October 17, 2013, by Guest blog

‘La vie est belle en Toulouse.’

As the summer of 2013 drew to a close I was uncertain of what lay ahead of me. The prospect of moving to Montauban, Southern France seemed both overwhelming and exciting. As I left my hometown of Colwyn Bay I felt a great sense of independence as I began my adventure. On arrival, my main priority was to find somewhere to live. I arranged a number of flat viewings. Ironically it was the final one that struck me, as I was welcomed with open arms into an apartment consisting of five other housemates. I was lucky enough to find accommodation with both English assistants and French students. One could say I now have the best of both worlds.

Having overcome my first obstacle life started to take off. I found myself saying yes to all of the invitations I received. An evening spent with some French university students was particularly interesting. The plan was to go to a friend’s house, however a local jazz band was playing in a bar nearby. With no time to ask where it was, I was transported to a little French cafe in town, complete with red shutters. I was instructed to take part in sharing a platter of fois grois and fresh bread, all washed down with a glass of local red wine. At first I was apprehensive at the prospect of eating something that seemed so foreign to me. However, I went with the flow and found myself relishing in the delights of French cuisine. It was from then on I decided to pursue the French way of life.

As time went by my confidence levels flourished. One weekend I visited the local Saturday market and spent a relaxed Sunday afternoon in the ‘jardin des plantes,’ picnicking on local produce. The sun was so strong it could have been July. I also started to form new friendships, including a French couple that my housemate knew. They invited us both to dinner one evening and it is fair to say we were waited on hand on foot. They served us a full three-course dinner and then took us to a village nearby to witness the natural beauty of the countryside. It was breathtaking. They invited us to attend the weekly choir, which I was more than happy to take part in.

The school I was assigned to teach in has been a pleasant surprise. Both the students and the teachers made me feel very welcome from day one. I now felt that I am at home. Each morning I wake up and am excited for what France has to offer. It is true what they say, ‘la vie est belle en Toulouse.’

Posted in First impressions