|Villefranche-sur-Mer (photo LP 2013)|
As I mentioned in my last post my time in France, and in particular, Villefranche-sur-Mer,is going to be an opportunity for me to experience a different culture...and an extraordinary language learning opportunity at the Institut de Français.
After three days in this town on the "Riviera", and out of peak tourist season which I understand completely changes the atmosphere of this tiny ville, I have been welcomed by the locals.
The flight from Australia was over a period of 26 hours from Perth via Singapore and Paris to Nice. And then I had the discovery of my petite apartment in a 16th century building, my new home for a month.
My house in Perth is considered huge by European standards; my apartment in Villefranche is tiny in comparison. In Australia my home is surrounded by large gardens and lawns; here in Villefranche I live in five rooms, surrounded by other ancient buildings which are traversed by tiny, equally ancient laneways. My hours in the apartment are punctuated by the ringing, hourly, of the church bells only 100 metres from my building...and the wailing of neighbourhood cats, and the carousing of late night diners...a complete contrast.
Monsieur with the tapenade,olives and anchovies (photo LP 2013)
After my arrival and before the jetlag ensured I succumbed to exhaustion, I explored the ville and met the butcher, who once I had explained my situation as a soon to be enrolled immersion language student, assured me he would not serve me unless I spoke with him in French! I asked him about his produce and he suggested recipes...I felt immediately at home...
I had been recommended by my landlady to a particular boulangerie and after some faltered explanation I received the same assistance.
The following day I woke with expectation of the local produce market. And each of the stall holders showed me the same consideration...perhaps my fascination with food is a common denomination,and such kindness was shown to me,despite my faltering attempts at French.
The roast chicken but also rabbit stall. (photo LP 2013)
Perhaps also it is a consideration that I am travelling as a single woman. The restaurants I visited in my first few days, each day dining with an air of excitement with the expectation of something different, were accommodating in a manner which I would not experience in Australia. Rather than being placed at an "awkward" table, I was each time offered a table which would afford me a view of the other diners, an inclusive invitation.
The food experiences...will wait for another post...