We’re now settled in my mother’s house in the Loire Valley. My mother was born in nearby little village called Briare where she returned after my parents divorced. Although I lived in Paris as a child, my grandmother’s house in Briare was where we spent weekends and vacations. We hunted for Easter eggs in its woods and pricked our fingers on blackberry bushes in the fall. Now when I return to France, it’s where I feel most at home, surrounded by the seas of green and gold of the fields of the Loiret.
My mother lives with her new husband, Serge, in a remodeled medieval farmhouse near Briare. The house is built in a large square with a large courtyard in the middle. It’s still easy to see how protected the house’s inhabitants were in times of war once they swung shut the massive entrance doors to the complex. The kitchen and guest quarters are on one side of the square while the bedrooms of my mother and her husband are on the other. If she has a craving for a midnight snack on a rainy night, the only way to get it is to dash through the courtyard in the rain.
An hour and a half South of Paris, this is “La France Profonde” (deep country) where huge blue tractors will overtake you on dusty back roads and where jars of gun ammo will sit at the center of the table next to the bottle of red wine. My mother’s life is a curious blend of cutting edge technology and old world traditions. She and her husband run a website selling electric horse fencing (an invention of his) while living on a huge property where they host frequent wild boar hunts. In their spare time, they play golf and he invents new products (the picture is of his latest project -the wine box).
This is rustic living, with drafty stone houses, dusty brick floors, and adventurous leaky plumbing. The house is overrun with animals: 4 dogs, 2 cats, kittens galore, and a horse, not to mention the 200 acre property filled with wild boar, foxes, bunnies, and pheasants. The kids are in heaven, suddenly free to roam wherever they please.
They’ve each “adopted” a dog and are busy exploring this new world. Juliette and Jack climbed a ladder and discovered a cherry tree laden with fruit and reappeared with vibrant red toothy grins. Bella gave us all the thrill of our lives when she took the wheel of the golf cart to drive us to the fishing pond.
At night, when dusk made the house seem just a little too spooky, all of their bravado vanished and they begged to share a bed. In this huge medieval farmhouse, my three little monsters bunked down together and fell fast asleep snuggled together, ready for another day of adventure.