Capestang has a large English speaking community, mostly retired from Britain, looking for the same weather and lifestyle as us. Alfonz met a few well-known families at the local pub while our landlord, Mike, took him around. We were invited over for drinks to meet the gang shortly after that, at one of their stunning French homes.
-What a smashing bunch; witty dry English humor, smart and helpful on the ins and outs, our company points us in the right direction.
The grand residents of J and B greet us at the step with a large traditional veranda. Open concept, we gather around a large granite island; fine English classic furnishings, brightened by large windows, a light breeze through the back veranda, you can almost smell the rains coming; the perfect setting for our gracious hosts.
Canapés served over wine and chatter; we make our way around the room to meet the group of friends. Some long time friends, others new to the area on vacation, some known from common hobbies in town, others known through friends back in the homeland; all were nice, asking about us, and we were very curious about them. They gave advice, rich life stories and ways to learn the language quickly. They knew where to shop for the best food, and the clever ways to enjoy our life in Capestang. As our kids played with their dog, we listened and learned from these wise ladies and gentlemen. Alfonz tore me away from A and B smack in the middle of a good talk, at the exact moment our children got out of hand. It was time to leave. We finally thanked our hosts. J was going back to England, and I promised to make her a Hungarian Goulash when they return to Capestang in a couple of weeks. We said goodbye. All the way home, smiling at this fabulous group of Capestanese, and our luck to be welcomed so warmly in their home. Thank you.
-Over 50 of the Capestang residents sing in a local choir every Monday from 4:00-6:00, made up mostly of English, but all are welcome. Figuring out the location of their rehearsal space, I sat in and listen to them practice. By the end I joined in, I couldn’t help myself. The beautiful baritones, mixed with the sopranos gave me goose bumps as they sang. The melodies were complicated, with 4 part harmonies.
J, has the most undeniably beautiful voice, and is the star of this bunch. The conductor, S, has the force and persuasion of a troop of men, and smiles and jokes with her pupils. She leads with ease, and the progress is impressive from rehearsal start to finish. There is talent in this bunch!
Hey loaded me up with information forms and later sent me emails of the scores. We went out to buy a printer, ink and paper so we can get them organized in a binder to practice from. Saturday I start.
-M, a lady we met at the party, invited us to see their old barn conversion and to meet her husband J. Their renovation was simply breathtaking, with impeccable good taste, from the colors, the layout, to the decor. J and M are now converting the original house to a large rental unit, not 50 meters from the Canal du Midi. A perfect location for any visitors and with warm-hearted hosts of this caliber, it would make great accommodations to any traveler. Thanks for coffee and cannot wait to see you again!
-With the kids in school, we meet other families. F and P have 5 kids, and promptly invited us by to chat. They have been so nice to us, and we improve our French daily on our chats. P speaks English as well, and has helped us with loads of information about the area on which beaches to visit, and the weather of each region. We wondered over one day, and brought a rose wine. We snacked and talked until dinner, sad to leave, I pulled the kids away from the cats and kids. I would love to live in their neighbourhood, with kid friendly sidewalks, open fields that lead to the Recreation Centre and many young families.
-Another lady, C, also speaks English and from school, emailed us over links on where to take the kids on these rainy days and look for ‘sale by owner’ homes in Capestang. Today we go to the Aqua Park, as she suggested. We hope to invite them over for coffee next week, and let the kids play. Her son is in Angelina’s class, and plays well with both kids.
-Lastly, we were invited for our first sit down meal with B and C, who have 2 kids and foster 2 kids. Their custom built home along the Canal, has a beautiful property, pool, and each room has a splash of red, giving a warm, inviting feeling when you enter. Their functional kitchen, great layout, and modern taste, made us feel at home, with candles burning. It was a whirlwind of kids laughter and play, even without a common language. We were not sure if we were coming for food, or drinks, or just a quick visit, so we came with a bottle of wine, and some snacks for the kids. When we saw the spread, Alfonz asked if this was for us and wished we brought dessert.
A prime setting, on a large wooden table, set for 10, with beautiful dishes placed in the centre. Sardines on toast, spreads on crackers, pickles onions, Chorizo sausage, with snacks for the kids in bowls were waiting on their island and the kids came and went pecking on each pass. Daniel and Angelina, all smiles were aloud to have orange pop. The wine was shared, our meager items opened and served, our lovely hosts just smiled. C translated when we got stuck, we tried to speak French the whole time. B spoke English a little, her dictionary in hand, and translation device in mine. It was fabulous! We sat down for lovely warm flat bread filled with deli meats, prosciutto ham, salmon, and a beautiful salad from her mother’s boyfriend’s garden. After, more wine, we give the kids the chocolate we brought as B cut up fruit, and brought out a homemade jellied Quince. It is a member of the pear family, the giant fruit needs to be cooked to eat, and makes amazing jams. It was sweet, chewy and amazing on toast. A culinary first for us!
By the end of the night, Angelina curled up next to their 7-year-old daughter to watch TV. Before accepting coffee we realized we probably overstayed our welcome, 10 church bells rang and we scooped up our kids, as if we would turn to pumpkins and kissed our friendly hosts goodbye. Thank you B and C!! xox
Friendly, welcoming, warm-hearted people live here in Capestang. I cannot wait to return the generosity, and hospitality, once in our new home.
If this is a sample of French life, we have found what we are looking for.