Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Honor System. . . . . . .

In a small French village such as Caunes-Minervois where my brother
lives, things stopped me in my tracks during walks along the narrow
 winding streets.
The 'honor system' is one which makes me smile.
I recalled this doorway from my former visits, always something on offer - veggies
 or fruits - sitting outside with the scale at the ready to weigh some freshly
 harvested bounty from a nearby garden or allotment. 
On this particular day in October there were apples and tomatoes. 
Weigh, put into your market basket, leave the money.
Honesty counts!
Many village houses sit right on the street such as this one. They may have some 
type of garden area in the back, if not they can rent an allotment space to grow
vegetables, fruits and flowers.

  A large allotment near the 9th Century abbey in Caunes - each day we saw people
 working in the October sunshine.

My brother's front door, original to the house I believe, opens onto a beautiful
 two level garden - quite unusual in a small village. It was the corn merchant's house
 and is 200 years old.

Mostly all vegetables for the family are grown on the lower level garden - these
 photos show what was still available (plus potatoes and salad greens) during
 our October visit. My brother has become quite the gardener.

All around the village are vineyards and rolling countryside. . . . . .and beyond,
 the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain), an area rich in Cathar history.

Buildings are old, both the country and village houses. Who knows what interesting
 homes and gardens are behind lovely old gates one passes on a walk.

Caune's river, the Argent Double, almost dry in October, did have some
 high water marks on the walls - I've never visited when it's been that wet
 or seen water gushing under the ancient bridge.

The village is quiet, peaceful and home to approximately 1500 people. 
I think the honor system works well in this setting.

Could I live in a small place such at this? 
I look at the thousands of cars now clogging the roads where I live, the
 constant movement of people relocating to the city and surrounding suburbs,
 the massive push for construction - more office buildings, shopping centers,
 apartments and houses.
Now, at this time of life, I'm pretty sure I could!

This will be my final post on our time in the village of Caunes-Minervois.
 I do still have lots to share from other beautiful places in France. . . . . .will
 be working those soon.


  1. Mary, I enjoyed every bit of this post. Just lovely pictures and such an interesting, untouched little town. I would love to visit a place like that.

  2. It is such a lovely part of France, Mary.

  3. Such beautiful countryside...and I love how they have the honor system like that. There's a few small farms around here that do that with vegetables and eggs. Do you think you might move back to Europe?

  4. Your brother's door is a work of art. What a charming beginning to his property. There are a few places around here with a similar honor system. In late summer and early autumn, bunches of dahlias in mason jars are often for sale that way. I'd love to live in a small village like that - provided a larger town for culture and major shopping wasn't too far away.

  5. What an enchanting place - lovely photos. There are many self-serve farm stands in our area - we come across a few new ones each summer and of course we have our favorites. One of them is across the street from a horse barn and the young girl who owns the horse often comes across the road to talk to us about her neighbor's good vegetables and herbs. These farm stands are all on the honor system and I've yet to see anyone take something without paying. It makes me feel good to see people being honest. There are also many gardens that have signs that say "please come in and pick what you need" - there are not restrictions and no money asked for. It is a good thing, people who can't afford the summer fruits and vegetables can come to these farms and pick fresh produce - what a nice way to share the bounty.

  6. I can't recall seeing any honesty boxes on my travels in France.
    However, I'm always amazed at the huge, lush vegetable and fruit gardens in the villages.
    The villagers generously share their produce and often bring boxes full of delicious salad items to the cafe for my family.
    In Summer most villages have garden competitions - the emphasis is on vegetables more than flowers.
    Caunes-Minervois looks lovely and it has that wonderful aged patina I love.
    My daughter and SIL are replacing their old wooden gates and searched for some old wrought iron ones - the price was horrific!
    I imagine that's the downside of the many brocante tours - driven by overseas markets.
    They have settled for a new set that looks old!!
    A lovely post and brings make precious memories for me too Mary.
    Wishing you all a happy thanksgiving celebration.
    Shane x

  7. Yes, for this time of life I do believe I could live right here in your photos. The village is just gorgeous.

  8. Lovely pictures Mary. We have a farmer that lives right down the road from us. He has the honor system set up in his carport. He puts a sign out at the road when he has veggies for sale. You drive in his driveway, park, walk into the carport, grab a plastic bag, weigh your veggies of choice and drop money in a box.

  9. So very beautiful. I definitely could live that kind of life. I'm so sick of the traffic here and the constant construction that is taking place causing havoc everywhere. I crave peace and quiet and a slow paced life. Your brother's home must be so lovely. So much history and such a lovely garden. When we were in Jerusalem, there was a table set up outside someone's home with Arabic coffee and free clothes. No money to exchange, just take what you want or need. A wonderful gesture that would never work here.


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