I am only admitting this because I can’t see all of you out there in anonymous, electronic blog-land. I would never say this to anyone face-to-face. I am a fan, a real fan of a French reality show called, “L’Amour est dans Le Pre”, which means “Love is in the Meadow”. I usually stay away from these types of programs in any country, (feeling like they are way below my intellectual capabilities), but I happened upon this one on a lazy Monday evening in Paris and I got hooked. But, in my own defense, I got hooked on this romantic saga for aesthetic reasons only, really.
You see, this program takes place in some of the most beautiful, idyllic corners of France. In this seventh season, there are 14 French farmers (11 men and 3 women) who are looking for their soul mates. Geographically, they pretty much cover the whole country, including Corsica. The eye-candy in this love show is in the scenery – it’s just drop-dead gorgeous. The farmers come from several different agricultural worlds – raising cows, making wine, keeping bees, brewing cognac, breeding horses, growing wheat. They are all are very passionate about what they do for a living – and that’s what I’m interested in – honestly.
“L’Amour est dans Le Pré” is a French copy of a British show called, “The Farmer Wants a Wife.” In January, the candidates go on the show to paint their personal portraits and talk about what they are looking for in their ideal mate. They then receive thousands of letters of potential candidates who are interested in sharing their tractors and milking their cows. During their long winter nights, these farmers select about eight of them who come to Paris for a speed-dating session. After the session, they narrow the competition down to two lucky contenders who are invited to spend up to six days together with the farmer in his home and participate in his daily activities. That’s when the fun starts.
It is a set-up for lovey-dovey disaster but the participants know the rules. They can’t pretend to be surprised. They all start out in an awkward mode – like fish out of water – but eventually get the hang of it and start entertaining the 5.5 million French spectators who follow their romantic endeavors. There could be scenes of jealousy, tears, premature departures, desperate phone calls to their mothers, stolen kisses, guitar or accordion serenades, serious philosophical discussions and, sometimes, a genuine broken heart (from the farmer or the “farmee”).
City Folk in the Country
It’s funny to see city-folk try to milk cows and do physical labor. And it’s even funnier to listen to the improbable conversations that arise. One candidate recently asked her respective farmer why he never cleaned up the meadow where the cows graze – she was serious. He didn’t answer. I’m betting her question was a deal breaker and he was trying to be polite. The cow next to her rubbed his head against her behind as if to nudge her off the TV set – she did eventually leave.
Change of Scenery
But, like I said, I pay more attention to the scenery than to the drama that’s going on inside the stables and wine cellars. France is such a magnificent, agriculturally-blessed country that it’s a feast to get up close and personal to citizens who actually work the land. “L’Amour est Dans le Pré” supposedly has a 40% success rate in its matchmaking attempts. Those aren’t bad odds. Maybe someday I will write that letter – and get my own personal change of scenery.
If you want to practice your French – watch this farmer on a real double-date!