The first person we met when we arrived at our Mohon house sit home was the home owner’s friend Karen. Karen and her husband Rick are Brit expats and have lived in and around Josselin for around 10 years. Karen and Rick have established pretty good lives in Josselin, they’ve raised a couple of kids through local French schools, set up a property management business and run their own B&Bs. You could say they’re living the expat dream.
Karen and Rick are also very sociable and will throw a curry party at the crack of a pappadum. Within the first week of our arrival we were invited to such a soiree at their home and it was there that we had the great fortune of meeting a bunch of interesting Brit expats. What followed from that night was a round of vigorous social engagements.
A very lovely lady we met that night, Sue, invited us to lunch at her home the following weekend, with the caveat that we will have HOT curry. It was a wonderful afternoon with a fun group – lunch at 2 o’clock has to be the most civilised time to eat. Sue is a great cook and a flamboyant hostess, regaling us with fascinating stories of her past lives and careers. Sue became a great friend to us during our time in Mohon and was extremely generous with her time. She helped me navigate an attempt at making a dentist appointment and most importantly took me along to her French hairdresser.
A couple of years ago we happened to be in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, and this year we found ourselves joining in with Josselin expat locals to celebrate with Karaoke at a local bar. Dublin was brilliant but I have to say that this was truly memorable. I had that bright green hat I picked up at a charity store on the Isle of Wight, and Dave, being just a bit controversial, donned his favourite orange shirt.
We found out that Karaoke is much favoured by the expat community, with some very enthusiastic regular participants – and not just the Brits, there were a few French ring-ins getting right in the groove.
Quiz nights are also popular. A group of regulars turn up at our local Mohon Tabac every second Sunday evening from 5-7 (precisely) where on our first night we came in last. We even failed the question of how many players on an Aussie Rules side. By the end of our time we managed to make it to third place, thanks in part to Sue’s input.
We had lunches out with Sue and another lovely friend Vivienne. Vivienne taught me about an aperitif that I’d seen French people drinking. So many places we’d go and see people drinking little flute glasses of a pinkish drink I thought was Rose.
Vivienne told me the drink is Kir. Blackberry liqueur (Creme de Cassis) is splashed into a glass, topped up with white wine. If you want to be a bit fancy you can have a Kir Royale in which the wine is replaced with champagne. We liked Kir, quite dry and never sweet. You can mix the wine with Creme de Peche (peach), or Creme de Mures (blackberry). A great way to mask cheap crappy wine, I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before. Though, coming through the 70’s I have a vague recollection…..
Vivienne is an extremely interesting woman with many artistic talents. Her home is testament to her creative style which extends to her beautiful “work in progress” garden.
We had a great dinner party at Vivienne’s place, with robust conversations about whether the UK should or should not stay in the European Union. Good to hear differing points of view, based on individual experiences.
Vivienne is also a great cook and we learnt a new way with Indian entrees.
I’ve often wondered about the lifestyle of an expat so I was very keen to learn about how these folk integrate with their local community and navigate their way around language, culture and relationships. What I found in most cases was they embrace the “Frenchness” of the place. Mostly they speak reasonable French, shop at local markets for fresh produce, and live more French than British. Without the expat community however, I suspect their life might be a bit lonely.
For our couple of months in Mohon, having the friendship and support of this expat community enhanced our experiences and we will forever cherish the friendships we made during our time there. Dave and I felt especially honoured to be accepted and embraced by these wonderful people and we admire their lifestyle choices. Not as easy as it may seem on the surface, but very rewarding.
We plan to return.