Lover of all things French

Jun 15th, 2023

On-Y-Va (o nee va) means Let’s go.

So Hi and Welcome. I’m pretty sure that the reason you’ve landed here is that you too, love all things French and by some curious miracle you found yourself reading my words. 7 years ago, I quit my job and bought a little place in France, nestled in the heart of the Correze, in a little town called Meymac and embarked on the most wonderful chapter of my life. It lasted 4 glorious years and in 2020 I returned to England having missed the family more than I had bargained for.

That’s a whole other story that will keep for now because my first taste of France was at approximately 8 years old. Luckily for me, my darling Uncle Andre was French and it became an annual treat to pack up the car or minivan and trailer, with the whole family and the house tent, and set off for the French sunshine. Mostly we drove South, but it was customary to stop and visit Olivez, a small town south of Paris where my Uncle’s mother lived. I remember as a child being fascinated that her door was directly onto the street. Nothing like the 1930’s semi-detached I lived in back in England. When this door was opened you stepped onto a path which led to a cobbled courtyard and this was central to the house, usually filled with smells of rabbit stew.

In the camp sites in France I remember, playing in the river, be it jumping on top of an inflatable mattress and falling off the other side, or hiring a canoe in the campsite and pretending we knew what we were doing. I don’t ever remember wearing a life jacket, or getting instructions what to do if we capsized, but we must have, mustn’t we? Anyway, needless to say, me, my brothers and 3 cousins had an absolute blast. I used to think France was the prettiest place I’d ever seen. Given that I’d been absolutely nowhere in my 8 short years, I could, hand on heart, say this was true. Fast forward to today and I have indeed explored and lived in France and can honestly say it is the most beautiful country with the most wonderful people.

I’ve got so much to share with you and for now I’ll just share a picture of the street I use to live on. So this is a picture I took of the fountain and the Belfroi, the tower clock. The fountain is dry in the winter and switched on again in the Summer when the tourists come. In the Meymac library, there are old pictures where horses were drinking from this fountain. Its nice to see it from 100 years ago and bits of the facade of the town have changed but the Abbey remains and so does the Clock tower. The clock rings every hour with a loud Gong, from 7am to 10pm. My friend was rather concerned when I told her this on her first visit, given that her bed was about 10 feet from the bell. It’s Okay, I laughed, you’ll get used to it.

This, was my little shop. I lived above it in a large duplex apartment and sold all kinds of teas and home made cakes. Sticky Toffee Pudding, Carrot Cake and Strawberry Cheesecake were firm favourites. Those were happy days.

So today, I decided to write a blog about all things French, everything I’m passionate about in France and a few little tips along the way, should you ever find yourself retracing my steps. Be prepared though, in the French Countryside everything stops for lunch from 12noon and most places close. This can be quite surprising when you’re not expecting it, but you must realise that lunchtime is sacred in France and so you must prepare for it. There’s actually, something quite comforting and civilised about stopping work at noon and having plenty of time to eat. It should be the law.

Inside my apartment.

These old buildings are just beautiful, see how thick the walls are. Look out for the old granite built houses, pointed with lime mortar in the Middle of France and then notice the changed to red brick as you drive north to the coast.