Paris, Tokyo, Milan ... Le Vigan.
Do you recognise the name of the last city? I didn’t think so, and in all honesty, I can’t say I did 3 months ago.
I moved here during mid-September, and truth be told, on arrival, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Imagine doing endless searches on Google for your new home and finding little more than a picture of an old bridge and some greenery, indeed, incredibly scenic, but perhaps a little out of my comfort zone. I’m normally a city girl at the University of Leeds, and I have to admit, I’m spoilt for choice with shopping, nightlife, and most importantly, meeting people my own age, given that Leeds boasts a large student population.
Le Vigan couldn’t be more different; one could describe it as a quiet, peaceful place, suited for those looking to make retirement as relaxing as possible. I soon found out, after several more searches on Google, that this tiny French town holds just 4,000 people, something that instantly horrified me. I’m used to being in a lively student atmosphere, and the norm being that 90% of the people you see everyday are unfamiliar. It’s fair to say I was initially dreading my year abroad.
However, 2 months in, and I must admit, I have fallen in love with this hidden French gem. The town is beautiful and charming, and I cannot believe I considered dropping out of The British Council Language Assistantship Scheme, due to my incorrect preconceptions of Le Vigan. Yes, it is quiet, and yes it has been difficult to make friends, but I feel part of something special, a French community who are starting to recognise me as not just the new English girl, but one of their own. I never expected to become so attached to such a small, rural place, but I did. I like being acknowledged in the street by the locals, and being recognised for buying too much junk food in the supermarket by the same checkout ladies who pretend it’s all perfectly healthy stuff.
It seems strange to think that I could have been placed anywhere else now, to think that my attachment to here may never existed, or that my Year Abroad may have been completely different. I have always stood by the principle ‘Everything happens for a reason’, and believe me, it does.
Have you ever moved from a city to a small town in the country? Would you prefer to live in a big city or a small town or village?