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Old 02-11-2019, 04:36 PM   #1
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Traditions and travel

Hello fellow TF'rs

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT,I'VE BEEN GROUNDED !

Aw shucks, 10 years cruising together and I've been grounded for a year by my lovely French wife !
I'm not a selfish person and for putting up with 5am reveille's to catch the early tides, hundreds of locks with no complaints I have to give way because a Happy wife means a Happy life.

We've not stopped travelling, far from it, we've an action packed set of plans from now until November.
Our thinking, and we hope you approve, is that we inhabit a corner of the world that not everyone's familiar with and we hope over this blog to introduce you to various places, to enlighten you as to the local traditions and things to visit in the regions we visit.
Not being land hogs, we're never far from the water, the basic thinking is that if you're visiting this region by boat (or hiring one) is to show you interesting things to do and see that are within easy striking distance from a local port for a cruisers crew to visit to ease the cabin fever..
We hope you approve and will join us.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:31 PM   #2
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I for one have really enjoyed your posts. We have friends and family in Provence and want to tack a week or two of adventure like yours on the canals some day.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:11 AM   #3
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Hi caltexflanc. Thank you for your kind comments we're glad you enjoyed visiting with us.
We like showing others what's available should they choose to visit other regions they are not familiar with, either on holiday, or as Richard did, to cruise across 'the big pond'.
Although TF is primarily US based there are many other members from around Europe and indeed the world.
Many people from OZ & NZ and a few from the US buy a boat here and cruise around Europe's wonderful canal system, by doing that they can exchange summers and enjoy good weather all year round.

As you know in the past we visited Poland, this was been made possible for us because the Irish low cost airline has some planes based in Marseille in the South of France which use Marseille as a base/hub. By using travel agencies that advertise on www.Groupon.fr we're able to take advantage of various deals which allow us visit more places without breaking the bank. Ironically one of the most popular travel agencies we use is Dutch (Utopia) that advertise package deals on the French groupon site.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:41 AM   #4
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Being based in the South of France its only natural that we start with a few traditions you may experience if you visit the region at this time..
I explained in an earlier post that the French people make a creche in their house using a miniature stable, animals and the virgin Mary with baby Jesus.

Following on from that the next event in the French calendar is 'Candlemass' which falls 40 days after Christmas on the 2nd of February, this is the last day for families to pack away the creche until next year.
Originally this was a pagan festival where the people walked through their fields holding torches to signify the coming of light before they planted any seeds This was hijacked by the Catholic church in the 5th century to become the day when the baby Jesus was presented to the temple and of the purification of the Virgin Mary.

Going back to its pagan origins people used last years flour to make pancakes (crepes) and tradition has it that the first crepe made was tossed(flipped) in the right hand while holding a gold coin in the left. If the crepe landed correctly it signified a good harvest. When the crepe was cooked, the golden coin was wrapped inside and it was placed on top of the wardrobe to give prosperity and a good harvest in the coming year. At the next years festival the old pancake was taken down from the wardrobe and the golden coin given to the first poor person to pass your door.
With a nod to its pagan past of festival of light all the lights are lit in the house during the day of 'Candlemass'.
Its also said that if it rains on Candlemass there will be 40 days of rain and if its sunny there will be a good summer and bountiful harvest.
Today, crepes, (which are cooked very thin) are served with savoury filling as the main dish and crepes with a sweet filling served as dessert. Cider is usually served as the accompanying drink.

February, not only being the shortest month in the calendar is also the only month without a full moon and is the most misspelt word in the English language. It's also the only month mentioned in a Shakespeare play 'Much ado about nothing.'.

