Summertime Pleasures In The Other South Of France
Editor’s Note: Kathleen is making her way from Medellin back to Panama City this morning and will be back on the job tomorrow. Meantime, our designated voice today is Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper, writing from France…
Driving into the Orb Valley in the Hérault Department of the Languedoc region of “the other South of France,” you just feel the stress of modern-day living drifting away. There’s no way around it, you have to slow down, not just because of the temperature (hovering around the mid-80s Fahrenheit) but also because, quite simply, if you don’t you’ll look too out of place, so not-from-around-here. I’m here with my children and husband for our annual summer break, visiting my parents and friends, slowing down and making the most of what’s on offer down here.
Last night we spent an idyllic evening listening to Madeleine Peyroux, one of the world’s best female jazz musicians, at Parc Du Chateau De Mus in Murviel les Beziers, just 10-minutes’ drive from our home. We took our picnics and settled in the grounds of the ancient chateau (dating back to 800 B.C.), listening to the crackle of the cicadas as the music started to take shape.
This morning we all took part in a petanque tournament (a form of boules) organized by, no other than, my mom, who, at the age of 76, has found a new pastime that she excels at. She organizes a bi-weekly tournament for the Languedoc Women’s International Club.
Husbands and wives from a handful of nationalities convened at a village boulodrome chosen by mom. Conversations in English, French, Dutch, and German floated about as each pair did their best to get their balls, or boules, closest to the cochonnet (or jack).
Tomorrow we’ll head to the Gorges d’Héric, a fabulous steep-sided river valley with huge pools of cool, clear water, and ancient rock slides.
This area of France has a mouth-watering array of property from ancient stone houses in need of renovation (there’s a 130-square-meter one nearby for 40,000 euro) to new villas on substantial plots (a local one is on the market for 275,000 euro) and renovated townhouses (there’s a very pretty one in nearby St. Chinian for 149,000 euro)…