What Triple AAA Rating?

While much of the rest of the world seems preoccupied with the loss of France’s triple AAA rating, here in the Ariege and Haute Garonne, the whole subject has been dismissed by the locals as utterly irrelevant. Not that it hasn’t been discussed – the French love a good debate – but for people here, nothing much has really changed since the economic crisis began; beautifully illustrated I thought by this chap in his car, reading the local paper, who has clearly seen much worse and knows that life goes on.


Of course this area is feeling the pinch like everywhere;  fuel is more expensive – but people here don’t drive very far; gas and oil prices are up too but the majority of locals here spend their summers cutting and laying down wood for their fires and wood burners so that hasn’t really effected them either. Food is perhaps more expensive but not if you grow and produce your own. The price of an espresso is still generally seen as exorbitant although it hasn’t much changed in the last ten years – and I have never known a group of people more adept at spending quite so long drinking quite such a small beverage!

I guess if you didn’t have the highs of the 90’s excesses, then neither do you have the lows of the current economic crisis; the people in this area have always lived simply and put far more importance on family, friends, good food and quality of life than they have on shiny new cars, designer homes or gadgets which means that life continues its gentle pace, almost unchanged, as it has done for many hundreds of years.  I’m certainly not complaining – there is nothing like a wander around the market talking to the stall holders about a local cheese or the best way to prepare leeks – and then a sit down in the local café eavesdropping on the discussions of the day to slow down the heart rate and put life into perspective.


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