.....a phrase that denotes the existence of deep, and profoundly French aspects of the culture of French provincial towns, of French village life and rural agricultural culture. I got that from Wikipedia.
It's a phrase I recently heard from a CFO at a major Cognac house, when I asked him what he likes about life in Jarnac. "Not much changes around here", he told me when I asked what that saying meant to him. And then he changed from his street shoes into his office slippers.....imagine that.
I've been thinking about life here in rural France quite a bit lately. On the one hand, you hear a lot of gripes about taxes and lousy politicians at the top, on the other hand, France IS the fifth largest economy in the world. As a foreigner to this land, you could get caught up in the negativity quite quickly, especially if you surround yourself with a crowd of not so happy people. With a few minor exceptions (yes, I am still harping about the plumbers, Ken), we had a very very smooth ride so far in France. My Club Med level french may help, but I firmly believe that overall the rep France got, is just that a rep. Yes, it is hard to understand it all, their motivation behind actions and decisions, but we are not here to change them, we are here to enjoy it all. One just has to overcome that the French firmly believe in the, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" way of life..
Let me explain by an example. A week ago I saw an ad for an Estate auction in the area with no address, just the village name, date and time with the items being sold. I must have called the auctioneer five times leading up to the sale, but nobody ever picked up the phone. I finally sent them an email requesting some sort of information as to the address. To which I got this reply: "Monsieur, la vente a lieu a Saint Yrieix a 150m de l'eglise - cordialment."
My first reaction was that of a typical customer, pffft, I am not going, that is stupid, he can't even give me the proper adress.....blablabla. Really. Find the church first, then draw a radius of 150 meters and find the house.
Curiosity and hope of finding some bargains made me go anyway and guess what. There were already about 200 people walking from the church parking lot to the house where the aution would be. Easy to find. It's a village, how big can it be. I am glad to have gone and attended that sale. Besides the bargains, i realized that why would the auctioneer change the way he did business for the last decades when it worked all the time and still does. Why buy expensive signs, if cardborad boxes will do to show the way to the house.
SPOT THE SIGN
CARS, LAWNMOWER AND TILLER
HOUSE FOR SALE
SO MANY DISHES
SOLD FOR 200.00
FAUX BAMBOO BEDROOM
YOU WON'T BELIEVE THE PRICE FOR THIS ARMOIRE
ANOTHE GREAT BUY