September 5: La Rentrée

Our new front door

La Rentréeis an enormous psychological experience here in France – the end of summer, the return to school, to work, to putting your socks on again after months in flipflops… You can feel it: Nice is much quieter tonight, as families stay home and the kids go to bed early – no more dinners out or late-night ice creams followed by a stroll, no more idling until midnight.

I went out this morning at about 8.30am because I wanted Joel, in his first official Monday off in our new home, to wake up to croissants, pains au raisin and an English newspaper (a real treat, for the sports news). The streets were swarming with excited small people in shiny new shoes. The ones I really wanted to hug were six(or so)-year-old African-French twins, who were already wearing their bright blue gingham school pinafores, with their names (David and Lucie) written in magic marker in huge letters on their chests.

Joel outside our new front door, with orange tree. It keeps plopping oranges on the ground, which get squashed. This is a squishy time of years, as figs and dates and oranges plop off trees onto cars, into pools, etc

It’s La Rentrée for me too. I’ve been very pre-occupied with transferring our lives from what shall henceforward be referred to by Joel and I as ‘That Place’. But now I have to get back to The Novel. The due date is approaching. We have virtually nothing here in the new apartment, and not enough money to buy all new stuff, particularly since we already have everything we need and then some – except that it’s all a thousand miles away in London. I hate the thought of buying new candle holders and pillows, for example. We have loads of that stuff! We’ll probably drive to London again in October to pick up things we love (not people, sadly), but for now it’s all very ad hoc, with what people give us and what we find on the street. There’s no going to the local dump or civic amenities site here in France – you leave what you don’t want on the street for the garbage collectors. Or for me to grab and paint, thereby providing myself with yet another method of procrastination.

Joel on the balcony, our first night

The palm tree outside the kitchen balcony

Mika and the kitchen counter/table it took him just two hours to make (he also installed a cat flap)

I painted it and it became this


Ted on the table I found dumped on our street

I gave it the shabby chic treatment and it became this

One of our bedside tables - a chair found dumped on the street

A very handy wooden valet with wheels, also found dumped on the street

Twinkle time: the Eglise Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc. We see it from every window and both balconies


About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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2 Responses to September 5: La Rentrée

  1. Adam Speed says:

    so happy too see you are all settling in now its going to feel more like home with you own home, Hope you and joel are well, we are missing him at work keep up the blogs always nice to see how things are going.
    Adam Speed

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