A weekend celebrating local heritage
Bonjour encore !  Hello once again!    (#7 October 2019)
After a busy Summer marked by more than the usual number of 'cannicules' (French for 'heatwaves') which caused us to stay home and indoors more than we have in previous Summers in Provence, we decided to take a week or so recently to visit friends in other parts of France. We experienced a welcome bout of cool, wet weather in La Salvetat in the Haut-Languedoc which is a beautiful mountain village which, like Jouques, has it's own source water running out of the hillside! After a few days with friends, we headed to the coast to the pretty town of Banyuls-sur-mer, which proved to be a fabulous spot from which to go a little further south to Spain for a day, and also to revisit Collioure in the other direction. Collioure was made famous by the Fauvist artists around 1905+, when the likes of Matisse, Derain, and Dufy spent time painting their intensely coloured works inspired by the bright light and colours of the coastal region.
See more about our holiday in 'Fiona's original images' below.

However, just prior to our holiday departure a very special weekend took place all over France and, in fact, in many European countries -  called 'European Heritage Days', it is a weekend celebrating local heritage, history and culture.
 The event began in France in 1984, with La Journée Portes Ouvertes (the day of open doors), sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. In 1985 the French Minister of Culture proposed that the project be internationalised under the Council of Europe.

 To quote the French Minister of Culture this year, Mr Patrice Soudin: "Heritage is our pride, it is our roots, it is a witness to the building genius that has been expressed in our country for centuries . . . it is a moment of national communion, that every French, every young person or every adult who enters a cathedral, a castle, an historical monument feels the emotion of these places full of history, of our history ...  these days are an opportunity to discover or rediscover the jewels of our most beautiful civil, religious, military buildings and places of power."
Obviously this annual weekend celebration is very important to France and it's people.
The annual program offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public and aims to widen access to and foster care for architectural and environmental heritage. So much so that every city and village opens their doors to the public and tourists alike. In Jouques several venues were open, all worthy of a visit, each offering some insight to the history and culture of our village.

Å la prochaine (until next time), Fiona + Jean-Louis

Feel free to contact us by email: or via the website with any enquiry.
As Jouques is a village with a long history, there is something for everyone: tours of the old village take-in the two Romanesque churches, the medieval portals (gateways), the charming local history museum (not pictured), while a roaming choir sings Provençal songs; there's also a hike to see remains of the 2nd C Roman aqueduct that took water from Jouques to Aix until 1850 - you can even venture inside!
These impressive gates and garden of the 'never was' chateau - sadly the French revolution halted work on the main event, but all the surrounding buildings and the lovely staircase were built! Plus a chance to see the self-sufficient Benedictine convent (main pic) on a hill at the edge of the village, which is lovely to visit. Plus quite a lot more!
Painting with oil-encaustic - part three
FROM JEAN-LOUIS: This month I’d like to share with you my very new works which mark a slight change in direction from my previous paintings.
In the past I have mostly used a cold encaustic paste in my oil painting for its impasto* qualities. For this new collection, which is based on the nearby river Rèal here in Jouques, I am continuing to use cold oil-encaustic but have decided to explore the translucent quality of the medium. 
Although it is not as transparent as traditional oil paint glazing, it dries much faster which allows for the layering of several coats in one day - an attribute that I particularly love! Also, by adding more oil pigment into the mix, one can rub or scratch the surface in order to reveal the underpainting colours. This is a great technique to allow for colour nuances and fine detail to show through. 
The three studies shown here are called ‘Feel flows’ part 1, 2 and 3. They were partly inspired by the Beach Boys song of the same name. It is a beautifully ethereal musical composition which I hope to emulate in my current visual work. Water is, of course, a great metaphor for the passage of time and reflecting on life.

*Impasto technique involves applying paint as thickly as paste, creating a textured surface in which the marks of the brush (or palette knife) are often still clearly visible.
Below you can see a collection of samples demonstrating layering of cold encaustic-oil paint medium. I use a palette knife to lay down the paint but, as you can see, utilise various tools to scratch and rub into the medium to create reveal the under-painting and add detail. 
Experimenting in this way is not just great fun, but essential in order to get to know your medium. Practice as in any endeavour, is the way one can consolidate the ability to replicate a result, be it in colour, texture, translucency, in your work.
My advice is to make time to play and experiment but resolve to have fun with it.
Fiona's original images - It was hard to choose just two images from the many I took on our recent eight day getaway, but I somehow managed to narrow it down!
Here's a glimpse from our one day in Spain - an easy drive from Banyuls-sur-mer which is situated on the Mediterranean coast just 30 minutes from the border with Spain. We drove an additional 30 minutes to the town of El Port de la Selva where we had lunch and explored the village, then headed up the steep mountain to visit the 'Monastere de Sant Pere de Rodes' (the Monastery of Saint Peter of Rhodes), which was outstanding! After touring the impressive monastery we hiked up a steep and tricky path to the ruin of an ancient fort above, to take in this view of the monastery and coast.
Collioure is a pretty Mediterranean village which was made famous at the beginning of the 20th century by the art movement known as 'Fauvism', lead by Henri Matisse and André Derain, the group were inspired by the light of the area to use pure colour - a horror to many of that time! Collioure was once just a sleepy fishing port but, though now over-run by tourism, is still worth a day trip to see. Gallery' page
Confiture de figue - there is nothing quite like home-made jam!

