I'm an American expat, writer,Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.


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Two years ago, I began living a life similar to Belle’s provincial life in France.

(To see more films of my simple, slow life in France, subscribe to my Youtube Channel – Simple Joys!)

What I Learned Living Belle’s Provincial Life in France

Two years ago, I left my fast-paced life in the United States for a quiet, more simple and provincial one in France.

If you had told me five years ago, that I would leave my fast and ambitious, career-driven world in New York City I would have never believed you.

But living in France, I want so little more than this provincial life.

We’re taught from an early age that wanting more and better is what we’re naturally supposed to desire. We’re told how to glow up, how to level up, and how to achieve all the shiny pennies our heart desires.

It is here in France that I begin my experience living and learning and a simple, slow life that Belle could surely relate to.

There are many things I’ve learned about living Belle’s provincial life in France, but here are the three main ones:

1. An Exciting Life is Overrated – Adopting a Slow Living Lifestyle

Pursuing the simple, small pleasures of daily life is enough.

When you’re living in a small, provincial town, the world feels less distracting than life in a big city. Living in a French town is even less distracting because in France the hours of operation are so limited.

Everything is closed in August. 

Sundays are days of rest where only the boulangeries are open for a few hours in the early morning.

Shops and restaurants will close without any notice. 

In France, I’ve been learning and living a slow lifestyle. And living slowly is about tuning our hearts to the rhythms of nature and taking the time to notice the small beauties of life. Slow living doesn’t mea not working or not being busy. You can have ambition while living a slow lifestyle! 

But it’s about intentionally slowing down your mindset to experience a deeper and more vibrant side of life!

I’ve learned that I’m quite satisfied and fulfilled doing very simple things like spending a free day lounging on the grass with a book, cuddling up for an afternoon with a cat and a cup of tea and simply talking to the local Boulanger! Even in terms of occupation and career, I’ve discovered that working at a local shop and babysitting for income brings me so much personal fulfillment and joy!

It’s not excitement or ambition that motivates me, but rather simple delights and ordinary joys that have brought me personal happiness and fulfillment these years living in France.

slow living in France

2. Boredom is a blessing in disguise

With less options comes less decision making, more time, and a clear mind. 

Living a slow, provincial life in France has shown me the treasures that only being silent and doing less can teach me: my connection with my inner voice.

During my time living a provincial life in France, I’ve never felt more connected with God, the Universe, my intuition, my higher self, whatever you want to call it – since I started needing less and doing less.

And when I’m relying solely on my inner guidance system, I no longer care about the opinions or reactions of others. Like water off a duck’s back, criticism no longer affects me and opinions no longer sway me. My connection to my intuition has brought me infinite peace, even in times of chaos. Because I have only one focus I am placing my attention on – my higher self. 

More stillness and silence in my life has also lead to more inspiration, creativity and insight! Boredom allows space for answers and epiphanies to flow through. And I find I am able to pick up on these messages from my intuition more easily and thus take action on them.

3.FOMO isn’t a thing

When you’re living a slow life in alignment with your values and inner voice, the fear of missing out is no longer a problem.

As an enneagram type 7, feeling enthusiastic about wanting to do absolutely everything is one of my weaknesses, but I lost my fear of missing out because you can’t have FOMO if there’s nothing to miss out on. And that’s liberating!

Because I’m no longer living an exciting city life and chasing after doing more and more things because of the fear of missing out, I’m able to save more of my money, invest the aforementioned money, and live a more comfortable and ease-filled life!

The secret to living a more joyful life isn’t in adding more, it’s simplifying.

Who knew that this ex-city dweller would find fulfillment living a simple provincial life in France?

Are you also on a slow living journey? What are some of the experiences and lessons you’ve had living a slow, simple lifestyle?

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What I Learned Living Belle’s Provincial Life in France

September 3, 2020

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.










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