L i m o u x ℒℴve
‘I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s timeAll the things I’ve done, how it’s beenAnd I can’t help believing in my own mindI know I’m gonna hate to see it end
For though my life’s been good to me there’s still so much to doSo many things my mind’s never known…’
R O A D T R I P ❗️
French Villages, castles, and an amazing memory in Montsegur at La Maison Sous le Château. Manual Citroën is the best. Always secure the smallest car you can and practice accelerations. :)
‘Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of Puilaurens Castle, an impregnable fortress in Cathar Country, at the top of the sheer rock face. The walls and towers have been marked by time and are filled with history and legends. Can you find the “secret” passages leading to the giddy panoramas?’ We did!
Beginning the hike up to the castle ruins…
Annie Glenn in awe and loving Languedoc.
Michael inspired on his first journey out of the United States and ready to return.
The Square Tower dates from the time of the Crusade against the Cathars. The so- called “White Lady” Tower, where Blanche de Bourbon, granddaughter of Philip IV, was reputed to have stayed on her way south to her ill-fated marriage with the cruel Peter of Castile, has a duct through the wall that acts as a speaking tube.
Aged just fourteen in 1353, after three days of marriage, Peter abandoned her in favour of Maria de Padilla, imprisoning poor Blanche in various places in France and Spain, until the age of twenty two, when he had her murdered. Legend has it that when mists surround the castle, Blanche is wandering the walls in her misty veils.
Montségur Castle is a fortress built on the ruins of a previous Roman settlement in the Occitanie region of Southern France. In 1204, Raymond de Péreille, the Lord of Montségur, decided to rebuild the Castle which had been in ruins for 40 years. The refortified Castle immediately became the epicentre of an important Cathar community. Catharism was a Gnostic movement which deviated from the teachings of the Catholic Church and which spread like wildfire in the 12th and 13th centuries. Amongst other tenets, the Cathars believed that Jesus was not the son of God but merely an upright prophet and scholar. They believed that men and women were both essentially equal and that money and physical trappings were not important in life. Even though they lived lives of poverty, it is believed that the Cathars amassed great riches, since many members, who were people of ‘substance’, donated their property on joining and many well-wishers and patrons donated money to help the cause as well. On the other hand, at the time Pope Innocent III, as well as the Kings of England and France, were struggling with financial difficulties caused by investments in the Crusades in the Holy Land. A theory states that this was one of the main reasons why the Cathars, a peaceful Order, were branded as heretics and hounded to their deaths with such cruelty, even prompting the setting up of a special Inquisition for such a purpose. At the time, all their assets and lands were seized and divided between the Pope and the King of France during what became known as the Cathar Crusade or the Albigensian Crusade. Whole cities and villages were destroyed by the Inquisition, which targeted both nobles and peasants alike. Ironically, the supposed ‘treasure’ of the Cathars was never found, or at least, no one has reported its acquisition.
The hike up…
…and reverence for the bon hommes and bonne femmes who were murdered in the pyre because of their beliefs, and the greed and evil of Pope Innocence III.
From the book, The Manuscript. ☉
The Cathars considered themselves to be the true Christians. Part of their learning rested on primitive Christian, Gnostic, Jewish and Islamic ideas, which at all decisive points different from the Roman Church.
The daily bread was for the Cathars the spiritual bread, and both women and men could become priests, perfect, in their community. The Cathar movement had wide support amon the Languedoc population and when this support tended to spread to all of France the Pope, Innocence III, sent a monk, Bernard of Clairveaux, to preach against the heretics. He saw, however, that their services and morals were far more Christian than those of his own corrupt Church. He also admitted that he could find no fault with the parfaits of the Cathars. They only practiced what they preached. This was not to the liking of the Pope and thus he implemented the crusade resulting in the massacre of Montsegur.
‘A common legend which had been retold for generations by the descendants of the Cathars, was told by a shepherd from Montsegur as late as 1929:
“When the walls of Montsegur were still intact, the Cathars, the pure ones, guarded the Holy Grail there. Montsegur was in danger. The armies of Lucifer lay in a circle around the walls. They wanted the Grail, so that they could mount it in the emperor’s tiara, from where it had fallen to the ground when the angels were banned from Heaven. When peril was at its highest a white dove descendde from Heaven and split the mountain in two with its beak. Esclarmonde, the female guardian of the Grail, threw the precious, holy treasure into the mountain. It then closed again. In this way the Grail was saved. When the devils forced their way into the fortress, they were too late. Filled with anger they burned all the pure ones at the foot of the cliffs under the fortress on the camp des cremate, on the field where where the state was built.”
