Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why she lives in this beautiful region, what she does for a living and some of her Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Sandy Neumann from the German blog about French cuisine and life in the South of France’ Confiture de Vivre’ as Ramoneta of the Month.
I was born and raised in the Eastern part of Germany. As our freedoms were limited, I had never dreamt of going to a country like France. With the wall coming down in 1989, I could choose which life I wanted to have. Even today, my husband and I still celebrate the freedom of making our own choices every year.
Settling in Languedoc
It’s my husband who brought me to France in 2003. To me, it immediately felt like coming home! As we are both self-employed, me as a psychologist and Steffen as a photographer, we had the liberty to live in France for a longer period of time, three or four times a year. The idea arose to buy a house in France, and after searching for eight years, we found our place in Tuchan (1) in 2018. We love this village in the Aude department, as it has all the infrastructure we need in a beautiful natural setting. We still travel between Hamburg and Tuchan, so our old ‘bergerie’, or sheep barn, now serves as our base when we are in France.
Living in the South of France
Although we don’t permanently live in France, I do feel connected to the terroir and the people here. Tuchan, the capital of the Haute Corbières, is a remote and rural place where life is calm and relaxed. When I’m here, I love being connected with nature and the rawness of the surrounding garrigue scrubland. We have wonderful neighbours, which makes it easy to give something back to our community. When I’m cooking for the blog, I often share the food with people in the village, or I organise workshops and picnics (2, 3 & 4).
Confiture de Vivre
Originally a psychologist, I have also managed to combine this meaningful work with another meaningful experience: that of a blogger. It started back in 2010 when friends and family asked if I could write about my experiences in France. And so, I did, which was the start of my blog Confiture de Vivre (3 + 4). It was the perfect opportunity to share my stories about travelling, especially in the South of France. It focuses on recipes but also talks about travelling, wine, and meeting people, all based in this beautiful part of France.
When thinking of a name, my husband and I remembered eating our first homemade apricot jam in the South. To me, ‘confiture’ is the essence of a good life, with its deliciously cooked ripe fruits. Therefore, I think it is the perfect name for my blog, which also combines all the enjoyable things of life. Just like a ‘confiture de vivre’.
My blog became more serious over the years. And now, I can combine my work as a psychologist and coach with writing for my blog and magazines like Taste France Magazine and working with wine associations like Vins de Provence and Roussillon Wines. Also, in 2022 two books that I’ve written about Provence and the South of France will be published. It’s great to see how both my jobs interconnect, as they are both meaningful to life.
Living the French Dream
I always love coming back to the Corbières, it makes me realise how lucky I am. I get so much positivity when I’m here. Maybe it has to do with the culture and how life is organised in France. When I’m in Tuchan, I enjoy the simple life. For example, by going to our village market and chatting with the lady that sells goats cheese and seeing what the greengrocer has on sale while catching up with the winegrowers. Most chats are food-related, another big plus living in France! The food opened up the people to us, which made it easier to get in contact. Sharing food and therefore good moments is what I miss most since the lockdowns.
Best Languedoc wine
The wine I drink depends on what food I serve. One of my favourites is a traditional Catalan wine made out of ancient grape varieties, called Rancio sec. We drink it chilled as an aperitif, but it also goes really well with down-to-earth recipes. My husband and I support the Association de Vieux Cepages. During the annual feast in July, the Rancio Sec flows while Steffen takes the pictures and I prepare the food. It’s such a great way to celebrate life!
First restaurant after reopening
Without any doubt, I would say La Galinette in Perpignan. Although this gastronomic restaurant has a Michelin star, it feels like visiting a good friend. Christophe Comes and his team home grow most of their ingredients, and we absolutely love what they make out of them.
Perfect (post-COVID) day out in Languedoc
First, I would go to the market in Perpignan. After some shopping, I would have a chilled glass of rosé wine before going to a restaurant- La Galinette, obviously. A dip in the Mediterranean Sea (5) would conclude this perfect day.