on the roads in Lozere
Last week I had a vacation from school grace à Armistice Day on November 11th. The break was very much needed and I have come back to Angers completely refreshed and motivated to finish the 30 days I have left of school here. For le pont (what they call short holidays here in France), I went south. I really am a southern girl in every sense…born in southern France, raised in Mississippi…and it felt so good to be with my people again and in a place that is very familiar to me.
For the first half of the break, Oma, Opa, and I went to the house in le Cellier (“The Cellar” in English). The village is really, really tiny, but it is always such a pleasure to be there, and it is no surprise to me why it is the place where my family has vacationed now for the past 50 years. The region is la Lozère and is in le Masif Central, which is a mountain range (of dead volcanoes) in south-central France. It should be mentioned that this region is the most rural in all of France, having about 3 habitants per kilometer squared (Paris has 20,000 habitants per square km). My guess is that in le Cellier there might be about 20 families (all small farmers)…but no more.
Reasons why I love Lozère:
1. Very often, one is woken up in the morning by the sound of sheep being herded down the street from the barns to the meadows.
2. One must drive for thirty minutes to get to the closest grocery store and to find internet.
3. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful and very isolated from the rest of France. It can only be reached by small winding roads along rocky cliffs.
4. Everyone is obsessed with mushroom hunting.
5. You buy your cheese, milk, eggs, and sausage from your neighbor.
The region has a sort of ancient mystique to it. All of the houses are old (Oma and Opa’s house is 400-ish years old). I have no doubt that the story of Beauty and the Beast (Belle et la Bête) is supposed to take place in Lozère. Being in such an old place is, ironically, incredibly rejuvenating. It must have to do with being so isolated in nature. Fun fact: Robert Louis Stevenson loved this region and wrote a lot about it. When in Lozère, it’s easy to understand how he must have been so inspired by all that was around.