IMG_3568In the south of France, people are laid back, things move slowly, we take the time to savor life, and that includes two hours (minimum) in the middle of the day for lunch and nap. It all seems idyllic, until it isn’t.

We woke up on Thursday morning with no Internet, no fixed phone service and no mobile phone service. Things were a bit like when la Cité of Carcassonne, pictured above, was built back in the Middle Ages.

Can you see it on the hill?

It turns out that a telephone substation in another village caught on fire. This station serves 33 villages, including ours, across a surprisingly wide area. Who knows when it will be fixed. (1) It’s still August. You can’t do anything until after la rentrée (the re-entry) on Monday, Sept. 2. And even then, people are coming back from vacation and need a good week to get back into the routine. (2) The phone company, Orange, is unfamiliar with the concept of customer service. They seem to have watched Lily Tomlin’s phone operator skits as guides. I shouldn’t dump too much on Orange; I cannot think of any phone company in any city or country where I’ve lived (and the list is long) that had good service. (3) We’re in the south, and nothing moves quickly, even  when it isn’t vacation. (4) The point that irks me the most is that it just affects some little villages, and thus isn’t important.

Sometimes–often–I hate living in the country. I love France, and I love living in France. But I regret not living in a city. I am 100% city mouse.

Zooming in a little.

I remember one time we went to Barcelona for a weekend. We stood near the corner by El Corte Ingles, the big Spanish department store worth a post of its own one day, and looked at the wide street sloping down, completely full of people. I sighed with happiness; the Carnivore sighed with stress. Some of us cannot wait to jump into la foule (the crowd) and swim with the schools of humanity. I find my heart warming as I observe my fellow humans going about their business. Some are chic, some are eccentric. Children seem to be in a bubble of their own, never paying attention to where they’re going, quick to spot other children, or animals, or disgusting things on the sidewalk (they ARE closer, after all), while their parents struggle to herd them along. I wonder where everybody is going, what their lives are like. I want to chat with them all.

I was talking to somebody just recently about moving to France. I told her we moved here from New York and that it was hard. I cried and cried for months. Her eyes grew big, and she said something about culture shock. I assured her that I’m a lifelong francophile; the culture shock wasn’t about France, but about going from a major metropolis to a village a few hundred people.

And more. Not my idea of skyscrapers, but definitely beautiful.

The closest Carcassonne comes to bustling is la Cité on summer afternoons and the market in the central square on Saturday mornings. Even then, it’s a dialed-down version. There’s a certain convenience to life without crowds. Parking is easy. Lines for anything are rare. People are friendly.

I try to appreciate the good side. It’s essential for survival. The rolling hills of vineyards, giving way to the mountains, are exquisite. This blog has made me pay attention to all the beauty around me.

Thank you for reading. Who knows whether we will have Internet next week. Maybe I will commute to Carcassonne for a connection. We’ll see. Meanwhile, tell me, are you a city mouse or a country mouse?IMG_3565


56 thoughts on “Country Mouse or City Mouse

  1. Definitely a country mouse who makes an occasional foray to the city (usually on trips overseas). Decades of daily commuting to the city cured me of the desire to be around the hordes. Being an introvert also plays into my preference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For sure a city mouse – I grew up as a country mouse. There is so much to be said for either. But like you, I want a lot of hustle around me with options for culture, dining, Theatre, and music. I like a little escape to the country now and then. But at the end of the day, I love the city with its warts and all

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Its so hard to prefer one over the other! I live more or less in the country (France) now, being a few kms from Carpentras which is pretty much a real place, and 20 mins from Avignon. I live on 3000 sq. meters with lots of trees, in what was once an oak woodland but is now sort of oak woodland with too many houses sprinkled around. I like having a few wild animals around, although there are fewer here than in my totally urban last house, 5 minutes from downtown San Diego. I love a visit to Paris, adding up all my time there its about 6 months, but spread out. But having no green space of my own would be very hard. I also like not seeing the neighbors. But I love places where there is always something going on, always a museum you haven’t been to for a while, a great city walk, etc. So its a toss up for me.
    bonnie near carpentras in the vaucluse

