|Winter in Corrèze|
|The view of Corrèze town from our garden|
The nights are quiet, only the sound of the river in the valley and the occasional owl. About 6.30 a.m. the village starts to wake. We are at the beginning of the high street, not far from the tabac where workers stop to grab their daily copy of La Montagne. Unless it's Monday the boulangerie will be doing a steady trade in baguettes and croissants. Or maybe you would prefer a 'choco'? we are in the region where pain au chocolat is called a chocolatine. It's rare to get far without a 'bonjour, ça va? or a chat with the postman.
Our first l'apéro with a French family struck fear in my heart. Short for l'apéritif it's a drink or two with finger food, usually for 30 minutes to an hour (although it can go on all evening). Our first was with part-time neighbours only a couple of months after we had moved in. Arlette 'coo cooed' me and invited us over. My French (still limited) was appalling then and we had no idea of the social niceties of this very French event. We need not have worried, they were charming and very patient with my stumbling language skills. Since then we have been to, and hosted, many an apéro evening and enjoyed them all.
There is a variety to the days of the week. On Monday both the boulangerie and traiteur are closed but bread can be purchased in the Petit'Casino, but you only have until noon. On Tuesday, late afternoon, the fishmonger, cheesemonger and vegetable seller arrive in the town square for a couple of hours. Thursday sees the arrival of the pizza van in the same square, no rush in the winter but place your order early in the summer. Andrew's favourite is the smoked salmon while I'm partial to the mushroom.
|New Year oysters|
|Mortimer enjoying a spring walk|
|The river Corrèze in spring|
|Ancient bread oven|
Autumn has always been my favourite season, the light is golden, the temperature warm but not uncomfortable and I can say goodbye to salads and embrace the hearty flavours of root vegetables. And of course mushrooms. Corrèze is famous for its cèpes, they even feature in our logo and our village has quite a renowned mushroom festival in October. The fruit tart is replaced with giant cépe omelettes. Although duck is popular all year round it comes to the fore on menus in the autumn, seconded only by pork dishes. Of course I have to mention the beef and veal from our famous and historic Limousine cows, these gorgeous animals can be seen all around us.
Our commune of Corrèze has about 1100 full time residents and from the May national holidays the numbers start to build. Family links are strong and many Corrèzians who had moved away have second homes here. One of our neighbours has worked in Paris for several decades but on retirement purchased a holiday home in the village. She can trace her roots back to the fifteenth century and her cousin still lives in a house that has been in the family almost that long. As well as families returning, holiday makers exploring the area, we also share our lanes with pilgrims. We are on the Santiago de Compestela route, a section called 'La Voie de Rocamadour' linking Vezelay with Rocamadour. The new pilgrimage markers in blue and yellow contrast with the worn stone scallop shells on many of the buildings around the church.
Holiday makers are not the only summer visitors, we have spent hours sitting in the the garden watching the house martins perform aerial acrobatics over the church. As dusk falls they are replaced by the pipistrelle bats. Both are welcome as they feed on small insects. Our other insect feeders are the small lizards that bask on the granites walls and can be heard rustling in the flower beds as we walk past.
For a time in the U.K. I owned an antique shop so am in heaven when the vide-grenier season starts in the spring. The literal translation is 'empty the attic' and they are similar to a yard sale or boot fair (although you do not get professional market traders). Usually held on a Sunday, the best ones have stalls that snake through the village lanes and town squares. We already have marked some favourites for next year. You may also be lucky enough to see a sign for a 'vide maison' where the owner is selling the contents of their house. I bought some beautiful crystal glasses and table linen (a weakness of mine) this year and am looking forward to more in 2019.
Of course we do work as well! We are lucky that although our house is in the village we have an attached barn that we have been busy renovating to make into holiday cottage so we can share Corrèze. You can follow our progress with the blog or on my Facebook page.