After four months, the time has come for us to leave Quillan, and I am as miserable as the weather at the thought.
With a long weekend ahead of us, Tom and I decided to take the opportunity for a night away in the wine-growing region to the South-East of Quillan.
Driving east on the D117 and not in any hurry, this was our chance to do some exploring along the way, so we planned a relaxed start, a leisurely walk up to one of the many neighbouring Cathar castles, a long auberge lunch, and a mid-afternoon wine tasting on the domaine where we’d booked to stay the night in a simple gite.
When the weather dawned cold, misty, wet and windy on the morning of our departure, we refused to be put off. But it did make for a more interesting and memorable experience.
Considering the complexity of moving a family around the world, I’ve been remarkably sanguine about the whole thing.
Quitting my job, organising the house, making school arrangements in a foreign language. Solo parenting for two months in a foreign country while running a B&B. None of these big and life changing decisions have ever caused me a moment’s hesitation or the slightest concern.
Instead, I find myself paralysed at the thought of changing a light bulb. What is this phenomenon that has me sweating the little things?
This afternoon, being a Wednesday with no school commitments, we had arranged with two of our new resident Quillan friends and keen randonneurs to take a walk up into the hills beyond Ginoles.
I’ve always found walking groups a great way to meet the locals, as well as to get to know the area – and it’s an excuse to speak French over something less transactional than the groceries.
One of the things we like most of all about France and the French is their enduring love affair with cinema. The beauty of life In Quillan (and one of our criteria for a place to live) was the local cinema just 2 minutes’ walk from home. We were there as often as we could make it and promised ourselves we’d continue with this tradition back in Wellington. So when the annual French film festival rolls around, it’s an easy excuse to indulge.
I have been looking at some linguistic maps of France, like this one:
It seems there are local non-French languages everywhere, but I wanted to test that with a local person. Today I got my opportunity. I went for a haircut, armed with some basic haircut-related vocabulary: plus cour (shorter), derriere (back), avant (front), a cote (side). I managed to communicate what I wanted: number four back and sides, and shorter all over. Like every other hairdresser I have met, my hairdresser today was up for some conversation.
It’s the end of our second week in Quillan and the boys have survived a whole week of the final term of school at the Ecole Paulin Nicoleau.
The first week is always the hardest, and they have done an amazing job at navigating the challenges thrown at them. Even if we left now, they’d have done themselves proud.
School in France isn’t actually as terrible as I thought. It was worse.
Today when I woke up I was feeling pissed off about the fact that it was the first day of the French school term.