There's more to come on February BUT, if your still on a diet after Christmas skip the next post.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:50 AM   #5
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In fabulous February the next event well worth a visit from a ships crew wanting to escape cabin fever is the 'Mimosa Festival' which is held on the 10th of February in the large village of Roquebrun.
Its worth hiring a car for the day to go and visit the village which is 1 and 1/2hrs drive from Port la Nouvelle.
The village has a South facing aspect and is snuggled in a valley protected from the North Westerlies.
Consequently its warm sunny disposition brings out the mimosa tree flowers that are a feature of this quaint village to herald the arrival of spring.
Each village in France adopts an animal effigy as its mascot for festivals and Roquebrun's is an elephant, complete with an extending trunk !
The festival's on all day and the parade kicks off at 14:30 with the firing of a cannon.
One of the quaint customs here is that apart from the usual parade of floats a group of men push a wheelbarrow full of last years flour, each of these men have a set of old fashioned hand bellows which they fill with flour.....
Every so often they stop and perform a pagan dance around the wheelbarrow, at the end of the dance these men then face the crowd and squirt the bellows full of flour into the crowd with much squealing and good natured laughter.
Its considered lucky if you get some flour on you, then again I suppose that depends on how much you get on you.
Be thankful, because up until recently eggs were also thrown into the crowd but the practice was stopped by the 'elf n safety' brigade.

Unfortunately I couldn't upload photo's due to internet gremlins but will do so in the next post.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:04 PM   #6
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Photos for the previous post.

1, Being a large village there's obviously not sufficient parking for the thousands of visitors and cars line all the approach roads and small buses run a shuttle service into the village.

2,People heading for the fun.

3, You can see how protected the South facing village is.

4,This region is all about wine, the vines have recently been pruned, the tiny flowers will soon emerge and the bees will get busy pollinating them.

5,A Domaine is just the same as the internet version ie. 'The Home Of' . This vintner is offering wine tasting(degustation) and sales of course.

6,This ladies just got herself a bunch of Mimosa.

7, Its all about wine !

8,This pallet of new wine bottles actually originate from a Spanish factory.

9, Self explanatory.

10,The river passing through the village is also a playground in summer for canoeists, swimmers and families enjoying a picnic. Note the wild Mimosa trees in bloom.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:31 PM   #7
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Lets see more of the Mimosa Festival.

1, Its everywhere.

2,This old medieval watch tower dominates the surrounding hills to warn of attack. Note the wild Mimosa growing on the hillside.

3, If you look carefully at this photo you can see the vestiges of terracing, the Romans occupied this region of France and they had plenty of labour to build these terraces which were used to grow crops to support the military.

4,Everyone knows the French love Garlic, products like these are still grown and sold locally.

5,Wine, Mimosa and early roses, just in time for Valentines day.

6,If you turn this picture you will see the wine bottle is shaped like a 12 bore shotgun.

7,8, Miel is honey, Propolis is a honeyed drink. A beehive is called a Ruche (roosh).

At the end of winter before the bees wake up from their hibernation the Ruche are transported to various locations for the duration of the summer, the bee-keepers regularly go and collect the honey.
Each location is selected for the local plants around which is reflected in the honey colour, thickness, taste and medical properties.
For example if you have an allergy in a region if you take honey from that region it helps your body's immune system to combat the allergy.
In winter eucalyptus honey is very popular for combatting colds and flu.

9, Hand pressed virgin olive oil, olive oil features heavily in Mediterranean cooking, diet as its very low in saturated fats and is a contributor to a healthier longer life ( I hope !). The reservatrol found in red wine also helps towards a reduction in cholesterol.

10, There's said to be a different type of cheese made for every day of the year in France. Some of the pungent smelly ones are for my taste disgusting but this ones a cracker and a regular favourite of mine.
Its called Cantal (from the region), a firm white creamy low fat cheese, when the cheese round is made its rolled in fine ground ashes from a wood fire and left to mature, the ash makes a dry outer hard coating which protects the cheeses.
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Old Yesterday, 12:09 AM   #8
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I did warn you about the diet, if your still on one, look away now.

1, Air dried sausage is a favourite here, served very thinly sliced with an aperitif, either a Ricard/Pernod (aniseed drink diluted with water) or wine. Usually with small plates of various olives to nibble at a family/social gatherings.

