I am happy (so very very happy!) to announce that spring has finally arrived on our little farm on the hill. The lilacs- my very favorite spring blossoms – are in full bloom and we have a very old, very big bush that is filled with fragrant blooms. I had also planted a number of bushes along the west perimeter of our property down in the garden pasture a few years ago and they too are covered in purple (and a bit of white as well). I am so happy that they are here as I was away for the past two weeks and I was nervous that their season would be finished when I returned. If you know lilacs, you know how short their blooming season is!
The past two weeks were spent driving around one of my favorite countrysides – in France. Handsome husband and I had been invited to a wedding in the northern Pay de la Loire region and we decided to make a holiday of it. It was a wonderful mix of romantic time spent with my favorite partner in crime driving through the sweetest villages, with no agenda other than spending our first night with dear friends in their beautiful home in Normandy and the wedding.
We began our adventure when HH picked me up at CDG airport on his way from Germany. We headed straight for Rabbit Hill as I was excited to see friends and for HH to meet people that I love. We enjoyed an afternoon and evening dining on wonderful food, drinking wine (and beer for the men-folk) and talking endlessly. French husband and HH got along marvelously and it made me so happy to know that he know understands what I love so much about our dear friends. We departed the next morning but thankfully there were no tears as I knew I would be seeing Cat again in Paris in a week.
We headed south and meandered our way through country roads, stopping for snacks or the occasional cafe. We came across what will go down as one of my favorite French villages – Falaise- with it’s gorgeous architecture, quiet streets lined with shops, boulangeries and historical buildings. We spent an hour or so wandering the streets in the sunshine and I pulled out my “proper” camera to capture some of the beauty that surrounded us. There were some really old buildings I would have loved to explore but we were heading to a dinner with the happy couple and some of their close friends so we were soon on our way.
The wedding was a once in a lifetime event. Hosted on the bride’s late Grandfather’s incredible property, which was covered in 10-20 foot sculptures (he was a sculpture). The dinner was held in his studio/workshop/gallery and it was amazing. As her grandfather has passed, the workshop was filled with numerous unfinished pieces – many of which I would be thrilled to put in our home. He was an incredibly talented man and his work lives on. The house on the property had recently been renovated by the bride and groom and it is a gorgeous very old home with heavy beams and a stone exterior with my favorite blue shutters.
After the wedding weekend HH and I headed to Nantes for a night, where we explored an old fort in the middle of the city. We had a nice romantic dinner that evening and stayed in a hotel that was a renovated old church. Interesting to say the least. I wish I could say more about Nantes and it was there that I realized I have been spoiled. It has been a long time since we have visited a city that we didn’t know and didn’t have a “host” there to show us the best spots. It isn’t nearly as fun for me to visit someplace where I haven’t a clue as to where to walk, what to see and where to eat. Thus, one night in Nantes was enough for us. We decided that we needed a couple days of R & R and so we headed north- back to the seaside of Normandy, where I knew of a wonderful spot for just that!
Manior des Impresionistes is a spot that Cat shared with me last summer when I was visiting and in need of peace and nurturing. It is the perfect spot for such things- beautifully renovated, situated on a sloping hill with a gorgeous view of the sea. Since last summer they have opened a wonderful soothing spa that is THE place to enjoy peace, re-focus and simply relax. Our room was on the third floor with a beautiful view, a full luxurious bathroom and comfortable inviting furnishings. We spent two days enjoying the quiet. We had a morning at the spa – which the reserved JUST FOR US- where we relaxed in the steam room and sauna, as well as the spa pool just above the beautiful ocean. Listening to the birds and smelling the salt air was the perfect place to find rejuvenation. In the afternoon Cat came to spend time shopping in beautiful Honfleur, which I loved. Meanwhile husband had the quiet time he was looking forward to – and we BOTH were happy. On our last night there we had a fabulous double-date with Cat and French husband which was the perfect way to wrap up our time together in France. The next morning we were off to Paris!
I had rented an apartment in the 6th, half a block off of the Seine- a bright airy walk-up (read: a LOT of stairs (read: great for the bum!)) with a roof-top patio that had a view of the top of the tour Eiffel, the Seine and Sacre Coeur. It was wonderful! HH and I had one evening there before he flew home and then it was girls’ weekend!
I spent the morning before the ladies started to arrive wandering the streets of the 6th and 7th, taking photos and popping in to shops that looked interesting. It was a beautiful day and spring was in the air. I walked through one of those amazing farmer’s markets that are one of the main reason I love France so much, and wished that I could buy a bag full of their gorgeous produce, cheeses, and fish to prepare for my family. However, I simply enjoyed the beautiful displays and moved on. Thank goodness market season is in full-swing here at home so that I can enjoy some of that here!
The girls began arriving that afternoon- Cat came first and we had an afternoon together walking everywhere. We did some shopping, some eating, and more walking. Ange and Simone arrived the next morning and for the next two days we laughed, talked, ate, drank wine, walked, shopped and talked some more. It was, by definition, the definitive “Girls Weekend”. I loved every moment of it- until the good-byes that is. All three of those girls know how much I suck at that…
My last night was spent with Ange where we stayed at the GORGEOUS French apartment owned by her dear friends. We were spoiled, fed, wined and tucked in for the night by our hosts and it was the perfect way to wrap up such a wonderful trip. I left with a very full suitcase which included a bottle of the delicious wine our hosts had gifted me and a full heart – grateful that I have been so blessed to know such wonderful friendship.