Doesn’t quite have the same ring as amber fields of grain, does it? As I drive around here, there is field upon field of endless yellow flowers here though, which is commonly referred to just as “rape;” however, saying the area is a high producer of rape just doesn’t sound right, so rapeseed it is! Wind turbines are also everywhere and not just rural areas in Europe either – I saw a huge tall one towering above industrial buildings that shot up out of a business parking lot! Once you’re outside the town center though, this is it! The lovely flatness you see here is the reason it is generally safe to fly along at 90 KPH (56 MPH) on roads that are often basically one-way roads – you can see oncoming traffic for quite some distance.
I had lunch on my own this Monday (I usually eat with the other American here), so I ate quickly and popped over to the small church in town – listed on historical records as early as 1118! I keep thinking that the cathedrals will eventually all look the same (at least within category – Gothic, Romanesque, etc), but if you don’t cram too many of them in at a time, they all have their own unique appeal. The local church apparently falls into the category of Poitevin Romanesque and was painted as it currently appears in 1865. From the outside, it kind of just looks, well, old. I should have taken a close-up picture of the doorway though! You can see that it is carved, as well as the carvings remaining on the right upper section. Part of the church collapsed at one point and had to be rebuilt stone by stone.
While the exterior isn’t necessarily anything special (in a country full of really, really old buildings), the interior was completely empty, extremely peaceful . . . and so brightly painted! Hard to believe so much of it is still intact from 1865! While there are obviously damaged sections, I’m kind of glad they haven’t tried to “fix” them as restoration work on ancient structures can be very hit-or-miss!
And last for photos, I will leave you with this lovely and very LARGE spider than was hanging out in my shower! This is apparently the spider time of year in the area, so I’ve had many, many spider visitors; however, this one was by FAR the largest. Actually, it is the largest spider I’ve ever seen inside any home that I’ve ever been in. It was hard to get a photo that showed it’s true size, but that is the CORNER OF THE SHOWER that it is hanging out in.
Life in France
So, on to life in France or, more accurately, “things I miss about the US.” One thing that never bothered me on vacations, but is starting to hit the “miss list” is the lack of bathtubs here. Apparently, taking a bath is just not a thing – you shower. And you shower in something roughly the size of a telephone booth, which makes shaving really, REALLY fun. I’m beginning to understand part of why French women appear to stick with waxing. On the upside, the shower heads are detachable – I’ve decided my future dream home will have a soaking bathtub AND a detachable shower head!
Other than the bathing arrangements, one of the main things that is different about day-to-day life here is the lack of certain appliances we take for granted in the US. Most apartment complexes that are “nicer” have banned the unsightly idea of drying clothes outside, but here, it is not optional. Many of the homes were built before laundry rooms were a “thing” it would seem, so your clothes washer is under the counter in the kitchen (where the US would have a DISHwasher) and there simply is no clothing dryer. I found an inexpensive clothes rack and I dry my clothes over the new electrical heater at the moment, given the weather hasn’t exactly cooperated with outdoor drying . . . however, I have begun to wonder if they simply don’t wash bedding all winter? I can’t even properly dry my clothes and more than one towel at a time, let alone a sheet and duvet cover!
So, getting back to the lack of a dishwasher, my evenings go something along the lines of get home late, cook dinner (if I have no leftovers), then HAND WASH dishes. The upside of this being you don’t need to own many dishes since you don’t need to fill a dishwasher. Nothing ever has time to really get stuck on either. The downside being the part where washing dishes by hand is a chore I have loathed for all of time and I have refused to live in any apartment/condo/house that lacked a dishwasher since I was 23.
At least once a week, I have to do a small load of laundry (did I mention the washers are smaller?) and then hang it on the rack to dry and on Wednesday nights, it’s time to prep the uniform black trash bags to throw out on the side of the street Thursday morning for pick-up. We also have a specified uniform clear bag for recyclables . . . which admittedly makes my little Portland heart happy! I was struggling with the whole “throw everything out” concept before my co-worker showed me the clear bags. Oh, don’t forget glass though! No curbside recycling for that – you have to walk it down to the local glass bin. Lucky for me, mine is just at the end of the street and in a lovely park!
Granted, most of life in the French countryside is pretty idyllic. Excellent reasonably-priced food, fantastic cheap wine (if that’s your thing), easy walking distance to town, excellent fresh bakeries on virtually every corner, really nice people, amazing driving rules, picturesque historic sites in every tiny village you come across . . . however, if I ever planned to live here for longer than 3 months, I would be on an awfully long (and mandatory) search for a home with a bathtub, clothes dryer (or space for one) and dishwasher. The dishwasher could *maybe* be optional as, weirdly, washing my dishes right away and having them actually be really clean (my current dishwasher at home is a bit dicey on this) has been strangely pleasant. The bathtub and clothes dryer are non-negotiable though!
I admit that I will miss the lovely towel warmer that’s on the wall behind my towel rack though! I’m told they’re used as a source of heat for bathrooms (metal warmed coils), but mine is directly behind the towel rack and results in lovely warm towels! I’ve also taken to using it to dry things that don’t dry quickly enough on the rack.