More than 200 hundred Cathars, men, women and children, chose by their own free will to be burned at the stake. According to an oral tradition, they had promised to return after seven hundred years [pp. 39-40].’
In memoriam at Montsegur.
Ani Williams is world-renowned harpist and singer, and has recorded more than two-dozen albums of original sacred music based on ancient spiritual traditions.
The back side of the castle ruins where remnants of the Cathars living quarters and community gathering sites for work and living.
Folks honoring the Cathars at Montsegur with dance and song.
Then in the chill of fall and winds, it was time to head back down, imagining…trying…the 200 + Cathars holding hands and singing their hymns as the fires from the pyre burned below them and their wicked fate to a tortuous death.
R E X M U N D I
Evil forces always swirling about.
And then it was a short drive down narrow lanes to the Village de Montsegur to stay the night at La Maison Sous le Château. Sadness. The museum was closed. Next time. So wanted to visit.
J’adore the village of Montsegur, almost as much as Alet-les-Bains and Limoux.
Cathar crosses everywhere and history whispered in the winds.
Up the stairs to our private room and bath and a warm meal with local vegetables, soup, pain, and vin…
…at the foot of the Pyrenees.
You must stay with Fred and basque in his warmth and hospitality, his cooking (!), as well as his knowledge of the Occitanie region, the Cathars…and Mariam.
I wanted to linger longer in this ancient village in Southern France.
Can’t wait to return. Thanks be to Gaia.
You must read this book!
Car returned and ready for a very hot bath. Fall has landed in Languedoc.
Crazy discovery today in Limoux at a lovely little museum called musée Petiet de Limoux.
Marie was born and lived in Limoux until her early 30’s. It was after her dad died, also an artist, that she married and moved close to Paris. The discovery? Finding a Mary Magdalene painting! I think I actually exhaled an audible gasp.
Marie was a beautiful painter. So talented. Look at her detail, and use of light & dark.
The photo on the right you can see she signed this painting with the year, 1881. She has positioned Mariam in a cave here in the Languedoc region, and she’s gazing at a hill in the distance.
Could it be Rennes-les-Chateau, where the church of Mary Magdalen is located, or Le Bézu…maybe Bugarach? Trying to research and learn more. Many caves in this area, the Languedoc region, with theories and stories enveloping them. I have been to one where it is believed Mary Magdalene visited, near Rennes-les-Bains. She reportedly administered baptisms in the river there, River Sals. There are healing waters in that little ancient village, which at one time were frequented by Romans.
Many authors and artists convene and live there now, as well as a small, private group of people who still practice the Cathar ways. This is where Sir Henry Lincoln lived. [Holy Blood, Holy Grail]
‘Marie Petiet began her artistic training with her father and uncle, who were wealthy landowners and amateur painters. Between 1877 and 1883 she studied in Paris with the painter Jean-Jacques Henner and exhibited regularly at the Salon. In 1886 she married the painter Étienne Dujardin-Beaumetz and continued to paint and exhibit her works, many of which were inspired by the working-class community in which she lived in the south of France.’ [Women Artists in Paris]
Marie was only 38 when she died. She did not have children. She reportedly lost her life to cancer.The other discovery. Oh mon Dieu. Couldn’t believe it. From the 10th century.
The identifier is listed at #5. Not much information. Yet researching later I found this:
The Limoux museum also displays a discoidal stele found at Baraigne.
Baraigne is a commune in the Aude department in the Occitanie region of southern France.
‘Along the roads, you will see these surprising little funereal monuments.
The stelae are funereal monuments that date back to around the 10th century. With a solid surface, the stelae are made up of two parts: a foot of varying shapes surmounted by a disc. They are an integral part of the small heritage in the Lauragais.
Since ancient times they have been placed at the side of the deceased’s head to mark the location of the burial. Some think that they used worn grinding wheels which would explain their circular shape. They signal the presence of a grave and evoke the memory of the person buried through sculpture, of tools or a symbolic sign. Sometimes, they can also serve as milestones on Jacobean routes or mark a place of devotion’ [en.castelnaudary-tourisme.com]
This is a self-portrait Marie Petiet painted.
