The English, Made in Cœur de Bastides

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Thibault 14 years old and his family

Thibault 14 years old and his family
Gemma the mother (45 years), Alex the father (46 years), Caspian the big brother (17 years), Sacha the little sister (7 years) and Aiki the puppy (5 months)

What made you want to come and live in Coeur de Bastides?



Alex : I travelled a lot around Europe to work in Music Festivals, always keeping in mind that I wanted to find an old ruined house to renovate. We saw a few in Italy, in Spain also and here in France but in the end we met many people in Coeur de Bastides that made us want to stay, and one lovely day, we found it: our house to renovate! We had to be courageous, there was practically nothing left, no path to access it, no roof, literally only walls (laughs)! But this house still had soul, half-timbered and with its cob walls, it was a part of the French heritage!

So, you renovated the house yourself?

Alex : Yes, I find the old method interesting so I try to renovate it by respecting the building methods of the past which allowed the building to stay up for 400 years to this day. It’s a very manual job that was done with a team which made me realize what the men of that period could do without so much help off of technical support that we know nowadays with mechanical tools, engines… it’s crazy! The best proof is that our house still stands and for many more years I hope (laughs).

How was your integration here, how did the locals greet you?

The advantage of working in the music industry is that you never work alone. We are in contact with the others, with musicians and technicians, we make friends pretty fast thanks to this same passion. And of course, working here obliges you to work with the locals, separated work isn’t possible. Music makes it possible to integrate socially as well because it’s universal. Speech is not always needed do understand and share good moments. Music is appreciated for what it is and brings people closer together.

What about you Thibault?

I arrived here when I was in nursery school, I was a little lost because I didn’t know much French, but I soon made a Canadian friend who spoke English and French. We stayed together and we learned to integrate ourselves, which helped me. Since then I’ve learned to speak French and I have made lots of friends, so I know all the people of my age around here, I integrated well, the people here are really nice! I also play sports and that helps. I do aikido at the club of Saint-Etienne-de-Villeréal and I do jujitsu at the club of Villeréal. Besides, I have been Champion of France of Jujitsu twice #ChampionMadeInCoeurDeBastides!

Oh wow! So that helps to seduce the French girls?

I don’t really like to mention that I am champion of France of Jujitsu because the boys want to confront me to see who is the strongest, and I really don’t want to do that, I stay cool-minded… But it’s true concerning the girls when I tell them that, it helps! (Smiles)

And if Teddy Riner came to train you, what would you like to do with him? What would you show him of Coeur de Bastides so that he can keep a nice memory of it?

I think I would show him our local club, because we like martial arts and jujitsu around here. The clubs that I am in are really cool, there are good sensei*, so I would show him our clubs and what we do during our classes. Afterwards, what I would like to do with him…? To see him battle my father (everyone laughs).
*a master in martial arts who teaches a student

Alex, what do you miss the most about England?

Alex : I am born in London so we can’t compare the two lifestyles, London is a lively City and Coeur de Bastides is a rural environment, but what I appreciate here is that the people are genuine. In London, or in big cities in general, people don’t smile much, they walk in the streets looking at their feet, there are no exchanges. Over here, there really is human warmth and interaction with people is best in the countryside. And here we also take our time, we take advantage of things in life, we are a lot less « speed » (smiles)!

So, do you plan to go back to England one day or is
Coeur de Bastides too good so you want to stay here forever?

It’s a hard question to answer… We arrived here without really thinking about it, we didn’t know that we were going to spend as much time here as we have. But today, we are settled, the kids go to school here and like it, it’s the most important thing at this point in time. Also, we built our house, and we are very attached. Next door there is the studio where I work. We can’t leave everything like this, so for the time being we are set on staying here and with pleasure.

And also, you have got attached and made memories here?

Alex : That’s it! Our best memory, is certainly our wedding with Gemma. We got married in a local town hall, and afterwards we had a massive party with friends that came from all over France, it was great! We love Coeur de Bastides!

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