The Perfect French Village

 

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I have many plans for the blog this year; I want to bring you even more snippets of authentic French life; I really want you to get a true insight into life in France. Of course, I am still going to keep you up to date with our family, the children, the animals, the garden, our trips and adventures, but I am also going to introduce you to new people, new places and new ideas. I am really excited about all of this and I will be bringing you the first part next week in what I hope will be a fascinating new series.

But first let’s kickstart 2016 with a little daydreaming. I thought I would invent the perfect French village for you; or rather – how in a perfect world – what the perfect village would be like. No one village will ever satisfy everyone, but here are a few of the many things I would need in ‘my’ village.

First, there has to be a church, for a village is not a village without a church. It should preferably be centuries old and have resisted both Vikings and tourists, and it should be heavily decorated by the passage of time; these solid but graceful buildings are beacons of history on the landscape and reminders of all that has gone before us.

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Then, there must be a manor house or a Maison de Maître. A little history, and perhaps some mystery to add to the charm.

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There should naturally be a series of ancient houses and cottages (in the first photo below the cottages date back to the 12th century – they were actually in this village BEFORE the church was built). Some of these may be in ruins and some should be inhabited by welcoming elderly village residents always ready and willing to tell a tale from the past.

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Amongst the ancient buildings there will be narrow winding lanes, with cobbles that glisten in the rain, and cats that snore on window sills in spring sunshine.

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Ancient roads will also be part of the landscape, and these should make driving quite precarious in places, as attested to by the scars on the walls of narrow corners from trucks and buses.

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and there will be little alleyways

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leading to those perfect walks that never demand the use of a car. Cattle belonging to local farmers should graze in the fields, and any dogs we meet will be friendly and generous in tail-wagging welcome. In my day-dream all those farmyard dogs that delight in frightening the daylights out of all and sundry are firmly banished.

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The Mairie, or village-hall, is a must. No village is complete without this  all important backbone of daily life, which so often seems to  incorporate a small post office.

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No shops are really necessary in my village except for a boulangerie which is absolutely vital. If you have one that sells, chocolates, wine, beer, soft drinks, jam, preserved fruits and other conserves then it’s all good. If the baker therein also offers the use of their oven for Sunday roasts and those occasions when you have no oven big enough to feed 30 people with half a cow, then even better. Our local boulanger does all of this, and more.

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Failing the presence of a boulangerie, a daily delivery of a baguette in time for lunch will suffice.

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When it comes to lunch, or dinner, I’d like to go a step further and add a small family-run restaurant and bar; this is ‘dream-world’ after all, so I might as well add everything I want! All ingredients would come from local suppliers and the menu would be simple, fresh and seasonal.

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Every village should have a well and fresh water available; it should date back to times gone by when cattle and pilgrims alike would have shared it, so we would have one for ‘our’ village too.

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There should be a small primary school for the younger children within walking distance.

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and a weekly market would be nice, it could be just one little stand, always there come rain or shine.

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Of course to go with the local food should be a domaine so we can get to know our local wine-grower!

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and finally the village should, of course, lie in a bucolic setting.

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Let me know if there’s anything you would love to see that I’ve missed out in your perfect village.

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56 thoughts on “The Perfect French Village

  • You have completely captured my idea of a French village. And to see the pictures and that you and the kids already live there? Perfection!

  • Your post reads like a poem. I recognise all the elements I love (which are the same ones my French partner can’t understand me raving about). Now, I think I’ll just take a walk around my own French village and see if it qualifies as perfect or not.

    • I can imagine your partner not appreciating the things we Brits seem to love so much! Now I am intrigued, how did your village compare? Just had great fun reading your blog and welcome to mine!

  • I want to sit by a fountain in a village square after a “tough” day shopping for bread and wine. Drinking the wine, of course, from the bottle that has been chilled in the fountain basin.

  • What a wonderful post! I enjoyed “visiting” your idea of the perfect French village. I am so looking forward to your new posts for 2016. Thank you for sharing with us!

  • When my family lived in France when I was a young teenager I remember red geraniums almost everywhere! It was partly due to these images held always in my mind that I returned when I was 20 to hitch-hike through France to the Balearic Islands. There used to be piles of hay by the sides of the through-road as well, very slight and stooped women going places and the smell of manure. Bonjour MonsieursDames when picking up the weekly Sunday croissants. DELICIOUS. MY village Gorze had a monastery, a backyard with goats in it and an underground passageway from below the pond back up the hill to the convent. VERY mysterious. Theae years gave me a sense of wonder and curiousity that has never left – from what ALL the senses provide in an old French village. Trish

    • Hi Trish, how fascinating, did you ever discover why there was an underground passageway? It sounds as if you had the most wonderful time hitch-hiking through France, what wonderful memories and thank you for taking the time to share them with me.

