Can you believe it’s just a week until Christmas Day?! It’s still a little early for Christmas decorations where I live so if you were to visit a tiny hamlet in the Seven Valleys with an unpronounceable name that even French people struggle with, you won’t have any clues that December 25 is almost on the doorstep! I never say the name of my village because some of my neighbours have got it into their heads that my books may promote a Peter Mayle in Provence-like stampede to our muddy little roads! I have assured them that nothing of the sort will happen! Although in the summer, my other half was walking the dogs around the village one morning and chatting away to them when a man in a car driving very slowly along the bottom of our road stopped him and said “Do you know if Janine Marsh the British writer lives here?” “Never heard of her” said my husband and carried on walking!
We must wait a couple more days before we show signs of Christmas here, it is a tradition. Pretty much everyone makes their own wreath using pinecones and walnuts, spruce tree branches, holly berries, dried fruit and ribbons. I will be making a bouquet designed by one of France’s most famous florists who makes all the floral displays at the Chateau of Chenonceau in the Loire Valley (you can read the guide here, and it’s surprisingly simple and easy!).
We’ll be going to Madame Bernadette’s house tonight for her annual soiree. Every year she invites around 25 people to come and enjoy her amazing blow-your-socks off cocktails and eat yourself to a standstill party food. It is her way of saying thank you to people who have helped her through the year. She’s getting on a bit and we support her as much as we can, fetching shopping, clearing snow from her driveway, repairing things, heavy lifting and feeding her horse on cold days when the ground is slippery. Community is everything here so I can see that people might well want to know where I live, but I assure you that is the way it is in most villages that I know in this part of France!
I will be back to wish you a Merry Christmas next week but for now, I wish you a very bon weekend from my rather snowy little village in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France.
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream, My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life and Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France all available as ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online.
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