Continuing my series Moving to France, I am starting a new segment on building connections. In the last month, I have had the honor of participating in two new cultural events in France: a housewarming and a funeral. I say that the funeral is an honor because it means that someone I love is grieving for someone they loved and to have love in one’s life is the most beautiful gift of all. To say hello to new friends and goodbye to others is the price we pay for love. And I would not have it any other way.
Building Connections: Housewarming — Crémaillère
First, the housewarming or crémaillère in French. While I have attended a few housewarming events in The United States, this was my first experience in France. This charming young woman and her adorable boyfriend recently purchased a home, one that originally belonged to his grandparents.
The home was constructed by his grandmother and grandfather several decades ago and was their home for over 30 years. When he died, it was time for her to shift gears, to move into a new home, her last home. While bittersweet, this relocation would give her grandchild the opportunity to buy and live in this house and raise his own family. The ‘letting go’ of something precious to make room for another’s joy is part of life’s beauty and sorrow.
The passing from one to another
And so, in the early evening a few weeks ago, my companion and I went to celebrate this passing from one hand to another. There were about 26 of us in total. There were darling children, couples in their 20’s, parents, grandparents, and every age in between. When we arrived, as is custom, we greeted every person, one at a time, with a brief introduction and kisses on the cheeks. It was a hot summer evening, and the couple had set tables and chairs outside. It was a lovely space – set against a field of wheat. While the house is in town, they have the chance to be facing towards the countryside.
After pouring a drink, we toured the house. We saw years of accumulated treasures, the memories that were captured by the elderly couple throughout their lives. Our host pointed out the things he loves about the house and the things he hopes to adapt to his and his partner’s tastes.
Traditional French game: Palets
About a dozen of us then moved on to a regional game called Palets, played with a large board and metal disks.
According to Boardgamegeek, palet is “a traditional French game, mechanically very similar to the well-known boules, but requiring significantly greater dexterity to play well. Cast iron, slightly convex disks are thrown onto a soft-wooden board (la planche) from a distance of 5 metres.”
Truth be told, I am the least coordinated and sporty person on the planet, but I am willing to try my best. This was my second time playing and, while my partner and I did not win, I did gain a few points (3, I think).
Making Connections: Apéro
Our apéro – was comprised of delicious wraps, sushi, and the more traditional meats and cheeses.
We enjoyed lively conversation, mostly surrounding why I decided to move from the United States to France, how and why I chose to live in Brittany in particular, how long I have been living here, and my impressions thus far. They were all exceedingly kind and curious.
Dinner was a regional favorite here – galette saucisse. Unlike the typical street food (which I love also), we had several versions of hot sausage and savory crepes (called galettes here).
We sat at the table in a long line, like days gone by, eating and laughing and reminiscing. It was a great deal of fun and I remember thinking that it was one of those evenings that I was so very grateful to be in France, amongst such lovely and welcoming people.
Have you ever been to a housewarming party in another country? If so, what was the custom? Please share in the comments below.
I was first introduced to France as a child during a family trip abroad. I have since studied in Paris, traveled throughout the country, and I fell in love with France and the French. Brittany is where I call home part of the year. Read more on my blog and Instagram @agruber17.
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