Staying Home In Carcassonne

Happy “Staying Home In Carcassonne day 42” everyone. Like you, we’re spending most of our time at home, and we start our seventh week of confinement tomorrow.

Bastille Day Fireworks Cancelled

We learned on April 15 that there will be no fireworks in Carcassonne on Bastille Day (July 14).

Our French friend JJ told us that here in Carcassonne, this is only the second cancellation in the 122 years of the “feu d’artifice” (fierworks). I’ve looked, but I haven’t found what was the other year/reason for cancelling. My interpretation is that even during much of WWI and WWII, the feeling must have been that “the show must go on.” There’s a link to my post about last year’s fireworks at the end of this post.

Bastille Day Fireworks of Carcassonne's medieval walled city

Separately, I asked JJ if there has been any news of people in France demonstrating to protest our confinement rules. He said, no, there haven’t been protests – quite the contrary, many people are questioning why France will start slowly opening some things up on May 11. Isn’t that supremely ironic that here we are in France, the land of protests (“manifestations” is the French word), and there aren’t protests here, but there are anti-lockdown protests in the United States.

In the Good News file: Farmer’s Market Opens

Carcassonne’s Saturday farmer’s market reopened three Saturdays ago. How nice it was to see and support some of my favorite vendors and farmers (Guillaume’s vegetables, Matthew’s goat cheese). There were about eight vendors there the last two Saturdays, enough for me to walk home with my wheelie cart full of fruits, veggies, duck, veal, lamb and amazing rotisserie chicken.


I’ve heard that there are 11,000 farmer’s markets in France, and I’ve heard that most of them are closed. I have  also heard that our mayor had to implement quite a few safety measures to receive permission to open. There are  barricades around the market’s Place Carnot, and we all need to enter in one place and exit from another.

A line to enter the farmer's market staying home in Carcassonne

Two Saturdays ago there were a few too many people in the farmer’s market at one time for my taste. The policemen who were guarding the entrance and exit were paying more attention to their cell phones than to the number of people going in and out.

This didn’t make the mayor happy, and this past Saturday the police were much more diligent. There was a line to go in, only two people were let in at a time as others exited. I only had to stand in line five minutes or so, and was happy to do so.

Quiet farmers market on Place Carnot staying home in Carcassonne

Normally, the square is jammed with people and vendors’ stalls during the farmer’s market. It’s eerily quiet now, like most places in the world.

New Life

Two Saturdays ago I went to our covered market hall, Les Halles, and purchased veal for grilling from one of my favorite vendors, Philippe. With a huge smile through his mask, he told me, in French, that his first baby girl was born 15 days before, and that she’s the first grandchild in the family. Here’s a photo of Philippe.

Butcher Philippe Cathala at his shop in Les Halles Staying Home in Carcassonne

Philippe’s family, the Cathalas, have been butchers here for 5 generations – 3 centuries. I just love the history here – not just the buildings, but also the families, the people, and the generations of traditions.

Projects, Projects, Projects

While we’re staying home in Carcassonne, Jeff continues to stay very busy making improvements to our home.

Jeff’s New Office

A couple of weeks ago he moved his office from our third floor to what we call “the library” on our second floor, which is the floor where we spend most of our time. One of the prettiest of the 5 armoires that came with the house is in the library, and in it we keep the dozens of travel books that we brought from the United States. So looking forward to using them again!

Jeff's New Office Staying Home in Carcassonne

Discovered in the armoire mentioned above – this cute little wooden easel. It now lives in our kitchen with our page-a-day French vocabulary calendar, which we “do” with breakfast. Yep – an old page, but we do these over and over again.

Little Wooden Easel With French Calendar Staying Home In Carcassonne

The photo below is a close up of the table in the library that’s now Jeff’s desk. We think it’s another 150-year-old piece, given these beautiful carvings and legs. We bought it for only 80 euros at an antique store!

Close up of Carvings on Jeff's new Desk Staying Home in Carcassonne

Old Office, “New” Bed

Moving his office downstairs left his old office looking pretty empty. He’s had his eye on a 150-year-old bed that lived in our attic – dismantled. So we brought all the parts down to his old office, and he assembled it using mostly hand tools (including a 4-inch spike). (He did bring in the power tools to reinforce the bed with L brackets and a wooden cross bar.)

Jeff with 4-inch Spike Staying Home in Carcassonne

Below: it’s held together with old fashioned bolts that Jeff believes were never used in America.

Somehow, he has figured out intuitively how to do these things. I asked him if he’s ever disassembled and assembled old furniture like this in his  past in the U.S., and his answer was “No – only in this house.” I’m happy to be his assistant.

Bolt that holds Bed Together Staying Home in Carcassonne

Jeff Assembling a 150-Year-Old Bed Staying Home in Carcasonne

Vibeke in the Old Bed Staying Home in Carcassonne

Miraculously, we had all of the parts of the bed. Now, this treasure has a lovely new home. I just love the carving.

Carving on Old Bed Staying Home in Carcassonne

Wooden bed and desk in Jeff's old office Staying Home in Carcassonne

At the bottom of the post, I’ll put a link to the post I wrote about Jeff transforming his office a year and a half ago. It was so ugly when we moved in – so much better now.

Some other staying home in Carcassonne projects:

Painting the outside metal gate during our sunny weather.

