So what did you come up with? Well, I guarantee whatever beautiful scenic bliss-land you thought of, is where I went this past weekend.
My wonderful host family owns a country home in Normandy, just west of Paris, and they were gracious enough to invite me while they were there. My host mom, dad, and sister went ahead, while my host brother Pierre-Louis and I hung back because I think we both had some soirées planned for Saturday night. I just ended up getting too drunk and going home early, while my sixteen-year-old host brother didn’t return until morning!! This is what Twenty looks like. But below is what Sixteen looks like (really hoping he doesn’t see this but if he does, désolé!!):
Anyway, when Pierre-Louis and I arrived in the country and my host mother drove me and my host brother from the train station towards their country home, my jaw slowly started to drop. To begin, we drove through the flattest, but most simply stunning landscape I had ever set eyes on. The fields were incredibly clean-cut but green, with some corn fields, and mules trotting around aimlessly. And then we entered what is called Moutiers au Perche, the little village where my host family’s house is. I felt like I was in some “Eat, Pray, Love” movie or “The Holiday” or something because I was literally driving through an Impressionist painting. I literally squealed when we got to the house because it was straight out of a dream, or even better, a postcard.
My host sister took me on a little tour of the charming village, through muddy fields and up a hill (workout for the day), past cows with whom I had the most intense staring contests, to a church from the thirteenth century. The country house was built around the seventeenth century as well, so I was just surrounded by medieval beauty. My host mother also gave me a tour of their property, with trees that they’ve planted and paths through forests and paths that have yet to be open and a little bridge that Pierre-Louis built. They chose not to install an internet connection, so I spent my time there playing a round Pictionary with the perfect family (they may not think they are so perfect, but they really are…), taking zillions of photos of the house and its surroundings, chatting with the family, eating delicious meals of pear pastries and oysters, reading, drinking home-brewed tea, and just, for once, relaxing in a calm haven. Although the house was frigid, I don’t think I’ve slept that well in a long time since it was a rare night without sirens and cars and drunken commotion. If things weren’t already good enough, my host sister Constance introduced to me the mouth-watering combination of toast+honey+butter. Pure perfection. A most splendid weekend in the most splendid place I’ve ever been.