05 January 2014

One village view a day this week

We are going to have a busy week, with trips to Tours and to Romorantin, a haircut for me in the village, and all of our other routine to keep going. Dog-walking, cooking, eating...

So for a week or so I'm just going to post one photo a day from among all the photos I've taken in our village over the past 10 years.

Above is a photo of the New Year's ceremony that we attended yesterday in the village meeting hall (it's like like a church social hall in the U.S). Three things struck me about the people in attendance: (1) They were definitely a senior citizen crowd (I'm a senior citizen now too, I guess) and there weren't many young people at all. (2) It was a remarkably homogeneous crowd from an ethnic point of view (all white European) but I guess that's rural France. And (3) they all seemed to know each other (this is a very small town).

I was also surprised to see so many people in attendance, since there are only 1,100 people living in the village. I think most of these people grew up together here, and many of them are cousins, I'm sure. We saw many of the people who live in the village that we actually know. Several of them are in the wine business. Another was the father of a friend of ours who died suddenly 1n 2009. Others were people who work or used to work at the Mairie. And then there were several of our nearby neighbors in the crowd — including the mayor and her husband. The atmosphere was relaxed and festive.

At one point in her annual report, the mayor thanked those who had contributed photos to the slide show that ran on a big screen during the entire ceremony. She included us by name, thanking « mes voisins, Ken et Walter... ». She was obviously doing everything she could to welcome us and make us part of the event.

You won't believe this, but we didn't stay for the verre de l'amitié, the glass of wine served at the reception following the meeting. We had another engagement, unfortunately.


  1. Disappointing you couldn't spare a few minutes for a glass of wine with the mayor.

  2. Starman, the mayor was so busy, with her two assistants, setting up tables and pouring wine, not to mention talking to the other 150 to 200 people in attendance, as you can imagine...

    We talked with people we know and see not so frequently, and then we had to get going. We see the mayor and her husband regularly (not frequently) at their house and in the neighborhood. We've invited them over to our place a time or two...

  3. The mayor also had to entertain the mayors of Saint-Aignan and of two neighboring villages (Seigy and Orbigny), not to mention representatives of the Préfet and of the local gendarmerie. She had her hands full.

  4. I am glad you went, even if you couldn't stay all the way to the end.

  5. I'm glad we went too, Nadège, but it was a little overwhelming comme ambiance. All these old people who have always lived in the same little village, who grew up and went to school together... it really makes you feel like an outsider... not to say a foreigner. You feel superfluous, a curiosity.

  6. Funny, Ken, that after 10 years in that hamlet, fully immersing yourselves in the lifestyle, the land, the commerce, the agriculture, and the culture of the area, you still can feel like an outsider! But-- I totally get it :) If this were a gathering that included many people who had moved in over recent years, instead of long-time families who've been in the region forever, I guess you'd feel more like part of the crowd. If you were in the same position, but were born and raised in another area of France, would you still feel a bit out of place?

    Your mayor seems like an interesting woman who appreciates you and Walt, and how much you savor your life in France. I think it's great that she used your photos for the back drop. Did she mention your blogs?

  7. I like the fact that the mayor thanked you by name!

    I get funny feelings in groups like you were in, I don't like being part of an "in group- out group" situation. I have to talk myself into believing I have things in common with most people.

    It would have been better if some younger people came to the event.

  8. Evelyn, I agree with you that it was nice to be mentioned by name in the mayor's speech. The other people in attendance must have been mystified by the reference. She said it for us, and she didn't name any other people who had contributed photos to the slideshow.

    I agree with you too about the in-group vs. out-group situation. I'm not much of a schmoozer. I'm not sure what to talk to people about, and in the situation here I hate having to go over, one more time, the whys and wherefores of the reasons why I actually want to live here in the Saint-Aignan area. It makes me feel like an alien from outer space when people say they find it hard to believe that I'd rather live here than in "sunny California." Or just stare at you blankly because they have no idea what to talk to you about. When we are invited by our neighbors across the street for group dinners or parties, the conversation often turns on anecdotes about all their children and grandchildren and other people they all know. I sometimes feel like "a trout in a tree," as one of my high school teachers used to say.

  9. Judy, in general terms, I actually like being an outsider and an observer, rather than a participant in events. I'm not sure that I want to "out" myself as a blogger here. Having a local readership (which is unlikely to happen, because I'm sure very few people in the village read English or have the patience to try to decipher it) would change the nature of my blog and make me nervous about writing about certain subjects.

    The mayor didn't mention our blogs. I'm sure she's aware that blogs exist but I'm not sure she knows about ours. In her speech, Annick the mayor did mention that "several new residents" came to live in the village in 2013. She said it in a way that made me realize that the idea of newcomers to the village was a surprise to her way of thinking and would be a surprise to the people in attendance.

    Two of the people we saw at the event are neighbors of ours who live down the hill and walk their dog out in the vineyard once in a while. They moved here from Paris three or four years ago. But I wouldn't be surprised if they have family connections in the village or in the Saint-Aignan area — that's often what brings people here (or back here) to live.

    You know, if we could afford it, we'd probably be living in Paris, where you can be as anonymous as you choose to be. Since we couldn't move to Paris, we decided to move to the countryside where we could also try to be anonymous. No matter how much we speak French, we will always be seen as foreigners here — just as people who come here from the Paris area, and who've lived here for decades, are consistently referred to as "les Parisiens" by the local people. We have a friend from Paris who owns a house in Saint-Aignan and she's talked to me about how careful she has to be not to reinforce people's stereotypes about the way Parisians live view the local people and life in "the provinces."

    Remember what they say: Paris c'est aussi la France...

  10. Speaking of in-group, out-group, Paris and the countryside, another one who is rocking the boat while being an elitist:


    and the reaction(s) from the French: http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/anne-sinclair/article-newsweek-france_b_4547107.html?utm_hp_ref=france


  11. Thanks beaver! I like what Veronique (French girl in Seattle) posts. I always learn something interesting.

  12. I enjoyed Anne Sinclair's article. May I report that a liter of milk costs less than 75 eurocents here in Saint-Aignan?

  13. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/05/british-and-french-economies-same-problem
    Here is a good article in "the Guardian"
    The economist and Newsweek are no more serious. In fact we don't care.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?