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Bon weekend from a chicken-mad village in France

Chicken and cockerel in a garden full of snowdrops


I hope that you and yours are well.

My neighbour Jean-Claude popped in a couple of days ago to share some gossip – don’t get excited, nothing that happens around here is likely to appear on the front page of a newspaper! Every week it’s the same routine, he knocks at the back door and stands there looking sheepish, I say “come in and have a chat” and call Mark, my other half, to join us. It’s really an excuse for him to hide from his wife Bernadette, “le chef” as he calls her, she loves finding him jobs to do around the house! We sit in my little hall and I offer him coffee, he declines. Mark offers beer which is accepted before the word bière is even finished. Then he tells us what’s going on in the village.

This week’s update was that our neighbours Monsieur and Madame Jupiler have gone on holiday and their nephew is staying at their house to look after their animals – a rotund sausage dog called Le Roi (the King), two very unfriendly cats that pinch my cats food off the terrace, and a dozen chickens whom Madame Jupiler dotes on. “The nephew isn’t doing a good job” Jean-Claude. “He’s let ‘em all out. There’s chickens everywhere, in the road, in people’s gardens, digging under hedges… they’re all outside your house at the moment, passed ‘em on the way in. The nephew is making no attempt to catch them” he paused for dramatic effect, “Madame J is going to go nuts if they’re still out when she gets back .”

Yesterday I popped to the shops and on the way home met the chickens wandering down my road so I went to photograph them. The nephew came out to see what I was doing “You won’t put that photo on the village Facebook page will you?” he said “I’m just letting them have a bit of freedom. Having been cooped up myself over the last couple of years, I thought they might appreciate a bit of a run about but I’m not sure my Aunt will agree.” I promised I’d only share it with my friends – so here it is on my Instagram page!

I also offered to help him get them back into their pen before Monsieur and Madame Jupiler come back today, so if you passed through a tiny village in the Seven Valleys on Friday night as the wind was howling and the shutters were rattling on every house, and you saw a small woman and a lanky Frenchman chasing chickens that were lifting off in the gale like feathered Mary Poppins’– it was probably me!

Wishing you a bon weekend from a rather quirky village in the middle-of-nowhere, rural France,


Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream  and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life and Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France (April 2022) all available as ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online.

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