By: Christina Rowe
Most of us have dreamed of working abroad at some stage in life and it it has often been a topic of conversation among my friends. The questions, ‘Where to live? France, Spain, Morrocco? What to do?’ usually follow, once we have decided we are going to fulfil that dream. I had been working in London for a few years and kept saying to myself, ‘one day I’m going to work in France’. Realising that it wasn’t magically going to materialise out of thin air, I decided it was time to actively infuse some effort into my goal and Voila! The job presented itself. I thought ‘if not now when?’.
And so I came to live in Languedoc-Roussillon, the largest wine making region in the world; unknown to me at the time but in retrospect I think , ‘how very fortunate’ to be in such an idyllic part of French country 🙂 . I flew into Carcassonne, home to the ancient town ‘La Cite’, one of Europe’s largest fortifications. Winding through quaint villages and vineyards to the Minervois region that would be my home for the next three months, we soon arrived at the place I would call home during my time there.
Although I had attempted a few French classes earlier in the year, and faithfully listened to learning french CD’s (without any noticeable positive effects) I was looking forward to being forced to speak French every day.
The experience of a Languedoc summer with soaring temperatures, winds and thunderstorms is fascinating. Although many say it is a strange summer. I have a new appreciation of afternoon siestas and the need to keep shutters closed during the day to keep a cool house – this is also why villages everywhere looking deserted in the afternoon. I have discovered some enchanting local haunts that include a river and waterfall perfect for a lazy day; restaurants recommended by locals not hinted at in guidebooks; and towns and villages with castles and caves galore (Kate Mosse ‘Labyrinth’, while a fictional tale, does give you a taste of the history of this area).
Gastronomic delights are the order of the day. Wine and cheese to make you weep, markets, patisseries, boulangeries, champagne for as little as five euros a bottle, and my personal ‘piece de resistance’ driving down the road and seeing a sign to Barcelona! So many places to explore right here on the mediterranean! Adventure anyone? 😉
Have you been to some scenic escapes in the French countryside or have some great experiences teaching english in France that you’d like to share? Do leave your comments below. Thank you 🙂