+33 960 515 706 or +44 7879 473546 jane.appel@orange.fr
Une pause café

Une pause café

Pause café = repos temporaire, coffee break We first came across the unassuming café near the church when we were tourists in Bergerac some 15 years ago, years before we moved here. It has tables outside, and in the summer a wide selection of ice creams. Martin and I stood infront of the multi-colour display of ice creams deliberating on the choice, then I ordered, in my best French. “One scoop of two?” came back at us in a distinctive Birmingham accent. It turned out that the summer help was English. It is just like any other unassuming café in the centre of any old style town in France, a place to take an anonymous break, a place to pause and watch the world go by. 8 years ago, just after we’d moved into our “work in progress” near Bergerac, Rowan introduced the owner to me. The French guy treated Rowan like royalty, even though he’d only just arrived in the area. I was surprised and impressed. Rowan was far from anonymous. A large affable guy, he engaged with people here, and was so delighted to be in France that everyone was his friend. The normally reticent staff responded warmly to him, and Rowan’s huge tips also ensured a good reception. They were so huge that Rowan got free drinks in return. I don’t think he ever realised why! Nowadays the same modest café, unchanged since our first visit, has become a regular coffee stop. I thought I liked the smarter ones, the bigger ones, the noisier ones in town, but this is the unpretentious favourite for me nowadays....
Appels and apples

Appels and apples

It is ten and a half years ago since Martin and I changed our lives to leave our lovely part of the UK for a long term adventure in France. Three years later, once the worst of the rebuilding work was behind us, we dug out some less tatty clothes than our normal attire and we married here in the Mairie in the village. President Hollande’s slightly crinkled photo looked down off the wall at us and the kind elderly mayor stumbled over our names. Over his 40 plus years as mayor we may have been the first British couple he had joined into matrimony. Christian nudged Martin, whose French was minimal at that point, whenever he was required to give a response, and I tried not to giggle as Philippe’s phone played out a tinny version of the Wedding March. We celebrated with a jolly crowd of our new neighbours and friends in our very unfinished house decorated with bamboo branches to hide the electric cables hanging loosely down the unplastered walls. And so I entered the Appel family and took on this surname to use for my life in France. However there is an unexpected problem. There is a French word ‘appel’ and using it as a surname is very uncommon in this part of France. There are several families around us who have surnames like “attic’ or “from the tomb”, and our baker’s surname is Rat. All these are considered perfectly normal round here, yet Appel, pronounced APP-PELL whether in the UK or France, is a show stopper. I have to repeat it, spell it out,...