And here are photographs of Marie and her family.
A day of discovery and research. Almost finished with ‘The Manuscript.’ More tomorrow. ℒℴve this book.
Plotting my next adventure, either south to the Mediterranean to visit an ancient village, or north to visit the villages of Joan of Arc.
Matin à Limoux.
‘In the Talmud it is written, “During the times of darkest night, act as if the morning has already come.” When the world is chaotic we can find peace within our hearts. And then we can share our peace with each other. We can forgive, we can bless, we can love, we can create, we can make space for the new in ourselves and in the world. And miracles will follow. This is a moment of chaos, yes, but simultaneously it is a magic hour. It is the sunset of one world and the dawning of another. Day has turned into night, now the night is turning into day.’
Pour Guillaume Henri.
First light in Limoux this morning before catching an early train to Arles. So many sites to share, the ancient Roman ruins, and Van Gogh’s cafe. This capture, though, needs its own day.
H A P P Y
A N N I E G L E N N!
It’s my girl’s 26th today! She’s back in France with Michael, her boyfriend, mid-September to celebrate with Blanquette and gâteau!
We need a birthday celebration in Languedoc! Hurry!
I miss you so much.
‘On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue…’
Just finished my first France journal my daughter made for me at Christmas.
‘If you think one noble thought in a mountain cave, then it will form vibrations throughout the Universe and will do what can and must be done’ [p.95, The Manuscript].
‘We all take part in the cruelty of the world. Even when we think we know nothing about it. We all carry a Hitler and a Yeshua in us. At one time or another each person must stop and face their own failures and cruelties. Otherwise they are just projected on’ [The Manuscript].
Indeed. When we forgive and offer grace, and it is not received, it is gravity. [Dualism] ‘Earth is a half-way house.’ And then, it is no longer ours. Forgive: to let go. If the other does not, it is their path now, not ours.
From Marianne Williamson today:
‘With every breath, I breathe in the holy substance that infuses all things.
On this day, I remember and will not forget that love is all around me. I acknowledge love’s presence in myself and others, and breathe in with every breath all the power it bestows.’
Cue The Troggs. :)
From the book, ‘The Beauty and Mystery of the Languedoc:’
‘The Languedoc region has a very extraordinary history, full of tragedy, conquer, drama and mystery. When you drive through the sleep villages today, it is hard to imagine that this region was once a metropolis of the highest importance and was at other times the seat of power from which large parts of the world were ruled. That is why it is worth while to have a closer look at its amazing history, because if you know what to look for, you can still find relics of these high times hidden in the most remote places.’ -Julia B. Kingsley
Look what I found. This ancienne église (ancient church) in Limoux, set back, and fenced off from the public due to safety concerns. I believe there is a renovation plan in place. Gorgeous. Even the tile. In many apartments and homes in the Occitanie region, the buildings are original, like the building I’m staying in, and often the original tile and flooring is in place, as well as stone walls and cobbled streets. In France they preserve and honor their history. How I wish the stones could speak. If we vibrated just a little more slowly, perhaps we could listen!
I want to hear their stories. It was once a convent in 1358.
I remember what Sir Henry Lincoln once said to me, ‘Stop looking, and see.’
“The Holy Grail ‘neath ancient Roslin waits / The blade and chalice guarding o’er Her gates / Adorned by masters’ loving art, She lies / She rests at last beneath the starry skies.”
And Le Tour.
Jonas and his girls. Emotional finish to stage 20. I’m going to miss it so much. Insane three weeks of racing and performance, kindness and passion. Spectacular tour! And to see it in France! The riders finish in Paris tomorrow. Chilling the Blanquette de Limoux now. 🥂
Vive la tournée et la France ❗️
‘As I relax into the flow of the miraculous, then miracles will find me.’
Miracles & magic, flowing in France. Thanks be to Gaia, la lune. A day of hydration and rest, an early evening walk with temps down to a cool 92. :) Never thought I’d appreciate 92 degree weather. Yesterday at the stage finish in Carcassonne, pushed the heat limits a bit. Needed to hydrate and stay out of the heat as much as I could today. Tomorrow a blur of color as the riders make it to Limoux for stage 16, final destination Foix.
