I begin to write this with a glass of red in my hand, as I reflect back on my 4 months spent in sunny Provence in the south of France. It was a surreal dream come true to be moving to France, yet in a pandemic, my fortune didn't last as long as the crates of wine I bought home did.
I lost my job, like many many others, to the pandemic. I worked in the travel industry, which undoubtedly suffered from stay-at-home orders and the inability to travel. Thanks to my own inability to sit still, I applied for a role in the south of France, and to my shock, I managed to get. Before I knew it, I was driving down to Provence with a small suitcase, wondering if I was the luckiest person in the world or downright idiotic.
My morning run to the local boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette was equally welcomed into my new way of living, as was a midday espresso and an afternoon apéritif. Socializing was centred around food and drink, usually as a way to decompress from the working day and lasting long into the evening. This time was never taken for granted nor was ever rushed.
Provence is a region with so much variety. With olive groves, lakes, vineyards and surrounding villages to explore, I found myself eager to get out and experience what I could. Restaurants and cafes still filled the streets and sipping on a glass of wine whilst people-watching or simply meandering through new streets become my new Saturday afternoon ritual.
I quickly learnt the true meaning of the French word Flâner. It means to stroll or wander aimlessly as you take in and appreciate your surroundings. In a world where we are all rushing from A to B, with our faces glued to our screens, perhaps the art of flâner will allow us to slow down and look up once in a while.
The mornings were equally as lively – with markets stalls selling local seasonal produce. 30 euros and a couple of pots of olives later, I learnt the hard way to leave my overly-polite Englishness back home. I spent the weekends exploring local towns, heading to the coast to the likes of St. Tropez, Cannes and the famous Calanques National Park. Slowly but surely I was falling in love with the idyllic new French life that I found myself in.
As the first couple of months drifted past, the pandemic grew worse again. The bars and restaurants, otherwise known as the life and soul of Aix-en-Provence, all had to close and a curfew was set. The idea of starting a new life, meeting new people and trying new things became further out of reach. If moving abroad without knowing anyone wasn’t hard enough, try throwing a global pandemic in the mix.
My short but sweet adventure in Provence came to an early close. Although I left with a heavy heart, I came home with fond memories and experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise dreamed of making. I guess what I am trying to say is that nothing bad can come of giving something a go. As the wise saying goes, you rarely regret the things you did do, only the ones you didn’t do.