A Year on La Lune – Photo Highlights from 2012

Not always blue skies like this
Not always blue skies like this

Another year has passed at a rate of knots. It seems hardly any time at all since I was burning my fingers on the hot oven last New Year’s Eve. At least they have recovered and that was still 2011 anyway. Here is a look back at this year on La Lune.


Mild weather enabled us to get out walking frequently. One of the nicest walks we did was around the Abbaye de Beaulieu, now a centre of contemporary art. Little did we know what was in store in February.

Abbaye de Beaulieu
Abbaye de Beaulieu


February was characterised by Arctic temperatures for a fortnight (minus 19C one morning at our neighbours’) and a desperate struggle to keep warm. We didn’t venture out much.

Wintry view behind our house
Wintry view behind our house

Even Felix the cat was allowed to stay in at night.

Someone who knows how to keep warm
Someone who knows how to keep warm


I finally managed to see a truffle market in action – at Limogne (Lot) – after nearly 15 years in France. Fellow blogger Evelyn and I were fascinated by this ancient tradition.

'Black diamonds'
‘Black diamonds’


Dominated by the run-up to the French presidential election, April was one of the wettest and gloomiest months in all our 15 years here. On one of the only days it didn’t rain we made a sortie to find the phylloxera cross near Saint-Igne, erected in a vain attempt to stop the depredations of these nasty bugs on the vineyards.

Phylloxera cross


It rained quite a lot in May, too. On one of our weekly walks with our walking group we were amazed to see the normally tranquil River Bonnette in full spate.

La Bonnette - raging torrent
La Bonnette – raging torrent

An advantage of all this rain was that the spring flowers were the most abundant and colourful I have ever seen here.

Spring flowers
Spring flowers


We finally managed to get into the swimming pool after wondering why on earth we have one. The balmy weather encouraged around 230 people to turn up for the annual fête at Teysseroles, where we are helping to restore the 15th-century church.

Headless chicken in the throng
Headless chicken in the throng

And we put the finishing touches (quite a lot of those) to the newly-formed Parisot Choir’s inaugural concert at the end of the month. We performed a dozen songs in a variety of languages to a packed church.


The summer holidays. The markets swelled to three times their normal size, you couldn’t find a parking place in the village and sheaves of leaflets advertising fêtes, vide-greniers (jumble sales) and concerts fluttered in the breeze under your windscreen wipers.

Seasonal market stall
Seasonal market stall

The Teysseroles team rewarded itself with an end-of-season party, where a good time was had by all, including the local priest.

Everyone almost under the table
Everyone almost under the table


A thunder storm in late July knocked out our Internet connection and caused us no end of bother. This is an occupational hazard at that time of year. However, we took advantage of our leisure time to find out more about one of our local villages, Caylus, when we went on a guided tour. It contains plenty of little curiosities if you know where to look.

What the Catholic Caylusiens thought of the Protestant folk of Saint-Antonin
What the Catholic Caylusiens thought of the Protestant folk of Saint-Antonin


Our singing odyssey continued with a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in the church at the hilltop village of Puycelsi (Tarn). This coincided with my birthday, which made it one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

Church interior
Church interior

Les Journées du Patrimoine enabled us to extend our acquaintance with the plus beaux villages of Najac and Belcastel.

Dominating château of Najac - smaller Seneschal's house on the left
Dominating château of Najac – smaller Seneschal’s house on the left
Belcastel dominated by its château
Belcastel dominated by its château

Our fourth visit to Corsica combined walking with sightseeing. We stayed in some lovely places with the jagged landscape constantly as a backdrop. At one of the chambres d’hôtes, I discovered a true story which gave me an idea for a novel.

Saint-Florent, Corsica
Saint-Florent, Corsica


Back to the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness in SW France. Sweet chestnuts were once an important staple food in the region and were later exported throughout France. We learned more about them and how to make a very rich chestnut cake at a local atelier.

This autumn's chestnuts
This autumn’s chestnuts

The online expat writing group I belong to, Writers Abroad, published its third anthology, Foreign Encounters. A lot of effort went into the final product and all profits will go to charity Books Abroad.

Foreign Encounters Cover


November saw me chained to my computer for the National Novel Writing Month challenge (50,000 words during November). I chose the true story I unearthed in Corsica as my theme. No, I didn’t write it in French.

Church at Nonza - was Marie married here?
Church at Nonza – was Marie married here?

We profited from the final bit of good weather to continue working at the Teysseroles site with the team.

Teysseroles team effort
Teysseroles team effort


Our choir held two Christmas Carol services – at Cajarc (Lot) and Parisot (Tarn-et-Garonne). At Parisot, where we are the home team, our publicity was a little too effective. Some reckoned that 400 people crammed into the church but, judging by the smiling faces at the end, nobody minded too much sitting on the stairs up to the pulpit or behind the altar.

Original idea for a crèche
Original idea for a crèche at Cajarc

The end of the world failed to materialise on 21st December, much to the chagrin of those who had taken refuge at Bugarach. Never mind, I’m sure there’ll be another opportunity.

This brings us to New Year’s Eve 2012. Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and for your interesting and entertaining comments. See you in 2013. In the meantime, since it’s considered bad luck to give New Year’s wishes before 1st January, I will wish you…

Une bonne fin d’année à tous et à toutes.

Copyright © 2012 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Bonjour Nessa,
    I stumbled across your blog when I did a search of saffron growers in Quercy. My husband and I just moved near Cajarc with our two small children. Im working on my french and taking little trips around helps me to feel less homesick (Im American). Thanks for the wonderful descriptions, history lessons, and photos. We are holding out waiting for the fog to clear but Ive heard rumors that next week will be cold again. It was minus 15F back in the states where Im from but weather is relative. It doesnt matter where you are from or what youre used to. When its’s cold, it’s cold and Im glad I kept my long underwear just in case….


    • Bonjour Kellie and welcome to la belle France! Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I know an American lady who lives much closer to Cajarc than I do and also has a blog – http://www.melangedmagic.com. You might have come across her already. She takes great photos and has done many trips around the district in her short time here so knows a lot about it.

      Yes, next week is forecast to be colder, alas. In February last year we were getting down towards minus 20C, so you ought to feel at home. You made the right decision keeping your long underwear. It’s not always hot and sunny down here…

      Bonne continuation,



  2. That is a good idea, ie one photo from each month, I will look through all my photos and do the same for Poitou-Charentes which is the region of France I blog about. I will also add you site to my blog roll as it a good site.


    • I think I cheated and had more than one in some months but that’s because it was so hard to choose between them. Thanks for your kind words and for adding me to your blog roll – I will return the compliment. Your site is good, too. It’s not a region I know much about but I look forward to finding out more from your blog.


  3. Dear Vanessa,
    I too have enjoyed your reflections, and as always feel like I have had a quick trip to France. The photos are beautiful, and I especially love the one from September. Happy New Year to you, and I look forward to reading more in 2013.
    With love and hope, Kate xo


  4. I enjoyed seeing the photos again. What interesting and varied blogs you produced in 2012. Congratulations on capturing so effectively the spirit of life in SW France. Thank you. BONNE ANNEE 2013.


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