Sunday, 26 January 2020

A slow Saturday in Corrèze

An often asked question is "what made you move to France?" and if I'm honest it's hard to give an answer as there's not just one reason. First let's get the whole house thing out of the way. For the British, French houses are cheaper and beautiful renovation projects are much easier to find, so if you're serial renovators like us then France is paradise. But the decision to move to France was much more complex, a large part being to live more slowly and make less impact on the planet.

We chose Corrèze village as it has everything we need for day to day living within walking distance, we only need one car. On average we make three journeys a week in it (and one of those is my Friday trip to Emmaüs!) We have beautiful dog walks from our house and friends within strolling distance, which has the added benefit of not having to toss a coin to see who gets to be 'designated driver' on an evening out.

So what about slow living? The concept of slow living came with the emergence of the slow food movement in 1980's Italy, a reaction to the growing fast food market. It doesn't mean we spend our time loafing about, we've finished the barn conversion and have just started work on turning the Old Notaires House into a bed and breakfast, but we appreciate the need to prioritise and take time over things that are important to us. Yesterday was a perfect 'Slow Saturday'.

The boulangerie was the first port of call to buy bread for scrambled egg and toast. It was a beautiful day, cold but sunny so a long Mortimer walk was a definite. We were just on the home stretch when we heard a disembodied "bonjour" from behind a hedge, peering over the gate we saw it was a French friend sitting in the sunshine, de-eying potatoes. We spent a good hour chatting with her and her son, catching up on village politics, discussing the merits of different mushrooms (apparently cèpes are cooked with garlic but girolles are definitely not - they need parsley). We left with a bag of potatoes, a jar of preserved girolles, bunch of parsley for said mushrooms, two pots of jam (myrtille and plum) and a large pot of apple purée. I'm pretty sure she still doesn't trust me, an English woman, to cook as I was given strict instructions as to the use of the purée. I certainly cannot have it with yoghurt for breakfast, nor in a sponge cake, it's definitely for apple tart.

We could have left feeling a bit antsy, after all we had 'wasted' an hour gossiping and our to-do list is quite long, but we didn't. We felt pleasure at spending time with kind and generous people, learning more about our village, and the country where we have chosen to live. We added a few words to our vocabulary and the realisation that we understood a lot more French than we did a year ago. And when we did get home we took a mug of coffee out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine and the view.

Coffee in the garden
The rest of the afternoon was spent outside, Andrew digging out a drainage ditch and planning the new steps to the kitchen doors and me, well pottering really. I relocated a few rose bushes and lavender plants, dead headed some hydrangeas and planned. A friend popped by and we discussed our newly discovered old water pipes (the excitement of village life!) Weekends are also a time for us to try out new recipes, and remember some old ones. Nearly 18 months without a proper kitchen really limited our repertoire. Yesterday I spent an hour or so making aubergines with a sweet and sour tomato sauce, which proved a hit.

Aubergines with sweet & sour tomatoes
I appreciate that this is winter and life is naturally slower, and I know when our gîte and bed & breakfast are up and running we will be busier. I really hope though that we can continue at a pace that suits us, I feel more balanced and more appreciative of the small things. A full life not necessarily a busy one.

If you would like to know more about our life in Corrèze then you are welcome to follow/friend us here on Facebook


  1. I love this post. You're both really making the very best of your new opportunities. Yes, I hope being busier doesn't mean TOO busy.

  2. Thank you Margaret. Today of all days I feel so lucky to live here.


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