The French way of life is a beautiful thing. Even in busy Paris, life in France is a little slower and a little sweeter in the summertime. The French leave the buzz of their respective cities and retreat to their homes in the countryside, which often consist of re-purposed homes. A tile factory turned into a cozy country hideaway; a former barn that now serves as a small cottage, with a picnic table resting in the ruins of a former furnace. These are just a few of the things I saw in the French countryside near Bordeaux. Luckily I lived that week like a real insider, considering that these treasures belong to my boyfriend’s family. This fairytale, that looked like the setting for Lord of the Rings, was L’s childhood. I’m so jealous. I can only hope to return to this magical place.
I arrived in Paris on a Tuesday afternoon. We stayed in the city for a few days, while I adjusted to my newest time change, and snacked on croissants and espresso every day. We explored very little of Paris before we headed southeast, to L’s parent’s country home.
Jet lag never looked so good.
During our first week, we experienced intense temperatures for Paris, ranging from 91-97 most days. The nights were significantly cooler. By week two, the temps were down in the low 80’s, and even one day in the low 70’s, which of course felt like brutal winter after living in Spain half the year and experiencing the heat dome in Ohio over the summer. France was actually quite comparable to Ohio; unpredictable temperatures with fields of crops right outside the cities. The only thing Ohio lacks are the castles nestled all over the countryside. 😉
People cooling down in lawn sprinklers near the Museum of Natural History.
The Countryside & Some Amazing Food
What I admire most about the French is how they treat mealtimes. Eating is an art in France. Food is art. Every salad is topped with flowers, edible flowers of course, grown in their own gardens. Everything is homemade, and of course, eaten in moderation. That is the French way, after all.
Before I give you detailed descriptions of the food I consumed, here are the settings I consumed it in. 😛
When we arrived in the countryside near Bordeaux, we had prune cake (this sounds questionable, but I promise it’s not), tzatziki, and bread. At the end of our first day in the family home, we had dinner at the neighbor’s, and this was the very homemade menu:
Sorry I don’t have photos of the food. I was too busy shoveling it in my face.
Potato cake, whatever that means. It was to die for anyway – it seemed to be a potato casserole inside of a pie crust. (I noticed when the French call anything “cake,” it’s actually more like a pie. Both the prune and potato cakes were actually in a flaky pie crust).
Salad of garden greens topped with yellow flowers that resembled petunias.
Plum ice cream
Liquor (in that order – only the drinks were not homemade)
The next day was L’s bday, and we had lunch with his parents and grandmother under a canopy of vines and moss in the aforementioned picnic area. We had a salad of garden greens with homegrown potatoes, topped with tiny purple flowers and hand-mixed poppy-seed dressing. The main course was mussels, and since I don’t eat that (Sorry Pops), I ate enough homemade bread and hummus for everyone. For dessert was chocolate cake for the birthday boy, accompanied by apricot ice cream. The perfect meal for a scorching day. Or any day for that matter hahaha.
I’m so envious of those who take in this place all summer. There were castles in every nook and cranny, random fields full of sunflowers, and forests with huge vines, hundreds of years old, covered in moss. It truly was a fairytale. I didn’t want to leave!
Once we left the country home, we headed to L’s hometown of Poitiers. Poitiers, a small university town, is famous for its medieval architecture- houses that STILL function as homes today. Despite my extensive European travels, this is something I’ve never seen in person before. To be honest, it kind of creeped me out. I mean, yeah, of course it’s amazing that these homes are still standing, and will probably continue to for hundreds more years. But when I thought of the history and the generations of different types of people who have occupied these homes, I was totally skeeved out. The city also boasts many beautiful churches, one which hosts a light show. Light is projected onto the building, replicating original colors of the facade that obviously disappeared over hundreds of years. As simple as it was, it was also unlike anything I’ve ever seen!
As an avid runner, I insisted that we explore Poitiers on foot, aka running. There is a lovely path along a river, covered by willows and peppered with charming wooden bridges. The path only ran about a mile along the river before it ran into town again, so off we went, darting through the streets, eventually running up what felt like 200 flights of stairs to get a good view of the city. Yeah, cardio!
We ended our first week in France in Poitiers, and headed back to Paris, which was jam-packed with trips to Versailles, Disney, and even more. More to come in Partie Deux next week!