Coye la Foret


We are back from Indonesia (more on that later) and now live in Coye la Foret, a town an hour north of Paris. We rent a house, enormous by Parisian standards, with four bedrooms and a garden full of apple trees. The neighbors trim the hedges on the weekend and children walk to school alone. Down the road are four etangs, small lakes, around which you can run and walk under 100-hundred-year-old oaks. When I drive to neighboring Senlis, there are sheep grazing by the road.


It is the first time I have lived out of the city since I was 22 years old, and my dread is real. I love cities. I love cities so much my favorite one is Cairo, an exhausted, overwhelmed metropolis of 20 million. Everything will unravel here in the green quiet, I often think. I will become an entirely solitary person. My husband, already shattered by work, will be killed by the commute. I will never find childcare and end up cooking all the time in cloth slippers. Theo, so delicately raised by his bilingual school on the Quai d’Orsay and afternoons at Ladurée, will become sullen and provincial. He will wear track suits and flatten his middle vowels. Baby Francesca will never know the playground at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

All these things might happen, but for the moment it is a small relief to be out of Paris. A croissant beurre here costs 85 centimes. The line at the butcher on a Saturday morning is all trim French men in their early forties ordering gigantic amounts of food – boudin blanc, pâté en croûte, saussises de francfort,cote du boeuf—for families larger and more chaotic than ours. The centre commercial, a hideous shopping center that sucks everyone in regardless of money or class–is full of black-eyed French women in headscarves and blue-eyed French women in beige cashmere all hunting the same damn protège document 80 vues for the start of the school year. From our tony perch in the 7th arrondissement of Paris life was movie stars and high ranking fonctionnaires and tourists. It was, of course, real France. But this feels ever real-er.


So for the moment I am sanguine, up here in the attic of my large, still house. Last night I slept nine hours in that fog that clean air seems to invite. The refrigerator is crammed to bursting with meats, cheeses and yoghurts. After school the children and I will walk by the etang and eat crêpe au sucre. The wheels might come off this little experiment, (I give my sanity 1:2 odds), but for the moment we are enjoying the good life in Coye la Foret.


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