Guest blog: Marilyn Tomlins, fellow author.
It is with great pleasure that my guest blog today comes from a fellow author, an English lady also living here in France, Marilyn Tomlins. Her fiorst two books, “Die in Paris” and “Bella … a French Life” are on my Kindle ready for reading!
In France for ever and ever and ever and a day …
Like Catherine I was born in South Africa. Like Catherine I too live in France: in Paris, to be exact.
My dinner table ‘shocker’ – and believe me it stops whatever conversation is going at table to start the dinner guests on another subject – is that 20 minutes after having been born, I wanted to leave South Africa. It is an exaggeration, but not such a major one. I was still a child, not yet in my teens, when I had decided that I certainly was going to leave the country as soon as I could. However, as I always tell the dinner guests, I had to wait 20 years before I could leave.
South Africa had a lot of problems when I was growing up there, but it was not because of the problems that I wanted to leave. No. I wanted to live in London. It was my dream. England was the country of Heathcliff and Mr Darcy and Dirk Bogarde and Richard Burton.
And then I did meet an Englishman who was on holiday in South Africa and he was hell bent on ‘not’ living in London. He was living in Rome at the time but he also did not want to return there. The two of us then sat down, our thinking caps on, and we decided that we will live in Paris.
So Paris it was, and now I say – and I am serious – that I am here for the rest of my life.
“But the French are so nasty,” I am often told by relatives and friends when they hear me say this.
This is what I tell them:
A foreigner – and I have kept my British nationality – go through 4 levels with the French.
Level 1.One walks into a shop, bistro or restaurant and one is totally ignored. One has to cough, shuffle one’s feet, tap one’s fingers against the table in the bistro or restaurant, or against the glass of a display cupboard in a shop, and eventually one has to make as if one is going to walk out, before one will be given attention.
Level 2. The French are good at remembering faces, so the second time one walks into the shop, bistro or restaurant, one will be recognised and one will be acknowledged with a click of the head.
Level 3.The third time one walks into the shop, bistro or restaurant, one will be greeted with a handshake and a “Bonjour! Comment allez-vous, Madame/Monsieur”. And a broad smile.
Level 4.The fourth time one walks into the shop, bistro or restaurant, one will be kissed once on each cheek.
Level 5. The fifth time one walks into the shop, bistro or restaurant, one will be kissed twice on each cheek.
And this is where I am now with the French and with France: Level 5.
I am being kissed twice on each cheek. There are those who even kiss me three times on each cheek, and always do I feel just a little silly when this happens because I do not know what to do with my hands while the kissing greeting is in process.
So, if you are reading these words because you have reached this site having looked for information on settling in France, do know that once you are on Level 5 with the French, there is not a more wonderful a country on earth to live in.
As for living in Paris, I will say “ditto!”
There is so much to do and see here in Paris and I wish I have more free time to do and see more than I do. I am however a very busy writer with a fourth book coming out soon, so I do need to plan my outings to fit in between chapters.
You can read about my books on: http://www.marilynztomlins.com/#sthash.zeb9WYJd.dpbs