I've loved everything French since the age of 13, although never imagined it would lead to anything because I was seriously BAD at speaking French. Even after six years studying the language still BAD. Enthusiasm apparently isn't enough.as proven by a letter from Waikato University (NZ) strongly encouraging me to stop international marketing and focus solely on brand marketing. One Degree, eight years at Unilever and Kraft and 15 brands later, I was over in France for work and never left. (oh and finally became fluent in French!)
Mother and Father couldn't understand what made France so special or why on earth I'd put my career on hold for a Provencal sabbatical, so eventually came to see for themselves. I was determined to make sure everything was picture perfect.
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So excited about their arrival, I forgot to tell Father to double duck his head upon entering the macaron-scaled house with it's 5foot high doors. BANG! Servants of yesteryear must have all been shorties. Being 64 tall, Father looked like a giant extra on the Hobbit set. Walk to the bedroom BANG! Back into the loungeBANG! Father was not loving France and this just after 3 hours on French soil.
To distract the parents from this head banging dilemma, we set off for the soaring heights of perched village, Tourtour (village dans le ciel). Considered one of the most beautiful (and highest) villages in France. At this point, I should mention that it's spring (April) and Mother had packed clothes accordingly. Spring in Provence is the gentle precursor to summer; endless sunny blue skies, average temperatures 18C 25C, and wild poppies gently waving a final farewell to winter. Or so it has been for the last 50 years. Until today in Tourtour. It snowed! Bitterly cold wind gusts practically tripping up anyone brave enough to walk outside. Mother was wearing light linen trousers and shirt not exactly what you want to be wearing in a snow storm. Looking at her soaked to the skin, shivering and shaking from the cold, I wonder how best to mention that my heating back at the house has broken. Now both parents not loving France.
A desperate phone call to dear friend Belinda Goldschmidt, and before long we're relocated to her magnificent (high ceiling) villa, Domaine St Donat. Normally booked a year in advance for seasonal lets, this one week Belinda had an empty house and graciously handed over the keys and a pile of extra blankets. Youd think that three reception rooms, five en-suite bedrooms, and two outdoor dining areas would be too big and rambling for just the three of us, but Mother and I we're as cosy as cats in cashmere, rugged up in front of a roaring wood fire with a glass of local Ros. Father headed off to take a bath to try and warm up. As if the day hadn't been traumatizing enough, Father then slipped in the bath.
Fast forward three hours and we're all lined up before the doctor. Cracked ribs and concussion (Father), laryngitis (Mother) and migraine (me). Now seemed as good a time as any to mention the French-Guadeloupian boyfriend. As Napolon said, It's just one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
For the next few days we sat safely in the lap of luxury at Domaine St Donat; nursed back to life with the help of pain au chocolat, baguettes and rillette. There are few things in life more deliciously therapeutic than French food. Incredulously, it had an almost amnesic effort on Father, who near jumped for joy at the mere mention of macarons.
Once spirits we're back in normal range, we bundled up and headed to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for lunch at Alain Ducasses fabled La Bastide de Moustiers. Aside from being famous for Sisteron Lamb (hand reared and prepared by Ducasse himself), this 17th century village has been featured in countless magazines for it's pretty streets, fine faence and dear I say miracles. Since the Middle Ages, pilgrimages have been climbing the long, steep, stone-paved path up to the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel perched high in the mountainous peaks above Moustiers. The chapel walls covered with plaques by thankful recipients of miracles, big and small. We set off on the path to redemption with slightly lower expectations and full happy tummies. So much huffing and puffing, but that was just Mother and me. As incredulous as it may seem, Father ran up the last 500 metres. Not a man to run anywhere, let alone with six cracked ribs up a 45 incline. Mother still hadn't regained her voice but maybe it's just one miracle per family.
At Nice airport six days later, Father said vive le almond croissant. That was good enough for me.
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Posted in Business Post Date 05/12/2018