Bonjour To You From Canens, France

It was a mere 22 or so hours after I took off from the boonies of California that I landed here in the SW of France. Two long drives, 12 cramped hours across the ocean squished next to a kid that kept falling asleep on me, four movies, three prison-worthy meals and one long stop….argh! There was a time I did this on a regular basis for business and I can’t say I miss it. The glamor of such things is well overrated.

But, what the journey lacks in interest, the destination makes up for in buckets. I am en France, amongst all things Français and deep into the boonies (if you will) of the same. My parents dwell in the sleepy little village of Canens which spreads out over 484 ha (~1,150 acres) with a grand ‘ol population of 62 and sweeping views of the majestic Pyrénées. There are houses here dating back to the 1300’s, people who do things the same way they did hundreds of years ago and the kind of small community where everyone knows everyone.

This is not a well-known tourist destination, but it’s the kind of place where people in the know come to re-live the French charm of old…and it oozes it in spades. There are rolling hills which blossom bright yellow with sunflowers in summer, old farmhouses with earthy colors that glow warmly in the sunset light and single-lane roads that go places only the locals understand. The houses don’t even have numbers here…just names. The hills are dormant now, but everything else is just as charming.

My parents bought a 300-year old run-down house here over 10 years ago and went through a multi-year resoration to create the home of their dreams. It’s many times larger than “the beast” and it feels totally odd to have so much space (especially since none of the toilets have foot pedals…do you find yourself looking for one everytime you go into civilization just like I do?), but it certainly is beautiful. And the views of the snow-capped mountains are simply spectacular.

And of course this being moi, I can’t make such a journey without a little drama, n’est ce pas? Having lugged my enormous computer all the way across the continents, I plug her into local sockets only to have my charger quit. Poof! Gone are ALL my pictures, ALL my programs and ALL my e-mail…once again. And of course this being the French equivalent of the boonies there is no such thing as a replacement charger within 200 miles. So, I’ve downloaded a free photo program and am struggling through on my sister’s non-color-compensated computer to try and get this blog out. Dedication has no limits, but the quality of the product I cannot guarantee. Ah, well…it’s all part of the journey right??!

Since I’ve been here we’ve taken a few walks around the neighborhood, watched several sunsets and even sampled lunch at a local restaurant (did I tell you how much I love French food??). We’ve got much more of this planned over the next 2 weeks, but for now I’ll leave you with the pics (please click onto the blog to see them for those of you on e-mail feed) and hope they turn out. Adieu, my friends…until next time.

Meanwhile -> Back At “The Beast”
A few of you asked for pics of my Christmas decor, so I took some shots the day I left to give you a general idea. Given our limited space we stick to lots of small items and I like to combine it with a Danish twist. Christmas Elves (Nisser) are impossible to avoid and invade every corner of the rig. If you treat them right they bring you luck & happiness all year…if you treat them wrong woe be you! We pair them with lots of colorful Danish Christmas hearts (if I get the time here in France I do a blog post on how to make these) and a few other knick-knacks. All store easily away and give “the beast” some nice Christmas cheer.

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  1. Linda says

    Chere Nina, so sorry to hear what you are going through with your computer. You sure seem peaceful about the whole thing. I think I would have had a heart attack!

    Happy holidays. Glad you’re having a good time with the family.

    • libertatemamo says

      Well I just went through a triple back-up RIGHT before jumping on the plane, so I’m feeling pretty relaxed. It’s more of a pain in the butt than anything else at this point.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing your holiday travel stories and the spectacular pics of France! I just love reading your blog…

    Happy holidays to you and your family!

    • libertatemamo says

      Glad you enjoy the blog! There sure are a lot of scenic spots here in SW France. Gives my camera something to do :)

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, I sure don’t miss them. There was a time I was flying at least twice a week. The airports and travel wear you down. I’m glad I can confine the trips to pleasure these days.

  3. says

    Your photos all look as lovely as ever. If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would not have known you had some type of malfunction with your preferred process.

    The lighting on the hills and buildings makes the place look so inviting. Enjoy your holidays!

    • libertatemamo says

      Well I’m glad to hear the problems aren’t showing through. It’s been a long week learning the new software though. At least I managed to download a free trail version so I can make it until I get back to the US….ahhhh, the joys of technology :)

  4. says

    hahahahaha! Dave and I were just laughing last night about the phantom foot pedal! We’ve abandoned Beluga to have bigger digs on the beach and, gasp…… it comes with a regular toilet!

