Tag Archives: French

The unofficial website

The Main Road of Tourteron
Image by Supergites via Flickr

I never expected to find a website about our hometown Tourteron. And to be honest I didn’t. Yet I can tell you that there is one.

I received a friendly email in French from Nathalie Justin who lives right across the fruit market. She is big in town, part of the town’s party commitee and owner / webmistress of letourteronnais.fr. She wrote that she discovered our official Supergites website when she was searching the web for information.

The site about le Tourteonnais (all Tourteron) provides the latest news and a dozen of sweet pictures of the kids parades. Some pages are not finished but a guest book already shows the towns appreciation. And I discovered Tourteron has a weapon with three dragons. The first signs of history…WOW.
Most important she keeps the calendar pretty up to date so you know when the town will organise its brocantes. Funny enough there’s no sight of the Tour de Tourteron which is held the third Saturday in August. Maybe she’s not a fan of les cyclistes or it’s organised by  others. 🙂

The site is a must see .. not only for the news on Tourteron but even more for the culture of French homemade web design. Je l’aime!

The local website

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the French way

Boite aux lettres dans les buches
Image by jacme31 via Flickr

The French do have a funny way of working. Most of the time they’re more friendly than the global opinion suggests. And some times not.

We bought the mill in March 2009 from a French doctor who lives 30 kilometers in the nearby city of Rethel. The family used to use the mill only as a summer get-away. Therefore it was not insulated nor decorated. And it had no mailbox.

With the first mail was a handwritten note requesting a mailbox. The previous owner never received any mail at the Ruelle de la Fontaine (Spring Alley). The note, written on the back of a letter, was stuck between the shutters. We thought it was so sweet that we bought a typical French boîte aux lettre the very next day and fixed it at the side of the fence.

When we picked up this weeks mail there was a new and very official letter from the main postoffice in Attigny. With some help of a dictionary we were able to translate the meaning: our brand new mailbox was too far from the public road. With the rain and snow of the past weeks the postman probably got sick and tired of getting his shoes dirty. There’s not much we can do though. The fence IS the official border of our land. The mail box is fixed exactly on that border. We guess they think that the dirt road to the mill is private property. It sure looks like it.

The down side of this story is that we have to write a letter to the postoffice of Attigny to explain the situation:

Cher monsieur Facteur,

Dans votre lettre d’entre vous nous demande de mettre notre boîte aux lettres sur le côté de la voie publique (D30). Nous sommes au regret de vous dire que ce n’est pas possible. Cette pays n’est pas la nôtre. Sur une précédente demande par l’un de vos facteurs, nous avons installé la boîte aux lettres à la frontière officielle de notre pays aussi proche que possible de la clôture.

La route humide et sale, va bientôt être beaucoup mieux après la rénovation de l’usine est terminée. Nous espérons continuer à recevoir du courrier à la Ruelle de la Fontaine.

Merci,

Marco de Boer / Hugo Kalf

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Eating nearby: “Pretty Food and tasting even Better”

You have places where you eat and places where you have dinner. To our big surprice we discovered one in Mouzon. For sure we’re not the first: Les Échevins is in Michelin’s Guide Rouge and deserves this BIG time.

Each year, on my birthday, right between Christmas and New Year, we go hunting for a good restaurant in the French country side. This year we bumped into Les Échevins (the Aldermen) in the center of Mouzon, a peaceful quiet town with a huge church and an old city gate. It used to be of some importance but lost this stature centuries ago.

Les Échevins is an absolute MUST go if you stay around. The food does not only look pretty but it’s a feast for the taste buds.

A Taste Bud Melting Starter

Restaurant Les Échevins
33 r. Charles de Gaulle
F – 08210 Mouzon

Téléphone : 03 24 26 10 90
E-mail : lesechevins@orange.fr
Website : http://www.restaurant-lesechevins.fr

19€ (weekday lunch),
26€/51€ – Menu: 32€/46€

Cuisine – à la mode. A welcoming rustic restaurant in a 17C half-timbered building. Well-priced, daily-changing menus with precise cooking and direct flavours. Impeccable service.

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One Flower makes a Difference.

One Flower for Tourteron

 

To our big surprise, Tourteron has been awarded with ‘one flower’ by the Village Fleuri committee. Of course we’re delighted about the news! There are special guided tours offered through the Flower Towns of France–though sometimes it’s not more than some cranesbill next to the city name sign.Still, we wanted to thank and show our appreciation to the town of Tourteron, so we sent this letter to the town hall:

Dear Town of Tourteron, 

On our arrival in Tourteron for Christmas we noticed the ‘Village Fleuri’ sign for the first time. Is it true our lovely town  is awarded with one flower? We’re really happy about it since we had the wish to help our city with this. How is it organized? Is there something we can do to help maintenance? Is there a budget to make Tourteron look better with the flowers? If there’s anything we can do to support, please let us know.We have one suggestion for Christmas next year. In Brandeville (Meuse), the town offers electricity for the decorations and the town gardener places all the Christmas trees. The community helps decorate the trees. We’d love to help.Your new and proud inhabitants,

Marco and Hugo.

