I am a city girl by nature. I was born in the city, Los Angeles, California to be exact, and I was raised in the city my whole life. I love the ease of having everything at my finger tips and never having to go very far for a meal, shopping or miscellaneous errands. Growing up, and well into my adulthood, I lived everyday with the hustle and bustle of the fast life. That was all I knew and that was what I loved.
When I moved to France for the first time back in 2003, I lived in Aix-en-Provence. It was delightful. The village was the best that one could offer a city girl. I was living in France (who could beat that!) and had everything just outside my front door. I never wanted or needed a car and I relished in the fact that I could walk just about anywhere I wanted or take the bus, if need be. Life was good.
When I moved back to France in 2010, I was once again back in the city. Everything right here, right now, just like I wanted it. Several months into the move however, and after numerous road trips, I found myself more often than not, wanting to go to the countryside. The quietness of the little villages and the serenity of the hills and vineyards was a constant draw.
The vineyards near my French countryside home
When my husband and I began our search for buying a house, we did, I admit, look along the coast and to the bigger villages. The prices were far too expensive for us, but even more so, I found there were just too many people around. It seemed to be more fun to go places that had very few visitors and even better, fewer towns people. I started to gravitate to the countryside and small villages. It soon became the most important of my criterion for a house (besides the price). Was I becoming an old fogey?! What had happened to me over the years?
I started to realize that the hustle and bustle of the city was not so much fun anymore. I never had any peace and quiet, there were too many cars on the road (French people don’t walk as much as they used to), I was surrounded all the time by neighbors, I had no yard or garden and the city was not very clean.
Life had changed me and I wanted a piece of the old, quiet, French life that I saw in the movies. That’s what I wanted and that is what I found. In April while out on one of our many house hunting visits, we happened upon the house that was to become our little, French country home. It had everything we could ask for: room for our family and friends to come visit, a nice garden with lots of beautiful tall trees, it was located in a small village and it was peacefully surrounded by hills and vineyards. We loved it and we bought it.
A view of my garden
Now, the house has been a nightmare (to say the least) when it has come to the renovation. Everything you can imagine has gone wrong and I won’t lie to you about the frustration we have experienced on that matter, but I truly love this house and little village. I can honestly say that I have never felt this way about any place that I have ever lived in before. I just love being there. I love the feel and smell of the provincial countryside. I love the long drive, the windy, small road, the forest of trees and the few small villages one passes along the way. I love that I can see the stars at night, and hear the wind through the trees. I love the sound of quiet and that there is no industry or large town and shopping center close by. I can hear the church bells ring from anywhere in the house and my neighbor has a rooster that thinks sunrise is at 4pm each day. It’s wonderful! We even have little green frogs and geckos come in to visit us. I take them out to our garden, of course, but they still come back for a visit.
Everyone in town knows everyone else which means that I get a lot of strange looks. I am a mystery to them. I quite like that as well. There is an open market two days every week that satisfies my need to walk out my front door and be able to have some shopping at my finger tips.
My little south of France village only has one boulangerie and one main street. There is no château to visit or ruins to hike to, so tourists are not crowding the streets. But for all the peacefulness, this town does love to put on get-togethers for the villagers. There are all sorts of great events throughout the year for those of us who live there. I find that absolutely wonderful and am glad to see that the town goes the extra mile to get people out and about and enjoying themselves.
The countryside of Provence near my home
The texture of the sights and sounds of the little village and of my house is something I had never felt before moving there. Life has been difficult for my family since we move to France 10 months ago. We have definitely had more than our fair share of things to overcome. I’m thankful that I have a place to go that gives me peace and quiet away from all the troubles.
I think I might just be staying a while……
Ashley says… “Since visiting France in 2000, I have been in love. I am a hopeless Francophile. I want to learn everything there is to know about France, linguistically, culturally and historically. Living in Provence has given me that opportunity. When not working, I hit the road and hunt for ancient ruins or châteaux to photograph and for the best scenic hikes. You can follow my escapades on my blog Backyard Provence.
Ashley lives in Provence, France. She is an active member of My French Life … If you would like to join our My French Life team(follow us here) of Contributing authors, photographers, interviewers and very talented people who live all around the world, then send us a message info@MyFrenchLife.org