When my husband popped to the village shop to buy croissants early on New Year’s day, he bumped into our neighbour, Henri.
They shook hands and wished each other all the best for the year to come, and talked about this and that. As they parted dear Henri smiled and said that he’d be having a quiet day. “Oh?” asked my husband, “not under the weather are you?”, “Non, non, pas du tout”, replied Henri, ” but I was dancing until 4.30 am, my feet are a little sore” ……….. Henri is 94 years old!
What is Henri’s secret?
There is no doubt that the simple French life, eating good food and enjoying life seems to pay off. he has worked hard all his life, I’m told he was a “force de la nature” (extremely strong) when young. He still tends his (huge) garden, grows all his own vegetables, chops his wood, plays cards with friends most afternoons and yes, he loves to dance.
He once told me that he wears trainers to dance in these days because it gives him more spring to his step… and I have heard that he glides around that dance floor. His wife likes to dance too, but I think she’s finding it hard to keep up.
Henri has girlfriends come and ring at his gate on Sunday afternoons, asking if he’s free to go dancing at the village Guingette (dancing tea salon), mostly he says yes, but now and again his wife says that he has to finish his chores first!
All through the month of January Henri and his wife will be sharing the Galette des Rois with their family and friends, Sunday afternoon is a favourite moment of the week for cutting into this delicious almond pastry, seeing who gets to be ‘king’ and wishing each other Bonne Année over a glass of champagne.
One Sunday afternoon as my girls were riding through the village, they noticed that there were gendarmes stopping cars and inviting drivers to blow into a balloon! Further down the road they met an elderly lady we know, she slowed down the car to chat and the girls told her about the gendarmes. “Oh merci mes chéries, I just enjoyed a galette and champagne with some girlfriends, I think I’ll take another route home”!! With that she turned the car around and shot off in the other direction! … That sweet lady is also over 90.
We are lucky to know these delicious people, among the last of a generation who has seen the village change and grow. We’d all do well to follow their example!