Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Visit to a French Country Estate in the Normandy Region

In September, it will be a year since I first visited Paris, and I realized I haven't even told you about **EVERYTHING** I saw and did there. My recent conversation with M-T of The French Touch reminded me of this. And so ... here I am, to show and tell you more about my trip to Paris.

One rainy and chilly September morning, we took a train outside of Paris, to a country village in the Normandy region. We were going to visit friends of our tour guide at a country estate. Before walking to their estate, we strolled along the village streets in the early morning; it was just as the village was preparing itself for a weekend outdoor market.
 The village was beautiful even with the morning rain!
 We walked with our umbrellas past very old buildings ...

And we paused to admire the architecture and go inside a church that dated back to the 11th century.
Before visiting our hosts' home, we picked up baked goods at a local shop in the village. This is where I bought my first package of macarons!
Notice one of the baked goods is named "Le Normand" - after the region. Wonder what it tastes like? I didn't get to find out. But I loved the macarons~

Within a short distance, we approached the country estate ...
 There, we were greeted by the horses who stood regally amid the apple trees.

Once inside the estate, our guests treated us like long-lost family. This was a personal and private experience one cannot get by booking a trip on Expedia.com - simply priceless.

Our hosts' were somewhat celebrities in their village, having generations of family history rooted in its soil. Politics, hunting, and international pursuits were akin to this family, who treated us with generosity of spirit and were so kind to open their home to us.

We learned about the French hunting tradition - which differs from the English in many ways, such as the French horses don't jump over water as the English do, they go through it. We heard the different bugle horn calls for the chase ... what each set of notes was meant to convey to fellow hunters and to sound off commands to the dogs who assisted them. One of the woman in our group played the piano in the hall and we stood around to sing some songs. It felt like being with family at the holiday! How nice to have that feeling so far away from home, in another country, with people I had only recently met.
 "All for the horses," the woman of the house said to us as she and I walked by these boots.
A giant pumpkin that the woman of the house harvested right before our visit sits on a stoop overlooking the back of their property.
After spending time having a lovely cocktail hour with champagne in the sitting room, we were treated to a delicious yet simple veal stew meal.
 A side table with a pretty, colorful arrangement catches the eye!
Dessert was our baked goods from the village and fromage - a trio of local cheeses from the region that were so fresh, you could taste what the cow grazed on before it was milked; in one case, my taste buds detected cabbage! With a pallet like that, I knew I'd be good at the wine tasting event in Paris, which we were going to attend on our next jaunt.

I hope you enjoyed revisiting this country estate with me. Until next time, bonjour!

From the BBC series on Paris, Blood and Chocolate (Part 2 of 3). Enjoy!

Streets of Paris - I shot this the day I left Paris, on a rainy September morning.

Small group Paris tours for women