We are here. We have a bank account, a mobile phone, a fixed address and we know where to buy every organic food known to man on the Cote D’Azur. I have settled into yoga and running. As far as the cafes, I am working well from afar and the systems we have put in place are and ticking along nicely. Luc has settled into school extremely and made plenty of new friends.
This is working! We have made it! We have achieved our goal!
Life has moved at an incredible pace. Our days are so full fitting everything in. Everything is new. Roads, directions, driving on the other side of the road. How to buy groceries. How to fuel your car. How to do the banking, buy insurance, send and receive post. Order in a restaurant, pay a bill, tip on a bill and ask for the bill. Opening hours of shops, supermarkets, banks and post offices. The list is endless. We are constantly learning this new French way of life. A lot of the time we get it, other times we accept it is the “French” way. The French even say this. They tell you to your face. ‘ This is the French way!’ So you just learn to accept it. It is something you take on in other aspects of your life as well. You begin to learn to let go…
I mentioned recently to a friend that I was well and truly living in the moment here. I said that if anyone had to ‘learn’ how to do this, then the South of France was a great place to be. It is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye, that you can’t help but stop and look at it. It screams at you as you drive down the laneway, look at my beautiful stone wall, look at my beautiful poppies growing out of every crevice, look at how they glow as the sun shines through them. How can roses be so red? Did I not notice them before? Luc was telling his Grandma on the phone, whom I may add loves her garden, lives for it and has grown roses for as long as I can remember, that they have ‘real roses’ in France. Easy tiger, this is your rose loving grandma you are talking to here! ‘No Grandma, you have to visit me now, this week, these are the real roses, not the ones we have in Australia, they aren’t the proper ones. So you can see, it captures an eight year old boy, no less!
But then there are also the beautiful shutters on the windows, the gorgeous hues of colour they are painted, greens, blues, creams, some new, some old, some freshly painted, some peeling, they all arrest you. They demand you to look and say, ‘my, how beautiful are these things.’ The roofs, the tiles, the cedar trees , palm trees, pencil pines, peppercorn trees, tulips, irises, olive groves, lavender, the list goes on. It doesn’t matter if you are driving the highway, or a winding road, or down an alley. It doesn’t matter if you are in the city or a small town, the whole area says ‘look at me’. It says, stop your thoughts, don’t think of what to cook for dinner, don’t think have I paid the bills or wages? did I reply to that email? did Luc do his homework? It stops all those thousands of thoughts running through your head, and you are forced to ‘live in the moment’. Yes, this is where you send people that could never imagine ever being capable of doing this.
But, it doesn’t just stop there, it also forces you to be grateful. Luc is used to me asking him after school or at the dinner table or before going to bed, what are we grateful for today. I admit, we used to repeat things like having dinner, cuddles etc. but I don’t think we fully felt it, we acknowledged it, but it wasn’t real enough. Here, we feel it. Here, we love going on and on about how grateful we are. There are so many things. I tell you what we are incredibly grateful for, the organic French butter with sea salt crystals in it!! Seriously, it is AMAZING! But we are having these OMG moments constantly and we love showing gratitude. We do it without thinking about it. We LOVE it. We both went to a parent/child mindfulness course on the weekend. It was run by one of the ladies in my yoga class. She was going to have the morning one in French and for the first time, one in English in the afternoon. I have to admit, Luc was nervous it was going to be ‘boring’. They actually took the kids out for most of it with another teacher, this worked so well. We were learning the same thing, but not being distracted. I asked him what did he love best other than his teacher as we both asked each other that first and realised we both loved how good they were. He said, Mummy, when we are stressed we are worrying about the past, when we are anxious we are worrying about the future, true happiness is when we are living in the present. Bingo, he got it. That was the simple but effective tool we took away. We learned to press the ‘pause’ button every time we felt ourselves wandering away from this. And the most important part, that the more we practice the better we will get at this. We got so much out of it, and I really question whether we would have if we had not come to France. We are in a special space that has allowed us to really stop and smell the roses. And boy are those roses incredible!!! You won’t get them in this blog, but the annual Rose exposition is in Grasse this weekend and the open house of the villa & gardens of the Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferret, so we have an action packed weekend of all things rose coming up. Rose photos will follow after.
In between all of this there were also important ‘growing pains’ so to speak. We missed our little family unit with Tony and me having a “little friend” as they call a boyfriend here. It is a pretty romantic place to hang out. I have this beautiful balcony off my room overlooking the mountains and the beach, it would naturally be awesome to share this with a ‘petit ami’, especially all the romantic restaurants along the beach. Luc actually commented when were out the other night having dinner in a restaurant, “mummy, it is so romantic isn’t it” , see, even an eight year old boys feel it too, there is a magic here. Anyway, this blog is not about that part of my life, but I feel it is important to acknowledge that we have had to ‘adjust’ to our new way of life.
So, the food stuff that lots of you have been waiting for! I will admit, you wouldn’t want to be a pig or a cow here, they eat a lot of saucisson and cheese! Every time we go past a billboard there is some festival on. It involves me leaning out the window and quickly taking a snap shot of the poster. It is filling our weekends, and that was before spring had truly sprung, we have got to let a lot go now, as there is too just too much to see and do.
The first one on the calendar is the Chocolate festival. To those who know me, this is my worst nightmare. But, we are in France and Luc loves chocolate, so we are going. It was so beautiful. Everyone was so happy, people dancing, eating, drinking, chatting and tasting Chocolate. They love their food, it is such a different way than we do. It is expected to have good food, to know about good food. It is their way of life. Festival number two is an Olive festival, now this is more my cup of tea. Luc adores olives, he eats jars of them, he hoovers them, inhales them, get the picture? We buy $80 dollars of olives!!! We already have olives at home…
Then we have the honey festival. Honey ice cream, honey lollies, honey marshmallows, honey itself. Lots of ‘bio’, that is ‘organic’ honey. Lots of bees., they show the process of how they make the honey from ‘bee to jar’. With the big pesticide companies literally biting the hand that feeds, which are our bees, I love this festival. Bees are essential to our survival. Buying honey here is so important. Luc gets to try honey from lavender plants and blossom trees. They take their honey seriously. They know how it is extracted and why it tastes different depending on where the hives are and what plants the bees are pollinating. Luc got a great lesson on this first hand last week. We have hives on our property, and the beekeeper came to look after them. We discovered three new hives they had made. It was so amazing to show him this, there was much excitement and ‘buzz’., pardon the pun, of finding the new hives they had made.
In between this we also had Easter, that in itself is a chocolate festival. We had the world’s largest Easter egg hunt in the history of our Easter egg hunts. Seriously, 20 acres to spread them all out. We also have our wonderful ‘new’ friends from Melbourne and their four kids and another local French family and their son. So twelve for a sit down lunch and eight kids for the hunt. Angelique set our alarms early to get up before the kids. It is a ‘crisp’ morning, and not one that you would wear your thongs to ‘hide’ the eggs. But worse than this is, Luc wakes up!!! This is like Christmas! Lucky, I had a cunning plan! I had told him the night before that Angelique had all of our eggs sent from Australia and that I would get them off her in the morning, that way he wouldn’t pull the house apart looking for them. I told him if he looked out of the window and the Easter bunny was out there, all the eggs would disappear. I had to close the shutters all over the house, so he wouldn’t be tempted to look out of the window and see us hiding the eggs. Then I had to ‘lock’ him into the house!! There are two little love heart cut outs on our shutters, which we never close mind you , so he really thought mummy was taking this seriously! I was worried he would peek out of the ones in this bedroom, so we had to sneak along the wall. We hid over 300 eggs, some tiny, some huge, some organic, some fair trade. Then of course, we have me. I have to photograph ‘everything’! Now, as you can imagine most of these are for the blog, but it makes everything we do take longer, plus my feet were almost numb at this point!!! He was worried what took me so long when I got back, but the excitement of the day was building beautifully. Next, he had to wait for everyone to get here. Are they here yet? Are they here yet? This is from Angelique! not Luc, she couldn’t wait for the kids to go for it!!!! It was hilarious!!! The other kids arrived and we had baskets lined up. The little ones were in rapture, the big kids competitive to get the most. And boy did I hid them, ha! I would not be surprised if there are still 20-30 still hidden in the plants as we speak! Then it was time for the big sit down lunch, a huge family roast, lots of roasted vegies and of course chocolate for dessert including an Italian bell shaped Panettone, followed by cheese. We started at 0900 and said goodbye at 2100. Twelve hours of solid celebration amongst a fire roaring, kids running around the property, movies, games of backgammon, it was a beautiful ‘family’ day with our new friends. We were so happy and truly grateful. We could get used to this…
We will both continue to both ‘live the dream, ‘live in the moment’ and ‘carpe diem’.
Lots of love Jeanette and Luc xox