Friday, November 30, 2012

Our Local Agatha Christie

Artist Danielle Boissé lives in Perpignan and has written four books in the Dominique d’Astie series, set in Perpignan, as well as a novel and a book of short stories.

I met the lovely Dani in Espi on Quai Vauban and she told me about her interesting life and how she ended up living in Perpignan. Dani was born in The Loire region in France but her parents decided to move to America when she was a baby. There , her parents embraced  the American dream, learnt English, worked hard and were very successful. Dani spent many happy summers visiting France, hanging out with her French cousins and always felt much more at home in her native country. She married an Irish man and had a son called Matthieu and when this marriage broke up she decided to come and live in France with her new husband and 7 year old son and so began the French chapter…
They bought a little farm in a little village of 50 inhabitants called Le Projet in Le Quércy and enjoyed an idyllic time there. Her son went to school with the 12 other children in the village and was soon speaking French fluently and running wild in the French countryside, loving the freedom of rural France. The little boy became ill though and was sent to a Sanatorium in the Pyrenees to recover. Dani moved to Banyuls sur Mer to be closer to her only son and this allowed her to visit him at the weekends. Matthieu recovered but they stayed in Banyuls for many years and had an artist’s studio while her husband was a sculptor. Finally, on husband number three, she decided to move to Perpignan where she now lives with her Spanish husband. Dani is trilingual, speaking French, English and Spanish completely fluently.
She began writing when she was 15 years old. Encouraged and flattered by her English teacher, she wrote short stories.While painting was her lifelong passion, she continued to write as a hobby all her life. It was only relatively recently in 2007 that she published her first book “The Triangle Mystery” a criminal investigation set in Perpignan. There are now 4 books in this series and another one in the writing.
She has been described as a local modern day Agatha Christie and I can concur with this as I am currently reading the Triangle. It’s an enjoyable easy read, made all the more interesting if you know Perpignan city as all the action takes place in the streets of the city with all the recognizable sights and sounds..
When Danni is writing she gets up early and starts writing at 7 and continues until about 11h30. She writes the old fashioned way with a pencil, paper and eraser in spiral notebooks, transferring her work to the computer once she is happy with it. The local schools love her books and she works a lot with the colleges in the area.
The good news for English readers is that The Triangle and The Poet Assasin ( the first two books in the detective series) are available in English. You can purchase them at the bookstore Chapitre at 10 rue Dr Pous in Perpignan or online at For someone who knows and loves Perpignan, it would make an ideal gift.
I’ll certainly be looking out for the books from this very interesting and inspirational lady.
Merci et Bonne Continuation Dani!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Le festival du livre

Last weekend was the 15th festival du livre ( Book festival ) here in Cabestany and people flocked from all over the department to hear authors do book readings, take part in discussions, watch book related films and hob nob with book loving people.
The theme of this weeks festival was Superheros and my daughters class of  7 year olds were busy in the lead up to it making their own book. Alannah isn't really into reading per se,despite my encouragement, but this has made her do a complete 180° on the subject and for the moment she is loving her books and can't get enough of reading. Result!!!
Alannah reads her passage 

Amandine est Amoureuse ( I guess the girls in the class had more of an input than the boys) was the name of their illustrated publication and they all had to read a passage in the Centre Culturel on Saturday.
A wonderful initiative to encourage the children to get interested in books and reading and they all came home with a copy of their tome.
Well done to the teachers and all involved!
Proud Mammy moment. Alannah's illustration picked for the cover!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Friday Challenge

There was an article in the Irish Independent today about kindness, saying that 7 out of 10 people had experienced some kindness in the past week ( 1000 people were surveyed). What would the results of a similar survey in France be?
Take the Friday Challenge:

Do One Random Act of Kindness - It's contagious!
Soyez Gentils -N'ayez crainte, être gentil est contagieux!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

La Maison des Quartiers

This falls into one of my 'Things I Love About France' categories and I love the whole spirit of 'La Maison des Quartiers' here where in live in the Deep South in Cabestany. 'La Maison des Quartiers' in Cabestany is situated right in the centre of the old village and it's doors are always open for people to pop in for a cuppa or to offer their talents or to look for some kind of help.
The idea is that everybody gives a little and the whole community benefits from everyone doing their little bit. I give English lessons every Tuesday to a lovely group of mostly retirees who have become firm friends over the past three years. Others volunteer to help kids with their homework, some people bring dinners to eldery people, they organise les fetes de voisins, kiddies play groups in the parks, outings for teenagers, company for old folks living alone and lots more. All good stuff.
We're on the Letter U
This week is la Semaine de Droits des enfants ( Children's Rights' Week) and the Maison des Quartiers came up with the very ambitious plan of getting all the Cabestany schools onto the pitch in the local stadium. Not only that, but to align them up in the letters of the word EGAUX (EQUALS), i.e. ; no easy task!
So off I trotted this morning with my son's class of 28 wriggling 5 year olds and we stood in our allocated spot with our papers above our head while they took an arial shot of thousands of children standing obediently to attention.
On the Letter A