2, Another version of air dried ham, served very thinly sliced with a salad, or with chunks of freshly baked baguette and wine of course.
The French are not binge drinkers, you rarely see anyone drunk, at social gatherings its more about friendship, with meals they prefer a glass of a wine to compliment the plate you're being served

3, Hunting's very popular here, in the hunting season the Wild Boar are highly prized. Every part of the animal is used, the hair for paint brushes, the skin to make cellulose, meat, intestines are cleaned and used as sausage skins or to make tripe (a pressed jellied meat dish) and the bones of course for soups.
The only thing lost is the grunt.

4, I bet you never knew there were so many varieties of onion, each chosen for its texture, acidity/sweetness to compliment the dish.

5, This region's also famous for its lavender, these sachets are to hang in your wardrobe to keep mites away and your clothes fresh.
Oil is also extracted from the lavender and a couple of drops on your pillow are said to help you relax for a good deep sleep.
Its also used to make soap.

6, Happy crowded street of visitors.

7,8, I bet you never had a barbecued cake before !
Another speciality of this region.
This cake is made by pouring a thick pastry mix onto a barbecue skewer and kept building up as its cooked until its ready. Its a very heavy cake and served with a light rose wine.

9, How's the diet going now with all these sweet cakes in front of you ?

10, Barbe a Papa (Daddy's beard) is Candy Floss
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Old Yesterday, 12:52 AM   #9
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Now the parade.

1, Here come the villages mascot the Elephant. Those are dummies on it's back, it has an extending trunk and just before I took this photo it was able to reach up to the second floor window of the house behind it.

2, And you thought there'd be no boats in this post ?
Does the pope have a balcony !

3, What this band in the crowd lack in musical ability they make up for with enthusiasm.

4, Today is for families and children young and old.

5, Of course we have a Miss Roquebrun 2019.

6,7, More floats.

8, 9 and 10. Look out here come the flour men ! Take cover !
When the band stops playing (which could be anytime) they begin their ritual dance around the wheelbarrow full of flour !
When the band start to play again they let fly with the bellows full of flour into the crowd before moving off to follow the band again..
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Old Yesterday, 01:15 AM   #10
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A final look around Roquebrun before we leave with sore feet and happy memories.

1, These two ladies are giving out free wine in small paper cups to the crowd.

2, Families pic-nicking by the river.

3, I mentioned honey earlier, here are honeycombs and locally made nougat. Lots of trees around here grow the nuts used in the nougat.

4, More cheeses and air dried sausages of varied types and flavours.

5, Fridge magnets. I bet they'll play havoc with the car electronics

6, This stall sells locally made real sheepskin slippers and coats from the mountain sheep.

7, These are vanilla pods from Madagascar which was once a French colony.

8, Time to rest.

9, We heard the music so we stopped at this outside bar for a beer and listen to these 2 girls singing country and Western songs. In French !

We hope you enjoyed your visit with us to 'The Mimosa Festival' in Roquebrun here in the South of France.
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Old Yesterday, 09:48 AM   #11
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Thanks for sharing. Looks absolutely perfect.
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Old Today, 01:23 AM   #12
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Your welcome.
During previous cruising trips I've found that many cruisers/sailors visit a port and rarely experience anything other than their immediate surroundings.
I adore boats and cruising and in another life might have been a commercial skipper.
I'm an inquisitive person and like to learn about the people, history, traditions, canal engineering and sights around the regions we visit.
We also we have to remember our long suffering admirals and try to make things as interesting as possible for them too so we can make wonderful memories together.

OK, she politely declined when I wanted to go to the tank museum and play soldiers but a quick thinking bit of BS on my part suggested a relaxing days shopping for a new pair of shoes

My thinking behind this thread is to try and encourage passing crews/visitors to experience things within easy striking distances of a marina so they too can enjoy their visits.
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