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NewsletterOctober 2004


During early September this year France experienced sun but not much heat. Fall is here with winter not far away. I strongly suggest that anybody thinking of living in France spend some portion of the fall/winter months here. Staying here during that time, allows you to see if you, can 'take' those months. Months that normally consists of very little sun and lots of rain. Only in a few areas does it really get cold in France.
Rain and overcast skies, weigh on the soul. I've run into quite a few people that love France but hate its weather. I'm one! Outside of the 'Midi' - the south of France running from Bordeaux in the west to the Mediterranean coast in the east, mostly there is rain during the months October to March.
The French countryside is green, for one reason, it rains a lot. During my first November in Alsace it rained over 20 days. And when it's not raining during the fall and winter it's normally overcast and looks like it's about to rain.


My wife and I just spend most of the last week of September working the 'Vendange' or grape harvest. We picked grapes for the Domain Digioia-Royer in the little wine village of Chambolle-Musigny. Chambolle-Musigny is located about 12 miles south of Dijon where we live. It's all vineyards around Chambolle-Musigny; it is amazing no other crops are grown. Just about every square inch is used for raising wine grapes.
The Vendange started on Saturday September 25th and lasted until Wednesday the 29th. Due to the mild summer weather this year's Vendange started much later than last year. Last year's heat wave triggered the Vendange starting in the middle of August, exceptionally early.
The Vendange is backbreaking work. You either stoop down to cut the grapes or get down on your knees. Either way it's not easy. After just a few hours our backs and legs were aching. We never thought we would make it. But after a few days we got used to it. Basically it came down to our bodies getting used to the different movements. After the first day we both were not sure if we could last, but we did!!
Here are some photos I took a few years ago during a Vendange that took place at my brother in-law's winery - Domaine de l'Echelette.


You might have not heard but France just had an election, the third this year following regional and European elections. This time it was for the French Senate or upper house of parliament. A third of the 321 members were up for reelection along with ten newly added seats. Senators in France are elected through indirect voting, i.e. an Electoral College. The college consists of over 50,000 people, including lawmakers from the lower house of parliament and locally elected officials. The French Senate has less power than the directly elected Lower House of parliament: for example it cannot cast censure votes against the government. But it has one very important function in the French constitution. Should the sitting French President leave office, the President of the Senate becomes the President of France until a new President is chosen through an election.
One interesting result of the Senatorial election was, the present Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, winning a seat. He can't serve as long as he is Prime Minister but he can appoint someone to take his place. Someone who I might add, he can remove if he should no longer be Prime Minister. It's rumored that Raffarin will step down or be fired in the coming year he is very unpopular.

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