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Country life!!! We spent a good number of years in the Vancouver, WA area. Jobs!!! Big population but not much of a city. Lived in a tidy “ranch” house – couldn’t wait to retire and move back home. Now approximately 16 acres of house (built by my father and brother years ago), hay field and some big fir trees and an acre fenced with veg garden, flower beds, some fruit trees and flowers! lots of flowers!!! Some good neighbors and some great friends. Nice to be able to get to a small city in about an hour once a week for groceries and other supplies, drop off recycling, poke around in a couple of second hand stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not sure which I am. When in a city, I love the vibe, the stimulation, the choices. Yes sometimes even the chaos. But, returning to our island paradise, there is a sigh of relief. The sound of birds and the smell of the ocean and fir trees sooth me…my garden needs me. I seem to need both. Perfection for this mouse would be a mouse hole in the city, and our house here on the island.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. We live in the South USA. I wonder if the South in every country is the same. We, too, take things slower and are more laid back. I’ve visited larger cities New York city, Baltimore, San Francisco, Washington, D C to name a few. I’ve met wonderful people in all cities. But I have to say my all time favorite city is Savanah, Georgia! It has a very French feel to it with a Southern kick. Absolutely love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love both for different reasons. I grew up in a city, so I feel more at home in a city setting but I also have great memories from spending my summer breaks with my grandparents, on their farm. At the moment, living in a suburb with dreams to move into a big city, mostly for easy access to cultural life, performing arts performances, and public transportation. Beautiful countryside around you, so beautiful and serene!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. City mouse, 100% percent. I’d like to think I’d prefer a quieter, idyllic country life but I think I would also get frustrated with little things…or not having everything readily available to me. Whenever I travel, it’s the cities that always grab me. The rural places are lovely but don’t think I could do it long-term – at least not now.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Grew up in Houston Texas (4th largest city in the US) and somehow at 63 have ended up living in a log cabin in the woods on the side of a mountain in South central Colorado. The views! The wildlife! The stars at night! The spotty internet! The feet of snow that serenely covers the dirt road that I live on! The mud that all of that snow creates each Spring!
    I went from having a Target within walking distance to having a Target two hours away. Actually most stores are two hours away, unless you prefer WalMart or the Tractor Supply. I LOVE where I live but some times it is down right hard. And some days I would love a dishwasher, an ice maker, a place to get my nails done, public water and sewer. Others I look out at the gorgeous mountains out my front door, remember that mountain lion I saw walking in June, admire the multitude of hummingbirds divebombing the feeders by my windows and realize I am right where I need to be.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Hello,
    Je ne suis ni de la ville, ni de la campagne…
    Ce que je sais c’est que j’ai galéré pendant 15 ans à me rendre dans une grande ville (Toulouse) pour le boulot et que je m’y suis épuisée ; c’est que j’aime les villes grandes ou moyennes mais pour le plaisir, pour m’y promener le nez en l’air et profiter de l’architecture, de l’ambiance ; j’aime la ville moyenne qui offre tous les services de la grande ville sans ses inconvénients ; et par dessus tout j’aime me dire que je ne suis qu’à une heure de Toulouse et que je peux y aller en train très facilement pour un bain de foule choisi ; la société est devenue tellement différente et les incivilités tellement fréquentes que ces petits sauts me suffisent amplement !
    Bon Week end 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Je trouve que TLS est une ville moyenne—pas trop grande. Mais je n’aimerais pas faire les trajets touts les matins et soirs entre un village et le centre. Sauf si c’est en train ou bus. Pas en voiture!!!
      Je profite de la ville (et Internet) ce soir à la feria.


      1. Comme quoi nos perceptions sont subjectives 😉 ! Pour moi c’est Carcassonne qui est une ville moyenne 😉
        Que tes rêves puissent se réaliser…


  11. I’m a true Gemini and am both, although I was so happy and content when I lived in the middle of nowhere in the Texas Hill Country for 10 years. Now that I’m living in the 7th largest city in the US and am central to everything, I love it. My house is built around a central courtyard so I never have to see a street or neighbors so that helps. Good luck with your phone connection! xoxox, B

