France Day 20 - Not your average day of Chillin'

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Friday, August 15, 2008

Today will go down as our best lazy Chateau-Gontier day so far.

Started simple enough. I woke up with the kids to let The Queen sleep in. Then, a trip to the boulangerrie for a bag full of necessities (financier, chocolate almond croissant, and chocolate bread for the kids). And then, we got dressed, packed up the red backpack full of toys from the toy room, and headed down to the tennis club for some tennis.

Oh, before I forget ... more good music: Miossec "L'etreinte"

Janice found her serve ... I found my backhand. We both played really well today ... and she DESTROYED me. 6-3, 6-1. DOH! Just as we started winding down the game, I noticed a shiny green Austin Martin pull up and a gray haired gentleman step out of it. He was walking towards us. "Great." I thought. "He is gonna' come over and ask us to pay for using the courts." ... Sure enough, he comes our direction. We greet one another with our standard, "Bonjour! ... Par le vous Anglais?" ... And yes, he does! ... But he isn't here to collect money from us. He is just a nice man, asking us how our tennis is going and if we are enjoying the day. ... Hubert is his name ... A very very nice man. And then, he invites us to play some tennis later in the afternoon at his house just outside of Chateau-Gontier in a place called Briace Cottage. "Sure!", I say ... and just like that, we have plans for later this afternoon. I walk him to his car and he gives me his phone number and draws me a very basic map on an old golf scorecard that he finds laying around his car. I tell him I have GPS, but he informs me 'its a little difficult' finding the place, and I catch his drift. Private tennis court, ... just outside of town ... on a private road ... tells me that we are in for a treat!

Back to our house for some work, trampoline time with the kids, rest, and grub. I am eating so much fat here its ridiculous. My lunch consisted of a big ol' plate of cheese, butter, and rillettes ... and bread. I kid you not. I might die from the food here, but damnit, ... I'll die happy.

3:45pm rolls around and we pile in the car and head out towards Briace Cottage. We have no name for the road, just that its approx. 16km from the tennis court, and before the river and the police radar sign ... and a crude map. After a couple of investigations down two or three dirt roads turn up empty, we finally find the right path. We drive in to the forest, around the bend, and find ourselves in the middle of the most beautiful French countryside you could imagine. We head towards a large chateau straight ahead, but don't see Hubert or his green Austin Martin, and as we turn around, we meet up with him. The main chateau is for the father-in-law who stays here year round, Hubert and his family are only here for the holidays and are staying in the smaller home just down the path. This place is amazing. Just ... awesome.

We come to find out that this is where the family has typically spent its summers. Today, there are only Hubert and his wife and daughter, the sister (her husband is in Paris working) and her daughte ... and us. All the siblings used to come, and when the kids were younger the houses and land were full of people. Now, its quiet and serene. Turns out the land has been in the family for over 100 years. Thats so cool! A good portion of the land is leased to a farmer who raises nearly 80 cows and carries corn crops to support them.

After meeting Hubert's daughter and neice, we head to the clay court that is kept on the property. It hasn't been kept up perfectly because its only used in the summertime, and mostly only by Hubert, ... but it is FULL of character. We are surrounded by the rolling hills of France, a small grass fire burns in the corner, and around us are huge trees, blackberry bushes, and two beautiful homes. Hubert and his family (wife, sister, kids) all speak English perfectly. They are well educated, well traveled individuals. And they are gracious hosts to our family. After I try my luck with Hubert (he is a solid player and works me in to a sweat quickly!), I turn over the court to Janice and take the kids on a blackberry collecting mission around the property with Hubert's wife and sister.

We end our day with Hubert and his family enjoying water, juice, and a green mint syrup on the front terrace of their 'cottage'. The daughters are great with the kids ... its too bad we didn't meet them earlier to have them help babysit! ... but there may be opportunity before we leave. : )

A truly unique and magical experience.

Back home, we shower up and eat some dinner and then head in to town for a festival that we've seen advertisements around town for. Tonight is opening night of Fetes de la St Fiacre.

Its not the greatest show on earth, thats for sure. Just your typical traveling carnival with overpriced rides, ex-con employees, and the smell of urine in the dark corners of the walkway. But here, we have the privilege of paying an extra 60% because of the exchange rate! We walk away having put Samuel alone on one ride and let him play one game (Ella's in trouble for the night... : p ) and we spend $11. Sam wins a little pirate toy, so that makes it a little bit of a better deal.

And now, back at home to sleep, clean, and pack for our road trip that begins tomorrow! Can't wait. First, we are exploring Brittany for two days, and then on to the beaches of Normandy for some WW2 experiences. Going to be great.
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iba-jee on

Who are those?
I think that I have seen Capriati and Sampras in those photos!!! XD

The day seems really amazing!!! The house is beautiful and the landscape is great!!


Inigo and Jaione

nicoleisjealous on

seriously, this type of thing doesn't happen
people don't just walk up to strangers playing tennis and invite them to their private vacation chateau with a tennis court. I think God loves you.

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