In French it’s translated like this: 

Chers ville de Tourteron,

A notre arrivée à Tourteron pour Noël, nous avons remarqué le signe «Village Fleuri» pour la première fois. Est-il vrai que notre belle ville est récompensée par une fleur? Nous sommes vraiment content de ça depuis que nous avions le souhait d’aider notre ville à la présente.Comment est-il organisé? Y at-il quelque chose que nous pouvons faire pour aider à l’entretien?Yat-il un budget pour faire Tourteron plus belle avec des fleurs? S’il ya quelque chose que nous pouvons faire pour soutenir – s’il vous plaît nous le faire savoir.Nous avons un sugestin pour l’an prochain Noël. En Brandeville (Meuse), la ville offre l’électricité pour les décorations et le jardinier de ville place tous les arbres de Noël. La communauté aident décorer les arbres. Nous serions ravis de vous aider.Vos nouveaux habitants orgueilleux,

Marco et Hugo.

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Mud and Christmas

For all those who dream about owning a lovely old house that needs “just a little work”: There are moments that you just think, “What were we thinking?” One of these moments came right in the middle of our Christmas vacation.

A few days back, Stephane sent us fantastic pictures of the mill in a romantic winter landscape and we were really eager to see the beauty of the mill covered in snow. Even though we knew there was work waiting for us. “Who cares about a bit of cold when you can see such a superb, white scene while you’re working?”

The two days of Christmas we spent with friends. The snowy weather had changed into long and hard rains. It was really raining cats and dogs in the hills of the French Ardenne. So by the time we arrived at Tourteron the day after, the cranes, trucks and cars in combination with the ‘permafrost‘ had turned our loan and garden into one huge swamp and deep craters filled with mud. Slipping from the fence to the front door was the way to go over the next couple of days’ work. We were not so happy.

The first day we had to dig out the larger stones to make sure they didn’t break the new sewer system. We also had to transport white sand for the foundation in the pouring rain. Then we had to move one pile of 150 plasterboards in between the rain storms. They are not supposed to become wet since they’ll fall apart if they soak in water. The plates, sized 1,20 by 3,00 meters, weight 32 kg, had to go to the first floor and second floor. Eventually they’ll become the new walls and ceilings of the rooms. There we went in our muddy boots, feeling like double our normal weight, up and down the mill leaving a trail of dark-brown, slippery wet dirt. It was a French hell. 🙂

But in the end… we did lend a hand, and that makes us feel good.

This is how it looked:

Mud, septic and some kind of garden.

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Finally: the Official Launch of Supergites.nl

It’s finally live: the official Supergites website. Though it’s still in Dutch, it’s there and that’s the most important thing. The French, English, and German versions will follow in January, as will the calendar and the automated reservation module.

We also registered the gîte at the funniest website, Vakantie bij Nederlanders in Frankrijk . nl, which translates to ‘Vacation with the Dutch in France’. We’re eager to see how it works and whether it gives us any leads.

The gîte will be ready for rent April 1. Tomorrow we’re off to France for 7 days of hard labour. 🙂

Check our new design at Supergites.nl.

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Old Habits and New Owners

We know the water mill is ancient. In 2013 it’ll reach its 200th anniversary. Everything about the mill feels old. The thick, stone walls are at some parts of the house more than 100 cm thick. The wooden structure of the roof has more joints than a wooden ship. There are windows that are long gone but have left a permanent mark on the outside. There are engravings with names of people who are old enough be the village grandparents.

three fishes in a bottle behind stone

While restoring the mill we’ve found an old custom that we’d left behind a long, long time ago–we’d even forgotten all about its meaning. As he was digging in a wall to reopen a door that was blocked, our builder discovered a glass bottle containing three dried fish.

How freakily superstitious were the miller and his wife when they moved in? Was it witchcraft? Black magic ceremonies? Or maybe they were following some weird, local religion and held gatherings around an open fire in the garden?

No…

Some quick research told us that the hiding of three fish in a bottle has a Christian background. It might sound pagan to keep dried fish in a wall, but its explanation has in either way a deep religious meaning. One tells the story of the three fish symbolizing the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Another tells the story of the three fish being a symbol of Saint Peter, who was originally a fisherman. He’s closely related to stories from the New Testament about harvesting fish and the dividing of the Fish and the Bread. This dividing is a sign of God’s endless care for humankind.

In any explanation, the three fish are meant to protect the house and its owners in general and to ward off hunger and poverty. So we’ve asked the builder to put the bottle back into the wall where it came from.

One never knows–nor should one question everything.

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