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.
Then, there must be a manor house or a Maison de Maître. A little history, and perhaps some mystery to add to the charm.
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.
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.
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.
and there will be little alleyways
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.
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.
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.
Failing the presence of a boulangerie, a daily delivery of a baguette in time for lunch will suffice.
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.
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.
There should be a small primary school for the younger children within walking distance.
and a weekly market would be nice, it could be just one little stand, always there come rain or shine.
Of course to go with the local food should be a domaine so we can get to know our local wine-grower!
and finally the village should, of course, lie in a bucolic setting.
Let me know if there’s anything you would love to see that I’ve missed out in your perfect village.