After 5 hours of scrubbing and cleaning, I left ‘home’ (our home of 2 years to the very day) and drove past vast open spaces, sunflower fields, towns, and vineyards to arrive 6 hours later at our new pad. The next day our affairs also arrived by truck. Apparently, the 47m3 of ‘stuff’ (mostly toys) was under the average French load of 60m3, but it was still way too much and it took days to take it all out of the boxes.
Just before leaving home, we had the chance to catch-up with some friends that we met in Shanghai (who now live in Paris but who were holidaying on the west coast). And then shortly after our arrival, we caught-up with some more ex-ex-pats.
That would surely have to be the biggest benefit of our expatriation experiences…the opportunity to meet (and re-meet) so many people from all over the globe.
Speaking of people, those that I’ve met so far here in Toulouse and the surrounding towns are pretty friendly folk. It’s been easy to strike up conversations at the markets and our neighbor has spoilt us with her homegrown produce. Martine even gave me a cooking lesson to show me how to prepare zucchini/courgette flowers the Italian way (she originates from Calabria).
As with many parts of France, the locals here are extremely proud of their village/town/city to the point that they can be caught down-talking the adjoining village/town/city. Generally they appear to have strong personalities, speak frankly, and have less concern about customer service than I’m used to: on numerous occasions shops have been closing well before their posted finishing time.
We are in the Haute Garonne department which is in the Occitanie Region (formally known as the Midi Pyrénées).
The capital of the Haute Garonne is Toulouse, which is also called the Ville Rose (Pink City) due to the color of the bricks from which it has been constructed….although my kids thought that ‘Orange City’ would be a more accurate name.
Even when buildings look like that might not be built with the famous bricks…it turns out that they are!
It makes for a very striking city with impressive squares and lovely little streets and passages.
The city has the Garonne River running through it and the Canal du Midi runs around it. At the moment the Marie (mayor) has created ‘Toulouse Plage’ along the river which offers a multitude of free activities to the general public. In this photo, people are playing with board games that were on offer with volunteers mulling around to help with the rules. We played ‘Niagara’ which was a good mix of strategy and luck. Compared with Australia, board games seem to be more popular in Europe.
Closer to our new home there is a vast forest (la forêt de Bouconne) and quite a few lovely walking/cycling paths. However, apart from the few quaint traditional brick houses, the architecture is very uninspiring.
I’d say that the first impressions of our new surroundings are mixed but overall positive.
As for forging ahead with new habits?….well I decided to change the side of the bed on which I sleep… just for a change. So besides sleep deprivation, I’ve not made great progress on that front.
However, I have forced myself to go to different places every day and to take different routes whenever possible (my kids would call it ‘getting lost’) just to keep mindful of my actions.