Figs were in season this past month and we were fortunate to be asked by friends, to come and clear all the remaining fruit from their fig tree. How could we refuse! We adore figs eaten any which way, plus I've been an enthusiastic jam-maker for years - so off we went.

For each kilo of fruit most recipes advocate an equal amount of sugar - in my view this is way too much! I like to add about 600 grams of sugar for each kilo of fruit (though for grapes I recommend about 400 grams as they are very high in fructose content).
Once washed and weighed, place your figs into a large saucepan. Add sufficient water to cover the fruit well and simmer until the fruit is tender and cooked through - the time will vary but 30 minutes may be about right. The water will have diminished somewhat but that is fine - most recipes in my view suggest adding much too water, this then means you end up with a much greater gel to fruit ratio, or you have to cook it down for a lot longer. I have learned to simply add less water to begin with.
Meanwhile sterilise all the jars and lids in a very large stockpot, boiling for about five minutes before drying them in a warm oven. For a small quantity of jam or conserve (so fewer jars), you might prefer to sterilise in the microwave.
Once your fruit is sufficiently softened, add the sugar - this is where it's essential that you have first weighed your fruit! Stir the mixture briefly until the sugar has dissolved, then let it all cook away on simmer for approximately 30 minutes. 
The amount of time it takes to SET varies depending on many factors: 1. the natural pectin content of the fruit; 2. whether you use regular sugar or sugar with added pectin; 3.  the amount of water added or liquid naturally contained by the fruit; 4. the intensity of heat at which you cook the mixture; 5. the volume you're cooking and how often you stir the mixture.

In other words it's a bit tricky to set an absolute time for cooking to reach setting point. Sugar with added pectin means the cooking time will be less and, after much resistance I have started using it while in France - it seems to work well. If you use regular sugar, I suggest adding the empty shell of half a washed lemon for extra pectin - add the juice too if you like.
To check for setting point, take a clean, flat side plate and place a teaspoonful of your 'jam' onto it. Once cool, slide your finger through the blob - if, when you move the plate about, the parts hold their shape, your jam is probably set. If not, keep cooking and check again in five minutes or less. You do not want to let it cook too long - burnt jam is possibly the most difficult thing to remove from saucepans - believe me, I've done it! Unfortunately it can happen in an instant, so you must be attentive when you think the mixture is close to being ready.

Once set, turn off the heat, arrange the pot and jars, pot-holders and ladle in close proximity to avoid gambles and burning yourself. Your ladle should be washed of course, but resting it in the hot water from sterilising the jars for a few minutes is a good idea. Fill your jars and cap while the jam is still quite warm. The French like to upturn the jars and rest them on their lids for 24 hours - I actually agree with this as it helps sterilise around inside the lid very well.

NOTE: Using a lesser amount of sugar (ie. not equal weight to fruit) means you must always be sure to store your filled jars (once cooled) in a fridge or very cool cupboard space. You must also sterilise your jars and lids thoroughly. All this work is worth it as the taste of home made jam is so fantastique! Plus practice makes perfect and the whole process will become intuitive the more often you do it. If you've never made jam or conserve before, then figs are one of the best fruits to start with as they require no cutting or removing of pips.
JAM: is when the fruit is cut into pieces or is cooked so much that it becomes a mushy mixture without chunks. CONSERVE: is when whole fruit is used and the shape of fruit pieces or whole fruits are discernible in the final gel mixture.

I'm pleased to show you my antique jam ladle (pic below), one of my early finds at a vide-grenier in Jouques. Bon appetit!


Introducing . . . our back door!
It occurred to me recently that we may not have shown you the upper street view of our lovely village house! Our home is quite unique in that it begins down on a lower street (rue Saint Pierre) and, as it hugs the hillside and has several floors, has another entry on the next road higher up the hill. 
Here you can see the blue shutters of our house on 'rue des Baumes', which has the beautiful arched portal at its end and the 12th century church (Eglise Saint Pierre) beyond.
Our house is only the width of where the blue shutters are, the next doorway is our neighbour's house. All the village houses are joined like this and have several levels to them, though many have, over the years, been divided into at least two homes - having two street frontages enables this dividing of the buildings to be done quite easily. Our home is a rarity in that it is still just one home.
The double doors are the atelier-studio-gallery, while the single door is the private entry for visitors using our guest suite - very convenient as they can come and go independent of our rooms on the lower floors.

NOTE: Although our 2019 season finishes at the end of October, we can still take bookings for June thorough October in 2020, for one-day workshops, accommodation and four-day Retreats - just send us an email. You can see details here on our website. Information sheets and prices are sent by email once we receive an online request, or you can contact us via: or book direct on AirBnB for our one-day art-workshop.
PLEASE SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER: if you know anyone who's planning to travel to Provence, please tell them about our accommodation and workshops.

visit the website
Copyright © 2019  Artelier Provence, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp