France Fan Club – A Game Of Boules In France Changed My Life

We received this lovely little French story from Janine Marsh. If you’d like to share your pics, videos, tales or experiences of France then send an email to with ‘France Fan Club’ in the subject line. 5 lucky entrants will be randomly selected to win a bottle of wine!

Several years ago I went on holiday with my then boyfriend to the Vendée region of France.  Getting him to go was a bit of a struggle, he’d told me he didn’t like France or the French and had resisted my efforts to get him to at least go on holiday there to see if I could get him to open his mind.  I found his attitude bizarre as I have been a big fan of France since I was 14 and went to Paris on a school exchange trip and my dozens of subsequent visits all over the country had only left me wanting to experience more and with a growing fondness for the way of life and a distant dream of maybe owning a home there one day.

His antipathy was based on a 3 day trip he’d taken in his teens when he’d run away from home to join the Foreign Legion.  He managed to get from Paris to Lille to join up, got cold feet and went home but his experience of unfriendly people in Paris had left him with a poor view of our European neighbours.

In the end I simply rented a self-catering cottage for a week, booked the ferry and presented him with the tickets and the directions – fait accompli!

The cottage was gorgeous, the couple who owned it were friendly and unobtrusive, the weather was glorious, the beaches at Les Sables-D’Ollones stunning and having drinks at a little bar in La Rochelle were wonderful.

The boyfriend admitted – it’s a beautiful country, there’s a lot to see and do, the food and wine are to die for and yes he quite liked France.  By the end of the week he was a confirmed Francophile but it wasn’t these things that had done it.

The owners of the cottage invited us to a game of boules or la pétanque as it’s also called, they had a small boules area laid out in their garden and they’d invited some French neighbours along as well.  We started playing after lunch, we had absolutely no idea of the rules or the etiquette – but we had lots of willing teachers.  Everyone took a bottle of wine, the French neighbours bought along some slices of cold meat, bauguettes and fresh vegetables from their garden and we spent one of the most fun and relaxing afternoons I can remember.  As night fell the game ended and we sat chatting under a clear starry sky to our new friends, the English cottage owners talked of their life in France and the French neighbours worked their Gallic charm on my by then willing-to-be-persuaded boyfriend.

Ten years later – the boyfriend is the husband and we have bought a house in France and set up a website We aim to provide information to English speaking visitors and residents of France and help them to make the most of the good life in France whether it’s for a day, a week or forever and I happily chat about my life in France and all that entails – good and sometimes not so good!

That chance game of boules, that could so easily never have happened, led to entente cordiale, the opening of minds and for me ultimately – a dream come true.


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