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Definitely a country mouse. We live on acre with a garden, orchard and poultry, and are surrounded by oak woods and farmland. We lose power here regularly usually from lightning strikes (we get quite a few thunderstorms in every season. Longest stretch was in 2011 with the tornado storm that hit the deep south. The outage lasted a week. Most are about an hour, and occasionally some will last up to a day. We own a generator so we’re covered. As we get older we think about how we will manage here in the country and discuss moving into a city then… but mostly I hope we don’t have to.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Definitely city mouse. Although I love the idea of being in the country with chickens & veggies and whatnot, (and indeed my blog reading is principally a fantasy roll-call of people in just that situation), we had 15 years of part-time living in a small, myopic and frankly red-necked village where I was on constant alert for bushfires, snakes and hooligan youths and thus hated so much of those years!! There is always the romantic notion of picturesque small towns (Carcassone springs to mind) where there is a semblance of sophistication and diversity, to keep the dream alive, but I know deep-down that I wouldn’t be able to stick it. Plus I tend to be introverted and there is always the risk I’ll end up a hermit who forgets to brush hair or teeth & will frighten the children…haha!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. City. But live in village. I like nothing better than pavements under my feet. Whenever I get off the train in London – quite often – I sigh with relief and pick up the pace. I like nothing more than striding out of Kings Cross station and seeing it all before me in its noise and clamour. I am not in a position to move or re-locate but, should it ever be so, I would. My position is this: I like where I live, we came for very good reasons, have very sound cause to stay, I have many lovely friends and have enjoyed my years here but my heart will always be somewhere else. It’s not either, or – it’s the way it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve lived in Manhattan and in a village of fewer than 600 where the nearest big store was 30 miles away. Culture and convenience in one, a night sky full of the Milky Way in the other. Like others here, I seem to need both. And I especially need a bit of green every day, whether it’s lawn or trees or forest or just a vine growing up a wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. There’s a decent chance we’ll be returning to Austin in the near future and the likelihood of a move has had me pondering this question – we’re having to seriously consider our options as real estate there has gotten bonkers and I’d like to settle where we can afford to stay into retirement (I can’t believe I just typed that word).

    We’re probably city mice. Yes a small acreage where we could keep the horses and have chickens etc, sounds good, but it’s wouldn’t be easy for us to maintain something like that now in our relatively healthy middle age. The normal wear and tear of getting older combined with a health or wealth hiccup and we’d be sunk. We might consider a community in an outlying area, perhaps by the lake rather than city center – I do like the idea of having access to town and still getting away at the end of the day – but I think we’re citified.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are smart to think bout moving well before retirement–you can make friends, set up your network of doctors, etc. And you won’t face the awful situation of not being able to stay in your home later.


  17. This is an interesting question, I think I love them both. As one of the other comments said, I love to be in the city with the bright lights, throngs of people and everything at your finger tips. When I am in the country I love the peace, quiet, the stars, the animals etc. Luckily I live where there is a little of both right at my doorstep and an ocean as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I guess all is fixed and well again?

    We had a power outage last week which shut everything down except for our mobiles. We had nothing to do without power so we went to bed. It sure removes lots of outside noise (literally and figuratively) when the power is off. Just the crickets were active.

    I’m a country mouse for sure and my husband loves the city. I’d be happy stuck on one of the Gulf Islands with a loads of animals and a farm. I don’t care one bit if my neighbours are miles away. I’ve never understood the allure of the city.

    After my husband’s recent trip back to France he is once again considering retirement back in France.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. How sound carries when there’s no other noise! I remember hearing people talking at night on the opposite ridge from me in Africa; with no motors or other noise their voices carried for miles.
      Yes, the Internet is fixed. They brought in a truck as a temporary relay until the station is repaired.


  19. I am a Gemini which might explain why I like both! I grew up in a village but moved to London at the age of 18. I stayed there until we had our boys and work took us back to a village. Both boys, now grown up, live in cities. We will be downsizing soon and will opt for a city, probably Brighton. I think as one becomes older, easy access to gyms, classes, culture etc is vital. Thought provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Country mouse fur sure! Currently live in suburbs in Florida with one neighbor who plays his music SO loud I hate it and dislike him for it! Not only that we share a neighbor who has a baby in their house. Very selfish and inconsiderate.
    I have lived in many cities but grew up on tobacco farm in central Kentucky. Population was less than 100 and 9 miles from nearest urban area for gas and groceries.
    I will return to the country someday and live near a city for convenience.
    I daydream about living in south of France during the winter months because that’s when the snowbirds return to Florida.
    Love your blog…as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

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