I'm a newbie in my village and this evening the Mairie invited all newbies and various others, including members of the municipality to come for a piss-up, I mean a get-together for some local history, welcome and perennial aperitif.
We got some local history - the village dates back 1000yrs; some modern history - the fight to avoid being swallowed into the local mass agglomeration of Montpellier, and some more stuff which I missed because my boys appeared at that moment and started hissing at me.
After the formalities, it was 'come and drink a glass of friendship' and without more ado, a general movement towards the refreshments took place. I had a brief chat with the mayor of my former village, which is part of a local group of villages doing battle with the Big Baddies of Montpellier and let drop the fact that I had to leave because of the dearth of rentals chez lui. Did he look suitably repentant? Not too sure about that...
The nibbles were delicious. Not your bog-standard crisps and peanuts; in fact, not a crisp or peanut in sight! No, we had what's called 'toasts' which do not, in fact, contain any toast at all, but refer to some Gallic mis-use of the word for tasty things on bread. There were prawns on avocado (on buttered bread circles), lumpfish roe (on buttered bread circles), smoked salmon, salami, and then little plastic dishes (very little!) of a miniscule amount of finely-chopped ratatouille nestling amongst a dash of cream and a snug of prawnettes; and other tasty morsels, and kebabs of roasted cherry tomato, pickling onion and eggplant. Terribly tasty, and quite sufficent for a light supper!! I came away pretty light-headed on blackberry kir royale (blackberry liqueur in sparkling wine).
Spoke to one chap who first came to the village to visit his grandmother when there was a population of 57 in the village, in the fifties. Now there are 4700 inhabitants in an environment that would be the envy of anyone wishing to live in a wooded, spacious, protected natural habitat.
We even got a goody-bag which contained a useful guide to local activites and associations, and a clock! Just what I needed in my bedroom to see how early the boys get up.
Even my eldest found a chum. We are en route for a life here!