Chapeaux ( Hats off) to La Maison des Quartiers for organising yet another fantastic event.

Give me an X!
PS Aerial photos to follow!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Fair

The annual FAB PO Christmas market is on again this Sunday in Saint Jean Pla de Corts. It's always an excellent day out with great Christmas pressie ideas, activities for the children, wine tasting, a generous raffle and much much more. If you're in the area, do drop in.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chanson Sarko

Come back Sarko, all is forgiven!
With over 1.2million hits on Youtube, this little ditty may become the new French anthem!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Take Away .... Drugs

In sleepy surburbia here in the outskirts of Perpignan, the busiest establishment by far, is, The Pharmacy. They now have a pully ticket system like they do in large group situations where people can't manage to form an orderly queue like busy delis in French supermarkets, or The Prefecture ( cue psycho music). It really is that busy.
In Irish small towns and suburbs, you can be guaranteed a couple of pubs and a church. In France, it's a couple of pharmacies and a hairdressers ( who can't cut hair to save her life, but that's another story..)
Walking into the French Pharmacy is like walking into the set of Cheers ( you know , where everybody knows your na-a-ame). The atmosphere is relaxed, the regulars know each other and the barman (oops pharmacist) knows your order before you even get to the counter.. They will gossip and chat and exchange pleasantries and leave happy with their state paid drugs "A la semaine prochaine, bisous!" All very "sociable" indeed...
The latest craze for the pill popping happy French is 'La Pharmacie Drive In". Yes, you read it correctly folks, there are about 100 Drive in Pharmacies throughout France and the number is growing.
It functions just like a fast food outlet, you drive up to the window with your ordonnance ( prescription) or just explain your symptoms and hey presto, et voilà, you are served without having to go to the trouble of putting your achy achy big toe out of your vehicle...
The idea was first introduced to help young mamans or physically handicapped people to make their lives a bit easier but apparently is really taking off, particularly in large urban areas where parking is a problem or perhaps where people don't really want the nosey neighbours to know that they have flatulence problems or whatever their ailment may be..
I'm not sure it would take off here either in our little suburb, sure they would miss all the craic and weekly contact then!!
The French juxtaposition ; a nation with the best healthcare in the world peopled with hypochondriacs!!!
A ta santé!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Pet Advent Calender

We all know that the French love their animaux but this does really take the biscuit ( the cat biscuit, that is!!)
Advent Calender for your cat!!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Get Real Italy - Cheap and Very Cheerful

Dear Santa....
La famille Getrealfrance treated ourselves to a little minibreak in Sardinia last weekend - Highly recommend as a cheapie getaway from Girona. The flights were 80euros return for the 4 of us and accommodation was excellent value in a self catering apartment right on the beach.
We love Italieeeeee
The highlight of the holiday for us was the friendliness of the people, their warmth and how genuine they were, doting on our children and going out of their way to welcome us, and all this , at the end of a busy tourist season as well.
A metre of pizza
The lowlights were the crappy weather; we had uncharacteristic torrential rain for 3 days but luckily had one fine day and oh yeah,there was the small issue of  Mr Getrealfrance getting a dose of food poisoning as well !
We were also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine, particularly the white wine and bemoaned the fact that we could not bring some back on our flight. Sardinia is the ideal place for producing wine really, with it's limestone soils, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate. It's most famous red grape is Cannanou, brother to Grenache which we know and love well here in the Roussillon region. It's supposed to be excellent for declogging the arteries as well as tasting damn good. It was the white that stole our hearts though, especially the Vermentino crisp whites from the North of the island. We wanted to do a wine tour  but the cellar at Sella & Mosca close to Alghero where we were staying was not open for tours.
Oh well, we'll just have to go back again soon!!! We certainly will be keeping our eye out for Sardinian whites in future...
Vive L'Italieeeeee
Sunset Alghero

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