Part Of The Community
We moved to the Haute-Vienne, rural village life earlier this year. After negotiating the joys of french red tape and bureaucracy in the process of our permanent move and setting up our new chambre d’hotes business, we felt we needed to do something to Integrate into the french way of life.
I decided to join the village association de commerce. Our very own local business group. The prospect was exciting but also rather daunting with my limited grasp of the french language. Needless to say it went well. I paid my annual cotisation, (joining fee to be marketed in the annual publicity leaflet), attended a couple of meetings, and got to meet some local characters.
The first meeting was the annual rendezvous which was completed with lots of bisous,(kissing) and a glass of champagne. One gentleman stood out as the a typical french man, an older chap. Full of gesticulating, gallic shrugs and plenty of Non! With arms increasingly being folded I didn’t need my french to understand his body language told me enough, he was in disagreement with the turn of the meetings.
We were planning our annual chasse de paques….easter egg hunt for the village children, I’d heard Monsieur Grumpy was a fan of chocolate. With this gem of knowledge I decided to bake some chocolate cupcakes. This was a major operation to plan, researching, testing recipes, and ingredients. The french fondness of food is not misrepresented.
I turned up at the meeting armed with my cake tin and awaited the end of the session. I offered out the cupcakes.
It had been a decidedly heated meeting again with plenty of discussion and shrugs. We began to eat, ……the room fell into silence…..I thought, they either love or hate them? Which is it to be?….
I heard a mmmm from Monsieur Grumpy, and a nod, “quarante” he asked. Now even my limited french knew this meant 40. What could it mean? There was only a dozen of us…..a pause, and then it dawned on me….
“Non monsieur, soixante -dix”!….”Ah Bonne”, he replied…..of course, he was asking about the percentage of cocoa solids I’d used in the chocolate.
Win With Cake
The meetings I attend now are wonderful, my French is limited but I always supply plenty of cake. Who says a little bribery doesn’t go amiss. I’m now included in the “bisous” greetings not just at the meetings but also in passing on the street. Obviously the way to a Frenchmans heart is still through his stomach…..
This Blog was written by Dawn Turpin who along with her husband Steve, run the Coeurs et lavande Chambre D’Hote in Bussiere Poitevine in Haute Vienne. To learn more about their B & B and to find out how you can stop there , visit their website .