Friday, October 22, 2010

This is why I love the Charente....

We all know that times are tough at the moment, wherever you live. Strikes, petrol shortages, £80 billion cuts in public expenditure, inflation....every time we watch the news on the BBC, CNN or TF1 there's something to be gloomy about.

Yet I drove back from Jarnac this morning with a big grin on my face, counting my blessings.

The sun was shining (again), I passed the school where my youngest is happily ensconced enjoying a terrific education and I was driving through some of the most glorious countryside in Europe. I had been to the bank where I was welcomed with "Hello Mr Downie, how are the girls?" as I walked through the door and has stopped for a sneaky coffee where I was welcomed with "Hello Graham, big game for Bordeaux tomorrow".

What really sums it up though is something we saw on the main 8pm TF1 news last night. My eldest suddenly shouted "That's Luc, he's in my class".

They were running a piece on our neighbouring village Segonzac which is the first in France to be awarded Cittaslow status and had visited her school.

I have blogged about this before but to re-cap, Cittaslow is an international movement of “slow cities”, its symbol being a snail. The movement was first launched in Italy in 1999 and, based on a charter of 70 obligations, pushes cities and municipalities to develop actions revolving around improving quality of life, encouraging local businesses and economies, and respecting the surrounding landscape.

Segonzac is currently undertaking a number of “slow city” worthy actions, such as opening up a new public park, bringing back local businesses, rehabilitating pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets, and creating community gardens.

In our 24/7 world of constant communication I can't tell you how satisfying it is to live somewhere where the art of stopping in the street and just having a good chat with your friends and neighbours is alive and kicking. Where smiles and politeness are real and not manufactured and where community is something found offline rather than just online.


Chez Loulou said...

What great news! I really enjoyed reading this and truly understand why you love the Charente. The region holds a special place in my heart.

LW said...

Life in Cognac sounds thoroughly idyllic and a world away from life here in the north west of the UK! Feeling very lucky that part of our work day involves getting an insight into the expat lifestyle in France through blogs like yours. What a nice way to round off a Friday afternoon! Have a great weekend.

The Celiac Husband said...

For sure sounds like a worthy idea.
bringing back "small business", makes me wonder what they do to support that part of the plan?

Nikki Pilkington said...

We live in Nord pas de Calais and love the friendliness and conviviality of our small village. It is so nice to be greeted witha smile and a friendly hello by everyone you pass, to pass the time of day with neighbours who seem to care, and to know that our children are growing up in such a friendly place.

We don't have your fab weather though :)

Northern Ireland Property said...

What a great award. In a world where everything is getting faster and more hectic has our quality of life improved? For many it is just more pressure and less quality time to spend with the family and in your environment.