A lovely picture of the ladies in Limoux who meet and chat for hours, taken from my window. J’adore.
French blue and aged hardware. Priceless.
As promised!More history on this structure I shared a couple of days ago. The history here in the Languedoc region continues to knock me out. I can see this from across the river from my little balcony.
The portail, now named by us the Spanish Gate, is the end of a long passage that cuts through the row of large town houses that line this part of the river, just north of the Pont Vieux and fronting on the Rue Blanquerie.
The riverside here was fortified around the 14th century [1300’s] the French were installed in the town across the river, and the Spanish Arabs (Moors?) were behind these walls. In order for the Spanish to move up and down the river without emerging from the walls and getting shot at by the French, they built a tunnel that passed along the back of the wall.
This tunnel, then, traversed across the Spanish Gate, just behind the protective doors.
None of the standard history of Limoux makes reference to the Spanish or Arabs being at war with the French here about the 14th century. Then we did find a couple of obscure references to the Spanish being here, in the 14th and 16th centuries.
In 1340, Spanish bands from Capcir ravaged the region [of the Pays de Sault, the area of the Aude southwest of Limoux].
During a war with Spain in the 16th century, François I was captured and held prisonner by the Spanish. The same reference states that the Spanish invaded Roquefortez between 1525 and 1526: Roquefortez was a collection of the four hamlets Le Bousquet, Roquefort, Buillac et Kounozouls, 15 km south of Quillan and 35 km south of Limoux.
Notice the slit in the fortress wall. I learned about these during my last journey in Languedoc. ‘An arrowslit (often also referred to as an arrow loop, loophole or loop hole, and sometimes a balistraria) is a narrow vertical aperture in a fortification through which an archer can launch arrows or a crossbowman can launch bolts.’ Used for defense. The Templars would sharpen their swords on the stone walls as they entered a fortress. Those markings still exist today. I’ll try to find a capture in some old photos.
In love with Limoux.
Le Soleil was intense. 105 today. 105. About 40-41C. On Le Tour race organizers were using water trucks to cool off the roads where someone reported the heat coming off the asphalt was about 158 degrees. This isn’t ‘just summer’ [climate change deniers]. Europe is burning. Gaia is burning.
Tomorrow, stage 15 into Carcassonne before the rest day, and then Limoux!
Love this capture of Tadej and Jonas climbing up to Mende today.
The market closes early on Sundays so stocked up on water today, lots; trying to stay hydrated. Toasted friends 5,000 + miles away for an event I couldn’t attend with the original sparkling wine before Dom found the recipe.
The monks had it going on in 1531. Champagne doesn’t come close to compare. Blanquette de Limoux is lovely and light and pure.
Vivez des moments intense. “Live intense moments.” Just do it. :)
It cooled down to 95 at 9 so ventured out to the square after conquering the French washing machine and hanging my clothes on a line to dry almost instantly in the heat. Time for that Blanquette de Limoux and a bottle of ‘intensity’ while reading Cathar history and planning excursions.
So many places to discover and explore. The Feast of Mary Magdalene is July 22nd. Really want to explore her cave in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. After Jesus’s death, it is believed Mary Magdalene made her way to France to a small town in Provence called Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte Baume. To be there on her day would be quite special, being, too, with the many pilgrims who have traveled there to commemorate her life after the time she spent with Jesus.
Or or or Rennes-le-Château where there’s a church created and dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
François Mitterrand visits Rennes-le-Château, March 2nd, 1981.
From the 2018 film Mary Magdalene. Couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. Written by two women, Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett. It’s extraordinary.
We only come out at night; we only come out at night. The days are much too bright. We only come out at night. -Smashing Pumpkins
They do. Hoards. My new buds.
Hard praying Joe Manchin is her first case. If he’s still alive. If we are.
How One Senator Doomed the Democrats’ Climate Plan
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia led his party and his president through months of tortured talks, with nothing to show for it as the planet dangerously heats up. [Click image for article-paywall removed.]
Sidebar. When Lebron James made the comment about Brittney Griner I said out loud, “Right on.” He backtracked because of the flack. But he spoke truth. 100%.
“Now, how could she feel like America has her back? I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'”
Las fleurs from the marche in Limoux!
