Well, here’s a map of France, with the Pays de la Loire region marked on it:
The region comprises 4 departements – rather similar to UK counties – and we live in #53 which is called La Mayenne. Geographically speaking, it’s south of Normandy and east of Brittany.
We live in the far south-western corner of La Mayenne near to where it says Renaze on this map of La Mayenne:
In fact, we live pretty close to an axis of departmental boundaries meaning that a few minutes’ drive will take us into 3 other departments – Ille-et-Vilaine, Maine-et-Loire and Loire-Atlantique.
Culturally La Mayenne is a cross between Normandy and Brittany and gastronomically speaking, it has to be said, lacking any distinctive style although cider, apples, pork and cream figure largely.
Maurice, our nearest neighbour, laughed when I asked him what the local culinary specialities were…
The departement is largely rural and sparsely populated – which are two of the reasons we decided to go for a move here:
Not one of France’s more mountainous areas – it’s rather flat in fact – the countryside is very unspoilt and verdant and with very few real tourist attractions there are few tourists, which is yet another reason we decided to relocate here:
The hamlet or ‘lieu dit’ in which we live lies just outside a small village which has a church, a mairie, a village hall and…well, that’s it. The nearest shops are about 4km away in Pouance which is where we go for fresh bread, cigarettes and other essentials. In brief, if it’s outside shopping hours and you want something – tough shit.
We’re not the only ex-pats in the area.
With low property prices – another very good reason we moved – the departement attracts quite a few Dutch and British either as second home buyers or retirees. It’s possible to meet up with your compatriots on a very regular basis should you so desire, but we prefer to mix with the French as much as possible. All our neighbours seem really friendly and we reckon that they’re really glad that we’re here renovating a house that was in danger of lapsing into decay and becoming a real eyesore.
Immediately, we’re a bit south of our evening meal which will be pave de rumsteack, potatoes au gratin – made with some 6 month aged Comte – and green beans, all washed down with some rose from a box – 5 litres for 9 euros and quite, quite quaffable.
I’m in a good place!