A Summer Holiday

When one arrives for an internet-booked holiday, there’s an element of the unknown. What did they mean by “sleeps six”? Were the pictures reliable? At the most, one expects the host to provide a front door key and give instructions for the dishwasher. Christine and Christophe did immeasurably more than this. On our arrival, they ushered us into a storybook stone house,  purchased along with our neighbouring abode as dilapidated sheds, and slowly but surely restored to glory. Burgundy is stunningly beautiful; fields dotted with wild poppies spread around a patchwork of tiny villages made entirely of stone. It was as if modern life had simply been superimposed over a medieval backdrop. According to Christophe, the farmers in the village spend the winter co-habiting with their livestock in sheds adjoining the houses. Boggles the mind a little… Our gite looked much like my favourite shop, The Shed. Christine’s paintings adorned every wall and bunches of fresh flowers were arranged on each shelf. A pair of Liberty curtains hung in one of the bedrooms. I could tell we were destined to be friends.

Over the course of the week, our two hosts peppered us with gestures of welcome. Christophe conducted visits to local winemakers, drew maps, poured aperitifs and illuminated French life generally. Christine’s kindnesses seemed boundless. Some gestures were small (lending me her daughter’s French magazines, picking bunches of lavender and thyme to dry), most were much bigger (leaving a delectable meal on our return from Paris, leading an expedition to local markets, buying a Burgundy cook book as an “early birthday present”, conducting cooking lessons in her beautiful kitchen and serving the results as leisurely five course meals). Christine is without doubt my favourite thing about France.

Other highlights:

Tour of Chateau de Cormatin, which looked as if its seventeenth century owners might just be about somewhere…

Regaining my schoolgirl French (thankyou Miss Valenti) and a surprising amount of vocab from years of learning ballet (thankyou Miss Danielle)

Eating croissants with Christine’s own jam made with the produce of her cherry tree and blackcurrant bushes

Revisiting Paris, taking in the breathtaking Musee d’Orsay and buying knives from E. Dehillerin.

Going to bed with the sun at 10pm

The incredible produce market at Chalon, where cream was dispensed from watering cans and local farmers mingled freely with their consumers.

Taking leisurely bike rides and stumbling upon ruined castles

Finding no time left for knitting, sewing or reading

Discovering a love of terrines









6 Responses to “A Summer Holiday”

  1. 1 ashley @ Chasing Heartbeats June 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    what a dream!!! I stopped in Burgundy on a road trip a few years ago, but your photos are making me want to go back and explore the area! looks like such a lovely holiday!

  2. 2 Skel June 29, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Ally your photography continues to blossom! These pictures are stunning and your trip to France sounds like some sort of dream. Im so glad those broken English/French skype calls Mum made from our study at home brought you this at the other end. Incredible!

    The photo of Rose in the tub is a treasure. And Mum you still look fab on a bike.

    Love you all Xxoo

    • 3 mavisandfrank June 29, 2010 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Skel, it really wasn’t the same without you, and we thought of you all the time. You would have loved it. Mum’s French got better and better as the week went on, and she was almost conversational by the end! Me – I could only come out with random words that came up, like “cloche!” or “visage!” which were pretty useless. Dad couldn’t get over the farming and spent much time studying fields and cows. Luckily Christophe was a mine of local farming knowledge, even though he’s a businessman from Lyon. Tony just lay around (which of course he loved) and Rose had so much fun outside she’s got a tan mark from her sandals. Miss you so much. When are you coming to see me?

  3. 4 Annaleise June 30, 2010 at 3:24 am

    This all sounds SO nice! Thank you for including so many photos, after such stories of delight I was intrigued to get more of a glimpse. I think you could have posted 300 photos of this holiday and I would have gobbled up every one! The photo of Rose and your mum and the sweet summer grass swaying in the background! It’s so nice! What a lovely holiday.

  4. 5 Miriam C July 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Wow Ally!! And to think you were unsure of moving to Europe- God is so good and His abundant provision is overwhelming. You seem to all be thriving there. Hope you have some special friendships developing with other mums of toddlers too! Much love, xo

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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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