Yesterday I really enjoyed myself! A month or so ago, one of my so-far silent blog readers sent me a lovely email. She explained that her parents were coming to visit Paris for the first time at the end of May, and that they would love to get off the beaten tourist track. They were looking for ways of getting a real insight into French everyday life and ... guess what ... they wondered if they could visit me for the day !!
Emails were exchanged, then a couple of phone calls and yesterday morning I had the great pleasure of picking up Ted and Mary, along with their friends Bob and Pam, from the local station.
I don't know who was more excited, them or me. The 50 minute train journey out from Paris had been fun, and they were already getting a feel for the real France.
As we drove off from the station they made me laugh with their tales of understanding French menus and walking around Paris.
Mary and Pam love antiques, while their respective husbands are both very interested in French furniture. They all love gardens, but wanted to do something away from the crowds. EASY !!
We drove to the château of Monsieur and Madame de Roumilly at the ill-named village of Miserey. I'll be telling you all about this delicious property in a week or so.
Madame de Roumilly was waiting for us and welcomed us into the château for coffee and biscuits. She explained to my guests (whose jaws were almost in their laps!) the history of the château and how she and her husband came to acquire it. Then she took us on the tour of the gardens, Mary and Pam couldn't get over the rose collection, and the variety of plants in the mixed borders. The men were fascinated by the architecture and the vast areas to maintain. We were all charmed by our hostess.
After saying a warm goodbye and thank you we jumped back in the car and drove down the hill to come back chez moi for lunch. The weather was fine, although it could have been sunnier, and we were able to enjoy an aperitif in the garden and lunch on the terrace.
Everyone seemed to enjoy my simple meal of French stuffed vegetables, followed by lemon tart and coffee. I had checked before about food preferences, "do what you'd normally do for your family", came the reply, so that's just what I did.
By the time we finished our lunch the day was well advanced and we had to crack on! Back in the car for a 10 minute ride to a quaint little shop, where our friend Laurent sells and restores antiques. I love Laurent's store because it is nicely 'bordelique' as the French would say. There's stuff all over the place and Pam and Mary were soon happily rooting through boxes and peering behind antique chairs looking for treasures to bring home.
Since the girls were so happy, Laurent took the men into his workshop where he was repairing an 18th century ornamental mirror. He explained, with a little help in translation, how he had to repair the beading around the frame, and resilver the mirror glass. From there, their attention was caught by some antique cutlery to whose ebony handles Laurent was restoring the original sheen.
How time flies when you're having fun!! We left Laurent's with a few precious bits of France carefully packed up ready for travelling, and chatted together about all we had seen in just one day.
After a short drive back to the station, I stood on the railway platform and waved goodbye to these charming new friends, hoping that I had given them as much pleasure as they had me! Pam, Mary, Bob and Ted - you're welcome back whenever you wish!