasize the word TRY) is to do a daily sketch. I do it in pen so I am not tempted to make it perfect and I spend 10 minutes or under. I usually do it first thing  the morning with my cafe au lait.

This summer I felt really really rusty and I’m afraid that never left. But I did persevere and do the sketches for 5 weeks. Then once I started teaching I couldn’t seem to find the time or calm mind and spirit to continue.

Here are a few from the summer. My plan now is to somehow translate or use them in polymer clay- jewelry I hope. Any ideas?


Summer Festivals in France

Summer is “party” time in France. There is a festival for just about everything: bread, garlic, cheese, textiles, cherries, books, beer, wine- the list is endless. And music events too- classical, opera, jazz, blues, rock and country  music is very popular! The national and regional arts councils support these festivals making most of them free of charge to the public.

We’ve seen some wonderful events here; the Cahors Blues festival, Marciac Jazz festival, the Pertuis Big Band festival and countless classical concerts in churches, chateaus and beautiful outdoor spaces.

Two of my favorites this summer were held in Gaillac (a wine area about an hour from la Cascade). We went to Gaillac for the Organic Festival- an event to buy organic plants, veggies, herbs, info on alternative energy, straw bales houses, etc. During the day there were two music events. The first was a fun Eastern European  trio that played fanciful music that made you want to move and dance.

The second were soloists from the Toulouse Symphony who played Vivaldi’s Four Seasons– it was breathtaking. Here you can see the baby in front of us enjoying the concert too!

Les Vides Greniers (Flea Markets)

I thought I should post about our delightful flea markets before the summer ends. The flea markets here in southern France are called Vide Greniers- literally “empty the attic” and occur every Sunday.. Many villages have an annual flea market. The villagers each get a free spot in front of their house and then professional dealers fill in the market also. It’s a great way to not only shop for treasures, but to discover and explore new villages.

I get the list from the Tourist Office as soon as I arrive and plot out each Sunday”s markets. Usually there are 2-3 within an hours drive. It’s one of our fun adventures during the workshop week- we pick up treasures to use in our art that week (and of course to go home with)!

There are antique postcards, papers, old fashion magazines from the early 1900’s(one of my favorite things to look for), old brass and silver parts, keys, old locks, trims and button, fabrics, white linens, clothes, pottery, old jewelry-the list of treasures goes on and on. And unlike the Paris flea markets things are TRES inexpensive- usually 50cents to 5 Euros.

I’m looking forward to sharing the Vides with all of you coming next year!

Medieval Dovecotes

Our rural area in France is known for exquisite examples of pigeonniers – pigeon houses or dovecotes. The possession of a pigeonnier was a symbol of status and power. Pigeons were highly valued for their meat, their poop (for fertilizer) and their messenger services. These houses were built between the 13th and 19thC and were of many different styles and they are quite large. Many are used now for summer kitchens, bed and breakfast accommodations, children’s playhouses.

During the workshop,on our way back from Albi, we have the opportunity to stop at one for a photo-op. And we pass several more on our drive. I also have a book that details (with a map and directions), all the pigeonniers in our region. A separate day trip may be in order to truly appreciate this architectural delight.