#31 Provincial France = Real Life Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon is a highly successful farm-simulator game made by a Japanese game company called Natsume Inc and easily tops the list of my all-time favorite games, along  with The Sims. Actually, I played this game so much it was probably the reason my eyesight deteriorated and why I needed glasses when I was 11. Basically, the story is you inherit a farm and you gotta work the land to produce seasonal crops, attend to livestock, make money, court girls (yeah, lol), participate in festivals and life with the community, etc. Being a city girl from a tropical big city, everything about the cute towns and the farm with a barn and chicken coops and a vegetable patch with SEASONAL veges and of course, a forest with wood to chop and flowers and mushrooms to pick was almost like another world to me.

That is, until I came to France.

The chateaus here with their French gardens and the old forts remind me of Disneyland and other RPG games respectively, but I’m mostly going to focus on Harvest Moon for this post. I need to share my happiness about stepping into this real world that up until this year had been virtual to me.

The Town Halls

First up, the itsy bitsy teenie weenie mairies aka Municipality Halls!

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Here’s the town hall of Gieres, a tiny town next to the university campus with a population of 6,000 people in an area of 6km2. It’s a stone building with a brick roof complete with windows and shutters! Apparently there are community facilities like tennis courts and conference rooms managed by the city and you just come here to get permission if you want to use them, most of the time for free! Such socialism. That explains the high taxes I guess.

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The Grenoble agglomeration consists of 46 of such municipalities, each with their own governing body hence their own municipality hall. My “city” of Meylan has about 17,000 inhabitants over an area of about 12km2.

To understand my glee and why I think the French town halls look like the ones in the game, you gotta know what the city halls that I’m used to look like:

Selayang City Hall (Left) and Nerima Ward Office, Tokyo (Right)
Pfft such boring modern buildings!

The Town Squares

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Public square in the city center of St. Etienne

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Dining at a restaurant by the public square in a tiny town called Allemont

Almost all cities in France that I’ve visited, regardless of size, had squares like this for people to chill, sunbathe, or to people-watch. It’s a shame this doesn’t exist in Malaysia. In KL, most “public spaces” are owned by private developers / malls, anyway.

The Crops

As any fan of Harvest Moon would know, growing vegetables is the most essential part of earning your livelihood in the game. I still remember that you plant turnips, potatoes, and cabbages in spring, tomato & carrots & corn & & pineapples in the summer, and sweet potatoes & pumpkins in the winter. Super important lessons about botany right there, because in Malaysia we don’t HAVE seasons, you know? 😦

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And tada! Here’s a real life example ↓ In fact, I see plenty of them everywhere in the outskirts where people have enough land to own a little vegetable patch like this.

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And here’s a real apple tree in the rain!! With actual apples growing on them. They were laughing at me for taking pictures of such an “ordinary” tree but it’s frigging exotic for me lol. Strange I’d never seen one in Japan before, but I just never had the opportunity to go up north to Aoyama where all the juiciest Japanese apples come from.

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The Flowers

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“Aku sedang apa?” Haha random pic of the indonesian version of Harvest moon I found online.

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Here’s my post on picking wild flowers during my hikes in spring.

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Besides amassing flowers, I also hug them to pose for pictures.

The Farm Animals

Here’s my other post on animals in France.

Horses:

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This is a groovy horse with highlights on his mane.

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Dogs:

One of my favorite things about France is how much they love dogs. ❤ But as a downside, you see dog poop everywhere. :/

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This lil guy barked at us when we walked past his house but didn’t dare come near us.

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I think this lil guy is a shepherd dog trained to check out passers-by like us to make sure we are not a threat to his flock. All we had to do was look and act normal until he decides we’re harmless and runs away back to his flock.

Sheep:

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This was taken from the top of a mountain with a powerful zoom, but if you look closely, those are sheep resting and frolicking in the grass. Some are sheared and some not.

Chickens:

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And that’s all, folks!

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