Chemin de Candordy

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Chemin de Candordy is the name of the road that our little “Impasse”, or dead-end street, stems from.  These are the cute ceramic road signs in our village.  The hand painted drawings are different throughout the village.  They add a little extra character to the normal (French) street signs.

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This is Dennis and Ann Marie’s gate and entrance to their house.  They are one of five neighbors on our “Impasse”, or street.  We see this white gate every time we come or go from our house.  Most home owners have gates.  Property is very private and if you visit someone you have to ring at their gate.  One does not even get to the front door.  Most gates are automatic, like a garage door in America.  Ours is not.  If you notice in the above photo, there is a small light on the right hand side of the gate.  When their gate opens/closes this light will go on to warn anyone of the operating gate and/or someone pulling out of the driveway.  I have noticed this light at many residences.

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This is the intersection of our “Impasse” de Candordy with Chemin de Candordy.  The property with all the shrubs and trees is Patrick and Denise’s house.  They have been great neighbors, especially during the floods.  Their grandson, Adrian, goes to school with Jack and Sophie and he is often found at our house.  In fact, Jack and Adrian argue like brothers.  Adrian is 9 years old.  They usually like to play soccer.

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This is a view looking down our Impasse/street.  Around the bend to the right is our house, 6 Impasse de Candordy.  We have loved our little street.  Last weekend our street had a “neighborhood” party.  It was at Ivan and Caroline’s house.  They live at the end of our street.  They have a son who is in his 20’s.  Ivan had Mojitos ready for all of us to drink and we had to kindly decline!  Ivan and Caroline are known for their crazy and fun parties.  Ivan brought out his guitars and my boys tried to play with him.  We were all singing and enjoying each other’s company.  It was so fun!  When my kids started feeling a little tired, around 10:30, they were saying goodbye to everyone and we noticed the french were a little surprised by this.  Aaron and I asked if it was polite that they leave and okay for them to leave (after all, we just lived one house down) and they all responded that it was fine, just unusual.  Usually the kids all stay up late with the adults.  Aaron and I did not leave until after midnight.

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Les Baux de Provence

One afternoon Rebecca, Alexis and I headed to Les Baux de Provence!  I recorded a visit we made to this beautiful village back in the Fall, but this time around we discovered an old church, Saint Vincent, dating back to the 12th century and a few other “nooks” that I want to remember.

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Les Baux de Provence has one of the best savon de Marseille, soap of Marseille, boutiques.  I absolutely LOVE the little shop and when Alexis and Becca went inside they couldn’t get enough of the perfume.  Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oil around the area of Marseilles for over 600 years.  This particular boutique in Les Baux de Provence has soaps in beautiful colors and scents.

Anduze

Anduze is a little city of about 7,000 residents that sits on the banks of the Gardon River amongst the rocks of the hills and mountains.  It is about a 40 minute drive from Sanilhac. Anduze is known for is beautiful pottery, especially ceramic outdoor flowering pots.  I wish, desperately, that I could get some to the States!

Side note, when we first came to this region 6 years ago many locals recommended we take our children to Anduze and ride the steam train.  We visited Anduze once before because we were told they had a bamboo forest nearby and we wanted to see what it was like.  On that particular trip we ended up enjoying the little village and bypassing the bamboo forest and the train because of expenses (the bambousserie is so pricey).  I am so glad we didn’t waste our money on the bamboo forest because this time we all saw it from the train and it really wasn’t anything special.  It was interesting, but it was almost like paying to go into a local nursery.  6 years ago a few of the kids were disappointed we were not able to ride the train, so I kind of felt obligated to take them back and experience the train ride.

So, that is what I did.  We (except for Aaron, who was in the States) all loaded up and made the field trip.  We had fun and I am glad we all got to enjoy the steam engine.  It is the Cevennes Steam Train.  The Cevennes is the mountain range.  There were tunnels we traveled through, large bridges we crossed, beautiful houses on the mountainsides, fields of milking goats, the Gardon River…

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Marius

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This is our friend Marius!  He is the kindest 10 year old boy I have ever met.  Aaron first met Marius at Jack and Sophie’s school.  Marius is responsible for opening the locked gate for those students who ride their bike and need to store his/her bike.  Sophie rode her bike to school one day and Marius helped her get her bike “locked” up.  Since that first meeting many months ago, Marius has met up with our kids at the stade, field, to play a sport, he has come over to our house to hang out with the kids, we see him riding bikes through Sanilhac, we see him at the village events, etc.  Marius always has a huge smile on his face.  He lives right next to the school and he has an older brother, Justin, and a younger brother between Jack and Sophie’s age.  Marius is very polite and very kind.  He always tries to help others if they are hurt or need something.  He adores Sophie and is always looking out for her.  We love Marius and wish we could bring him back to America with us!  We will miss seeing his adorable smile and miss his genuine kindness!

