Hard to believe that I’ve now been in France for three months. We (Joe has since returned to the States, but will be back in November) arrived to cold, drizzly, early spring weather. Easter on the terrace was, despite the sunshine, a chilly affair. Even here in the south of France it’s been unusually cool, but the weather has finally turned warm. Forecasts for this week are in the 80’s and higher.
When I first considered coming to France, I’d thought of perhaps three months. I’m glad that I changed my plans. I often feel a bit like a college kid cramming for an exam only I’m cramming experiences. New words, people, food, customs. Some days, I’m on sensory overload and glad to retreat to my writing table and the quiet of the apartment. Three months, I think, would merely have been an extended vacation and while I frequently feel like a tourist, I want more than a tourist’s experience.
Language is still the biggest obstacle to feeling fully involved in village life. While my vocabularly has increased, I still find it difficult to understand more than simple sentences which doesn’t exactly make for stimulating conversation. It can feel isolating, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate, both in the Dordogne and here in Montpeyroux, to have found interesting, congenial English speakers. This has prevented bouts of homesickness and yearning for the familiar –that and Skype! Still, I make it a point to go out and practice some French every day and there are plenty of opportunities.
Yesterday was the Montpeyroux vide-grenier — clean out the attic–postponed once by rain. Residents sell their goods from trestle tables outside their homes. The sound of tables being set up, woke me at 7. By 10 am, Rue de la Dysse, my street, was lined end to end with tables. I took my pannier–a new word I learned when I purchased my bright red shopping basket at the marchet the previous day– and walked up and down the street in search of bonne affaires–good bargains. Another new word. The smell of crepes and sausages cooking on outdoor grilsl, music playing and stands selling beer and wine gave the whole event a festive air. By noon, it was hot and people moved to spots in the shade. By 9 pm, the tables with things for sale gave way to dancing in the street and the wine was flowing freely. Makes garage sales seem a bit dull by contrast.
July also marks the start of Les Soldes. The Sales. Unlike the States where everything seems to be on sale all the time, in France sales are state regulated and held twice a year, usually in January and then again in the summer. I have not yet made it into Montpellier–other than to return my friend’s truck, which I will describe in a separate post–so a trip into the city to check out the sales seems like a good idea. More new experiences, new words and, perhaps, a bonne affair or two.