Lifestyle When Owning A French House
If you own a house in France this time of year is one when you will experience a change in lifestyle. The long, warm days of summer in your French house, when life is lived outdoors, are definitely gone and it’s time to settle into the coziness of winter days. Much as the long summer days are wonderful, for me there is always something special about winter days in France. It is impossible to think of French winters without thinking of the joys of sitting around a log fire. Nearly everyone who looks for houses for sale in France have an open fire as one of their important requests as they search for the property to suit their requirements. In winter, the garden, as a place of relaxation and social gatherings is replaced by the hearth. The smell of summer roses and lavender is replaced by the delicious aroma of wood smoke and the flaming logs provide the heat that summer sun no longer does. In winter there is a real joy in taking part in the complicated stacking of log piles and in the long walks in woods and along hedgerows to collect the daily kindling. The colder the weather the more fun all this can be. Coming into the warm house after a long period of collecting and stacking to sit by your own log fire and relish the heat that you have had a hand in making possible is such a good feeling and so much more satisfying than turning on a switch for the central heating!
The French Country Life
The way that France has retained its traditions is one of the major appeals of French life to Brits looking to buy property in France. Most Brits who own houses in France tend to live in rural settings and it is this closeness to the land that makes us so aware of the changing seasons. Urban life tends to be lived in a cocoon and not much of the external world permeates it. But when living close to nature the sense of changing seasons is all around. This is even more noticeable in France, with its constant focus on local seasonal food and the abundance of local festivals, very often celebrating the abundance of a local product. Chestnut fairs, truffle fairs, mushroom fairs and, of course, the first wine pressings are all celebrated in winter. For communities in tourist areas winter is also the time to enjoy celebrating with local neighbours and friends now that the holiday season is over. In small villages it is the time of year when there is time to enjoy community meals, prepared and cooked together and eaten at long trestle tables in the village hall. In larger towns it is a time for sharing in the fun of jazz festivals, Christmas fairs, and traditional Christmas plays.
Winter Food In France
French summer foods are lovely and no one can dispute the glory of the local market with its array of shiny red peppers, glossy aubergines, abundant courgettes, tasty tomatoes, fresh salad and wonderful summer fruits. However, winter foods are possibly even more special as many of them can be hunted or foraged for. Winter is a time when the local hunters are out culling the wild boar and deer. Not everyone will happily accept the gift from the local hunt but for those who like to eat local meat there is sure to be much offered. Large, spiky chestnuts are great for collecting and wherever there are chestnut woods the locals are likely to eat chestnuts in place of potatoes at this time of year. Mushrooms are usually abundant at the start of winter and for anyone unsure of what they have collected, the local pharmacist will offer advice. Truffles may not be so easy to collect and you probably need to be very friendly with a local neighbour who may, if you are exceedingly lucky, allow you to accompany him or her on a truffle expedition. It is only a local and their dog who will be able to help you with truffle collecting. All these lovely winter treats, washed down with a glass of hearty red wine whilst toasting your feet by the log fire, that’s what winter in France is all about.