We could have ended up saying, “What were we THINKING?!” But we got lucky. Nearly 12 years later, our daily refrain is, “Aren’t we fortunate to live here?”
Of course there were many surprises along the way. But the biggest one involves an important question we never really asked ourselves, when we decided to make the move. Which was: “Who will our friends be?” Since we’re in a small village in la campagne, I supposed we’d learn French eventually and then hang out with the local villagers.
But we found our tribe in places and ways we did not expect. So who ARE our friends? Yes, we like the locals in the village, we chat with them in the streets, see them at village events, and serve on village committees with them. But the close friends we socialize with fall into three categories:
—Expats from many European countries, who live within about a 30 minute radius of us.
—French folks from the area, usually professionals and/or retireés, who’ve moved here for the great Bourgogne lifestyle.
Photo above, our tribe at a party at the château, with a Mexican theme. At right, Nicole, sporting some chic glasses, at her birthday party this week, with our friend Henri. Below, some friends gathered for a soirée chez nous.
The biggest of these groups are the expats. They come from all over: we have friends from Holland, England, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Finland, Morocco. There's even the odd American! (Idea: If you’re in France and want to meet some expats, sign up for a French language conversation group, you will surely find some there).
Take the lovely lunch party we went to last week, given by close friends who are Dutch (he) and American (she). I counted nine nationalities at the party.
Sometimes, the languages fly, Babel reborn. Folks (including me) have been known to bang on the table during a lively conversation to remind everyone: French or English are the universal languages at this table!
And the effect of living such an international life? Minds, opened wider. A better understanding of the big wide world, its cultural differences and its politics.
Our “unexpected consequnces”, the friends we’ve made--who are truly our “family” in France--have turned out to be the greatest treasure of our French adventure. Thank you dear friends, for making our life here such fun and so rewarding, and for helping out in so many ways.
Dear readers, if you live in France, where did you find your community of friends? Or, if you moved to France, who would your friends be? If you happen to be considering spending some extended time here, it’s not a bad question to ask. It’s not something you can plan for—in our case, it was pure serendipity—but it’s worth seeking out someone in the area you’re considering moving to, who might introduce you around to local folks, and make it a smoother transition. We hope you’ll be a lucky as we were!
In the COMMENTS: a big welcome to our new reader Abigail. She has a great blog called Abigail's Garden. If you're interested in gardening/food/travel, you will want to check it out. Abigail is traveling in our area this week, as you'll see from her blog. Meanwhile Dani (of the Sunflowers & Pomegranates blog), Julie, Paula and Natalia share recipes/cooking tips. Natalia, that's funny, I do the same thing with my tomato tart, it's good. Carole tells more about Maille. Martin, you and Pete are brave to eat andouillette, and smothering it in mustard seems the best way to get it down!
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