Published on July 2nd, 2017 | by Ann Rickard


French La Canicule.

Coming to you again from France this week, in fact I’ll be coming to you from this lovely country for the next few weeks.

We are in the grip of a heatwave, or as the French so delightfully call it: La Canicule.

There is a lot of fan-waving of the face by the locals and copious drinking of water and proclamations of ‘having to rest for the entire afternoon’ – all of which I join in, even though I should be used to 36 degree days.

After two weeks in France we are feeling very chipper and becoming almost expert with our ‘bonjour’ greetings and ‘au revoir’ goodbyes.

We have even become reasonably skilled with our three-cheek-kiss greetings, although we have not yet managed to avoid lips landing on ears and noses in the confusion of where to begin and end the process. We will get there.

We are adjusting to the smaller scale of living space, getting used to apartments that must be reached by the scaling of many sets of stairs. Lifts have eluded us. We have not bagged a ground floor hotel or apartment yet.

Our charming apartment in the Place aux Herbes in the Duchy town of Uzes is, of course, on the very top floor.

As Australians used to a big a front yard, a path leading to an obvious front door and a leafy back garden that stretches to long fences, we have had to adjust to getting into our new living place via a hidden door in a stone alley where a key that looks like it belongs to a gaoler in the Middle Ages never seems to want to turn the right way.

Our first time to visit the apartment was quite scary, even for the big husband who does not scare easily.

Madam, the apartment owner, waited for us in the top-floor and pressed a buzzer which would open the alley door. She was not prepared for two Australian grown-ups who could not push the door down below once the buzzer had sounded. She had to walk down and physically open the door for us, an embarrassment I have yet to shake off.

Madam turned on the light at the alley door in the dark stairwell and indicated for us to follow. As we trudged up those big winding stairs, lugging ridiculously

overpacked suitcases, the lights suddenly went out and we were plunged into a darkness so complete we could have been hundreds of metres underground.

After an awful cat-howling scream from me, Madam, produced a tiny torch, made reassuring noises and found a nearby light switch while we stood absolutely still, terrified to make even a small move in case we plummeted to messy deaths.

In our ignorance, we had not known to push the light switch on every level we ascended before the timer gave out.

We are savvy now. We do not want that pitch black experience in a narrow stairwell ever again.

Now we enter the building, press the switch and start climbing at a good clip, pressing switches on every floor. Like the cheek-kissing, and the bonjour greetings, we learn.

The stairwell adventure to the top floor each day brings wonderful rewards. Once inside the elegant apartment it is all French charm and views over clustered rooftops to handsome old buildings and graceful tall towers.

“Do you still yearn for an Aussie front garden with a path and a big front door with a small key,” the husband will ask as I step out onto our flower-filled roof-top terrace and look over the pretty Place aux Herbes with its stone arcades and green plane trees and handsome fountain.

“No, I love it here, very much,” I answer. “But you can carry up the shopping next time.”



About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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