Becoming part of the community in France

I went to a funeral of a neighbour this week; one of the first people we met when we moved into this hamlet and who lived most of his 80 years right here. Funerals are of course always sad but this one was also uplifting in that it really brought home to me the importance of community; something harder to find these days when so many people move away from where they are born for education and work. There was a real sense of friends and family coming together to both celebrate his life and support those left behind.

The sense of community in this part of France is still very strong and one of the reasons that so many of us are attracted to the region. It is rare nowadays to be born, grow up, live, work and retire in the same place and with many of the same people you have known all your life. This can of course be claustrophobic, even suffocating which is why many people move away for a while but it is also noticeable here how many people also later move back with families of their own. There are of course disagreements, fallings out and the usual gossip but, at important times, people here know that they can rely on their family, friends and neighbours; a guaranteed safety net as and when needed.

At the funeral, nearly everyone knew everyone else and the atmosphere was one of kindness, friendship, of everyone rallying around, of support and even a sort of contentment, especially in the sunny graveyard where, as the priest pointed out, our neighbour was put into the earth of the village and countryside that he loved and the same earth he had worked all his life both to earn his living and produce his food.

With my property finder hat back on, the experience made me reflect again on the importance of region and the local community when looking for a house. Of course, the right property is of huge importance but, to make that house into a home, it is equally as important to get a sense of the town, village or hamlet and a feel for the community and then, once installed, make sure you get out and meet your neighbours and become part of that community.

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