    Jesse and his girl, Erin, plus a lifelong friend of mine will be joining us here at the beach for Christmas and New Years so we needed much more room than Beluga could provide. We miss her.

    Your pictures are still just slits for me, so I’ll have to enjoy them later on. Have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year, I know you will.


    • libertatemamo says

      Enjoy your holiday with Jesse and Erin…what a wonderful family reunion!

      I asked wordpress about your slit issue and they came back to me asking for some technical info about your IP and traceroute data. Don’t know if you got the e-mail? If it’s too techie let me know, but it seems it’s the only way they can try to replicate the issue.


    • libertatemamo says

      All the photos in the blog (apart from the ones in town) were taken right here. The house pic is my parents place. I’ll definitely take more though, so don’t worry!

    • libertatemamo says

      Happy to hear the pics are looking good. I seem to be having my greater share of computer issues this year :)

  5. says

    Wow Nina you are REALLY dedicated. And here I am complaining about my troubles making everything work with windows 7 and Live Writer 2012. The post looks terrific. What a gorgeous place. Are you SURE you and Paul don’t just want to move there???

    • libertatemamo says

      You never know…we may well end up over in Europe at some point in the future. Lots of gorgeous spots around here. All is possible.

  6. says

    Eh bien, on peut au moins practiquer le francais. J’avias l’impression que vous voyageriez en Danemark? Pas en France. Le temps fait mieux en France, je peux m’imaginer.
    Amusez-vous bien.

    Gawd my written French has gone down hill. Pardon all the mistakes.

    • libertatemamo says

      Mes parents sont Danoise Mai’s ils habitent en France depuis 10 ans.

      Been a while since I wrote French too :)


  7. Paul says

    Not exactly your short hop 50 miles down the Oregon coast! After a journey of that length, I would have to stay put for at least a month.
    Love your toy Christmas trailer!
    If you’re not careful, someone from Lonely Planet will recruit you as a travel writer (you’re that good!)and your boondocking days will be over.

  8. says

    Our daughter would love to read this. While in college, she studied in the south of France – Provence. She loved the area and has returned to France since then. Love the streets in town. And the view to die for.

    • libertatemamo says

      Provence is another lovely area, although it’s much better known (and visited) than the SW. Can’t really go wrong in France. So many historic and scenic towns here!

  9. Richard Castleberry says

    Hey Nina,

    Enjoy all you find there; a really great part
    of the world.

    My sister-in-law lives close by (very near Mirepoix, to the East of your parents).

    Let me know if you would like to connect. I’ll send you
    her phone number.

    Joyeux Noel,

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh how fun! I’ll be pretty busy with family stuff while I’m here (not likely to be traveling any), but I love to hear of folks who know the area. It really is pretty down here. The countryside is gorgeous and the Pyrenees, although not as well known as some of the other mountain ranges in Europe, are absolutely stunning.

  10. Steve says

    Thanks for sharing your trip. The pictures are great as always. At times we travel through your camera’s pictures. Merry Christmas to you, Paul and your family and blog followers.

  11. Bob Nuttmann says

    My solution to solve computer problems six months ago was to get an Apple Mac Book Pro. It is absolutely the best laptop hardware I have ever owned. And I have had maybe 20 laptops. Buuuut, the software takes a while to get used to and there are a few things you will not find like alt-tab and cut & paste. My windows computer software writing son-in-law solves this issue by have a Mac Book Pro with dual boot and Windows on his too.

    You have an HP though and my wife has a six year old one that has worked flawlessly since new and still works quite well. So frankly I am surprised you are having so many issues.

    My wife and I love France but have to been to the part you are in now. And I totally am with you on air travel. Used to be fun back in 1970’s and 80’s but has now turned into Dante’s Inferno unless you are a billionaire and can afford to pay 3-4 times as much for international first class. Even then the TSA is a PITA. Food great there. Although I always liked the food in Switzerland best when I used to go all the time.

    Merry Christmas – love your writing and pictures. Going to Q in Jan?

