There is a place about eight km away from Berdot that Tony brought me to on a sunset drive around the neighbourhood. I was immediately drawn to this quaint tiny town with its packed houses all huddled together as if to keep warm against the harsh winters of a bygone era.

Another one of the many charming medieval villages on top of rolling hills in this part of France, Carla-Bayle was once the centre of Protestant activity and now a magnet for artists and dreamers. Didn’t get to see much during the drive, a fleeting visit that only made me yearn to come back for more.

So I persuaded Irene to join me for another walk before I return to Singapore. It took us 2.5 hours across farms through country sights and smells, ploughing in action, composting and dumping, making hay while the sun was shining, sunflowers brown and droopy waiting to be harvested, dogs barking behind fences, a murdered woman’s lodge now being renovated by new owners, and the occasional car and truck on their way to wherever.

Some climbing up the road, not as bad as the ones we did in the Camino but still needed effort. But that’s what makes the arrival so satisfying when you take in the awesome scenery before you with the deep big lungful of air. Simply breath-taking, as one would say.

Here in the small commune of no more than 800 people according to Wiki, are more art galleries and studios per person than any place I know.


Barefoot artists in handmade clothes, flowing shirts, felt hats, smoking drinking chatting in the gentle breeze of the old square. Somewhere someone was frying onions, faint conversations along the alleys and above in apartments windows all laced up lined with flower pots, a sculptor working on wood, the church bell ringing on the hour, an old lady knitting on the steps of church with friend by her side, a cat in a studio looking like a an artwork, a sleeping dog like a rug.


A certain creative hallucinating atmosphere hanging calmly over the place frozen in time except for ideas and imaginations, philosophical thinking and expressiveness, seeking the past, reaching into the future, never here nor there, tangible and profound – like the art pieces on the walls hoping to touch someone’s raw emotions to desire and possess.

C’est ici qu’on vit le mieux. Wouldn’t it be nice to be an artist here?

 Joan Yap



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