I am asked that question all the time. After all, you can’t eat croissants every morning, stroll by the Seine, shopping the book stalls, eat a leisurely lunch and visit a museum, and eat a Michelin starred dinner every day for six weeks can you?
Well, we live in a small village in the Southwest, near Bordeaux. The village is surrounded by vines, so life revolves around the wine. The weather seems to be a touchy subject, nothing to be done except shrug your shoulders and shake your head. 2017 has not been a great year for the farmers. There was a late frost, two nights in a row, just as the grapes were setting buds. Driving through the vines, you saw many dead, and dying leaves. Especially true in the lower lying fields where the cold settled. During the summer, a few blasting heat waves, didn’t help, and rain late in August, and early September was the icing on a bad year. They are just starting to bring in the grapes, so we will see what they have to say in a couple of weeks. Good news? 2014, 2015, and 2016 were all exceptional years, for most.
Even though we are there for a short time, we try to take part in village activities; go to the fetes, musicals, art exhibitions, horse shows and spectaculars. I saw one such spectacular under a striped marque by a woman who was on France’s Got Talent. Quite a bawdy show. We’ve marked the solemn occasion of Armistice Day, watching the villagers lay a wreath on the monument.
This is France, so there is lots of time for meals with friends, and new visitors to the village. It can be an impromptu “appero” or the full blown Sunday lunch. I am always amazed at the care everyone goes to with the food, and selecting wines to go with each course. Don’t make the mistake I did, and just serve one course. It was a table with extremely disappointed faces when I told them that tortilla soup was it.
I have time to knit and read while I am in France, we don’t have a TV. I’ve met a lovely group of French, and expat knitters, we’ve gotten together for years now, I wouldn’t miss it!
There is always something new to learn from a neighbor. I’ve learned about making elderflower cordial and sorbet, making quince paste (my neighbor has a tree) prunes in eau du vie (not for children) all kinds of confitures (jam) This year, even though the grapes were bad, mine were plentiful, so I made grape juice! Nothing goes to waste, the apples, pears, figs, grapes all come right from my garden and I share with my neighbors. Happily, they share the quince, plums, peaches, cherries, herbs and lettuces they grow. My next door neighbors tomatoes are so large, he puts little platforms for them to sit on while they ripen.
Then, if we are bored, there is the Mystery Ride. I’ll save that for another time.