The best of both worlds

The great thing about living right on the border of France and Spain is that, here in the Ariège and Haute Garonne, we get flavours of both cultures – with the emphasis on the best bits of each of course. Thus we have paella in the local markets and lots of Spanish themed festivals but these will generally be accompanied by French wine and croustade or tarte tatin.

Living so close to Spain also means that we are able to just pop over the border into Spain if we fancy the idea of tapas for lunch; which is exactly what we did yesterday, not so much for the food this time – although it was fantastic – as for the sunshine. Very unusually for this part of the world, we have just had a week of almost continuous rain (last seen in 1972, according to our local doctor) and, having lived here for a long time now, we seem to have rather lost that English tolerance to such weather.

Hence we decided that we would take a two hour drive (we are only 20 kilometres from Spain as the crow flies but the car journey is slightly more convoluted) over the mountains to see if we could find some sunshine. Sure enough, as we sat at the traffic lights on the French side of the tunnel leading into Spain, the temperature gauge in the car read 14 degrees; by the time we had travelled three kilometres through the tunnel and down the other side of the mountain, the temperature was already 27 degrees and by the time we were installed on the Spanish restaurant terrace 20 minutes later, it was 30 degrees.

What an amazing spot to live; where it is possible to travel a few kilometres through the mountainside not only from one country to another but from one completely different weather system to another, speak another language and eat completely different food. There can’t be too many places like this, where you really can enjoy the best of both worlds.

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