I have become one of those irritating people who bangs on about how wonderful France is
I am living in France on the border between two regions (the Midi-Pyrenees and the Limousin) which also marks a border between two départements (the Lot and the Corrèze). The place lies at the centre of a large, empty patch of France coloured green on the map to signify an unspoiled, ravishing landscape and one more beautiful and generous than anywhere I’ve lived before. Four months ago I put my belongings into my car and came to France, heading with crossed fingers and bated breath for a small, mushroom-coloured house I had found on the internet and rented. As I approached my destination the view in every direction became increasingly stunning and I dared to hope that I might have fallen on my feet. And so I had: miles of oak-wooded hills; pale, orderly walnut orchards; shaggy limestone cliffs; meadows that tremble with a kaleidoscope of colour. It is green and it is lush; cows stand belly deep in grass; ripe fruit drops from the trees and everyone says hello to one another. I have become one of those irritating people who bangs on about how wonderful France is.
Or at least I would if I ever spoke to anyone for long enough — I never hear or speak English and my French extends to the necessaries but not beyond them: I sound quite sure of myself in the café, marché, boulanger and maison de la presse but throw me out of the run of the mill and I lose my way entirely. Three minutes’ dialogue per day, however, is quite enough for me and the French combination of polite but private suits me very well.