    • libertatemamo says

      Ahhhh yes, the MacBook. I know it’s a fine machine, but for whatever reason I just can’t go Mac. I find the software super difficult to work with (I’m weird I know). Maybe one day! The charger on my HP was buzzing for a while, so it’s possible the thing has been close to dying for months.

      Yes, we’re going to Q in Jan! We plan to join the iRV2 Monaco group this year.


  12. says

    Have you pinched yourself yet because this looks like a dream. Especially after the long flight. Glad you’re on top of backing up all data. I’ve been working on that for days.

    • libertatemamo says

      You know it’s really lucky that I completed the backup. We’ve been working on a good backup flow for the past 6 months and only just figured it out before I left. I’ll take the good luck though!

  13. Liz R says

    Simply spectacular surroundings. Thanks for sharing the pics of your adventure. Enjoy your time with the family.
    Love the elf in your rig!
    Merry Christmas!

  14. Charlotte says

    We appreciate all the extra effort to get the blog out. Sorry about your troubles, but that is part of it. My Grandmother was born and raised in La Rochelle right on the harbor. I hope to get there some day. I am looking forward to seeing pictures of the area your in now. It sounds wonderful! Enjoy!

    • libertatemamo says

      How fun that you have to link a France! It’s a gorgeous and historic country. Sooooo many lovely spots to visit with alot of variation too. I do hope you get out here someday.

    • libertatemamo says

      The trip (the actual flight) is definitely the worst of it. I can’t believe I actually liked flying once…

  15. says

    So glad you made it safely to your family:)

    Sounds like a perfect place for you to spend the holidays. But I do miss the closeness of everything when I am in a sticks and brick place. I love having my bathroom just steps away all the time:) I guess that’s why we were very comfortable with our cruise ship room and bathroom. I do turn to hit the pedal often!! Too funny!

    Happy eating!! Yummy food time!

    • libertatemamo says

      Isn’t it funny how we miss the “compact” nature of the RV when we’re not in it? I’ve really grown to love the small space and how easy it is to get around and find everything. I can see how a cruise ship room would be just right!

  16. Sergio says

    But where is Canens, France??? I tried Google Map and got no result, Google Earth not any better. Are we talking about « Cannes, France » ???

    And get a converter its safer… alligator.


    • Sergio says

      OK… I found it, south of Toulouse near Carbonne. My ancestor was from Aurilac and migrate to Québec, 13 generations ago. Canada didn’t even exist by then… and America was French… loll

      • libertatemamo says

        Yup, you found it!! How interesting about your ancestors. Aurillac is around 200km from here. Another lovely area!

    • libertatemamo says

      Nope, not Cannes. We are in a much (much) smaller town, Canens which is just around 50km south-southwest of Toulouse.

  17. Dianne & Tom Wartman says

    Hi Nina… had a great fireside gathering at the Clark Dry Lake neighborhood yesterday, and we were happy to have Paul and Polly join us. You were missed! Will post a photo to our blog soon. So many different conversations… Paul was going to tell Tom the name of the gluten-free beer we talked about and we didn’t get back to that… would you let me know, please? Also, you may have heard that we got really spontaneous and moved on today… went to a supply warehouse in Norco, CA to get started on our solar upgrade project… yay… an exciting step forward :). So, won’t see you in BS upon your return, but down the road in Yuma. Take care and enjoy your adventure! D & T

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, heard about the campfire…what a lovely evening! The gluten-free beer was probably Omission. Great beer, very tasty. We were introduced to it by our buddies Chris and Cherie from Technomadia this summer.
      Good luck with your solar install. How exciting!!

  18. Jil mohr says

    Great photos…we go to Paris next fall ( not quite south as you are) that place sounds wonderful…we are loving Mexico…looking forward to seeing you in March…have a great holiday ….

  19. William says

    Hold all your hardware. Chances are your data is still OK on the hard drive even if the laptop is toast. You just need to attach it as a secondary drive in another computer and download the data. I do it all the time.

    • libertatemamo says

      Cheers for the tips. I’m hoping it’s just the charger that blew and that my laptop is protected. We’ll see. No way to know until I procure another charger. I have ordered one which may (or likely may not) get here before I leave.

  20. William says

    One last thing. Be careful with “protected” power strips downstream of your converter. We got very close to getting thrown out of a hotel in Sicily years ago because we kept blowing their fuses. I happened to have an UNPROTECTED power strip along and voila – problem solved.

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