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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last days in France: visits with Michelle and the Ile-de-Re

Well, the last few days have been fun, catching up with Michelle and then we had a wonderful weekend at

the Ile-de-Re, the small island off the coast of France, near La Rochelle. We have gone there for years whenever we are in France, as Michelle's family had a small vacation house there since 1956. When I was 21 years old and came to France to work, met Michelle and was "adopted" so kindly by her family, we would often go there for weekends. Its charming small fishing villages, narrow cobbled streets edged by rose tremiers (hollyhocks) and white washed, tile roofed houses with their green and blue wooden shutters and doors are high on the registry of picturesque places. There are also the beautiful beaches, and lighthouses which dot the island, as well as winding bike paths. Needless to say it has always been one of my favorite places in France. Since Michelle's father died in 2003 at 91, when we were here, the property went to Michelle's brother who bought an adjoining lot, tore down the old house and has rebuilt a beautiful vacation home with four bedrooms each with its own full bath, a piscine (swimming pool), lovely terrace and garden. I had the joy of seeing it during a short visit in 2007 but Gary had not yet been there. . We are very close to Claude, Michelle's brothert (I have known him since he was 16 years old) and his wife Aline, their daughter Florence and husband Edmond and their two darling children, Camille (5 years) and Thomas (almost 3). We, in fact, had attended Florence and Edmond's wedding in 2003 and had not seen the childtren yet. So, it was so fun to go to the island along with the whole family and spend three days there. Luckily, we had beautiful weather on Saturday and walked the beach, strolled in the tiny "bourg", the center of their town of Le Bois and visited the other towns as well. Gary and Claude even got a chance to faire le velo, bike, while Michelle,  and I visited with other friends.

Aline is a wonderful cook and it seemed we ate all weekend, wonderful meals with wine, always ending with big plates of a selection of France's delicious cheeses (camembert, le chevre, bleu d'auvergne, conte, and many others), along with, of course, the crunchy crusted baguettes. We enjoyed the fruit compotes and confitures made by Claud and Michelle, the fresh tomatos from their gardens which were so sweet and the moules (mussels) and local fish. Every meal was like eatting out at the best French restaurants. We felt very spoiled and lucky at the same time to experience such gracious hospitality.

It was delightful, too, to be with the young people and the darling children of Edmond and Florence, wathing them delight in the small merry-go-round at Le Bois and swimming in the pool. They are so cute, reminding us  of our own grandchildren when they were petit.

Good times must always come to an end and we are wrapping up this fantastic trip, preparing for our departure by train to Paris tomorrow where we will spend our last day before "take off" to the USA and home! It has truly been a grand adventure and we hope friends and family have enjoyed it, vicariously. Stay tuned for photos!

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