It is so pretty here these days. Come along for a little virtual visit while we all wait for travel to get back to normal.

Le vie en rose.
Note the huge palm tree kind of behind that other tree in the middle.

This park has every shade of pink, flowering together right now. It is such a feast for the eyes. People young and old sitting on the many benches, taking in the colors and the sunshine.

La Cité de Carcassonne (just a little bit of it)

My new jogging route goes over the old bridge toward la Cité. When I lived in Brooklyn, I got goosebumps every time I went over the Brooklyn Bridge, which was daily. Now I get goosebumps every time I go over le Pont Vieux and get this view, even after almost two decades of living here.

I am seeing more tourists, including from outside of France, but also OMG license plates from all over France are here at the moment. Not sure what’s in their heads. Maybe that we are in a region less affected by the pandemic? Maybe they figure they will be walking around outside and cooking their own food, so minimal interaction with people? I did want to take a trip to see the Dune du Pilat about three hours’ drive away, on the coast, making the same calculation, but then decided to stay home to be on the safe side. Maybe for them, this is a mental-health escape, a place with uncrowded streets and parks, the countryside all around, and relatively large homes. I heard a news report about how Parisians are suffering, relegated to apartments that are 40 square meters (430 square feet) on average. The bedroom of one of our AirBnBs–just the bedroom–is 35 square meters (377 square feet). Plus it has a balcony. The living room has another balcony.

Apéro at the edge of the Saturday market.
It ALMOST feels normal. Nearly every French city has a pedestrian street or streets like this.
Took my apéro at home. This shop sells all local wines.

Are you finding it hard to get motivated to cook? My inspiration always revolved around trying out recipes for dinner parties and pleasing guests. Left to ourselves, things are much, much simpler. Roasted vegetables alternate with stir-fry, which alternates with leftovers of each. But spring is bringing new choices to the market. I had wild and regular asparagus–the wild in an omelette and the regular à la mimosa. And we had our first French strawberries, though our favorite berry vendor, Bernard, isn’t yet back with this year’s crop.

The central square is all torn up to bury electric wires that previously were strung between the plane trees. This is definitely much-needed work. As a result, the market has moved a few blocks away to a parking lot on the edge of the town center, just outside the walls erected by St. Louis in 1240. We had three rainy Saturdays in a row, then a lovely, balmy sunny one, and the crowd of shoppers quadrupled from the previous weeks. We take our time, make several tours of the stands, enjoy being greeted like longtime friends by vendors. “Good to see you! How was your week? Look at this wonderful thing I have today, do you want some?” We always do.

Wild asparagus.
The belltower of Saint-Vincent, built in 1269.

Life here in the south has its own rhythm, a calm and gentle one. I admit I enjoy being greeted by name, and not just at the market. At the blood bank. At the money bank. At the lumber yard. Last time I was at the lumber yard, I ran into a friend (which I am sure elevated my standing at the lumber yard because he is beloved by all). At the dump, where the caretaker always helps with heavy stuff, without being asked. It’s a small town, and one soon encounters the same people over and over. It ends up keeping most people on good behavior, because nobody is a stranger for long.

Although we are in the pink here in Carcassonne, stay tuned for trips to more places in France. Paris, anyone?

(BTW, as this blog is a hobby and not a moneymaker, I use the free version and cannot upload videos. But I’ve put a few videos of the market on my Instagram: taste_of_france.)

41 thoughts on “Spring in the South of France

  1. The spring pinks are glorious. I think I’m sensing the same buoyancy in spirit you describe around town in these parts as well. So uplifting. Got my first dose of vaccine, and the atmosphere was no less than divine. We won’t truly return to normalcy. Nor should we. An evolution of consciousness brings something new. And if we’re lucky, fresh hope, like SPRING.

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  2. Hello, hope all is well.
    Just to be sure, when you are speaking of St Louis, is that of Saint Louis, king of France in the 13th century? If so, I do think that your date when he erected the wall of Carcassonne should be corrected: it is much seemly that is was in 1240 and NOT in 1640…. Just saying but, as a french, a do know a little bit of history, just a little bit…
    Having written that, thank you for the pictures of happiness in the South West.
    I live in the close suburbs of Paris and my flat is 56 m2, so large by the average standard… And I have balcony all along my flat, which is really a great opportunity.
    I so wish I could have a place to call a garden but alas, none of it here. I also do wish I could travel but nothing of this for the moment..
    I am waiting for the vaccine but I am far from being eligible so trying to be very careful. On the other hand, some of my friends which are en chomage partiel or half unemployed (sorry, don’t know how to translate that) are still paid, many companies got help from the government.
    But true, vaccine is key and, unfortunately, it seems that Europe did not pay enough to get enough of it. After all, this seems to be mostly a question of money at the end…
    Today is very windy but quite sunny so I enjoy a moment on my balcony, with my coat and a cup of tea. I am lucky to have a balcony…

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    1. You are correct–1240 is the date. My typo. Good luck to you with the vaccine. I am being extra careful because it would be so stupid to have made it a year and to get sick now, just before getting a shot.
      Although I adore Paris and have always dreamed of living there, I have to admit life here in the south is good–the cost of living is far cheaper and things are just easier. No lines, people get to know you. And it’s beautiful, too.
      May the sun shine on you!

