La Maison de la Campagne || The Country House
I had always imagined what it would be like to visit the French countryside… I pictured walking through lavender and sunflower fields with pure happiness and delight. When my host family asked me if I’d like to accompany them to their “country house,” I had literally just arrived in France and was reluctant, but I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So, I got my perfect weekend in the French countryside and I’d love to share the blissful moments and memories with you…
The country house is situated in a town called Beaurepair. It’s an hours drive from Grenoble. I tried conversing in French with my host parents, but passed the time mostly looking out my window in my own thoughts. As I sat in the back I watched the mountains disapear which got replaced by rows and rows of fields.
When we arrived I was delighted by the quaint, charming, historic house. It is on a beautiful property and the air is so fresh in the country. The simple French lifestyle…
We unpacked the car and I was given a grand tour of the house. When you walked in there was the kitchen on the left, and after the entryway, a living room with the dining room to the left and a family room on the right. The furniture was elegant and old-fashioned, there were beautiful paintings on the wall, and I felt like I was in a mansion in an old movie. I couldn’t get over how cool and ancient it all was. Upstairs were 4 bedrooms and a bathroom. The basement was fairly large and contains about 4 big rooms. They are currently working on these rooms. The attic upstairs was very old, dusty, and hardly used. There were some small beds, an old/almost broken canopy bed, and I spotted a very old typewriter desk that would probably be worth a fortune!
|This brandy/alcohol case looked like it came straight from the past. I was mezmerized by how cool some of the items in the house were like this one shown above,|
My host dad told me all about the history of the house. The history of the house is why he bought it 5 years ago in the first place. He is the program director of a musuem in Grenoble and loves history. He has a published book to his name and loves to talk! Apparently, the house used to belong to a women who was one of the mistresses of a famous emperor. The coolest part of the house are these drawings scribbled on some parts of the wall. They are of the women who used to live there and of the famous emperor too (shown below). So cool!
|My host mom bought some delicious, fresh rasberries. I think this photo is very delightful and pleasing.|
On Saturday morning we went into the town of Beaurepaire and went to many different stores until noon. Since my host family is in the process of restoring the house, we did errands at home improvement stores and garden shops along with the boulangerie and grocery.
And at noon as the French do, we lunch. My host mom prepared a delicious healthy meal: chicken, white rice, this delicious spinach mash, and bread. For dessert, yogurt! I can certainly get used to this…
For the first part of the afternoon I explored the backyard. There’s a gorgeous lookout, a side house containing a kitchen and sitting area for parties, and a garden full of pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. It was truly perfect and straight out of a movie!
For the second part of the afternoon I helped my host dad do some ‘excavating’ as he would call it, in the backyard. It’s his personal, archeological project of discovering hidden treasures. The family that used to live there threw out a lot of their belongings and trash in the backyard and he was fascinated by what he found. There were old glass wine bottles, medicine bottles, plates, teacups, children’s toys, and more. Mostly there were in pieces, shattered from their original capacity, but he is determined to put them all back together. For awhile I helped dig out some treasures and was enjoying myself. But, I am very impatient and only could go on so long before realizing I could not accomplish the task in one sitting. I could never be an archeologist for this very reason!
We also picked prunes off a tree in the backyard. It’s prune season here and they are delicious! I was completely captured in every moment that I picked the fruit from the tree and looked out at the gorgeous countryside view. I must certainly be dreaming…
For the second part of the afternoon we walked over to their neighbor’s house where I met Michelle, a very fun French woman. She has one of those distinctive voices that I’ll never forget. She has rows of apple and pear trees in her backyard along with many vegetables. We went over to her residence for the purpose of swimming in her pool and relaxing. There was a strange dome around the pool that was meant to protect the pool from debris an animals. Nothing I’d ever seen before!
After a very pleasant and blissful afternoon we prepared the dinner. My host mom always cooks, my host dad helps, and I set the table. Tonight my host mom cooked the meal she had made me my very first night in Grenoble. It’s very delicious. The dish contains fresh tomatoes from the garden (extremely juicy), rice, corn, tuna (used to hate it but forced myself to try it and you really hardly taste it!), and mozzarella.
On Sunday, I took a jog around the front yard at 8am in the morning to break a sweat. Why the front yard? Well, my host parents told me it was unsafe to run around the countryside for 2 reasons: 1 being the issue of strangers and men, 2 being that it was gun season and people were out shooting animals. This could be dangerous. As I ran around, I could hear the gunshots from a distance! They were certainly telling the truth!
At 10:30 we went to church in the town. It was an old Catholic church and was very beautiful inside and out. I didn’t understand most of the service but to my surprise they recited the ‘Our Father’ prayer and thanks to my Catholic High School French teacher, I knew the whole thing by heart. It was a really neat moment for me.
|In the town of Beaurepaire.|
After church my host family spoiled me by letting me pick out a whole box of French pastries. I couldn’t have been happier!
|I tried a piece of almost all of them but my favorite displayed here was the citron lemon tart!|
On the way back to the house we stopped the car to look at some flowers my host mom liked. I’m always open to follow the motto of ‘stop and smell the flowers.’
That afternoon we went swimming again and I also sat on the back porch and wrote. My host dad showed me a journal that all his host students had written in while they were at the country house. They have hosted many students so I saw a lot of entries. Most were written in French (some of the students apologizing or grammar and mistakes as they had admitted they were using a translator). Below I have shown what I wrote in it. My host dad said I could write in English now, but when I come back for my second visit I must write in French. Fair enough!
At about 8pm we left the country house to return back to Grenoble. My host mom was sad to leave, she loves the countryside much more than the busy, lively city of Grenoble. I on the other hand was excited and ready to return back to my host city. I love the fact that it is lively, fun, and busy all the time. I love the hustle and bustle, the commotion, and everything else about it. The countryside was the perfect getaway for the weekend: a time to relax and reflect, a time of learning and adjusting, and a dream come true that basically belongs in a movie. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit the country house and I hope to make it back one more time before the semester is up.
"May God bless our home and all who cross the threshold . Family, friends , welcome."