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The weekly update from The Good Life France

Pile of books by Janine Marsh surrounded by Christmas decorations, a kitten looks on

It’s got cold here in my part of rural France, walks with the dogs each day involve puddles and oodles of mud. The wind has been swooshing through the valley, ripping the last of the autumn leaves from the trees, and making barn doors rattle. Winter is coming.

Christmas lights are starting to twinkle in the town centres, no big parades or watching the lights being switched on though, it’s all very low key, but so important for the kids to enjoy the spirit of Christmas – this year more than ever.

Next year we will party like it’s not 2020 that’s for sure.

I don’t see a great deal of my neighbours these days. We all close our shutters to keep the warmth in and there’s not much promenading going on as it’s way too chilly out and there is a possibility of being blown away over a hill Mary Poppins style.

The local market has become THE place to see friends and neighbours from behind masks and at a socially acceptable distance. I read somewhere that some French journalists are predicting the end of la bise, the cheek kisses that are so very French. I think they might be wrong. Everyone I know says “how I long to give you a kiss, to feel that closeness of friendship”… I agree. I’m going to be kissing everyone when it’s safe!

Our local market is not big. There is a fish stall run by two ladies who make wonderful sauces to go with the fish. There’s a butchers van and a dairy stall selling the most divine local cheeses and hand-made butter. And there are three vegetable stalls selling carrots with the mud still on them, bags of mixed vegetables for a robust stew and local legumes. Some weeks there are a couple of clothes stalls, they are not exactly a la mode. But this is where we all go to support our local producers, and to wave to each other.

The great American cook Julia Child once said “In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” And when you go to a French market, even a teeny, tiny one like my local market, you know this is true. People appreciate each thing, whether it’s a cabbage or a wedge of Camembert. They chat to the seller about its qualities, discuss how to cook or serve it. The markets are still the heart of France.

Wishing you and yours well
Bisous from my little pig sty in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France,

Ps: I’m spreading Christmas cheer with an Advent Calendar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram please join me there…
Photo: Tigger the kitten in a festive mood!

Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life

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