Small Town France
Française de Cœur wonders if she made the right decision moving from Paris to a tiny rural village.
In the end, it wasn’t Avignon proper that we decided to call home. Weeks of phone calls and pre-arranging, then three days of visiting the area — in zero degree weather, in the midst of the infamous Mistral, and with two small children in tow — led us, finally, to our dream house in a small village slightly north of the famous walled city of Avignon.
Very old and very beautiful, ours is a somewhat large stone townhouse situated directly across from the local school. A school which, in fact, seems far too large for a hamlet boasting nothing more than a town hall, a post office, a pharmacy, and a single bakery.
It's not exactly Paris, but at least the pharmacists are friendly
Yet here I am.
Already there have been stares; heads turning at the sound of my voice speaking French, at my accent that - while certainly a bit 'exotic' when compared to native French speakers in general - nevertheless rarely seemed out of place in the hustling and bustling City of Lights.
Will I ever fit in?, I find myself wondering. Will they ever bother to learn my name? Or, more likely, Will I forever be known as l’Américaine?
And, How long before I am trading English lessons for tartes aux pommes and jars of homemade boar paté?
A city girl at heart, I sometimes worry that the sheer quietude of this little place will drive me slowly insane, long before the Mistral ever has a chance to.
With a marked preference for the excitement — and absolute anonymity — that living in a very large city can bring, I spent my first few days here having second thoughts about setting up house somewhere the exact opposite is true.
Like it or not, the local villagers will know everything about our comings and goings, always — not at all something an extremely private person like myself will have an easy time getting used to.
But in spite of these thoughts, my heart started to warm towards my new home when — after only one night in our not-yet-warmed house, spent with no running water in the bathroom, and where every belonging remained packed away in a depressing sea of cartons — our toddler became, predictably, feverish and ill (why on earth get sick at a 'convenient' time, after a new pediatrician has been located, right?)
And a frantic call to a (closed for the day) pharmacy found the pharmacist herself on the other end of the line — a pharmacist who insisted not only on finding the precise medication needed by our little boy, but who, instead of heading home for dinner, drove that medication directly to our house, with vague instructions to pay 'demain, ou plus tard'.
Such is life in Small Town France.
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March 13, 2006
Subject: Living in France, blog