For over four years, I was lucky to have lived in the beautiful region of Provence, in the south of France. I lived with my French husband in a tiny village atop the Luberon mountains in Alpes-de-haute-Provence.
Like most of the south of France, during the summer, our village would become overrun with tourists from all over Europe and the world. Our normally empty local bar would be packed, our streets crowded with cars, and our boulangerie would run out of baguettes. It was madness, but festive and something we were very much used to. Who wouldn’t want to summer in Provence, especially when the lavender was in full bloom, and the air was sweet
with the scent of it?
But in the winter, when the tourists were back in their own countries, living their own lives, the village would shrink from the thousand people it had swelled to, down to its normal size of 250 inhabitants, and that’s when we really had fun.
Snow would cover the mountainside and the precarious roads in and out of the village would become treacherous and used only if necessary. People wouldn’t come, and we wouldn’t go. The small group of our friends would come together every weekend and make the most of our snowed-in status. Raclette parties and fondues were had after days spent tobogganing down the hill in front of my house. And we would meet in the local bar, arranging makeshift apéro parties with dried sausage and homemade boar pâté, while we huddled together, warming our hands over the kerosene heater that the owner dragged in to heat the old building.
It was simple and fun, and a million miles away from my old bustling life in the city. But it was magic; it was a cozy, familial, winter wonderland. It was real life in the real Provence, and for a while, I was lucky enough to be a French girl living it.
By Sara Dillard Sylvander, a writer who spent ten years living life as an American expat in Ireland and France and has returned to the States with her French husband and dog in tow. She currently writes about the adventures and
misadventures of an ex-expat in Texas on her blog, C’est Moi, Sara Louise .