The Good Life France

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My French Life: A day in the French countryside

french country homes

Sunday’s weather was simply wonderful – blue skies, warm sun – it was one of those perfect spring days.

Our animals were happy – all four cats were playing together in the garden, climbing trees and hiding in the hedges; the chickens, ducks and geese were lazing in the sun, dipping in out of their ponds to cool down and preening themselves. Our three dogs were snoozing in their bit of the garden, ignoring everything and just stretching out and loving the good weather, occasionally lazily lifting an eye lid to watch the cats.

We could have done the same, but I had a date with a goat that I couldn’t miss!

This weekend was the Ferme de la Ferme day in France – lots of farms throw open their doors and invite the public in for an up close (and in my case) dirty view of life on a farm. I’d been invited to milk a goat – something I have never done before, never wanted to do before and quite honestly don’t want to do again!  Seraphina the goat was a very stinky animal and very frisky – let’s just say I didn’t get enough milk for a rice pudding before I gave up – there’s obviously still a lot of London left in me!

french country homes

After that it was bread making – the goat farm oven is huge and rather wonderful. Big bowls were filled with organic flour made at a local mill, mixed with some goats milk, knob of butter, yeast and a little salt. Mixed together by hand and kneaded on a huge wooden table top then left in bowls to prove. The goat farm owners had prepared some dough earlier and it was cooking in the big wood oven and the whole kitchen was absolutely filled with the delicious smell of fresh baked bread and croissants. Monsieur le Boulanger had huge paddles which he slotted into the oven to lift out the bread and croissants when they were ready and then carried them through the restaurant to put on tables to cool down. He’d been baking since the early hours – making hundreds of tarts which were stacked on a table ready to be scoffed by the hordes of visitors who go from farm to farm for this nationwide event.

In the workshop, tables were set for people to try the bread with some delicious goats cheese with little dishes of chopped chives and herbs to sprinkle on top – I know that I am lucky to be here in France and some days I really do feel it.

After visiting the farm we decided to just drive around for a bit and enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful countryside of the Seven Valleys where I live in Pas de Calais…

french country homes

We drove through sleepy little towns admiring French country homes, some villages had chateaux, almost all had fabulous old churches. One in particular caught my eye because of its unusual shaped spire. Dated 1671 it had some ornate carving on the exterior, beautiful stained glass windows and was set at the side of a little bubbling brook. Nearly every village here has an ancient church of immense proportions compared to the current population.

french country homes

It was inevitable really that on a Sunday afternoon we were would chance upon a little brocante, a street flea market….

Next instalment – the cockerel at the flea market!

 A bientôt

Janine

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