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  • Writer's pictureAhmed

North, South, City, Country

Updated: May 6

It might seem a stupid thing to say but France is huge. Vast chunks of it are empty. Just speck-sized villages in endless rolling pastureland. We were both reared as city people. I'm from London and Carole from Paris, two places that at various times in history have considered themselves centre of the world. It's disconcerting to find yourself living on the the edge of the world instead.

Now we live in St Germain-sur-Ay, a small village on the coast of the Manche. The choice was mainly driven by family- Carole's mum is close by and as amateur parents it felt good to have an expert nearby. It's remote even by French standards and tiny too. The bourg has just a small tabac, boulangerie and a bar. And of course Léa's school. The village is almost archetypal- a narrow central road leads up the small Norman church which is attached to a large farmhouse. The traffic here is predominantly tractors. Everything is clad in the local grey stone. The soil is poor so there are few trees apart for occasional pines. The main industries are oysters, rearing horses and carrots. The largest local employer makes salads.

We live in the Plage section of town, a collection of villas and detached houses spread along a vast sandy beach. For ten months of the year there are perhaps only a few score people in town. In summer, the families come up from Caen and Paris to their holiday homes and suddenly there are thousands. Usually accustomed to the empty beach it can be a bit of a shock to find ten people out there playing volleyball.

Out there is the Atlantic, next landfall Newfoundland. Over 10km of sandy beach and aside from high season, almost all to ourselves. Paradise. Well, not always. We're remote here. Winter here facing the ocean is dark and stormy. The nearest railway station is 30 minutes drive away, and public transport is infrequent. The nearest big town is Caen, a ninety minute drive. Thank God for internet shopping. And of course, most shocking of all for a Londoner, I have to drive. Shortly we hope to move. By curious coincidence we found some antique maps at a market recently and sifting through, we found the area we've targeted was represented.

It's near the area that Carole's Grandmother used to live, so there is a family connection. It's warmer and with better access to markets and brocantes. Unfortunately, it's several hundred kilometres away in the deep South of France. Unfortunate as with all our stock, the move will be... heavy. Having spent a couple of years on the edge of the world, we're getting ready to move to the other side! #Normandy #France #Occitanie #Tarn

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