Janine Marsh has made the north of France her home and is loving every moment of living her dream!
Guest: Janine Marsh
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Janine Marsh is an author, the creator of The Good Life France website and editor of the associated magazine as well as an all-round fabulous fellow Francophile! I adored chatting to her, so much so that even through the editing process of my podcast chat with her, I found myself smiling and chuckling away to myself listening again to our chat! Janine exudes such a gorgeous joie de vivre!
Her love of France started the day she was born when her father was at the racetrack whilst her mother was in the hospital giving birth. Her dad won 50 guineas on a French horse named Janine! Her mother wanted to call her Ethel but luckily her father won out and even though on English soil, her French journey had begun.
Janine’s first experiences of France itself were on a school exchange at the age of 14 where she fell in love with French cakes and pastries, then at age 18 gaining the employee of the month accolade at a McDonalds where she worked and won a French escape! Imagine age 18 and popping all over Paris with a girlfriend! Oooh la la!
I found I share a number of both afflictions and fortunate circumstances with Janine. We are both hopeless dreamers, but I always think dreams are a most important part of a healthy life. How sad it would be not to have dreams to aspire to achieve! Even if they never come to fruition, the act of dreaming itself is so much fun. Janine and I both have husbands who share our love of France, or even if they don’t have quite the same level of Frenchy amour, they’re happy to support us with ours! We both fall in love with every new place in France we visit, exclaiming that we could move and live there forevermore from that moment on! We both are crazy cat ladies and are helpless to the needs of any animal who expresses the slightest need of us and most importantly we both love to write and talk and laugh!
After a visit to France this year where I fell in love with a property that I had already purchased in my mind after seeing it online, I was all ears listening to Janine explain to me how fate played a hand in her same day unexpected viewing and purchase of her now home in France. Janine and Mark took Janine’s father across to France to stock up on wine and once finished with the vigneron, realised all the shops were shut as it was 2pm (fermé pour le déjeuner ou la “pause déj”, lunch break). All that was open was the real estate agent so Janine, Mark and her dad went to view a couple of properties as there was nothing else to do that was indoors on what was a day of blustery, wet weather. They got to one house that was run down and clearly needed a lot of work. The ground floor had originally been used for keeping animals and the upstairs was a cobbled together mix of rooms, the result looking almost prison-like Janine says. But suddenly as they were about to leave, the sun came out shining a huge warm beam of light on the house, the church bells started tolling in the village and nearby down the road the ducks started quacking. It was like fate was speaking to Janine. She had found her place, or perhaps in some way the place found her.
There was a mammoth amount of work for Janine and Mark to do as the house was quite rustic and original. Eighteen years later they’re still renovating but at least they have a kitchen now and are not still cooking on the barbeque and they’re not camping in a tent inside the house as they did in the early days! Now though the house is a lovely space for Janine to live and work and she is quite a part of her community.
I don’t know very much about the far north Pas De Calais department where Janine now lives, so I was fascinated to learn that the language is not necessarily always French but has a hefty amount of Ch’ti in the daily lingo. Janine talks about the gorgeousness of the people, real people with no pretense who are just happy to connect. She did notice that French people are more private than English or certainly from her description, different to what I know of Australians. Not long after she and Mark arrived though they broke the ice when their septic broke! They ended up with much of the population of their little village in her front yard drinking beers after assisting that day. A great way to get to know the neighbours!
Understandably Janine doesn’t get many holidays away from home with so many animals to care for. She travels extensively for work throughout France but if the chance to get away with Mark happens, they like to head to Brittany. Janine also recommends Corsica as another must-see spot in France. I cheekily suggested that every day in Janine’s life is a holiday, living her best life in France! But I’m sure it’s not actually the case.
Life anywhere will have its challenges of course, and I’m sure it’s just the same for Janine in the north of France. My dear late Mumma used to say that if you find something you love to do and make that your job, you’ll never feel like work is hard. I wonder if it is the same for where we live. Find a place you love and move there, then everyday can feel like a holiday! You’ll be living the dream! After my chat with Janine about her life in France, I’m more convinced than ever that dreams can come true.
New book coming soon: How to be French
A classic carbonnade is made from slowly cooked beef and onions stewed in good Belgian beer with crumbled gingerbread.
Oui, Pain Perdu is as I suggested to Janine, French toast, but it seems after I’ve done a little more research it is much superior to the regular French toast you might have had as a kid! Unlike regular French toast, this batter cooks into a custardy, crispy coating that leaves the bread creamy and oh so good!
French music show “Paris Chanson” by Olivier Jauffrit
Dernière Danse by Indila