Lovely market in the square today and every Friday morning. This market is a little more utilitarian than the Tuesday markets, i.e., local produce, fabrics, flowers, clothes, eye glasses…incense! I was able to stroll through the market and drink two cafe au lait’s before the 100 + degree mark. Yikes. Europe is burning. In France, literally.
French President Emmanuel Macron today:
Solidarity is national: three thousand firefighters from all over France are fighting the fires that are hitting the south of the country. I salute their courage and their commitment alongside elected officials. At the front, they save lives. We are thinking of them and of the evacuated residents.
Solidarity is European: a year ago, when Greece was facing terrible fires, we mobilized as Europeans. This noon, aircraft from the Greek rescue forces arrived in the south to support the action of our firefighters.
Wildfires rage in southwestern France with over 1,700 hectares burnt
About 600 firefighters, supported by six water-bomber aircraft, were on Wednesday battling to bring under control two wildfires in southwestern France, which have already burnt more than 1,700 hectares [4,200 acres] and prompted the evacuation of thousands of tourists.
“Important human and material resources are being deployed to master the fires (…) local and national reinforcements are expected,” said the local authority for the Gironde department, where the blazes are raging.
France, already hit by a series of wildfires over the last few weeks, is suffering – like the rest of Europe – from a second heatwave in as many months. [It’s brutal. -dayle]
The biggest of the two Gironde fires is around the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, where roads have been closed and 500 residents evacuated, with the blaze having already burnt more than 1,000 hectares.
The other one is along the Atlantic Coast, close to the iconic “Dune du Pilat” – the tallest sand dune in Europe – located in the Arcachon Bay area, above which heavy clouds of dark smoke were seen rising in the sky.
That fire has already burnt 700 hectares and led to the preventive evacuation of 6,000 people from five surrounding campsites. They were brought for shelter to a local exhibition centre.
“Other campers woke us up at around 0430 in the morning. We had to leave immediately and quickly choose what to take with us. I had forgotten my ID, luckily someone took it for me. But I don’t have my phone (…) and we don’t know what is going to happen,” Christelle, one of the evacuated tourists, told BFM TV.
[Those villages and towns close to forests were not allowed to display fireworks for Bastille Day.]
Wildfires raged across tinder-dry country in Portugal, Spain, France and Croatia, burning homes and threatening livelihoods, as much of Europe baked in a heatwave that has pushed temperatures into the mid 40Cs in some countries. [Reuters] 40C is equivalent to 104 in Fahrenheit. -dayle
From NBC NEWS:
Over 20 wildfires are burning in Portugal and Spain, and around half of Portugal has been placed under a red weather alert.
More captures from the marche today. Love Limoux.
And a very hot kitty. ღ
Yes, please. Want!
Le Tour is getting closer! Tuesday, étape 16. Can’t wait. 🚴🏻
From étape 12 yesterday, Alpe d’Huez. Good thing Covid is over. 😐
It’s like a Where’s Waldo’ image. Try to find Sepp, Jonas, and Tadej.
#Anxiety #Why #Sepp’sFace
In the newsletter from the Flourish Foundation this month, a social-profit in Sun Valley, Idaho [Hailey], Harry Dreyfuss, the creative director at Flourish Foundation, shares his quarantine epiphany on love, relationships, and self…all ONE.
I inadvertently ‘met’ Harry once when I opened the door of his home thinking it was my book club’s meeting place that month. I remember seeing this amazing light blue guitar lying on the dining room table. Cool. Then Harry came down the stairs. Oops. Yikes. Awkward. He couldn’t have been k i n d e r. “I think you want the house next door.” Yep. :)
This is a sweet message I read today from Harry; wanted to share.
More on Kindness…
There was a moment during quarantine when I had an epiphany concerning love and relationships: whether I ever find a long-term romantic partner or not, there is one person to whom I am already in an arranged marriage—myself. Myself and I are stuck together, and like it or not, I need to make this relationship work. I have no other choice.
So, I made a vow to my brain. It went something like this. “I may wish you were smarter, and kinder, and full of better angels, but I can’t actually force you to do anything. Instead, I must live with the ideas you have, the impulses you have, and the body that you have. What I can do, however, is make a vow to honor those creative ideas, good or bad. You churn out the ideas, and I promise to act upon them.”