  • So, when are we all moving in?! My little village in the Picardy last year had basically everything you’re talking about! It was all the essentials you’ve mentioned here, plus a grocery store (Lidl), train station, and volleyball club. Beautiful post, I think you really captured how we all dream about French country life!

    • Anytime next week! Our village has a tennis court and a small bar. It used to have a little grocery store but it closed down a couple of years ago. Hope you are enjoying your new life in Germany x

  • Ah how lovely! the perfect village! All those things would be lovely in an English village too. Our village has a wonderful church, green, village shop and a lovely old pub. Sadly the bakers, the post office and the little school have all closed now. But the village shop, run by villagers, is housed in the old stone school building and has a post office on a Wednesday morning! It’s such a shame that villages have diminished, but maybe it’s just that they have had to change with modern times. It is still a busy and friendly village and the clearly there is a need for a village shop – it is the hub and often the heartbeat of the village. I hope to visit France in the coming years and long to go to the various villages, markets, brocantes and sample a little of that lovely dream you are sharing! Keep sharing – I’m looking forward to your new posts!

    • Hi Marian, I think English and French villages are very similar, the biggest difference is probably the English pub, now I do miss those, such a lovely place to have a meal. We have bars in most villages, a small bar/tabac but they rarely serve food. We also had a small village shop in our village but like so many you talk about, it also closed down a few years ago, just not enough business for it. Keep dreaming of your visit to France and learning French, I know you are going to love visiting 🙂

  • Looking forward to the series. Just keep us up to date on the doggies, kitties, chickens and family as well. That is what I really enjoy.
    Oh, and the perfect village must have friendly locals too.

    • Hi Nadia, don’t worry I wouldn’t dream of stopping writing about them, they are so very much a part of our life, children included!!! I do agree about the friendly locals, a cheery bonjour can make such a difference.

  • Your village might also have a World War II Memorial and a “boules” (like bocce ball) court if there’s a “place” –town square.

    • Hi Judy, you are quite correct about the War Memorial, a vital part to any village. I wanted to add a boules court, but I didn’t have any photos of one in my library and the weather has been so horrid that despite much driving around villages I could not find a single person playing boules that would make a good picture!

  • Sounds like a charming village. I would perhaps add a cheese maker. I sent you an email about the painting that you mailed to me. I hope it did not go to Spam! Happy New Year!

    • Hi Pam, a cheese maker, my husband would absolutely love that, he could and frequently does spend ages at the cheese stand at the market, chatting and sampling different varieties. I have emailed you so we can chat further there.

      • Thank you, Joanne! Provence is a true inspiration… let’s hope 2016 brings us there forever 😉 Best wishes for you and your family aswell…

      • Hi Dina, welcome to the blog and thank you for taking the time to comment, always much appreciated. Provence is utterly beautiful, I agree. There are so many wonderful little villages all over France. It sounds as if you are moving here permanently this year, good luck and have fun! Very best wishes Susan

  • I love this post! What a lovely idea to dream up the ideal village! I’d be a little greedy and want a market twice a week, with a bunch of stands…but that’s the city girl in me talking (having never lived in a tiny village!). And I definitely give a vote to the vineyard – I’d be there right with you getting to know the local winemaker! Whose wine of course would be featured in that local bistrot 🙂

    • Hi Sara, twice a week would be nice but then it’s also nice to travel to a bigger town nearby for more choice for their market which is three times a week! But I totally agree with the wine which would of naturally be in the local bistro, what fun! Have a lovely weekend

    • You did and you are right, a local Brocante would be such fun, but you might have to drag me out before I became a permanent fixture sharing a glass of wine with them from the local vineyard of course!

    • Thanks Phoebe, I agree totally with the lavoir and the fountain. Everyone had such great ideas, I think between us all we have certainly created a perfect village, although I am sure there are many already in existence here! Have a great week

    • Hi Jill, welcome to the blog, great to have you following and thank you for taking the time to comment. There are so many fabulous villages in France, I adore the one we live in, but this was an amalgamation of so many I have seen and it was such fun to do!

  • We’re hoping to move to France this year and I’ve just bookmarked your page for tips of what to look for. Like one scape to the country I’ll have to take your advice – compromises 😀.

    • Hi Andrea, thanks for commenting and great to have you following along. Where are you moving to in France? Do you already own a home or are you in the “looking” stage, which I have to admit is such fun! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them for you. Best wishes Susan

      • We’re still looking, but we’re contained on the area as we want to move near my parents who retired to Normandy. We may rent first as my husband is self employed and has only two years of books this year, so a mortgage might be difficult.
        Thanks for your offer about responding to questions. Andrea

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