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A festival of lights in France

Onions and garlic hanging at the Aix en Provence market


I hope that you and yours are well – and a great big welcome to this newsletter if you’re new to it, and a huge thank you and massive hello again to those who have been with me longer – I’m enormously grateful for your support and all your lovely messages!

If you were to wander into my little village this week you may be forgiven for thinking we’ve all gone quite bonkers. Everywhere you go (and admittedly there is not a lot of everywhere to go, there are about 152 people living here, no shops or bars), in every street, and even at the tiny town hall (a former school room), Christmas lights are being hung. Yes, in mid-July.

An illuminating little village in France

Jean-Francois the village handyman has been stringing flashing coloured lights in the leafy branches of the old oak tree on the village square.  Jean-Claude, my neighbour AKA Monsieur Partout as everywhere you go, he seems to be there (I do sometimes wonder if he is a triplet and he and his brothers are playing tricks on us), was spotted up a ladder which was balanced rather precariously on the roof of his little white van. His bossy wife Bernadette was sort of holding it steady but kept forgetting as she waved her hands and shouted instructions ‘put the lights round the chimney’ (luckily for Jean-Claude they live in a one storey house), ‘trail them along the weathervane…’

A large party tent has gone up in the town hall courtyard (the former playground). Along the tops of hedges and around the rose bushes growing over doors, and across window boxes dripping with brightly coloured geraniums – there are strands of Christmas lights.

There are no Christmas trees though.

And just why have we all seemingly decided that this week is Christmas in the middle of nowhere rural northern France? Well, it is the weekend of the ‘Illuminations.’

And so we are illuminating.

Nobody knows why we do it. It’s a tradition and I suspect an excuse for a good old knees up since that party tent will be full of people dancing, munching on moules frites and enjoying a glass or two of wine whilst admiring the twinkling Christmas lights on a sunny July night!

This is no big budget affair. There is no fanfare. But a lot of heart and camaraderie goes into making this one of the big nights of the summer in these parts.

Vive the illuminations!

Wishing you a lovely weekend from a festive little village in France, and please enjoy a read of the totally FREE Summer issue of The Good Life France Magazine: magazine.thegoodlifefrance.com

And, I hope you find a ton of inspiration from the top picks in this week’s newsletter.

Bisous from my little corner of France,

ps Photo is the market at Aix-en-Provence on a summer’s day…

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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