How about living in a French village? In the south of the country? So peaceful and relaxing. In the morning you stroll to the boulangerie for a croissant, a pain au chocolat, or a baguette. Or all three. You eat these on your terrace in the cool morning air while listening to the evocative cooing of the doves and watching the swallows swoop through the sky. How idyllic is that?
My prince and I have been enjoying summertime living in France for the last several weeks. It’s a small village where we stay, in the middle of wine country not far from the town of Béziers. The narrow streets curve and twist up and down and around, all leading to the tiny central square with its few shops, the post office and the mairie (town hall).
The first morning, a Sunday, we decide to do what the French do and go to the bakery. We step out of the main door, a huge, heavy metal affair of historic vintage, and go down the curving stone stairs being conquered by voracious vines. Across the narrow street, I notice an old woman in white flowery pajamas, long gray hair down to her shoulders, broom in hand, ready to sweep the sidewalk. The church bells chime the hour, eight, and I wonder if she’s going to make it to church or not, later.
We love wandering around, looking at the centuries-old stone houses with their wooden shutters in faded blues and greens or freshly painted lavender and turquoise. The windows and balconies are festooned with scroll work.
And everywhere the oleanders, the floral femmes fatales — flamboyant, voluptuous, poisonous. These bawdy babes strut their stuff along the pathways and in gardens, draping their heavy branches seductively over gates and walls, seducing the eye with their toxic blooms of lusty rose, passionate red, hot pink, and shameless, virginal white.
These sassy sisters are not the only vegetation tarting up the village. Vines hug the walls, strangle balconies, tumble over walls, creep along the steps of ancient stone stairs, spilling their blooms of orange and yellow and blue.
I love exploring this village with its mix of ancient and modern. Medieval streets with shiny new cars. Houses sporting ancient doors with knockers in funky shapes and open windows from which pour the sounds of pop music and young guys laughing and having fun.
A gaggle of skinny teenage girls appears from one of the narrow alleys. Short shorts, tiny tops, lots of bare skin and long shapely legs. Strolling with nowhere to go. What are they talking about? Boys, I imagine. An old man sits alone on a bench, a beret on his head, hands resting on the cane held between his knees. I wonder what he’s thinking about — how the world has changed, maybe.
The family-run butchery has beautiful meat, pretty goat cheeses, and delicious paté de campagne. The cheerful owners are friendly and patient as we struggle with our French. Also friendly is the lady in the hair salon when I come to have my hair cut. I show her a picture. Short, very short. Am I sure? Yes, I am. She gets started. The woman sitting in the chair next to me smiles. I point at my head. “Coupe de garçon,” I say. A boy cut. She laughs. “Coupe de vacances,” she says. A vacation cut. And so it is.
Such adventures. I see you rolling your eyes. Sorry, but it’s all I’ve got for now. I realize Papua New Guinea would be more exotic, but is the wine cheap?
Okay, so what are we doing here in this French village? Earlier this year we were in a town nearby for over two weeks, and although at the time the weather was not friendly we liked what we saw and decided to come back. So we’ve parked ourselves in this village in order to explore the area, discover other villages and towns and see how we enjoy the French life in the warmer weather. Maybe we’ll end up living here! Have an adventure! Quelle bonne idée!
Here’s a picture of one thing we love a lot: French markets.
It’s not just cheese, olives and vegetables they sell in these markets. Here you see a collection of tapenades, dips and spreads of an amazing variety. How could we resist? We ended up with more than we could eat, but fortunately we had friends visiting who helped us out: We took some crusty bread and made a meal of it. With a glass or two of cold rosé of course.
I could live here: The people are nice, the scenery is stunning, the food is fabulous, the wine is cheap. It’s France.
Update: Yes! We did it! We bought a house in a tiny village. Viva la France!
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Where would you live if you had a choice? What places have you explored with the idea of moving there, and what did you decide? Or, just tell me any old story . . . I’m easy.