mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


Allez hop, au boulot!

Let’s get to work!

We’ve only got to get through this 4 day week and we get ANOTHER day off.


Monday 08 May commemorates V E Day and then there is another Bank Holiday on Thursday 25 May for Ascension Day.

Not to mention 05 June Pentecost Monday!

Pas mal!

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Bon 1er mai!

Happy May Day!


May Day started with a friend wishing me a Bon 1er mai and sending a Lily of the Valley posy.

The tradition started on May 1st 1561 when King Charles IX of France offered the ladies of the court a sprig of Lily of the Valley or Muguet as a lucky charm.  Over the years it has evolved into a way of showing friendship.  The florists and markets are full of Lily of the Valley in the lead up to the 01 May.  The local Prefrecture had to issue a warning this year not to pick too many from the woods.

The sunshine, bird song and wild flowers mean that spring is finally here.  The dark nights are over and there is a feeling of celebration in the air.  The long holiday weekend also celebrates the Fete du Travail.

spinning wheel

We spent a sunny afternoon with friends showing us how to spin and weave.  Spinning has been used for thousands of years as a way of producing yarn.  Charlotte enjoyed using a Spinning Wheel using wool from local sheep, a method in use for centuries since the Middle Ages.  She might be taking up spinning as a new hobby and wants to make a rug using wool she has spun herself.  A good start to the month.




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Verre de L’amitié



Last night, the Mayor invited everyone in our commune to toast the New Year with a verre de l’amitié, a glass of friendship.  We made it through the snow thanks to a lift from friends with winter tyres on their car.  The snow was so pretty and the Christmas lights in the centre of the village made it look very festive.

It was nice to see so many people there from our small community.  The Mayor welcomed and thanked everyone who had managed to get there.  He then thanked everyone who works or volunteers for the village, the school, the library and various associations.   He outlined what work had been done around the commune and plans for the coming year.  There was a poignant moment when he asked us to remember everyone who had been touched by terrorism and for those that had passed away.

The champagne was flowing but as we are having a dry January we politely declined.  A first for both of us!  Despite lots of attempts to fill my glass I managed to stick to orange juice until the Mayor handed me a glass of champagne – it would have been rude to say no!  I discreetly passed it to a neighbour who was more than happy to drink it for me.

For a small commune of around 200 people we are an international and friendly bunch made up of mostly French, a couple of Dutch (the numbers of Dutch increases in the summer!!), an English family (us), a German couple, a Texan and a South African.

We thanked the Mayor and asked if he could organise more evenings like this!








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A close call

Freezing fog, snow, frost and icy roads. We are in the grip of winter.  Our region, La Nievre has been on alert for bad weather this weekend and we’ve been advised not to drive unless you have to.

The snow has been melting and we went to see friends 10 minutes drive away and the roads were clear. On the way back I suggested driving back a different route and on the hill up to our house the road was unbelievably slippery. Our tyres couldn’t get a grip and I had a flash back to my car crash. Very scarey!

A wolf has been spotted not far away! An animal has been attacking sheep and a very wolf-like animal has been caught on camera.  The authorities are taking the threat seriously and are investigating.

So maybe it isn’t so bad staying close to home and hibernating!

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Portes Ouvertes


Art and history – my bliss!  This weekend the privately owned 15th century, Chateau de Thard opened it’s doors as part of Les Journèes Europeènes du Patrimoine.

The heritage weekend takes place the third weekend of September across France.  Each year there is a theme and this year’s was Patrimoine et citoyennetè.   Public offices, monuments, historical sites, churches and chateaux open their doors to the public for a visit behind the scenes.

Chateau de Thard, a joli petit manoir, near Onlay proved to be a hidden treasure.  We drove up a long drive hidden in the woods, which opened out to amazing views high above Onlay.

The Chateau was also a perfect backdrop for an art exhibition featuring a variety of pottery, sculpture, oils, watercolours, prints and collages.


Slip between the sheets 

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We’re in the middle of a heatwave in Le Morvan and it is hotter than the south of France.

During the day when the heat is on we jump in the local lac but at night it’s a different story!  Luckily our collection of vintage French linen is beautifully cool to the touch. Collected over a few years from brocantes, our linen treasures have pretty details, monograms and exquisite embroidery. 

It was the tradition to embroider bed linen as part of a young bride’s trousseau and back in the Middle Ages linen was worn next to the skin by those who could afford it. The wicking properties of linen means that it soaks up moisture and you don’t end up with clammy sheets sticking to you. Perfect for these hot summer nights.

Buy linens  or Metis – a linen and cotton mix – as crisp as you can find and they will soften up after washing.

The simple linen sheet in the photo has a hand stitched centre seam which reveals that it is at least a hundred years old.  It is harder to find the linen bargains now but they are still out there waiting to be uncovered.



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Insider Tips to French Café Society


cafe 1


Sitting outside a café sipping a coffee and watching the world go by is part of daily life in France.  Manners and etiquette are important here so here’s a few tips to help keep you out of hot water!

As you arrive always greet the Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle behind the bar with a bonjour and a general bonjour to everyone in the room.  This is the case, especially in rural France when you enter a shop, post office, doctor.. anywhere…obviously not in a large supermarché and it maybe a bit different in Paris and large towns!  If you decide to sit on the terrace, find a seat and the waiter will come to you.

Always be polite in France. Manners count for a lot and a little politeness goes a long way.  No shouting or calling across the café to gain the attention of the waiter.  Remember merci and s’il vous plait!

Did you know the cost of your coffee depends on where you sit?  Outside on the terrace is always more expensive but sitting up at the bar is the cheapest and you can enjoy the atmosphere.

If you ask for ‘un café s’il vous plait’ the waiter will bring you a café noir or café express in a small expresso sized cup. It will be served with sugar cubes or sugar wraps on the saucer and a tiny biscuit or a chocolate covered almond.  The other popular coffee, mostly drunk at breakfast time is a café crème or café au lait with hot milk, served in a larger cup.

A custom I love is that if the café does not serve croissants or gateaux you can buy your cakes elsewhere and eat them in the café.  I would always check first out of politeness.  We did this recently, before we opened our big box of cakes on the table and the waitress even provided serviettes, plates and knives!!

Bottled water can be expensive and I am happy to drink Eau du robinet (tap water).  If you ask for a verre or pitcher d’eau du robinet you won’t be charged.

For a delicious treat, order a Café Gourmand, a petit café with a selection of bite sized desserts served alongside.


cafe gourmand

You are generally left alone to take your time to enjoy your coffee.  Lots of cafés and bars, even in rural France have free Wi-Fi (internet). When you do decide that you want l‘addition, (the bill), the service charge is already included.  You will see the words Servis Compris on the bill which means service is already included in the total to be paid.

A small extra tip is still a nice gesture to recognise good service as that will go directly to your waiter.

What have your experiences been like?  I would love to know.

Please comment and share.