after several years of thinking about little more than the book and the blog, what a departure it was to take off to france with no computer or manuscript! and after months of little sleep, to meet the deadline of book submission, i felt as if i were sleep walking until i arrived chez my friends the chouards in a little village of st. méard de gurçon. actually i fell asleep in the tgv to libourne until i heard an enchanting little voice calling to me: “cou cou madame!” i opened my eyes to a 4 year old little girl with blond curls and blue eyes wide with daring at speaking to a stranger—a sleeping stranger at that. (i had noticed early that her father was working on a computer and answered her in polite don’t bother me monosyllables when she cried out “regard papa, le chateau!”—which was probably responsible for her daring approach.) i asked her if she lived in the town where the train was approaching and since no answer seemed forthcoming i fell back to sleep. moments later came the response: “oui”! i fell back to sleep secure in the knowledge that i was home at last to one of my favorite places on earth where children are more often than not especially charming.
my entire stay in france was like a perfect dream—not a cloud in the sky—warm almost summer weather—lawns covered with miniature daisies--grape vines sprouting new leaves-- night skies bright with stars, dear friends, delicious home-cooked meals with wonderful wines, delicious conversations, long walks in the country-side, and lots of deep and deeply needed sleep. my visit happened to coincide with the national elections and though i never listen to the candidates on tv in my own country i was spell-bound by the french candidates. i was also astonished that i understood every word of their speeches until i realized that they had to speak at a level that even the most uneducated citizen would understand. the word that kept coming up the most often was protégé (as in “i will protect you….). there is nothing more delicious or relaxing than spending time catching up with good old friends. the chouards are the parents of my friend pierrick who has the chocolate company “vintage chocolate” in n.y. his mother josette is a fantastic cook and in three visits i have never had the same meal twice. as she grew up in algeria, i guess it was not surprising that she made the best couscous i’ve ever tasted. it was accompanied by their neighbor’s wine: 2001 chateau de la ruz. if only i hadn’t slept til a jet-lagged noon so many days i could have enjoyed josette’s fantastic apple and ginger jelly more times. when pierrick described his parents’ home,called Le Pommeau, with half mile long drive way, enormously tall trees, bordering a vineyard of bordeaux vines, i thought he was exaggerating but every word was true. family and friends are always coming and going and i arrived to a full house so this time i stayed in the guest house just across the way. it has its own kitchen, living room with fireplace and dining area (not that i ever got to or wanted to cook one thing) and private garden. recently the chouards decided to make the two restored guest houses available for rent. if your idea of a dream vacation is in the heart of the dordogne this is a true treasure. and the chouards will welcome you in their beautiful country kitchen with coffee and cake and perfect english should you so desire. they may even share some of their adventures around the world when pierre served as ambassador. check out www.franceonecall.com/holiday-accommodation-france ref. 24659 & 24660 here’s a brief description from the site: In the middle of the Bergerac wine area, the “Perigord pourpre”, Le Poumeau is very convenient for visiting this beautiful region where old castles, churches, old houses and prehistoric sites abound. Bordeaux is one hour drive away, St Emilion 30mn, Perigueux one hour, and Les Eyzies, the heart of prehistoric sites, one and half hour. Playing golf, tennis, swimming, riding, canoeing are available in the vicinity. People wishing just to relax can use the swimming pool (12m x 6m, depth 1.40m, not fenced) or sunbathe around, quietly walk the woods and meadows of the property where deer, squirrels and birds can be seen. before reboarding the tgv to paris and on to normandy, we took a short tour on the twisting back roads and hilly unspoiled countryside to a nearby bastide—a medieval town. then on to reveillon normandy to visit my friends the brossollets whom i hadn’t seen in seven long years. more to come.