Sunday, May 13, 2018

Inspiration


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. 
But visiting Jacqui and seeing the close friendships she has developed with the people of her village, both British and French alike, was just what I needed.
Me and Earl with Jacqui in her jaunty hat.
If you don't write a blog and read blogs, you might not understand how bloggers can be friends without ever meeting in person, but it happens. Every blogger that I have followed and later met in person, I have enjoyed. It's as if we are old friends, because we know about each other's lives and we care about each other. I asked Jacqui's son Ed, who I had read about since he was young, if it was weird. He agreed that it was, but Jacqui also had no problem asking me about Grace and what was going on in her life. I'd recently shared information about the boys' trip so she was up to date on them. So the minute we met, we fell into companionable conversation.
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.
The ceremony was brief with the Mayor reading the story of three young French resistance fighters who were killed by the Germans in this little copse of trees outside of town, where a young man of the village later found them, but everyone bowed their heads to think of the sacrifices. Ed at 17 was nearly the same age as those who gave their lives.
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. 

9 comments:

Jacqueline Brown said...

It was lovely to meet you both and share a special moment in our village. Happy travels xx

Delana@dujour said...

This does my heart good.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

It's funny as I was thinking this morning about blogger friends who I "know" online and then when I meet them it usually always works out well.

I was likening it to having penpals when I was growing up!

Jackie Mc Guinness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

So glad you got this experience. And so glad there are ambassadors like Jacqui.

Jeanie said...

Oh, this is so lovely. I'm very glad you were able to visit with Jacqie (I love her blog, though I don't always comment!) and were able to meet many wonderful people. They are out there and I know you knew that. I'm glad your faith was a bit restored!

Just Me said...

So happy for you and the day you had with yet another dear friend you have in your life because of the dear friend you are. Some might say I live in a foreign country (smiles) but for sure I understand missing talking with friends about everything and nothing. I can only imagine missing speaking in your native language. Text and email, a god send for sure, is no substitute. Cheers!

Paulita said...

Thanks, everyone. I consider you all my friends, whether we've met or not.
And, of course, Delana has been a godsend here in France, sponsoring us with her address and introducing us to her banker. We never would have made it without her. Hopefully we can pay it forward.
I hope to meet the rest of you if we haven't met yet, and Just Me, texts and messages are no replacement for those long runs full of your wisdom and witticisms.

Sim Carter said...

Awww! I think you are special because you're so open in how much you share. I'd like to be more like you but fear stops me. Still I look forward to meeting you one day and I think we'd be friends too.

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