And now, those ugly fuchsia closet doors in our salon – he’s painting them white, and they look gorgeous. Before and after photos to come when he’s done.

And time for fun – Ping-Pong in our attic!

Mr. Blackbird has made a nest in this bush of ours (the bush with the white flowers) – he sings like crazy most of the day.

Bush in Garden with blackbird's nest Staying Home in Carcassonne

Some Things I’m Grateful For

We’re very lucky that part of our terrace is covered, for dinners outside when it rains. And now that it’s sunny and a perfect 70 degrees, it’s a nice place for outside glare-free screen time.

On the left is what it looks like now. The photo on the right shows the way-too-wide white plastic table and ramshackle chairs that were there when we moved in.

Our “Other” Screens

Last year in April, we started the process of having screens put on some of our windows (there weren’t any in the house), so that during the insane heat of summer we could choose to open doors and windows for circulation and not invite mosquitoes into the house.

Well, for various reasons too numerous to explain (everything takes longer in France), our vendor didn’t complete the installation of the screens until September. So much for having air circulation in the heat of last summer. But now the screens are in, and on these gorgeous spring days, it’s so nice to bring fresh air into the house.

Fruit on our Fruit Trees

We can see the fruit developing in our cherry and apricot trees (which were here when we moved in), and also in the pear tree that Jeff planted two autumns ago. I haven’t lived with fruit trees since I was a kid (apple trees in my family’s garden in Oregon, and orange and kumquat trees in our Florida garden), so it’s such a treat watching them develop. Below is a photo of our cherry tree.

Here’s a link to my post last year about apricot season.

A link to my post last year about Bastille Day.

And a link to a post (“Our first 8 weeks in Carcassonne“) that shows what Jeff’s original office looked like when we moved in. Scroll down a little bit and you’ll find the photos.

At the bottom of this post, there’s a photo of the pear tree he planted (the pear tree is the one that’s growing on the trellis, and our two grape vines surround it. (If you look at the “Our first 8 weeks” post, the pear tree is where the dilapidated shed was.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay home everyone!

Baby cherries Staying home in Carcassonne

Pear tree Staying Home in Carcassonne



  • Lyman Black says:

    Your blogs are such a treat, especially during confinement. Keep them coming!

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Thank you so much, Lyman. I’m so glad you’re enjoying them! Stay healthy and happy! Bonne Santé (good health!)

  • Pamela Nesland says:

    Beautiful Beautiful! The two of you are amazing love all your posts.
    love you guys
    Pammie and Ken

  • Danny says:

    Your place is beautiful. You and Jeff seem supremely happy… I am so very happy you are doing so well… keep the blogs coming!

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      So wonderful to hear from you, Dan, and thank you so much! We are very happy being here. And I really really hope you will be able to come visit us some day when this is all over – you will always be welcome! Cheers to 39 years of friendship!

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Thank you so much, Dan! Your comments mean a lot to me. It’s coming along, petit à petit – little by little. And we’re very lucky that our contractors finished up about a week before confinement. All is meant to be! huge hugs to you, my dear friend of 40 years. (Really?? How is that possible??) Love you!

  • Adrianne Cady says:

    You are making so much progress ! Everything looks so beautiful! Lots of sweat and hard work! The photos are amazing; makes me want to hop on a plane and be there shopping at the farmers’ market. We did spend a few days in Carcassonne when my sister and her family lived near Auch for one year. We were there for le quatorze juillet and it is truly the BEST fireworks we have ever seen…..have not seen Sydney’s on New Year’s Eve, but that will have to wait. Thank you so much for sharing your daily like in Carcassonne and bringing it to all of us with such passion and beauty. We were hoping to travel to Aix in September, but that has been postponed til 2021. Stay well.

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Adrianne, thank you so much for your wonderful thoughts! We so appreciate it. Whenever you do travel here, please let us know – we would love to meet up with you! Stay well and safe, and see you perhaps in 2021!

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Bonsoir, Adrianne! Thank you so very much for your compliments on our home. Yes, 2021 is going to be a wonderful travel year. If you do come to this region, please let us know – we would love to connect with you! And in the mean time, I look forward to connecting with you through our blog! Bonne santé – good health!

  • Claudia M. Tokola says:

    You have done an amazing job restoring your house. Being able to use the old furniture makes it all the more special. You have been very busy! Stay healthy and safe.

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Thank you so much, Claudia! And I just love your Facebook photos of your weaving – absolutely gorgeous! Lots of love to you and Miki.

  • Claudia M. Tokola says:

    Thanks, Vibeke. Unfortunately, while I was weaving a new pattern today, a part of the loom broke. So, I’ll have to wait for a replacement before I can continue. In the meantime, we have some new plants and compost being delivered tomorrow, so the next couple of days will be spent working outside in the yard.

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Hi Claudia, oh gosh I’m so sorry to hear about your loom! Yes, it’s a bizarre time of – if you don’t have it, it’s hard to get. I’m just so glad that Jeff had so many extra supplies here (paint, etc) before confinement started, that he’s been able to move forward with so many projects. So far, we haven’t bothered trying to order from Amazon.france, (they’ve been closed for a few weeks) but we might eventually give that a try. Hugs to you and Miki!

  • Claudia M. Tokola says:

    Thanks, and a long distance hug to you & Jeff.