At every Après-Midi, a guest speaker of note will come to talk about a topic of interest and then open the floor for questions and discussion.
October 10, 2017
Cara Black, Author of the Aimée Mystery Series
Cara shares her exploration in the arrondissements in Paris, inspiration for her books and how she takes the ‘flics’ for dinner, pours wine and hears stories of their investigations. For research she visits the sewers, tunnels under Jardin du Luxembourg, the bell tower on Saint Chapelle and fashion runway shows.
Her private detective, Aimée Leduc, investigates off the beaten track Paris. From street cleaner to countess, murder is the great equalizer and her books explore society, the social issues facing today and breathe life, relevancy into them as characters experience it.
Join us as she discusses her latest book, Murder in Saint-Germain, and others in her series.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
...and the second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Upstairs at Café de la Mairie, on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd. Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers Costs nothing except whatever you drink!
The film crew managed to synchronistically meet at the Toulouse airport within minutes of one another coming from New York, London and Paris. The van was loaded with the camera equipment to film another House Hunters International episode, our 28th episode. This time the show takes place in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, a two-hour drive from Toulouse.
The HHI crew
View of Olargues
The convent living room
Filming in Hérépian
Dining in Languedoc
The accommodations arranged for us are what dreams are made of -- a converted 17th-century convent in the town of Hérépian. The boutique hotel/spa is in the beautiful "Parc du Haut Languedoc" boasting of 13 large apartment suites, a Jacuzzi and spa, beautiful garden with a small swimming pool, restaurant, bar and luxurious facilities. Each of our rooms was a fully equipped large one-bedroom apartment (larger than my Paris apartment), two of which had terraces overlooking the old town of Hérépian and the forest. The spacious bathroom in the apartment has a large, deep tub that I have filled to the brim every morning, frothy with bubbles. I'm considering moving in permanently!
I am currently reading Elizabeth Podolinsky's new book, "Pretending to Pray in French" while on this adventure in the Languedoc. She wrote that Le Couvent d’Hérépian "est beaucoup plus different que au couvent des Dominicaines des Tourelles!" in Saint-Mathieu-de-Tréviers, where she stayed and wrote this memoir.
The filming in the Languedoc enticed me to learn more about the region. One of the wonderful things about exploring France is that there is so much to discover about its history and there is so much history to discover. This region is where, in the 12th and 13th-centuries, more than a half-million people were massacred, "thanks" to the Roman Catholic Church which waged war against the heretics known, among other names, as the Cathars.
The Cathars were not considered Christians and in fact, held principles in complete contrast to the church. They believed in two gods, one good and one evil, reincarnation, veganism (not to eat any animal or animal products). They believed one should not lie or kill or swear oaths. They saw men and women as equals, agreed with contraception, euthanasia and suicide. In addition, the Cathars believed non-procreative sex was better than procreative sex and masturbation was a worse sin than rape. I'm not sure if I quite understand these ideas myself, but the church clearly did not and found it excusable to murder them on these lands.
The Cathars weren't the only religious order to have the wrath of the Catholic Church. Jews and other minorities were persecuted and massacred. Jews were not allowed to even be a part of the feudal system and were considered personal property of their sovereigns. They were only allowed to have certain professions, including money-lending and the "rag-and-bone" trade -- a person who scavenges for unwanted household items and then resells them to merchants, something like purveyors of rummage sale goods today. They weren't allowed to attend universities, marry outside their faith, hire Christians, possess their own scriptures as well as many other rights others had.
The Counts of Toulouse were different and as a result, the Jewish communities flourished and prospered in the area. They protected the Jews within their own territories, having evacuated them from Béziers in 1209, lest the Catholic Crusaders have their heads. The Counts of Toulouse in turn suffered at the hands of the Roman Church and subsequently the fate of the Jews there once again fell into the hands of those who then murdered and tortured them.
So, a lot of blood was spilled on the soil of the Languedoc and therefore it tends to be a very spiritual part of France. In the summer of 2013, I had a client who purchased a home in the region for just this reason. While I was there with her I had a very unusual experience about which I wrote in a Parler Paris Nouvellettre®:
"I will confess that the night before I awoke in the middle of the night with all the windows of the old house in Limoux open, saw a bright midnight blue sky and felt a strange chill come over my body in spite of the intense heat. It was if I was shaking internally. I realized I had been dreaming about spiritual or alien kinds of beings and felt as if I had been possessed. It took a long time before I was calm enough to doze off again, but sensed that something really different had taken place -- no ordinary dream or nightmare -- not one of the usual kind, but it wasn't frightening."
The "contributors" of the House Hunters International episode are two women from Los Angeles who have picked up lock, stock and barrel to move to the Languedoc and fulfill their dreams of spending the rest of their lives in the French countryside and in a place rich with nature and history -- photographer Renée Jacobs) and her partner, Wendy Hicks. Renée is a celebrated photographer for fine art nudes, specifically of women. She wants a property that provides privacy for her work and the workshops she gives for other budding photographers, that must be large enough to house most of the students.
The tour of homes takes us to three villages in the area of the Parc du Haut Languedoc: Prémian, Bize-Minervois and Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, well-known for the production of an excellent muscat wine. The countryside is beautiful and the old stone villages charming. We have dined like royals on fine cuisine since the moment we landed in the south, on home-grown vegetables and herbs, local produce and wines. By the time I hop the train back to Paris tomorrow from Montpellier, we will have toured three homes and filmed many hours to make up one 30-minute episode...and it will have all been well worth it while having an amazing adventure in the Languedoc-Roussillon.
Located just around the corner from the Musée d'Orsay which houses the world's greatest collection of impressionist masterpieces, La Maison d'Orsay is a lovely blend of modern conveniences and efficiency with old-world French charm and elegance.
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