I did this mainly concerning writing. I vowed to write down all my brain’s ideas as an act of loyalty, without judgment about how bad or good they were. There’s a kind of mantra created by Julia Cameron for artists to use towards their inner muse: “You take care of the quality; I’ll take care of the quantity.” This means you will guarantee to actualize all the ideas your muse creates, and your muse will try to ensure that at least 20% of those ideas are actually usable.
I was made to think about that vow and that internal wedding as I read Ryan’s piece about kindness last week. As he puts it, there are constantly moments where our minds generate an urge to do a kind thing, but it is then up to our conscious mind to actualize that impulse or not. My vow concerned artistic impulses, but there is a similar relationship possible here. Your mind—your bride or groom—is offering you an idea for how you can best love the world in that moment. What would happen if you made a vow to honor those ideas when they cropped up?
It may be a hassle. It involves interrupting your day, your business as usual. But the interruption is a sweet one, hazardous and vulnerable as it may be. And we all know what it is like to get into a groove of kindness. Taking those risks, allowing yourself to creatively engage in a loving way with the world, ultimately can lead to an ecstatic feeling, a minor form of bliss, which can make each day an exciting one.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard said about love comes from Toni Morrison, who is urging people to recognize the ecstatic and moral obligation we have to honor our need to love one another:
People say, “‘I didn’t ask to be born.’ I think we did, and that’s why we’re here. We are here, and we have to do something nurturing that we respect before we go. We must. It is more interesting, more complicated, more intellectually demanding and more morally demanding to love somebody, to take care of somebody, to make one other person feel good… Love just seems to make life not just livable, but a gallant, gallant event.
Have a nice life,
Annie leaves for the U.S. tomorrow at 3 am through Toulouse, Amsterdam, Salt Lake City, and then Sun Valley. Magical she was here in France the same time as her maman.
Serendipity. Synchronicity. Symmetry. The Universe’s most special gifts to me. Merci merci merci. I will miss you, Annie Glenn.
Another gift from the Universe today, although captured eons ago, we get to gaze upon her magnificence now.
Better together. International collaboration gave us the most powerful space telescope ever made, and the deepest infrared views of the universe ever seen. With our partners, together we #UnfoldTheUniverse.
“Think about that: In every pinprick of sky, there are thousands and thousands of galaxies, at least.”
And then, the Universe gives again. The moon in Limoux.
La lune. She’s almost full. And the swallows murmur.
Readying for Bastille Day! As called in France, ‘Fête nationale française,’ and legally le 14 juillet.’ THURSDAY! I should be able to view fireworks from my balcony. Going to immerse myself in the splendor of love for country. It’s been awhile.
“An enormous fortress of prejudices, privileges, superstitions, lies, exactions, abuses, violences, iniquities, and darkness still stands erect in this world, with its towers of hatred. It must be cast down. This monstrous mass must be made to crumble. To conquer at Austerlitz is grand; to take the Bastille is immense.”
Collecting maps now. :) The Tour is getting closer to Limoux. Too many dropping because of COVID. Mask up. BA.5 is real…and here. Viva Le Tour!
À bientôt. ❀
Think Emily in Paris, but without the clothes. And youth. When an almost two decade dream becomes a reality, it kinda feels like a simulation, an alternate reality I created in my mind because I thought about it so much.
July 3rd and 4th were travel days. To celebrate the 4th of July, I left the country. And on July 4th, another senseless gun massacre at a parade. Nothing will be done because the United States values guns more than life. Too many people own too many guns in the U.S., high powered military weapons. And the killing continues. I know I don’t want to go back to the cesspool that it has become, an experiment that is dissolving because of greed, power, dark money, systemic patriarchy and leaders who should not be leaders. So many brilliant, young people and minds in the United States, and this is who we get. So, yeah, I don’t want to go back. Yet, without a residency visa, I can only stay three months. I met a woman from England at the marche [market] today who has lived here five years. She shared her visa experience was one of ease and permission. Yet her driver’s license experience? Ooh la la.
It took two months to compile the needed paperwork and requirements for the visa application. I flew to Los Angeles in March to meet with the visa consulate in person. I was in their office for 4.5 hours. A week later I was denied. Their reason is that my reason for wanting to research and write in the ancient region of Languedoc wasn’t a good enough one. I will try again. Until then, I am here. Researching ruins, studying the Cathars and connecting with Mary Magdalene.
