Monday, 29 June 2020

Slow living in France

I'm often asked why did we chose to live in France? The answer is not simple, so many reasons really. For inveterate house restorers like us France gives the opportunity to buy beautiful buildings in stunning locations. The food was a major draw - who can resist a French market? The people are delightful and have taught us so much, but above all it was the opportunity to try and live more slowly that made us want to move here.

Regular readers will know that I've touched on slow living before. It started in Italy during the 1980's as the Slow food movement, promoting an alternative to fast food with the emphasis on preserving traditional and regional cuisine. Since then it's developed to embrace a slower way of living but that doesn’t mean doing everything at a snail's pace but rather defining what is important to you, concentrating on that. It's doing things at the right speed, treading gently instead of charging about. It's not an easy thing to achieve, habits formed from decades of living a hurried life are hard to lose. So how are we trying to make it work for us?

Andrew and I like to do things together, it's just how we are, and sometimes that means getting up just a little bit earlier to achieve this. We still set a working week so Monday to Friday I'm usually up at 6 ish so we can breakfast and walk Mortimer together. Sitting at a table for meals, all meals, is really important to us, as is setting it properly. Friends know I have a bit of a table linen obsession so even weekday breakfasts involve a laid table with the requisite napkins.

Set for breakfast
Our renovation project is big, and we really want to be open for business next year. We would achieve more if one of us leapt straight into action while the other walked Mortimer but we rarely do. For us, the morning dog walk is important, we get a chance to breathe before the day really starts and we get time to observe our surroundings. The Santiago de Compostela route goes through Corrèze and most days we walk some of it, reflecting on the centuries of pilgrims who have trod these paths.

Santiago de Compostela route

Hydrangeas in the village
The village is full of hydrangeas, I hadn’t realised quite how varied in colour they were all before and capturing the different varieties has become a morning challenge. It’s this awareness of where we are that makes us really appreciate the life we have here.

Once we’re back home we sit and have a coffee before work, no rushing to start. We always break for lunch and it's usually for an hour. Our finish time will vary depending on the tasks we've been doing, if one of us wants to get something completed then occasionally it's a solo dog walk but that's not often. The evening walk is a good time to reflect on what we've achieved and our plans for the following day. If we stop and have a chat with friends, or share a bottle of wine with them well, does it really matter that much if supper is delayed by 20 minutes?

Talking of supper it’s quite often a joint effort. I defy anyone not to be inspired by French food shopping. We both find cooking relaxing and like to try out new recipes. These are usually not overly complicated, spending hours in the kitchen type of dishes, but trying out a different way of cooking with familiar ingredients. We're now coming into peak soft fruit season so I've started jam making again. Our local shop had 5 kilos of apricots for 8 euros last week - that was a lot of jam! It's certainly something that can't be rushed.

Moving to France and the changes we have made meant we could lose a car, we only need one now and if I'm honest we can go a week without using it (longer if I didn't insist on Emmaüs runs!) We chose to live in a village with shops and amenities that we can walk to, it certainly made life under lockdown easier. Our supermarket shop is fortnightly and we buy fresh food locally. We try to be more organised so that when we do go out in the car we do several things in a journey rather than a lot of mini-trips. I feel quite guilty when I remember how in the U.K. I used to get the car out just to buy a couple of rolls for lunch.

We're not perfect at this, we still get stressed when we try and pack too much in a day but we're learning to relax more. We still have goals to achieve, we still have to work hard but sitting down  enjoying a cup of coffee together isn't really going to make much difference to the schedule but it certainly makes a difference to our wellbeing.

If you would like to enjoy snippets of our slow life in Corrèze then feel free to follow/friend us here on Facebook or on Instagram

A special spot on the Corrèze


  1. Such a lovely post. I really think you've got it right, and chosen a lovely place and community to get it right in.

    1. Thank you Margaret. As you know living in France isn't always easy but I'd rather be here than anywhere else

  2. June’s blog, at last. I’d been checking every day for a new post after my reading marathon from the beginning.
    Such a wonderful vision, you have created for those of us wishing and waiting for the day when my wife, Caroline, and I can make a similar move to the Limousin.
    Thank you, Sharon and Andrew.

    1. No pressure for July's then! Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and to comment, it's really appreciated. I do know how you feel though, for years before we moved here I searched the internet for people's blogs and live a life in France through them. I don't know when or where you are heading for in the Limousin but if you're near here then there is always a coffee available or something chilled in the fridge!


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