We have followed the misery of Eugene for many months of serious illness and mourning, slow convalescence, concern over the anti-religious political upheaval, and his frustration at being far away from his Oblate family and those close to him in the Marseilles diocese. Now the sun was shining again with the arrival of the young Oblates, and Eugene enjoyed every minute of his time with his family.
I am still in ecstasy, my very dear friend, with the happiness which I have enjoyed during the nine days that I have spent with the family at Billens. I was deprived for such a long time of living thus with all these angels, whose worth I have experienced to the full. My presence was very agreeable to them and they never tired of assuring me thereof. I think also that it was useful to them for several reasons, if only to accustom them by my example to some indispensable privations, which are for that matter well worth it in exchange for all the advantages which are to be obtained in this agreeable dwelling.
Then, as a real Provencal from France where bread and wine were the staple diet, he comments on the difficulties of getting used to the food in Switzerland!
The bread is of wheat and rye but very good; the quantity they eat is enormous. The people here, who eat little of it because it is dear and because their potatoes are excellent and make up for it, are astonished. Imagine that I have been obliged to have dough mixed twice in the same day. The wine is very bad in this country and very expensive; the peasants likewise drink very little of it; they find themselves better off for this. The privation is not felt; besides it is too much in keeping with poverty for anyone to allow himself to regret it. When all the people of the area where one lives do not have a given thing, it would be unpardonable to regret not having it. At Billens, the water is of the best quality; everybody finds it good and is content with it; they take every day a copious and very good soup at lunch; it is the custom of the country; they have it likewise in the evening.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 October 1830, EO VII n 367