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Montaigu’s very own ‘Professeur de Chant’

It’s coming up for my 1st anniversary of living in France. How a year flies by!

The thing that seems to shock most people about my move to France is my age. You don't see many 33 year old single women and their dog upping sticks and setting out to start a new life, a new beginning in such a quiet corner of France. "Why the South West of France?" I am often asked. "Spend two days here and you'll know why." Is my reply.

That's because all it took was two days for me to decide to change my life.

My parents had always planned to retire in the South West of France. At first my thoughts were, wow! What wonderful holidays I'll be able to have, that was until I accompanied them on one of their trips to go and view the house they had bought in Tournon D'Agenais and I simply fell in love.

I have always wanted to live in a different country, so the idea of emigrating was not a terrifying one for me. In the past it had never been the right time, so I asked myself the question, “when is the right time?” In truth, it never is the right time, you just have to make it so. There is always going to be something standing in your way, so go over it, go around it or just plough it down!

I am amazed how settled I feel after just 11 months. My French home, which I lovingly named Mon Rêve, is in the quaint little village of Montaigu-de-Quercy. I have to keep pinching myself, just to check it’s all real. People tell me I live in my own little world, and I have to agree that most of the time I am lost in my own imagination. But now the lines between fantasy and reality are blurring as the South West of France really is full of storybook villages, beautiful countryside and mouth-watering cuisine.

I couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception from the people I have met and made friends with. I was soon referred to as ‘that singing girl with the cute little dog’ as Stanley goes everywhere with me, people got used to seeing us as a pair. Singing is what I’ve always done and always known, it’s part of who I am. For the last fifteen years I have been a qualified singing teacher and performer in the UK and felt extremely fortunate to have a job I was so passionate about. That must have shone right out of me, because I’d only been here a few months before it was suggested I start a little informal choir at the Club International du Quercy, I guess this was the moment I truly felt I belonged here. After my first choir session, with just 6 singers, I felt so happy that I think my heart was singing too! The choir gave me a purpose, a sense of belonging and a chance to share my experience and skills with others who wanted to learn and sing together. The choir, ‘la joie du chant’, grew and flourished and with the member count now being in the twenties, Monday nights have become my favourite time of the week. Inspired from my enjoyment with the choir I am now once again building a career ‘Professeur de Chant’ teaching private singing lessons and music to any age and ability.

“As a nervous, first-time singer I was keen to give it a go but very unsure of how lessons would work out. Three lessons in I am sure Jenny wishes I would hold back a bit! She's given me lots of confidence already, has a great knack for picking just the right songs and I am loving every minute.”

“Jenny is a wonderful teacher, she makes you feel totally at ease and emphasises the fun and joy of singing. I had forgotten how uplifted you feel after singing! I sing all the way home in the car and can’t wait until the next week"

Jenny Grimshaw

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