On life in Ladeveze-Riviere and neighbours
I wanted to write a little about the kindness and quirkiness of our new life in Ladeveze-Riviere, the village used to have over 600 inhabitants with a boulangerie, an epicierie and a boucherie. The village school is now closed due to lack of children in the vicinity and the population has diminished to about 220.
Over the last weeks I have been walking Dotty daily, we do a tour, and frequently see our neighbours either on foot, or in their tractors. They always stop and say ‘bonjour’ and I have got to know a few of them by name. Then every so often there’s a ‘beep’ from a car horn at the gates…. we have been given tomatoes, eggs, courgettes, black radish, parsley & home made jam over the last weeks. All of which has been absolutely delicious & gratefully received & consumed. Whoever brings it always wants to chat for a while – & we have gradually got to know each other a little better. There is Monsieur Denis with wife Lucienne & their springer spaniel, our dutch neighbour Ali on her bicycle. Sarah and Vivienne who have just moved into the farm next door. The gorgeous Lulu and Armaud, whose hydrangeas are to die for… to name but a few.
The first weekend of September saw the Fete de Ladeveze-Riviere, we decided to be brave and attend the lunch on Sunday. We were both pretty nervous to be honest, but we needn’t have worried as we walked up the road Lulu and Armaud were waiting for us and literally looked after us all afternoon, I have no idea who we met, but everyone seemed to know us already as we live chez Torres (considering he left Pignoulet in 2000 he must have been quite someone in the village!) I had also been spotted by most not only dog walking but running ‘up the hill’ and James on his bicycle too.
The whole event was charming, the village committee that run the Fete are made up of the young who do not yet have families and who are generally living with their parents. It was due to start at 11.30 with lunch at 12.30, we arrived about 12 and eventually sat down to eat at about 2pm. There was animation after dessert – which was a clown act and utterly bizarre but fun. The whole atmosphere was convivial, the sun shone and the town hall, and salle des fetes were buzzing with community life. … I am not sure what kind of impact we made but we certainly made some kind! We both came home exhausted from speaking & listening to french all afternoon but very happy that we had gone.
What I hadn’t appreciated is that for the kindness of folk who stop and say hello I had already met about 10% of the village. The locals are very happy that James’ parents so lovingly restored Pignoulet 18 years ago and that we are now living in the house that they all consider to be the most beautiful and important house in the village.
We are certainly not settled in yet, but we do feel very welcomed and happy to be part of such a warm community where small acts of kindness are frequent.