When you are still at home with a journey impending, it can be difficult to imagine what is coming. I find that to be the case anyway. As I worked away, preparing for our travels, this place, our destination, was fairly fuzzy in my mind. I felt excited, but also sad to leave our friends and life behind. Now that we’ve arrived, our house, the town and the landscape around us are so much more than I’d managed to conjure.
We left Boise on a dark, rainy morning. Dragging Larken from sleep is always a daunting task, but this time, she was very pleased that the day had finally arrived. We were heading to France at last! After weeks of mama putting away and giving away things she loved, Miss Larken was quite ready to see what all the fuss was about. I am incredibly grateful that she is a good and seasoned traveler. For 9 months in France, for the three of us, we had 19 bags!! It’s a rather astonishing pile, as you can see. But we are totally prepared for some serious fun with bikes, skis, running stroller and a nice pile of art supplies. Of course, it’s a bit of a thing to just get all that from the house to airport, then airport to rental van and then into our new space while toting a curious, rambunctious toddler.
Our house is a remodeled farmhouse. It was much smaller and darker in its original incarnation with no windows, a small door and a single story of living space above the animals. Now it’s open, full of light and charming with its eccentricities. Our landlords are English and very kind. They met us at the house with wine and homemade chocolate cake that was insanely good. A nice crumb and a tiny bit of tooth to the exterior that gave way to a pudding texture in the center. Larken is prepared to eat just that and chocolate croissant for the duration of our stay in France.
We are surrounded by farmland with patches of forest and a stream below the house. Walking from the house into town takes us through 2 old farms with beautiful stone walls and wooden doors. There’s an ancient pony that Larken is decidedly in love with. We have visited her several times already and as we leave each time Larken has learned “A bientot!”, “see you later!”
Our first day was a little blurry after 25 hours of travel and very little sleep. We managed business class lay down seats, which was a glorious way to get across the ocean! Larken loved that the seats made a bed, but had very little interest in actually sleeping in it until about 3 hours before we arrived. We landed in Marseille and then had to drive a mere 150 kilometers to get to La Fouillade. That turns out to be about 5 hours of driving even with freeway for stretches of it. There was much to see, but very little made it into our brains. We just wanted to get here.
After collapsing into bed only to be kept awake for several hours by a bouncing bean, we all managed to sleep about 14 hours. Ahhhhh…. Much better. We were up too late to get to the famous farmers market nearby, but the bakery and butcherstill had fabulous offerings. We introduced ourselves to them since we will be seeing them nearly every day in the coming months. The bread we bought, simply “pain campagne” or country bread is glorious! Perfect, chewy, crunchy crust with a substantial interior. I could eat a whole loaf every day! Lark could too if she was eating something other than chocolate. Matthew made a beautiful soup for our first dinner with just basic vegetables and potatoes. We had that with our country bread and “pate Aveyronaise” which is delicious and meaty and we’d better love it because Matthew purchased it on our first shopping excursion when his brain was still disengaged. We have a half kilo which is over a pound of pate! It was the size of a brick! Now it’s the size of half a brick, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
So for now, we are settling ourselves in, rearranging furniture, exploring the area and just generally enjoying this new and beautiful place. We all fly to Brussels today to pick up a car that Matthew’s cousin is generously loaning to us for the duration of our stay. After a day or two with them, we will make our way slowly back to La Fouillade . Navigating French roads is an interesting challenge and we hope to at least improve our skills since our first attempt resulted in several wrong turns and fair amount of confusion. We will call the system charming rather than f****g illogical and just enjoy the detours!