Homeland of Michael's French Ancestors

Trip Start Apr 03, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Sunday, April 5, 2009

We finally arrived in Marseille, Provence, France the homeland of Michael's 4th generation great grandfathers, Mathieu DEVAUX and Francois Charles PEYTAVIN Du Riblon. I could tell many things were racing through Michael's head as he sat next to me quietly as the plane landed. I could see there were some emotions bubbling up as he tried not to lose his composure just before meeting his French Cousin, Jean Gignoux and his wife Dominique. I realized his ancestral history was taking place, the descendants of two French brothers meeting for the first time in the land of their 18th century ancestors. Wow!  What a moment to remember.

Off the plane and on to baggage claim we went, when I realize that the battery on my Blackberry is going dead. Oh no! How will they reach us? How will we reach them? The what "what ifs"  kept coming as we both tried not to start the blame game. This little snag has pushed Michael's stress level off the chart, but he's playing it cool. After grabbing our bags, we walk towards the exit like a couple of lost children searching for their parents in a crowd of strangers. Is that him? Is that her? Luckily, a smiling woman approaches us and says, "Michel?" Of course, this is Dominique. Soon enough, Jean drives up, we all exchange hugs and off we go from Marseille to Coudoux.  

During the short drive (only about 20 minutes), we discover that Jean and Dominique know about as much English as we know French. This is really going to be an interesting week. Somehow, we manage to communicate about our flight, "Tres bon" and a few other cordialities, as well as the fact that they have a small dog, who is harmless.

Before we know it, we we're driving through the quaint village of Coudoux with white stone buildings reminiscent of those in Barbados. We arrive at the home of Jean and Dominique and are greeted by a lovely  black and white sheepdog, Tasz. Very friendly and spunky.

Their home is a  cozy little villa situation at the end of a quiet neighborhood. The tile floor inside coupled with the stucco walls and red brick roof outside, remind me of homes in Southern California or Arizona. After a sip of whiskey (which I've never had!),  we lunch outside on the patio and enjoy lamb chops, string beans, potatoes and French bread, of course. Top it all off with a glass of wine, and you better believe The Globetrotters are ready for a nap!  Michael and Jean talk genealogy; I take a nap in the sun chair that Dominique has set up for me.    Magnifique! Soon enough, Michael is getting sleepy and the weather is perfect for him to quickly slip into slumber for an hour or so.  

Later, the "cousins" talk more about genealogy and the ancestors they share -- which ones left France when, which ones stayed behind, who married whom, what the children's names are, etc.  It is quite amusing to watch these two exchange information. Meanwhile, Dominique and I try to communicate a bit. Thank goodness she has a French/English dictionary handy! 

A few hours later, Michael and I go for a walk around the village . Passing by small shops and only a few other people on the street, we find our way to an olive grove we had passed earlier when we drove in from Marseille.  A stroll down the lane finds us both pinching ourselves to make sure we're not dreaming ... we're really in the South of France! On the way back to the house, we stop inside a church and find that they are setting up for Palm Sunday service the following day.   The woman who greets us speaks some English and mentions that she visited New Orleans a few years ago and enjoyed Cafe DuMonde in the French Quarter, the delicious crawfish, and Jackson Square. When we bid her farewell, she invites us to church the next day.

By the time we arrive back to the house, the Gignouxs have ordered pizza, and we eat again. Is this the fifth time I've eaten today? Too much, but delicious. Michael and I are truly tired and it's time to turn in. More to be discovered tomorrow.
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