Little by little, from the beginning of March, we have seen cyclists on the roads, on country roads. It is time for car drivers to be careful and patient again.
With our beautiful weather, it is pleasant to ride a bicycle and enjoy the countryside. As a driver, I don't mind one or two cyclists. They usually stay on the right side without any problem. But a group of 15 or 20 cyclists acts as a big lorry, they stay on the whole lane or even go on the other one, so it becomes quite uneasy to overtake.
Yesterday the 18th Grand Prix d'Enduiest was organized in three villages. More than 100 cyclists were competing through Buissoncourt, Gellenoncourt and Haraucourt, 11 laps, 136 kilometers. After nearly four hours all these men were exhausted and happy to finish the race.
It was a welcome entertainment in the villages and the beginning of the cycle race time. The next big day will be the one of the Tour de France in Lorraine, on the 12th of July. I'll try to take pictures on this day but they go so quickly, I will have to be quick too.
When we visited the Musée de l'Histoire du Fer in Jarville-devant-Nancy, we enjoyed walking in the part with objects used in the house.
For the first time I discovered a flat-iron stove. I remember seeing my grand-mother putting two or three irons (big and small) on the wood stove, but I had never seen a flat-iron stove like this one.
The one on the picture is a coal stove, I think, as it is quite small. The work of the ironer was certainly not easier but perhaps a bit quicker if she had several irons ready for her job.
In the background of the picture, there is an old wood-burning stove with a small tank inside to have hot water ready all the time. In my village you can still see this type of stoves in a few kitchens standing next to the modern gascooker. On Sundays, before going to church, our grand-mothers used to put the big pan on one corner of the stove where it cooked slowly till their return. Once, in the 1940s or 1950s, my grand-parents' neighbour was told not to forget to put wood in the stove when his wife was going to mass. When she came back she discovered he had been so absent-minded that he had put a wood piece in the pan ! On this day they ate with nasty faces. My grand-father has laughed about it for ages.
Each town council is elected for six years. So yesterday the whole country was invited to choose the new members of their councils.
In Lorraine, journalists are more interested by the results in Nancy, Metz, Epinal and Bar-le-Duc than by smaller towns or villages. We can watch Lorraine results on one television channel or we can use Internet to know more. But for places with less than 1 000 inhabitants the only solution is to go to the local mairie or to phone friends who know on the Sunday evening to get the information.
In these small places you can cross names on the list of candidates or mix names if there are several lists. The counting of votes can be quite long due to the changes. In our village it started at 6 pm and finished at 10.30 pm. The whole council was elected yesterday so we won't have to vote again next Sunday.
At the end of this week the mayor will be chosen among the members of the council by the members of the council, and also three or four assistants.
Over the years I have noticed people cross less names and use a whole list to choose the council. Till six years ago it was possible to put any name on the list, and sometimes it was funny to hear nicknames or unexpected people when the counting of the votes was done. There are new rules now and only people who have declared they want to be candidates can be on lists.
This year, in Lorraine, four villages had to face a lack of candidates, nobody was interested. So some authorities will have to deal with these places and their problems. There is so much work for a mayor nowadays that people don't want to face it.
For the first time all my family voted, the youngest one is now an adult. Time has gone so quickly.
On the first spring day this beautiful weather is really attracting people outside. A gentle wind and 22 °C (71.6 °F) make us enjoy walking, gardening or simply sitting in the sun.
It is a good opportunity to go out of the village with the dog and try to take pictures. But it is a bit misty and I can't get the best of it.
From the south top of the plateau, the village called Buissoncourt seems quite near. I can guess all the details of it above the fields where rape (colza in French) is growing. In about two months it will be blooming, all yellow, a beautiful view for the ones travelling by plane and flying above Lorraine.
In the background we can see the hill of Amance. That's where we have adopted our dog. The view from there is beautiful too.
The water in the middle of the picture is not ponds, but big holes. They started appearing in the 1970s. On top of extracting salt in the mine in Varangéville, two factories send water in salt layers and pump it back. The brine is used to make soda and other chemical products. The pressure of the ground on the excavations full with water is too strong and at one point a big hole sometimes appears. Not too often, or I should say "not often any more". Let's hope that in a few years people will be able to fish there, not kippers of course. It is already a place where game and birds are protected, the later can be observed from a special space near Buissoncourt.
It was a very peaceful walk, and relaxing, just what you need to start a new season.
The mine in Varangéville is the only salt mine in France but also the last mine still working in France.
It started in 1855 with another mine shaft quite near from the one on the picture. This one, called Puits Saint Jean-Baptiste, started in 1869.
We visited the mine about 25 years ago and I was surprised to discover a very big space underground. We travelled in small lorries and even had to stop at traffic lights. The most impressing was the small lift where we all had to enter and face the gate closing it when going down. And by going outside at the end of the visit we could feel salt on our lips. The air in the mine is full with salt dust.
Visits are not organized regularly any more. I don't know the reason.
The mine produces tons of rock salt used as ice-control salt or changed into refined salt. In winter dozens of lorries queue to get salt for the French roads. This year is a bad one for the mine, one day with snow only near Nancy and a bit more in the Vosges mountains. Of course, miners would prefer "white" winters.