French Friday (on Sunday) – Beyond Paris with Sara of Le Petit Village

You read about Amy’s love affair with Paris this morning in my inaugural post of A Passion for Paris. Now it’s time to re-introduce you to my second series Beyond Paris.  These stories come from people not living in Paris.  They live in the other corners of France far away from where a lot of tourists visit. Each region of France has its own unique character with distinct food, dialects and cultural norms. This series celebrates those differences.

I first started reading Sara Louise right before she ran off and got married (she recently celebrated her first year anniversary!).  She lives in a tiny village in Provence which has a large cast of characters both amusing and infuriating.  Sara attacks her stories with such humor as she details her life that I knew I wanted her to kick-off the Beyond Paris series.

I had originally planned to have Sara on French Friday last week, but she had an unexpected bump in the road so she is Sunday’s star instead.

So without further delay, here is her story from her little corner of France.

==================================

The dichotomy of my life in Le Petit Village goes like this… you see I love it and hate it, but the things I love, and the things I hate are pretty much one in the same. (Let me preface this by saying that ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are very strong words but they sound better than ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ so I’m going with ‘love’ and ‘hate’). And because I’m thinking in opposite terms of love and hate, I’ll write in opposite terms of summer and winter, but I’m going to start with winter.

During the winter months, Le Petit Village and it’s 250 habitants practically hibernates. Many of the houses here are holiday homes that sit empty, shutters closed to the cold winds and snow, waiting for their Parisian and Belgian owners to come back and fill them. It can lend a bit of a ghost town vibe for the rest of us year-round inhabitants, and in those winter months, we tend to huddle close, so as to make us feel like we are not so alone in this wintry, mountain village.

Winter in Provence

There is one bar/ cafe/ restaurant here, and on those cold Friday nights, when the roads are too icy to navigate down the mountain, the same group of us descend upon it. It is always; my brother-in-law, his young wife, her parents, my next door neighbor/ husband’s best friend, my husband, father-in-law, a couple of local farmers, and me. We huddle around a kerosene heater set up in the middle of the room, chatting, and laughing, sharing plates of saucisson, homemade pâté, and bowls of olives. It feels much more like someone’s cozy living room than a bar.

Now for a city girl me, at times I’m screaming inside, yearning to put on my heels instead of winter muddy snow covered boots, and have a vodka martini in my hand instead of the hearty Leffe, while sitting back in a plush banquette in some decadent bar and not in this old bar, with chipped paint, mismatched furniture, and the same old handful of people every Friday night. But as much as I may want to be in that city bar, I’ve never felt as at home and comforted by the super luxe ‘it’ bar as I do on those dark winter nights surrounded by French villagers and wrapped in the warmth of the kerosene heater.

A Warmer Petit Village

Then as the months pass, and the sun begins to rise earlier and earlier and shine warmer and brighter, Le Petit Village slowly awakens. And with the sun comes the tourists.

During those beautiful warmer months, when the lavender blooms, our winter population of 250, increases to 1000. Where normally I would go for long walks with my dog and not see a single soul, our tiny streets are buzzing with chatter and traffic and there are people everywhere. That same cozy winter bar becomes packed and any chance of finding a table or a bar stool is practically non-existent.

Lavendar Fields

I complain about the tourists; how they take all the parking spaces in front of our homes, they peer in our windows, and buy up all the baguettes, but secretly I love them. I love that when they are here Le Petit Village is at it’s best and most welcoming. We have small festivals with bumper cars and fireworks, a circus, and parties, all to say, “Bienvenue! Aren’t we quaint and charming? Please come back soon, we love the company”, and everyday feels like a holiday, a snap shot into a Peter Mayle dream.

But just when I think I’m tired of the incessant early Sunday morning chatter of stranger’s voices outside my windows and fighting for my parking spot and my baguette, they are gone, and the cold and solitude comes back. Along with those wintry, kerosene cozy Friday nights. And we settle in and wait for spring.

About Sara
Born in NYC and bred in Texas, Sara Louise spent six years living and working in Dublin, Ireland, before moving to a small village in Provence with her French Husband and French dog. Sara writes about the adventures and misadventures of Provencal village life on her blog Sara in Le Petit Village.

Merci Sara!

Tune in next week when I return with a new edition of A Passion for Paris!

Comments

  1. Thanks for having me :-)

  2. Yay for celebrating province :) Lovely article Sara! I am keen on a visit now…

  3. @Brenna, Sara will be thrilled!

  4. @Sara, thanks for bringing a unique perspective of your little corner of France!

  5. Really enjoyed reading this!

  6. This is a lovely piece that really captures the atmosphere of Provence in winter. I’m one of those whose home there stands empty throughout the snows and cold of winter – but not all the time. We love arriving at odd times from November to March and enjoying the peace – and drawing close to the fire at the sole local restaurant. These villages in autumn and winter are very special places.

    I’m a writer, and I blog about our hillside here as well as books, art and French life.

  7. jennifurla says:

    I want to come visit, it sounds perfect. I can understand you LOVE and Hate of it!

  8. @Deborah, that sounds lovely, my hubby and I prefer to go to places at “odd” times as well.

  9. @Loulou, so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Sara is adorable! I just love her blog and have been reading it for a while now. She always makes me laugh, and even though I understand she loves/hates Le Petit, I would absolutely love to see it, thanks to her beautiful photos and descriptions.

  11. @Erin, thanks for stopping by, I love Sara’s blog as well and was so pleased she agreed to write about her little village!

  12. Love Sara and her great sense of humor… she never fails to make me chuckle. I think her village sounds charming!

    Great blog, Andi! xo

  13. @Debby, so glad you liked it! And thanks for the compliment!

  14. This is just lovely. I don’t get enough of this taste of France. I live in the suburbs and almost don’t know I’m in France sometimes.

  15. @Jennie, glad you can explore a little bit here, look for another Beyond Paris tomorrow!

  16. OMG this is a hilarious post! Had me in stitches!

    I am a big fan of Sara’s blog also – she writes with so much wit & humour! I absolutely commend your decision to have her kick off your Beyond Paris series. :)

    Best
    Milsters

    (www.littlepiecesoflight.com)

  17. @Milsters, Sara is funny and her hubby is so cute too!

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge