Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why France?

Yesterday, a colleague asked me why V. and I chose to buy a property in France as it is so far away.

I answered him right away that both V. and I have ties to France although V.'s are more immediate.  V. lived in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin as a child from ages 5 to 9 until he sailed to Montreal to become a Canadian citizen.  He and his family were on the long trajectory that would take them from post-war Bucharest to Brno to a safe place in the Austrian mountains before they would settle in the south of France where V.'s dad found work.

My links with France are multiple but spring from one solid main root that is my paternal grandfather.  In a wish to escape the first world war and pursue his dream of being a landowner, he left the Champagne region via London.  He later took the train to Edmonton then further north to Grouard and then by horse to his homestead in the town where I was born.

More importantly, the seed of France was planted in my brain as a child and was nurtured by the two pictures that my family had of my grandfather.  I looked into his young, rather stern face and felt a bond with this man who had come so far to establish his family.

Later, my parents became good friends with a French couple who'd immigrated in the 50s to find a better life in Canada.  They ended up in our tiny village and it seemed natural that they would become  friends with my parents.  These people, Tonton and (Tatie) would become part of our family.

When visiting La Bergere Basque's website last week I was reminded of them as they both came from the Basque country.  They taught us to sing this song which became a part of our singing family's repertoire.

As an adolescent, I was thrilled when my parents took a trip to Europe.  My parents came back with many stories and impressions and I knew that one day, I would travel there. 

After my B.A., and before my B. Ed., I took a semester to visit Europe and there, in France, I found a part of myself that had been hibernating.  I understood something about myself that had been at best, a sense of not belonging to the place I was born.

In the following years, I returned several times to Europe.  I married a European and almost five years ago said a firm YES when the opportunity arose to buy a condo we'd rented before in an enchanting village .  The condo is in a refurbished 17th century olive oil mill that sits peacefully on the river's edge.

Here is the architect's sketch of the project which began over 30 years ago.

And here are a few pictures of our little piece of heaven...
Table de ferme purchased last summer as were the pewter candlesticks
and the village...


So that is why we bought a place so far away from where we live.  Choices do not always align with what is most practical n'est-ce pas?

Bonne journée,

Stella

1 comment:

Lizette said...

Thank you for sharing your story. So happy that you found another "chez toi". The village looks like a movie set!