Running of the Bulls

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Back in the Fall our neighbors, Morgan and Guillaume, told us about the running of the bulls in our little village of Sanilhac.  They told us it would be in May and it was really fun and something we did not want to miss.  They took us to the bull ranch one afternoon so we could see all the bulls.  They have about 20-30 head.  We were anxious to see this event but we had not seen any advertisement as we approached the month of May.  The children all had friday, May 1st off from school.  I had noticed that stores were advertising they would be closed on May 1st and we were not quite sure what the holiday was.  Until, Aaron and I returned from Paris with my girlfriend, Jenn and her husband John, the night before May 1st.  When we were driving back home from the train station I noticed gates were being set up in certain places in Sanilhac.  A light bulb went on and I knew “this” holiday was somehow associated with the bull run.  Sure enough, Aaron inquired at the Boulangerie about 30 minutes before the events were to start.  The running of the bulls began at 11am and then activities were happening throughout the weekend.  May 1st is Labor Day in France.  Everything was closed!  (We had to buy some eggs from the baker because all the grocery stores were closed.)

We all quickly got ourselves ready and we went down to the centre ville.  There was a lot of excitement.  People were lining along the barriers and some were, also, just walking in the middle of the roads.  I was a little perplexed by this.  I had envisioned bulls being herded through the streets of our cute little village and was a little concerned for those just casually walking around in the streets.  Jenn and I had to run through a field of waist high weeds so we could reach the boys as they were watching from the side of the road.  Right as we got to the road the parade started.  I say parade loosely because it was nothing like a US parade.  It was just a line of trucks and cars.  3 trucks started this parade and then we see horses all packed together tightly.  A few horses were getting a little “wild” and their riders had to reign them in to get control.  Within seconds, this pack of horses went right by.  We would have totally missed seeing the bulls if we had not been on this little overlook of the road.  There were 3 bulls sandwiched in between the horses.  This was the running of the bulls.  What?  Did we miss something?  This was fun?  We all broke out in hysterics because of the stupidity of this event!  I didn’t even have time to take a picture of the 3 bulls that were hidden.  We laughed so hard!!!!

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If you look at the above photo you can see the hilarity of the moment.  There is the parade of horses with 3 bulls in the middle, an old french man on his bicycle, young men running with the parade in their typical french sweatsuits, two kids on a four wheeler right behind the horses…  Not shown are the rest of the residents of Sanilhac driving their cars/trucks in this parade.  We all looked at each other and asked, “was that it?”  Maybe this is one of those moments where you had to be there to appreciate the humor!

After this running of the bulls, all the spectators started making their way to the center square for drinks, fair-type games for the kids, food and music.  As we were walking we came across a few of the injured horses that had obviously been hurt by the bulls horns.2015-04-30 21.32.46

The kids enjoyed the few games they had set up.  John gave the boys a little money so they could shoot for a prize.  It was funny!  We all had some great laughs that day!!!

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Wild Poppies

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There are wild poppies everywhere!  It is beautiful!  On the outskirts of Uzès I spotted this amazing field of wild poppies!  I had Aaron drive down a tiny dirt path so I could get a closer look!

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Some of the French consider the poppies weeds.  I, on the other hand, think they are bright and fun!  I love spotting the vibrant flower “popping” up everywhere I turn!

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Another view of Sanilhac

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This is another view of Sanilhac from the south side of the village.  Some of our favorite trails converge at this location!  I feel so grateful to have been able to enjoy all 4 seasons here in the south of France.  It is beautiful at any time of the year, but right now it is absolutely lovely!  I took the above photos a few weeks ago and already the vineyards are heavy with green vines, the countryside is greener than I have seen it all year!  Plus, there are wild flowers everywhere!  I am going to have a hard time leaving this place! :(

La Baume

It is that time of year again when we set out for La Baume!  It is “right in our backyard” with just a few miles of hiking in between.  We all love going down to the river.  The weather is getting warmer but the water is still freezing!  I don’t think the river ever changes temperature.  It has always felt cold, even on the hottest of days!  The kids LOVE the river, especially the three older boys.  We wanted to show Becca one of our favorite spots.  It was a beautiful day for a hike, plus, it helps that the summer crowd hasn’t appeared yet!

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Uzès Spring

Uzès houses the original water source for the ancient Roman aqueduct, The Pont du Gard.  The spring allowed the Romans to get water to Nîmes, about 50 km (31 miles) in the 1st century AD.  This spring is still beautiful and a relaxing park surrounds the original site.  Our family has visited this green space many times and we wanted to show Becca, Alexis’s roommate, while she is visiting with us for a month.

The children brought their soccer ball, volleyballs, etc. along with a blanket and some snacks to chill on a lovely afternoon.  We strolled around the park and I took a few photos. The Alzon river goes through the park and there is a trail that follows its’ winding flow.  AJ, Austin, Jack and I decided to follow a little more of the trail this time.  It was so pretty and peaceful.  We discovered a sheep farmer, plaques that marked the water level of the river at certain years, and tranquility.  It was so relaxing!  Sophie loved watching the ducks swim upriver.  It was a great family day at the park!

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French Geraniums

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One of the common “french” traditions that appear everywhere, when the weather is warm, are the beautiful geraniums!  Potted geraniums adorn almost every window you see throughout France!  I decided to give in and get a few for the remaining months we will spend here.  I found a typical red and a bright pink to accent our patio area.  I love looking out into the yard and seeing these vibrant flowers.  I love having annuals potted and I just could not refuse!

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