P1100281Yesterday was la rentrée des classes–back to school–though it’s the official end of summer for those without kids, as well. The cars on the roads seem more purposeful, if not exactly rushed. Folks in these parts don’t rush very often.P1100276Although the end of summer and the return to routine marks the passage of time, in the little villages of the south of France, time seems to stand still. Time feels less linear and more like accretion, layers upon layers, with the old still there, forever.P1100274Welcome to the village of Trausse, on the edge of the Black Mountains, not far from Carcassonne. Host of a cherry festival in May and home year-round to excellent Minervois wine. As you can see, it’s bustling.P1100265

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The beating industrial heart of Trausse….wine, of course.

In that way of small villages, life is both intensely private and lived in public. P1100270

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Note there are TWO chairs sitting in the street. The better to see you with, my dear.

P1100258There are old stones, remnants of an illustrious past. In the late 1700s, there were more than 800 residents; today there are about 500.

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The Tour de Trencavel dates to the 12th century. It was a watchtower on the periphery of Carcassonne. The Trencavels pretty much ruled the region back then.
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Only in a village like Trausse is this not extraordinary but just normal.
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The church, like the tower, keeps the Christmas lights up all year because it’s nuts to climb up there to put them up, take them down, put them up, take them down.

Nothing is straight. If the walls in the photo above look like they’re leaning in toward the street, well, yes, they are.

People come and go, but the stones remain, sometimes putting up with modernization, like electricity.P1100242

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Do you see the loudspeaker on the right? That’s for public announcements, like the fishmonger’s truck has arrived, or a vide grenier is scheduled, or so-and-so has died.

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Note the doorbell.

Although fetching water was probably a moment for gossip and camaraderie, I doubt folks regret having indoor plumbing. Somebody told me my village got plumbing in the 1970s!

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Do you see the scowling face in the middle, saying “turn off the tap!”

P1100273Trausse is overshadowed by its neighbor, Caunes-Minervois, which is undeniably adorable and which attracts many tourists. I heard that J.K. Rowling recently spent time in Caunes. But that might just be bragging. In any case, Caunes is a good place for somebody like her to be incognito, just another British lady renting a holiday home. P1100278

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Even the mudscraper is cute. Notice the different materials–stones, concrete, red bricks.
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Faded, but it says “Bike Exit”–often garage doors have “sortie véhicule” to indicate that you’ll be in trouble if you park in front. I found this to be charmingly cheeky.

There are so many cute villages here–I’m hard-pressed to think of any that don’t have at least a picturesque ancient center, even the ones surrounded by ugly subdivisions. It’s easy to skip the subdivisions and stick to the quaint old streets, where elderly residents sit in the shade unperturbed, cats nap in the middle of the road, and time meanders gently.P1100267

 

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42 thoughts on “Life in a French Village

  1. I love your photos of the buildings. We can see how they’ve been repaired or restored over the years. The archaeologists who restore Mayan ruins and the five Spanish Missions here in San Antonio, where I live, all put small pebbles into the aggregate to indicate the part that’s been rebuilt.

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  2. What a great post! Sortie de velos, impeccable. I lived in the Languedoc, in a similar village but a bit more touristique, Roquebrun, for 7 years. Chairs in the street and all of it, so authentique. I’m in Provence now, numerous reasons, but still own my house in Roquebrun, and I miss the Languedoc life that you have portrayed. There are things I don’t miss, like how far it was to a real town (45 minutes) and how far it was to the street where I parked (34 stairs), but what a wonderful experience to live in a village like that….
    bonnie now in provence

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have captured something so lovely here. The gentleness of time I suppose – it appeals to my senses, and for someone not crazy about crowds…bring it on. The beautiful blues, the crumbling stone, the leaning structures…all of it whispers peaceful charm to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So marvellous, I spent a little part of my childhood in this village where my best friend’s grandparents lived in the eighties. It is a very tiny village but so typical of the south village ! Thanks for the souvenir which came back so far !

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      1. All I can see, is since our last visit in 99, the village has not changed. My friend’s parent still live here and his parent in law too ! Now I see again your pictures, my wife and I would like going again at Trausse !!

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  5. What a beautiful, quiet village. Authentic in every way. And I love the way you described time in these villages, no beginning or end, just a layering from year to year. That must be part of the charm! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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