Where the Heart Is

Graphic showing the logo for the Flashback Track Friday prompt.

This is my response to this week’s Flashback Track Friday prompt, where we were challenged:

Where is your heaven on earth?

There are a several places which stick out as feeling like home, and today I’ll just concentrate on a couple.

For a start, I’ll stick to France. It’s always been right up there, when it comes to immersing myself into the lifestyle. I love French food, culture and language, and before the stroke, we would visit 4-5 times a year.

Paris

One of the places is Paris. As in, I spent lots of time there, just hanging out. Specifically, the area around La Mouffe street market, in the fifth arrondissement, a little way in from the Place d’Italie. Immediately before I met Mrs Bump, I was single, and used to visit there about one weekend every month. All my clothes, even, were French.

I could quite happily have ended up in Paris, but worked in IT which is a very Anglo-Saxon industry. And Paris has the same weather as the UK; it would be nice to be somewhere warmer.

I’ve previously shared one of my photos of the area. This was taken at twilight on a dark, December evening and I’ve farted about with the post-processing.

A photo of La Mouffe street market, in Paris, at dusk
Pays Cathare

Speaking of warmer, another of my favourite areas is a place I first visited as a singleton, and we just kept on going back there after we were a family. In fact, Mrs Bump and I booked a vacation down there, before we were offered a cancellation slot for the wedding, so the vacation became a honeymoon! It is the Cathar region, right down in the south western tip of France (anything west of Marseille is considered “south west”).

Map showing the Cathar region in France

The first time I visited the area was to stay in the tiny hamlet of Le Vivier, about an hour south of the main town of the area, Carcassonne. We flew into Toulouse, which is another hour along the autoroute. Le Vivier was so small it did not even boast a bakery! (which, in France, is a big deal. A van came out twice a week.)

Photo of the church in the village of Le Vivier
(c) Thierry Llansades, on Flickr

You can see the typical colours of the buildings there, plus that wonderful sky. The area is in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it is rocky terrain and one of the common features of the region are the old castles built onto various hilltops:

Château de Puilaurens, from Wikimedia Commons

and Carcassonne itself boasts a complete medieval city (a World Heritage Site) about a mile from the modern town.

Photo of the old town of Carcassonne
Carcassonne, by Cathar.info

Just in that area around Carcassonne, too, there is wonderful food and drink. The village of Bize Minervois makes one of the most delicious cheeses (happens to be goats’) I ever tasted.

Photo of the river (La Cesse) at Bize Minnervois
Photo of a block of Bize Minervois cheese.

while a little way away, in Lézignan-Corbières, the Château Grand Moulin makes some of my favourite wine. And, because it’s not a partucularly fashionable region (strictly, Corbières, although it might also be known by the more generic Languedoc, which refers to that whole swathe of south-western France) it’s also very reasonable. A good Corbières wine is sublime, by the way. They’re quite light, nowhere near as full-on, say, as a Bordeaux or a Côtes du Rhône.

Photograph of the Chateau du Grand Moulin, where this wine is produced.
Photo of a bottle of red wine from the Chateau Grand Moulin

I have to say, though, just in conclusion, that these places, no matter how beautiful, are basically just bricks and mortar.

It’s not places, but people, who make life worth living. It’s people who create my heaven on earth.

26 comments

  1. I love Paris. One of my favourite cities. We stayed in Montpelier on a language learning course so I also know the area around Carcassonne. Thank you for reviving some wonderful memories this morning, Pete. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most people, to be honest, I’m ambivalent, but there are just a few….

      However, you asked us “where”, so that’s my excuse. If I thought I could travel there, I would go back in a heartbeat. One way ticket. Nowadays, all you really need is a phone line.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My 42nd wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks, so I just put Corbières in my Ocado trolley. Thanks for the recommendation. On a special occasion I like a glass of wine. I love the Loire Vallley … almost as much as northern Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

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