Category Archives: Occitanie

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Episode 88


Cordes-sur-Ciel photo Thierry Llansades
Cordes sur Ciel photo Thierry Llansades

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Most Beloved French Village

On today’s show Elyse tells us about Cordes-sur-Ciel. Cordes was elected France’s favorite village because it is so beautiful, situated within gorgeous landscape, and it is rich in history. It is so close to Albi that you could visit both in one day and see very different places within a short time. Should you see it or should you skip it? It has its disadvantages (STEEP hills!) but we give you ways to work around those. Enjoy the show!


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To Prepare for Your Trip: Tales from the Hilltop: a summer in the other South of France (Free right now on Kindle Unlimited).

  • [1:19] French Tip of the Week: how do you pronounce the name “Manon” in French? Examples: oncologie, le Lub√©ron, Ontario, le baron, la Gironde.
  • [4:20] What’s the secret to making good soup?
  • [5:20] The new Exhibition at the Orsay Museum on depictions of prostitution in paintings.
  • [10:00] New Exhibit at the Grand Palais Picassomania, on Picasso and his legacy. If you want to get in you should get your tickets in advance.
  • [13:00] Discussion on Cordes-sur-Ciel.
  • The name Cordes-sur-Ciel is new, based on a work by a poet who  renamed it in 1993. The name Cordes is much older because this village was created in 1222. Today it is in the Tarn department.
  • Cordes was a heavily Cathar town in the Middle Ages. Cordes was on the northern edge of the territory that belonged to the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VIII.
  • Cordes was a charted town (a “Bastide”) where the people knew they would be protected (walled city), where they’d get tax rebates, every resident would be treated equally, the residents would be protected by his armies if needed. Raymond VII had the trust of the people, so he got a lot of people to go colonize this new area.
  • Why is Cordes named Cordes? Because of Cordoba in Spain which was a capital of textiles and leather work. Within the space of 30 years the town was so successful that they had to expand the wall 5 times!
  • Cordes is a steep town, walking all the way up is a bit of a hike. May 1st thru Sept 30th for 3‚ā¨ you can take the tourist train at Place de la Bouteillerie and be dropped off at Porte de la Jane.
  • There are 32,000 villages in France. We’re not sure what the official definition is according to the INSEE, but that’s a lot of places for a small country. What makes a village special is its architecture, the site where it’s built, and its history. Cordes gets an A on all of these!
  • Cordes has the most civilian Gothic architecture in France. By 1250 it was the richest town in the south-west of France besides Toulouse.  The people of Cordes threw the Inquisitors down the well because they didn’t want to put up with it.
  • [36:30] The story of the water well in Cordes.
  • The bird business “ormeau” is NOT a bird or a tree, it’s a sea shell. The name “place de l’Ormeau” has to do with Saint Jacques de Compostelle!!! Elyse is embarrassed and Annie shall tease her about that for a long time ūüėČ
  • [53:00] How long should you plan to stay in Cordes?
  • French people are not very tough about visiting places like Cordes when it’s raining, so if you go on a rainy day you’ll be mostly alone.
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel does not have a big cathedral, but the church it has is worth visiting.
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel est steep, it’s possible that in the Middle Ages they used mules a lot. You may want to even today!
  • Elyse recommends visiting Albi and Cordes in the same day. You have time for both.
  • To hire Elyse to give you a tour, look her up on Facebook: Toulouse Guided Walks.

 

Cordes sur ciel seen from Grain de Sel photo Adrien Béronuntitled
Cordes sur ciel seen from Grain de Sel photo Adrien Béronuntitled

Looking for Unique Experiences in France, Episode 86

Looking for Unique Experiences in France
Janice at the Marathon du Médoc with the Flash Gordon runners

Janice is a retired (How is that even possible? Look at her!) Elementary School Principal who has a passion for France and has visited so many times I declare her to be an honorary local. When she’s not driving around France she’s working on her second passion, a travel website called France Travel Tips. In this episode we talk about the many unique experiences she’s had in France and some of the great tips she can share with us to help us have a better time in France AND save some money along the way!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Places Mentioned on the Show: Pauillac, Marathon du M√©doc, Marathon de Paris, Gordes, √Čcole des Trois Ponts in Riorges, the restaurant Troigros in Roanne, Music at the Sainte Chapelle, Music at √Čglise Saint Germain des Pr√®s , Patricia Kaas concert Nancy, Olympia Concert Hall in Paris, Saint Malo, Biarritz, Saint S√©bastien, Saint Jean de Luz, Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne, Provence, restaurant La Truie qui Doute in Anduze, Saint Antonin Noble Val, Eiffel Tower, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Collias, Pont du Gard, Inisttut du Monde Arabe
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Janice Tells Us About Her Two Marathon in France

  • Marathon du M√©doc (see photo above with the Flash Gordon runners)
  • Marathon de Paris

The M√©doc and Paris Marathons are very different, Janice explains what she liked in both. To run a marathon in France you need to get a doctor’s certificate that will state that you are fit enough to participate.