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  3. We still have a bit of snow on the ground so your gorgeous photos are very much appreciated…just beautiful! And, fresh asparagus and berries sound like a dream. Starting to feel hopeful, with vaccinations increasing, that we’ll be able to travel to France by the end of this year. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, thank you for the virtual visit.

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  4. Wow, those pink blossoms are great!!! Funny coincidence, we saw friends who regularly go shopping at Carcassonne market and they mentioned the central square being dug up all over!
    It’s a shame about the videos – my way ’round that in the free version is to upload the video to youtube, then insert the link to the video in the blog, which then embeds it. Has worked well for me in the past.

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  5. Loved your pics of spring in Carcassonne, a place and the area I could visit over and over again. Thanks and so uplifting. Despite Covid, nature will still forge on and display its glory to us!

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  6. I love your photographs, especially the blooming plants and the wild asparagus in the “vase.” So beautiful. I’ve been hearing on the news this week that Paris is in lockdown again, and I wonder if we’ll be next. Spring break had the beaches packed with college kids and Easter isn’t even here yet. I’m getting my second Covid shot next week, so hoping I’ll be better protected. Take care. xoxox, Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you! I wouldn’t hesitate to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, but have to wait for the age group to expand–now it’s 75 and up or 50 and up with health conditions.
      I think what we’ve learned from lockdowns says more about human nature than about the virus: infected people can avoid infecting others if everybody is masked and even better if they stay home; lots of people don’t want to admit they’re positive and keep mingling, including without masks (did you read about the infected gym instructors who kept teaching–without masks? Everybody in their classes caught it.). And the more life is “normal,” the more people stretch the rules to gather in homes, where wearing masks would imply that you don’t trust the other people. And then entire extended families and friend groups catch it. Shutting down businesses doesn’t seem to help any of that, except to the extent that going out to buy shoes makes it seem OK to go to friends’ homes for dinner.

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  7. Where is that beautiful flowering garden? Saw a recent picture of magnolias blossoming in Paris, which surprised me.
    You tease with stories of the market and Bernard’s strawberries and lovely sunny days, and I love the apéro shop with the comfy armchair. Scored my first shot, waiting for the second, and there are still too many here who disdain mask safety and think they can bluff and bully science. I long to travel but must continue being patient, it seems.

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  8. We get much higher mask compliance here in the Touraine Loire Valley. I am hoping to go on a proper, nearly normal outing tomorrow. Our classic car club is meeting for coffee (bring your own flask and cakes) at a rather wonderful mid-20C abandoned service station near us on the N10. I predict it will be packed and people will be so excited to see one another again. The weather is forecast to be cold with a slight breeze.

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    1. That sounds nice! I wish the authorities would encourage people to get together, but outside and masked. It would make people feel better, and seems pretty safe. Mask compliance here deteriorates during the day. Saturday morning, 99% compliance. Saturday afternoon (different demographic, much younger), 60% compliance.

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  9. Your blooms are ahead of ours here near Carpentras, which surprises me. They are gorgeous, I especially love the magnolias. As I’m over 75, I’ve had my first vaccine and the second one will be on Tuesday, Pfizer. Makes me a bit more comfortable. I get together with friends at the market on Saturday, and we take off our masks to drink coffee. Also have had people over for outdoor bbq etc. Its fine if we hang around the brasero, otherwise would be a bit cold, but next week its supposed to warm up!
    bonnie in provence

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  10. Oh, it’s looking lovely! It’s sounding like things will be back into the old groove soon enough. Was it a coincidence the electricity cables were being buried during these times? We’ve been having major renovations to the Opera House this past year, and it was a mere fortunate coincidence they’ve been essentially undisturbed by normal times. It will be grand when the concert hall reopens, like the return of the market to your square! Everything looks so much better when the ugly bits get buried away. I’m all for not keeping it real 🙂

    Do look into a youtube channel or something. Instagram won’t allow peeking at videos if you don’t have an account.

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    1. I think it was a long-planned project–something of that many millions of spending isn’t usually approved quickly. But yes, the timing was good. It seems like quite a few hotels are also using the moment to spiff up.

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  11. Currently quarantined just outside DC. Fully vaccinated. Reality, it is no different than being all dressed up with nowhere to go. Tomorrow sunshine, warm air and a visit to plein aire the Cherry Blossoms. Fully anticipate being chased off by the authorities. Art must go on. Just discovered your blog. Happily so. Carcassonne was an overnight a few years back. No idea if I shall live long enough to visit France again. But I do so appreciate “we’ll always have Paris”. Thank you for sharing. Bon Chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gorgeous photos. I travel while reading your so well written stories, full of little snipets of life in your area. I have read again many of your blog posts and it has been a pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the virtual visit. Yes, I’m lacking motivation to cook but I partially attribute that to being tired of the same old surroundings. I’m more than ready to fly the coop.

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