“The year began with lunch” – the first sentence from one of my favorite books, Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence.” And our 2019 began with lunch. Our back-door neighbors, Claudine and Michel, a lovely and worldly couple, invited us to their home for a lovely New Year’s Day lunch that lasted four hours. It was absolutely delightful.

The people

Claudine is Colombian/ Swiss. Michel was born in the Carcassonne area. He worked as a high-level manager for Schlumberger, and as a result, over a 40-some year career, they lived in 12 countries across the world, and were provided with furnished homes and servants wherever they lived. They have so many entertaining stories to tell. She’s an amazing chef, knows all the right places around Carcassonne to purchase the best ingredients and the best prices, and she’s offered to take me shopping with her. I can’t wait!

They also invited the first person Jeff and I ever met in Carcassonne, Lesa Labarre Collins, a delightful Australian realtor who showed us many of the first homes we looked at here a year ago October. The star of the show was Lesa’s sweet pup, Coca – Claudine and Michel babysit Coca when Lesa’s gone, and spoil him to bits.

Michel and me


Claudine, Coca and me


Lesa and Jeff


Michel, Coca and Lesa

The scrumptious meal

An abundance of local sparkling, white, and red wine

1) local prosciutto and melon (imported) (not pictured).

2) above: foie gras with onion and fig marmalades and little toasts. Duck is probably the most important “meat” here in southern France. We’re not real fans of how foie gras is created (don’t tell anyone around here) but I will say, this was the best I’ve ever had.

3) above: Authentic Mexican chile con carne.

4) Apple Tart – the apples from this region are fabulous

5) Cannelés de Bordeaux.

The view

Above: our home from their dining room
Above: Our home from one of their upper floors
Above: Their view of the medieval walled city from one of their balconies.