Studying French at the √Čcole des Trois Ponts in Riorges where she particularly enjoyed the informal conversations and the cooking classes.

Making Macarons at the Cordon Bleu with a teacher who only speaks French (translator provided) and helps the students make their own.

Janice also loves Angelina’s Hot Chocolate on rue de Rivoli, it’s topped with whipped cream, but it’s OK because she runs marathons the rest of the time!

Listening to Music in Paris at the Sainte Chapelle where she heard the Four Seasons. You can see the beautiful stained glass and hear approachable music at the same time. Janice also attended a concert at the √Čglise Saint Germain des Pr√®s. To find more concerts in France go to a FNAC store or the ticket office at any large grocery store.

Side note on how Casinos in France have strict entry rules. You need ID to enter and Annie explains why.

Janice goes through a typical day for her in France. She likes to rent a G√ģte from G√ģtes de France or HomeAway, she likes to go to the market in the morning, go to a caf√©, go visit a town and explore, take some photos, go to a restaurant, enjoy some wine (a pichet of wine).¬† We explain how restaurants often do not want to substitute anything for the wine that comes with the meal.

Driving in France: Janice got two speeding tickets on her last trip from radars, once for going 7 over the speed limit. Annie got one for going 3 over the speed limit! Don’t speed in France! Also, how do you pay for a parking ticket in France? Janice explains because she had to do it! Use cruise control so you do not go over the speed limit and you’ll be fine.

Spending New Year’s Eve in Paris and a typical meal for Holidays in France. The Eiffel Tower is blocked off but you can have a spectacular view of the light show from the bridge called Pont de Bir-Hakeim. Another Paris tip: you can get a great view onto Notre Dame and the Seine Lookingfrom the Institut du Monde Arabe.¬† Going to the top is free!

 

Carla-Bayle in the Ariège, Episode 85

Carla-Bayle Post Office
Carla-Bayle Post Office photo Bernard O

It’s wonderful to have Elyse back on today’s show and we start the show by catching up on what she’s been up to and on the Journ√©es du Patrimoine that happen on the third week-end of September in France.

Places and People Mentioned on the Show: Carla-Bayle (Ari√®ge), Pibrac (Haute-Garonne), The Soci√©t√© d’Astronomie Populaire de Toulouse, the L√®ze River, Saint-Sulpice-sur-L√®ze (Haute-Garonne), Alphonce de Poitiers, L√©zat-sur-L√®ze (Ari√®ge), Le Fossat (Ari√®ge), the Volvestre area, Mas d’Azil (Ari√®ge), Arize river.

To Prepare for Your Trip: Movie the Return of Martin Guerre


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Carla-Bayle City SignOne of the reasons why Elyse wanted to talk about Carla-Bayle is because it’s a major artist colony. There is an art festival that goes on each summer (put together by an association of residents called Rue des Arts) that presents interesting and original artists. There are craft festivals all over France in the summer, this is much more than that.

Carla-Bayle is on the crest of a cliff and enjoys lovely views towards the Pyrenees. We have records of people living there as far back as the 10th century, with Alphonse de Poitier arriving in the XIII century who turned it into a Bastide and developed it further.

It’s difficult for us to imagine how small places in the middle of nowhere today could have been such important centers for commerce. It always has to do with successful agriculture and trade. In this instance the Pastel plant was also vital to the economy of the area.

Carla-Bayle used to be called Carla-le-Comte in honor of Alphonse de Poitiers, but it was renamed to Carla-Bayle after the French Revolution in honor of a French philosopher and author (who was born not far near Pamiers) from the 1600s called Pierre Bayle. This philosopher was a Protestant and Carla-Bayle was a bastion for the Protestant faithful.

In Carla-Bayle today you can see remnants of the castle, the church is from the 1680s, so not very old by French standards, but it is still lovely. But what is striking is that all of the houses have blue shutters. It is gorgeous, especially on a sunny day. There are some nice restaurants there too.

The movie Le Retour de Martin Guerre was filmed in Carla Bayle. The actual story (based on a true story) actually took place not far in Artigat. It is the story of a man who disappears,  then a different man comes into the village pretending to be Martin Guerre. He settles in with his wife, has two children with her, then another Martin Guerre shows up. There was an American remake called Sommersby, not set in France at all, but a similar story line. In the French movie they didn’t glamour it up at all, which gives a great idea of what life was like in France in the 1500s.

Carla-Bayle seen from Moulin le Fossat
Carla-Bayle seen from Moulin le Fossat