We were late in applying for school, and no housing could be found. Our eight suitcases and nine carry-ons were stuffed in the Citroen we bought on our arrival, and our humor ebbed every time we wedged ourselves into it. Someplace to unpack became imperative. But it wasn’t to be. We ended up moving eight times in three months as we lived in “gites” (summer rentals created out of carriage houses or threshing barns, or other unused buildings) and moved according to availability. One of them dated back to Joan of Arc, or so the mounted plaques said.
The city of Tours contained a fifteenth century town square filled with tables, smoking Frenchmen and foreigners enrolled in language school for which the town bristles with pride, boasting to have the purest accent in France. We spent many pleasant hours studying and drinking coffee while sitting at the obligatory white tables scattered in the square. In those three months, our nervous little family calmed down, united, and learned some French. We returned to Montauban ready to work.