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A taste of the sweet life

Carcassonne Concert in the Park

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This blog post is going to be a bit different than what I normally do, but the girls insisted I tell my little french language antidote to all of my readers as well - enjoy !

Let me start first by telling you about the amazing free concert we girls went to in the park near Carcassonne's train station - Pink Martini, a band from Portland Oregon, played some great music for us all to enjoy in a very intimate setting so that we all felt part of the family while moving to the music and singing along with many of their eclectic set during the warm, sultry summer evening - thanks Pink Martini for the good time !

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Leaving the city after the show, driving along the Canal du Midi quayside, a back way in and out of Carcassonne center, I had to mention to the girls about the signs that are posted on this particular road : "Attention Nids des Poule en Formation".  Now my french has gotten pretty good in the last 13 years, so for the most part I figure things out and can come up with a good explanation to street signs, as least.

I had been noticing these signs for a few years and couldn't figure out why they were so worried about some sort of 'chicken nests in formation' (literal translation), unless these particular chickens were possibly on the verge of extinction!  I always looked up to see if I could see these special poultry, but alas I never saw one!

I finally decided to ask a french friend about these rare birds and thier nests...and to my amazement, they were no birds involved - in fact, I should have been looking down to be careful of the forming potholes in the road and to be careful as they might appear when I least expected them.

We all had a good laugh on the drive home to end this spectacular evening among friends - thanks to you girls as well !

 

Abbaye Fontfroide in Languedoc Roussillon

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The Abbaye Fontfroide, near Narbonne in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France, is an amazingly well taken care of historical site.  Open all year long makes even a visit in the winter a magical moment going back in time - whereas summer provides classical musicians who play within the ancient walls.  The tour guides are very informative and give out details freely, talking about the history of the Abbaye and her buildings, churches and gardens.3-abbaye-ff-entryThere is truly too much to say in a short story, so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. The entry walls, above, gave a drinking fountain to those in need, carved out of stone and built into the wall itself - an amazing animal head dripping water from its mouth into yet another carved basin!

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The interior courtyard was my favorite space...and I could only imagine the roses & greenery that make up this center garden su1-abbaye-ff-pillarsrrounded by many marble carved pillars, each one different than the other, as you can see here. The feet of each pillar also detailed out leaves, grapes and many other amazing carvings. Over time the gardens were used for burials (11th century) and the beautiful Cistercian roses.

 

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The Abbaye church was also impressive with its 23 meter high vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows all around letting in beautiful lighting, originally not colored due to Cistercian laws prohibiting colour to not interfere with prayers.

The Romanesque style church boasts 5 bays all impressive in themselves.

 

The visit can be accompanied by dining in the restaurant at the end of your tour or have a picnic on the massive grounds and enjoy the feeling of going back in time.

Chateau Guery's Minervois Sauvignon

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Continuing on with our series on local Minervois wines in Azille, I'd like to introduce to you...Chateau Guery and the family behind the wine and her vineyards.

These vines and methods of vinification have been passed down from father to son for generations and is now in the hands of Rene-Henry and his wife Florence, with Mom & Dad still in the background guiding the process.

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The Guery family produces & blends white, rose and red wines using 15 separate varietals like old carignan, viognier, petit verdot, grenache and mourvedre to name a few.  The vines are grown in different soils giving each grape its own properties and flavors from clay, marble and sandstone bases in the hot sun of the South of France.

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One of the Minervois white wines that come from Guery's cellars is a mono-cepage Sauvigon Blanc.  Likened to a New Zealand style sauvignon this white is high in acidity with fantastic citrus notes, being heavy on the grapefruit tang.  Well-chilled you'd be pleased to have a glass as an aperitif, but with oysters on the half shell you wouldn't even need the lemon squeeze as this wine does it for you!  This "Serre de Guery - Sagesse" is a great alternative to the well-known Picpoul and well worth a sip...or two.

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Tasting courtesy of Matthew Saunders at the "Taste of Languedoc" in Azille - thanks Matt!

Cuisine in the Minervois

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chicken-corn-soupA taste of La Dolce Vita - Something to sip on!

The menus vary and the tastes abound when you reserve your meal in Azille - local Minervois ingredients with a twist.

You can expect dishes like roasted tomatoes and olives, set over potatoes and topped with a Sea Bream filet.  Or how about a Mexican fiesta with a chicken & corn soup for a starter topped with crisp tortilla strips.

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 You could dine on home-made Soup du Poisson, complete with freshly made Rouille. Followed up with Frozen raspberry yogurt, a tart dessert perfect for finishing the meal!

A rich Duck Parmentier and a fresh green salad with lettuce & tomatoes picked from the garden could be the main dish if the fusion meal goes more towards the French side of things.

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A bit of Magreb spices might bring you a Tagine of chicken & preserved lemons served after the salad of 2 types of couscous and vegetables.


Or a simple yet tasty Asian country cuisine of ginger, peppers, pork strips & napa cabbage to warm your soul, inhaling the parfume of jasmine rice.

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There is more than enough wine to accompany your meal, choosing from a local list of chateaux and caveaux to suite your taste, the flavorful food and good company!

The Minervois and La Dolce Vita will satisfy all your needs and your tastebuds, take a look at what there is to do and see, while dreaming about dinner.

 

Megalithic Stones in the South of France

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Not only will you find Cathar history & ruins all over the South of France, but the Romans left their mark with the occasional pillar, as well as the Dinosaurs & cavemen.  Nearby Azille and not far from Carcassonne or Narbonne you will find a 5000 yr old Megalithic burial site built by a tribe called the "Veraza" in approximately 3,500 b.c.

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The Dolmen de Fados, or the Fairies' Hillhock, sits in the community of Pepieux between Cesseras & Siran on a wooded hill, smack dab in the middle of the Minervois vineyards.

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A tomb with a 25 meter long passage that was originally 2 and a half meters high, sits within a hidden 35 meter long burial mound.

With an entrance at each end the main chamber is covered with a 25 ton 'capstone' made out of locally sourced limestone - how the builders got it there is still a mystery today.

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The remaining pillars & stones have been carved from the surrounding sandstone, impressive work as well, and one of the largest Megalithic sites in the Languedoc-Roussillon.