The official opening in Carcassonne is tomorrow December 6th and therefore on St Nicolas day. It will last till January 6th which is Epiphany day.
Also on January 6th 2019 there will be a partial solar eclipse. I bet you did not know that.
Anyway, back to Carcassonne. Everything appears to be in place and ready for the big opening tomorrow which I shall miss by the way as I shall be in Germany. At least I should experience appropriate temperatures there and not the current day time 20c we are experiencing currently in the south of France.
Merry Christmas everyone
Early start this morning to go to the Domaine de la Roque in Trèbes. The 42 hectares domain is situated along the river Aude and it is not difficult to imagine what actually happened during the floods last month.
My friend Jean who is the owner of the domaine has been needing some serious help to clear his cellars and house which were full of mud. This was priority number 1 last month. Many people helped including associations, firemen and friends.
The vines needed special attention too. Already 2 weeks ago a big team was there to start clearing up and straighten the vines which had been completed flooded and flattened by the ensuing wave from the river.
Today was the second day of action. More rubbish had to be cleared, more straightening up needed to be done. The irrigation system had to be checked and in some cases put back in place.
Around 100 people turned up early this morning. Some came by special coaches from the Herault region. Most of them wine growers who knew what to do. And then there was us: my friend Errol and myself. We quickly picked up what needed doing and spent a few hours going up and down the vines doing what was needed.
I took a few pics which do not do justice to the efforts needed but are a good memory of the day.
These vines should be straight…
My friend Errol clearing up the Merlot patch.
Errol again in the distance.
In the meantime, things were being set up for lunch with the wine of the house of course.
This is a neat machine which was used to straighten the posts and push them down in the ground.
Lunch time arrived and more than 100 people enjoyed a lovely lunch and BBQ. We are in December after all .
Most important, I think next year’s grape harvest is safe
A little bit sad but we had the pool serviced and closed for the winter earlier today. Too cold to go in anyway.
We are still in the process of discovering as much as possible from France. An excellent way is to go and visit the villages which have been labelled “Most Beautiful Villages of France” . It is of course available on the internet http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr
There is however nothing like going through the pages of a guide book.
We have been given as a present such a book and we decided yesterday to go and visit the village of Castelnou.
What a great place. Located at the foot of the Pyrenees. The castle of Castelnou aroud which the village expanded was already mentioned in the 10th century.
Not only the village is beautiful but the surroundings are amazing and wild. At the beginning of November the temperature was a solid 20c on a sunny day and we could see the first snow on the top of the mountains. Apparently Castelnou was a couple of years ago the 7th most like village in France.
Went to the new wine bar Origin’elles last Friday. Our friend Michael Donnelly was playing there. I think this short video will demonstrate clearly the excellent atmosphere. I probably knew 90% of the people in that place. Many were there for the first time as well. No doubt this will become one of my locals.
I hope every one remembered last night to change their clocks to winter time. For those who cannot remember if we loose or gain an hour, remember this:
Spring forward, Fall backward
Anyway, the days are getting shorter, hard to believe I was in my pool 3 weeks ago and even lounging in the sun earlier this week. The weather is getting cooler and it is time, for me at least, to think Cassoulet.
It is a delicacy of the region after all and since it has to be served piping hot, it is an ideal dish to warm you up during those cool autumn and winter days.
For those who might not be so familiar with it, here is a excellent recipe. It is in French but easy to understand, for me at least.
Not as big than in Narbonne (which is extremely nice and worth a visit), les Halles (indoor market) in Carcassonne is nevertheless pretty lively and offers the possibility to shop mainly for meat, fish and cheese.
There is one bar only “Chez Seb” which is well patronised by the same crowd more or less every day of the week. It is a must stop on Saturday and/or Sunday for a glass or two of wine and catch up with the local gossip.