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Posted on August 21st, 2015

Yesterday evening was all music. First a concert in Lauris, called Apérojazz, in the grounds of a bastide and winery on the outskirts of Lauris. As the sun set, we were treated to a mixture of opera, jazz, funk and scat by two highly talented musicians, Jonathan Soucasse on piano and Cathy Heiting as vocalist. Great entertainment watched attentively by Cathy Heiting’s three grandchildren among the audience. Then we set off for the village of Mérindol for a late dinner of moules et frites at the weekly music party. The entire main street of Mérindol is closed to traffic, tables set up and three different bands compete for attention outside different restaurant/cafés. The crowd is nearly all locals and everyone turns out – you cannot avoid the music if…

Les Républicains

Posted on August 10th, 2015

For thirteen years the political party of the centre-right, the French conservatives, were known as the UMP, Le Union pour un Mouvement Populaire. In November 2014 the party elected former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to be party chairman, this notwithstanding revelations that last July Sarkozy was put under official investigation for “active corruption”, “misuse of influence” and “breach of professional secrecy”. Sarkozy quickly set about reforming the UMP and, in keeping with good bureaucratic tradition, increased the number of national secretaries from 24 to 58 while expanding the national office from 55 to 120 staff. Presumably the corruption has been active enough to pay for all this. Each summer it has been customary for young party supporters to tour the beaches to promote the cause. A…

Récolte de la lavande

Posted on August 3rd, 2015

La récolte de la lavande, the lavender harvest, is over. It began in early July in the Luberon, ending two weeks later in the higher fields east of Mont Ventoux, above Sault. The colours seemed stronger this year, but now the spectacular blue fields are gone and we must wait until next June/July for another display.

Sting in Nîmes

Posted on August 3rd, 2015

A couple of weeks ago Sting came to perform in the first century Roman arène in Nîmes, the best-preserved amphitheatre in France. It was a warm night and a great concert performed to a sell-out crowd. The arène dates from the first century and a thousand years later had become a closed community of 700 persons. Today the arène can accommodate 16,000 spectators and still hosts bullfights.  

French kissing

Posted on August 3rd, 2015

Greeting friends in France is always accompanied by cheek kissing, a pleasant custom known as faire la bise. Male/female and female/female greetings invariably start with kisses, while in southern France, male friends often kiss too. But the rules vary across France and can be confusing. How many kisses and which side do I start? Most people seem to think you start by going to your left, but it doesn’t seem to be especially important. Some regions only kiss once, while in parts of Corsica five is the norm. Here in the Luberon valley everyone kisses three times, though ten kilometres across the mountain in the Sud-Luberon two is the rule, as in Paris. And rather than bow to local custom, Parisian visitors stick to their two kisses…