Sunday, November 30, 2008
Living in the French countryside
If you live in someone else's country there are always going to be things that you think are better in the country of your birth. Likewise there are lots of things that France and the French could teach the people the other side of the Channel. It is now six years since we first saw our house, our pretty house in Brittany - which is in the north-west of France (about a six hour drive to Calais and a four hour drive to Paris). For the first couple of years I wasn't too sure that I was going to like living here long term.Now - well I love it.
The thing is that however nice our way of life here is, there are still things that can irk me. Some of my personal gripes are probably due to the fact that I am quite an impatient person and we live amongst a rural community where the pace of life is quite slow and serene, not as it would be in a very large impersonal town. So, here we go...
If you are in a supermarket queue be prepared for quite a long wait. The people in front will be either related to, or a close friend of, the cashier and will want to catch up on things. When asked to pay for their shopping they might look a bit surprised and then have to have a long search for their purse or wallet and, oh look, they've also forgotten the loyalty card - hang on a tick, it's here somewhere.
You will be driving along an empty road at a fair pace and all of a sudden a car in a driveway will decide that now is the time they want to pull out in front of you, causing you to jam on your brakes. They will then turn off a little way along. I think it's a local sport actually, as is tailgating you to the extent that the driver behind can almost see the colour of your eyes. It's not because I'm driving on UK plates either - I bought my car here and our other UK car is French-plated.
Most of the shops close for lunch between noon and 2pm. It's something we've got used to over the years but, occasionally, at 11,55 you think 'oh bugger, I should have got x,y,z'. Having said that, since the Brit invasion here the supermarkets (and we've got 4 in our town, she said proudly) have now decided to remain open all through the day. For the French however, these two hours are sacred and you'll just find the Brits in the shops at that time.
Then there is the local chasse - the hunt, which takes place on Thursdays and Sundays during the season. I hate the thought of hunting; I know all the arguments for and against but it is not something that I could ever do. However, it is a local sport (sport, right - arm the foxes with guns and then it might be considered a fair sport) and, as our garden backs on to a wood, we see and hear the hunters quite often.
I shouldn't go on about these little things really, it is part of what living in the French countryside is all about. It's just that sometimes one can get a bit irritated. Look, if I was in a big city I'd be moaning about the fast pace of life because that's what I'm like.
(the image above is from a great book I've just bought so I don't feel too guilty about pinching it for here)