After two years of COVID French Duolingo, I’m not ready. At all. People speak French here. A lot of French. Only French. :) Phrases and words, reading and comprehension coming along, yet speaking? Pas bon. (Not good.) But, you know, Emily didn’t speak French when she took the job at that AD AGENCY in Paris. I’ll learn. I wish I had a mind for language. I took Russian in college…and a little French. Tons of Spanish in high school, and still, to this day, my first foreign language default is Spanish, which worked nicely on the Camino in Spain. Not so much in France.
Bonus. Massive bonus. I happened to choose to be here during the Tour de France. Big Fan. Yet I had no idea the tour was actually going through Limoux. What?! Yep. I think stage 16, after the rest day, on July 19th. From Carcassonne (about 30 minutes north from Limoux) to Foix as the riders approach the Pyrenees. So passing through! I’ll be there! I brought my polka dot pin from the 2004 Tour when I was on the Champs-Elysees and watched Lance win his 6th in his gold helmet. Indelible. Thank you, Theodore.
I slept 11 hours after I arrived. From San Diego to Salt Lake City to Paris to Toulouse. Delayed in Paris, but my bags made it! Even with all the flying warnings and chaos stories. Whew. I opted to pay more for a taxi instead of trying to maneuver the train with a backpack and three large bags. A taxi service I pre-ordered through booking.com (don’t) bailed on me, so I had to search for someone to drive for me. It was an hour and 30 minute drive through fields of sunflowers and grapes for their brilliant Blanquette de Limoux. Jean-Michele, my driver, was so kind. And he played Cat Stevens the entire way. Glad Cedric decided not to stay. Yeah, pretty great. It’s a sign. :)
Nicolette, who owns the flat where I’m staying, is from Scotland, her dad lives in Spain. English! She’s helping me acclimate in a language I understand. So grateful. She has put so much thought and care into her flats at La Maison 22. Her French country decor and comfort are simply perfect. My place has a small balcony and overlooks the river Aude, where I can listen to the bells from the Church of Saint-Martin, built in the 1100’s. I’ll be back. When I get that visa!
Last evening I took a stroll around the village, many establishments are closed on Mondays. It was a quiet. A young man walked close by to me and said, “Stone. Stone.” I must have looked as perplexed as I felt. And then he made the universal gesture for getting stoned. Although a lovely idea after two days of travel, weed is highly illegal in France. So, thanks, really, but no. And a smile.
Today was organizing and unpacking, streaming the Tour, French Press coffee on the balcony, happy birds, frantic ducks, and a happy heart being so far removed from the United States both physically and mentally.
Nicolette emailed me about the marche, the first of the season, every Tuesday evening through July and August in the village. Happy people, music, and dining al fresco on the historic centre around the Place de la Republique.
Tomorrow, more exploring and picking up train schedules.
Deep sorrow for what is happening in, to, the United States. So much promise. So much devastation and harm. For now, my focus is on possibility, potential, and purpose as I ease into life’s chapter 4. It took a lot to get here. To be here. It isn’t a simulation, its providence, and grace.
Thanks be to Gaia. And my ancestors, particularly, my great-grandma, Alma Evalo Latta (who gave me a mother’s love), my brother, Darrell Lee Ohlau, and my dad, Robert Dale Ohlau. Mitakuye Oyasin.
Languedoc is a centre of the distinctive civilization of the south of France. Its name is derived from the traditional language of southern France, in which the word oc means “yes,” in contrast to oïl, or oui, in northern French. From the 13th century the name applied to the entire area in which the Languedoc, or Occitan, language was spoken and came to apply specifically to the territory of the feudal county of Toulouse.
From 121 BC the territory that constituted Languedoc was part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, which connected Italy to Spain, and was strongly influenced by Roman culture. With the breakdown of the Roman Empire, the region was controlled by the Visigoths in the 5th century and was partially conquered by the Franks in the 6th century.
From the mid-12th century, the Cathari, a Manichaean sect, won wide support from the people and the nobles of Languedoc; the Cathari were sometimes called Albigensesbecause of their strength around the town of Albi. They were branded as heretics by the Roman Catholic church, and Pope Innocent III preached a crusade against them, precipitating an invasion of Languedoc by a northern French army in 1209. The ensuing wars, which lasted until the mid-13th century, ended the political independence of Languedoc. [britannica.com]