July 27, 2015
From the Atlantic Coast of France we headed to familiar territory: la Vallée de la Loire, where we met the whole Joly clan at Xavier’s parents’ home in Baugé. Colette talks about her French cousins all the time and her eyes gleam in a special way when she talks about Jules.
Baugé is special because it is detached from the world – an inward-looking home and garden. Through the entry hallway, the thick stone walls and rhythm of the rooms beat seclusion. Even the garden is an island from neighboring properties – walled in - nothing communicates, it is total retreat. A perfect place to connect with a group of people we don’t see often enough.
Meals are ritualized – in French fashion. No one takes fruit or cheese before its respective time on stage, except maybe Colette (oh my! She needs some work on her table elegance…we think Romy might be more French by nature – sitting properly in her high chair, batting her eyelashes through meals). Meals last a long time. I admire this aspect of French food customs. Kinship around the table.
The girls love Baugé in its might – to them it is an ancient expanse – full of ideal alcoves for cache-cache. For Romy, the staircase alone was hours of entertainment. Up and down. Terrifying.
For us, city-dwellers, Baugé is tranquility and rest.
July 21, 2015
On France's west coast, there are wide white-sand beaches that look like Cape Cod in many ways. The ocean is polar - so cold - even in July; the sea is coarse. Surfers like this coast. We were near Bordeaux - a bit northwest - in Lacanau. Sand, a sea town, ice cream and, of course, a grand carousel (manège).
Marguerite had been saving her allowance for this vacation. She had a little satchel of money and scoured the seaside shops as we would walk past, always on the hunt for some special trinket. She ended up buying Colette a little necklace and bracelet with her money - a good illustration of the stretch of her heart. Later on our trip, Colette broke the necklace and Marguerite meticulously gathered up all the little beads and strung it back together again for her sister.
Manège! Manège! Manège! was the chant. Intonation: thrill. I liked the manège because it was straight from 1900. Colette and Marguerite rode at least half the horses on this thing by the time we left Lacanau. From the second tier of the carousel, you could catch sight of boats way far out on the horizon in the sweep of sea below.
July 15, 2015
Colette was particularly inspired by the lavender fields of Provence. She spontaneously erupted in song - not uncommon for her, but there was some extra vim in this rendition. Admittedly, we should have asked her to be a little gentler with the plants...but we were distracted.
July 14, 2015
Next was Provence. We stayed in Lardiers in les Alpes-de-Haute-Provence – place of lavender and honey. The little village and region were straight out of some idea of perfection in Provence. The shutters, the roof tiles, the stone homes and streets, the blooms – from hollyhocks to poppies to sunflowers to lavender. Breathing felt heartening. I know we were there for just a turn, but I imagined life with these three little girls breathing this way perpetually…
We stayed at Xavier's aunt's home. She has really impeccable taste and has retained the best parts of the 18th c. farm home and has grafted in just the right amount of fresh and modern touches. Wood beamed ceilings, original tiled floors, stone walls a foot thick, a garden teaming with butterflies. It is a country home for her and she is not there full time...if interested in renting out an amazing place in Provence, contact me...