I have been living in France now for over a year and, coming here from a large UK town, it was quite a shock to find myself living in a small, French rural village with countryside as far as the eye can see. There are so many differences between my old life and my new life – here are just some of them…
- Nobody cares what you look like, what you wear, what you drive or where you live
- You have to juggle house renovation/working/livestock/gardening and there is never enough time in the day
- Shopping has to be planned – supermarkets generally close for 2 hours at lunchtime, there are no 24-hour supermarkets, and they only open in the morning on Sundays. And because I live a fair way from a good supermarket, it’s an hour’s round trip!
- You have a polytunnel and mowing the grass takes you all day
- If there are more than 5 cars on the road, it’s rush hour!
- Everything stops for a 2 hour lunch break – the church bells go mad at 12 to tell you it’s lunchtime and at 7pm to tell you it’s the end of the working day
- Total strangers greet you with a cheery ‘Bonjour’ when you pass them in the street and in the supermarket, the checkout operator always says ‘Bonne Journee’ when you leave – ‘Have a nice day’.
Your house is heated by a wood-burner, so you’re always on the lookout for firewood and become very handy with an axe!
- It’s the norm to have a well in your garden
- Street lights are non-existent in rural areas, so you always carry a torch in your bag when you go out at night
- You get used to drinking coffee from tiny cups – even a large white coffee is served in a cup and saucer – you rarely see mugs
- Wellies become a fashion accessory!
- You learn how to make home-made wine/jam/cakes/bread
- It’s normal to keep chickens or goats and everyone has a rescue cat or dog
- If you’re a woman, when you go to the loo, you have to get used to walking past the men’s urinal in the same room. If you’re a man, you have to get used to the fact that when you’re using the urinal, a woman may walk past you to go to the ladies.
- Digging the garden is like working in a quarry! You’re on constant rock-watch – they seem to emerge from your lawn – you become obsessed with finding them before your lawn mower blades find them first!
- You can’t dial a pizza/Chinese/Indian takeaway
- You grow your own vegetables and eat more healthily
- There’s more sunshine, the air is clean and fresh and as there’s no light pollution, staring at the stars at night is a joy – we can even see the Milky Way above our house
What other differences have you noticed?