Time out in the French Countryside


All around me I can hear many sounds. The rustling of the trees in the soft wind, the birds singing to each other in the bushes and in the trees, the small crab apples falling from the tree above my table in the garden. These all blend together in this idyllic place and it seems like there is a little orchestra playing for me in the countryside. In the distance you can hear the noise of a tractor ploughing in the field. Sometimes a voice might carry in the wind from the garden of a neighbour in the distance. I love the soft lilting sound of the locals talking in their dialect. It always sounds like they are telling a story.

I was in France staying at a lovely house in Brittany for a few weeks relaxation. The house is located near the end of a leafy country road in a valley with a canal running through it. There was no TV, no Internet, therefore no constant social media updates. I could access emails and social media through my phone if I wished, but at a cost. That was for emergencies and keeping in touch with the immediate family back home.

My neighbours did not speak English, so my Leaving Cert French was tested every day. It was great when I could put a whole sentence together but then they thought that was fine and chatted away in French to me at some speed. Luckily, they had patience while I tried to explain myself and at times revert to the dictionary. I have been going to this place for a few years now and after a day or two adjusting to the different language it is nice to speak to the locals in my basic French. They appreciate it better than Pigeon English as you can sometimes find yourself speaking.

Daily life in this part of France is nice and slow. After a nice long sleep, what better way to start the day than by eating a nice breakfast on the Terrace? Usually, at this that of year, late June the sun is up and the sky is clear. I loved having a long lazy breakfast and then plan the day ahead over the last cup of tea from the pot. What could be nicer than a stroll along the canal and lunch in a local restaurant? If you are feeling energetic you can take a bike ride along the canal also and pack a picnic if you wish. There are many decent cycle tracks which can suit all types of cyclists. A walk along the canal path is a must and refreshing. There is always a lot to see along this pathway as it is the route for barges and small boats from Brest to Nantes. They are numerous places to visit within an hour’s drive. You can be at the sea in 30 minutes, and there is so much history to be explored in the little villages dotted around Brittany.

Sometimes, it is nice to just sit and relax, read a book or doze in the sun. Those days are my chill out days and as the years go by, there are more of these chill out days than those sightseeing days or energetic days. It is lovely not to have to go somewhere every day or indeed not to have to do something every day. There are the basic chores with staying self catering and just a little bit of gardening to keep the place tidy about once a week is all that was needed. It is very easy to get used to doing very little and just relax.
New neighbours took up residence across the road a few days after we arrived. They were quiet but now and then gave a grunt or two while they stared at you. They were fond of sticking their backsides out to us at the same time. They seem to play this game all of the time – follow the leader. I could sit for hours just watching them. I am not spying on them as you might think. Our new neighbours are in fact four COWS. I am not a country girl, so I enjoyed their antics each day. I was fascinated by the way they all seemed to do the same thing at the same time. Then one of them changes their mind and the rest follow. Not sure if there is a leader of the pack. They were like four lawnmowers trimming the grass in the field.


I went to the local Fete du Canal one Saturday evening. It was a pig-on-a-spit evening with entertainment. This event at the end of June each year celebrates the making of the canals in Brittany by French prisoners. There were about 800 people at this event in a field beside the canal in the centre of the village. There were 4 pigs in total and we had a 6 course meal and entertainment for €13. Great value. A Kir aperitif, a starter of prawns with salad, mains of pork from the pig-on-the-spit, stuffing and new potatoes, apple tart, cheese and coffee. We all sat at long tables in rows in the open air. There was music by four men dressed as prisoners. After the meal when it got dark some local canoeists went in procession along the canal with lanterns lit and at the end of evening there were fireworks. Everyone was very friendly and we had a great time. This will certainly be a yearly event, not to be missed.

This is just a little taste of Brittany and I am back home now and miss the laid back lifestyle of the past month but one cannot be on holiday forever. I look forward to returning again sometime soon.
A Bientot.

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