One piece of advice that we were given, by a number of French and English people, was to integrate. Don’t shut yourselves away behind your doors and only emerge to go shopping or back to England to visit. This was never going to be an issue, as we’re not like that. We revel in becoming part of local life. We get to know the village inhabitants and try to be as visible as possible, without being over the top and a potential nuisance. The most common question at the moment is ‘Vous êtes a Boubers maintenant?’ (You are at Boubers now?) meaning, ‘Are you here to stay?’ They are surprised, and relieved, to find we are resident. Out of a population of around six hundred and twenty, about twenty homes are holiday buys. There are also a number of other English residents and we are gradually meeting them. It’s not uncommon for someone to knock on the door, greet you with ‘Hello!” and introduce themselves. One couple even told us they knew how much we had paid for the property! I have to admit to finding that a little disturbing.
So we followed the advice. As well as having some of our neighbours help with moving into our new home, in the first couple of days we popped down to the bar for a coffee and to show our faces. We discovered, at this point, that the only coffee served was café (espresso) and I was lucky to get a decaff! The people who run the café are (otherwise) very accommodating and patient. In fact, all the villagers are patient, which was most obvious when we first arrived and our French was about as accurate as a Flintlock. They just waited until something understandable came out or we looked pathetic and asked for help.
Last week came the epitome of our acceptance. The mayor – another very pleasant man – had informed us of the special lunch that was taking place on Sunday 23rd. It was for the Over 65s in the village! There are, apparently, a number of such events for the ‘venerables’ throughout the year. As we had registered at the Mairie with our dates of birth, he knew Dave qualified and, as his wife, so did I. He made sure, on three separate occasions when we met in the street, that we wouldn’t forget. When we met him at the venue on the day, he was pleased to see us and said he would have come to get us if we hadn’t turned up. After all, he knows where we live.
In the event, it was a very pleasurable afternoon. I say afternoon; we started eating at about one o’clock and finally left at six! The owner of the bar/restaurant had provided the seven course (???) meal and his wife and daughter, along with another couple of women, served it. All the food was outrageously good and there were, thankfully, long gaps between courses. The whole thing was paid for by the ‘commune’.
The next village event is the Remembrance Day in the square on November 11th. France has a great respect and love for those who gave their lives for them and we intend to be there.