Just a few days after I posted about trying to make French friends and realizing they were prejudiced, which you can read about here, a blogging friend, Jacqueline, came to the rescue. She invited us to visit her small village, Loubillé for the celebration of VE Day (Victory in Europe), known as Victoire à la France here.
Perhaps there was a bigger celebration nearby where we are housesitting, where farm fields served as the landing spot for RAF pilots and a monument stands for Claude Bonnier, a resistance fighter who died at the end of the war,
|The flowers at the foot of the monument speak to the ceremony that probably took place here.|
|Me and Earl with Jacqui in her jaunty hat.|
So why was this small celebration in Jacqui's village so special?
After our failed attempt to make French friends, I was buoyed by the way that Jacqui is an integral part of her French village. She's even on the town council. And the people in her village embraced me as an American friend of Jacqui's.
I exchanged more cheek kisses with people in Jacqui's village than I have in a month of tourist-y travel throughout France.
It started when we met at the bar for coffee before the celebration. The female owner of the bar extended her hand when we were introduced, but the male owner explained that we exchange kisses in France as he moved toward both cheeks. But, he drew the line and shook hands with Earl.
Each person we met took the time to introduce themselves, and the French moved forward for cheek kisses.
|Jacqui's son Ed was recruited to hold the flag as the mayor spoke.|
Then we walked the few kilometers back to the village where pitchers of Kir waited, along with pices of pizza and quiche-like pastry. We chatted with Jacqui mostly, occasionally engaging with the others from the village.
Sometimes, travelling, just the two of us, gets lonely. I miss spending time with friends, discussing everything and nothing. Talking about things in a language that I know, inside and out
But even if I had stood on the sideline to watch how Jacqui interacted with her village friends, I would have seen that life in France is possible even for those who didn't grow up speaking French.
So thank you, Jaqui, at French Village Diaries, for supporting me when a new book comes out, but more importantly, for showing me what is possible after 14 years of living in a French village.
If you're interested in finding some English language books set in France or just want a peek at life in France for a U.K ex-pat, French Village Diaries is the place to go.