We visited the Mairie before we bought our house, to test the water about our plans, the vendor having had permission refused to turn the house into flats. We already knew the Maire and staff after over 20 years connection with the village. The Maire came to us to advise his daughter about spending a year in England to improve her English. We are friends. We also know the sous-prefect quite well.
We participate in a village society - I was Treasurer for four years - and help organise the meal for the village Fete, buy the wine for the AGM, look after the projector and technology at events and generally help out whenever we can. We know all the local kids, who make a point of trying out their English on us. We sparked off and helped with a research project into the WWI poilus from our village, and visited the graves of all the men on the War Memorial, culminating in an expo in the village hall on 11-11-2014.
We are registered to vote in local elections, which also involved voting in a local referendum about a planned quarry at the edge of the village, against which we campaigned with our neighbours. Phil has been on a political march with the Maire and Councillors in the main town supporting a new commercial venture.
Over the last ten years we have used local masons, a contractor who does excavation, carpenters, plumber, electrician and forester. Our firewood comes from the village forest. During our current absence in the UK a father and son carpentry team have replaced the beams of our balcony and sent us photos of the work.
We have two bars in the village and eat and drink at both, likewise the pizza establishment at the village camping. We buy meat from the butcher less often than we should, cheese from the next village where it is made, and shop for top-up stocks at Vival in the village, next to my hairdresser. We visit the baker rarely as we are on low-carb diets, so when we do go there he asks who we are entertaining!
We co-hosted a summer luncheon in the back garden for our quarter of the village in August and regularly eat with our neighbours. We have adopted the French habit of saying “bonjour” to anyone who passes, and know full well that a visit to the bakers may involve half an hour chatting and catching up with local news and gossip. We feel comfortable in our adopted village, everyone knows us and we are always, without exception, welcomed.