Anyone thinking of coming to live in France, especially in Languedoc-Roussillon, would do a lot worse than consult one of a number of online websites aimed at helping anglophones move and live here.
One of those is Languedoc Sun, a regional magazine to help existing residents get the most out of the area. Yesterday, they had organised a Forum at the Domaine de Verchant, gathering together a number of English-speaking associations, services advice, networks and book signings. Both the British and American Consul Generals were there and that is why I was sent along.
It would have been pleasant anyway to bunk off and trot over, but, for once, I was sent on a professional mission to meet the new US CG. I work for a US government lab and as the director was absent, he wanted me to go and meet her and let her know we exist. It all went well, and I was able to return with my mission accomplished.
I couldn't just rush in and rush out though, there were far too many stands to linger over, and people to chat to. People like Peter from The Languedoc Page, who introduced me to Kate, blogging author of 'Diary of a French Housewife'. I also met Greca and Jamie Sandford of French Entree who have very kindly just written an article about me. I'm in there with some very enterprising folk who've set up all kinds of businesses which sound very exhausting to run. I'm so staid in comparison with my regular job and salary. Ah well.
I also met Peggy Tolleson, author of a delicious book called Wild Garlic, and her daughter. Born in Switzerland, once she married, Peggy moved quite a bit around the world with her husband. Her book recounts some of the stories from along the way, people she met, and especially, recipes which she particularly enjoyed. She now lives near Ganges, up the road so to speak, in a house with a big garden which provides produce for all sorts of scrummy jams and preserves. She also sells dried wild mushrooms which smelt so divine through the bag that I just had to buy a packet. I believe there's also a guest house to rent - an old silkworm farm - and you can buy some of the organic produce from the garden.
I tasted wine, and bought two boxes of Yorkshire Tea from a tea stand, an English goods shop from Pezenas. I was delighted, especially as the price wasn't too inflated. From a retail price of £1.99, it was on sale at 3.30Eur. That's acceptable. So my goodie bag was quite stuffed by the end what with the cookery book, mushrooms, tea and pamphlets from various organisations.
I got one from Barclays where you can apparently open a sterling account here, and one from the Anglo-American library situated in the new university building in the Richter quarter. Unfortunately, as with most university libraries, it's only open during business hours which means not at the weekend. I've never understood this. Students need to work in the library way beyond standard hours. In Exeter, when I was there, the library was open until 10pm and all weekend. I spent many many hours in there, out of hours.
Anyway, well done Languedoc Sun for organising a forum full of interesting stands. It makes you realise how many cool people there are in the region.