Our lovely neighbours in St Vaast offered us the use of their apartment in Pigalle. We took a week out in the middle of the Perryman visit and caught the train from Valognes which took us into the heart of Paris, from where a 15-minute walk took us to our base for the week. The apartment is compact and full of character and lovely things. We settled in and decided on a gentle afternoon stroll to offset the 3-hour journey. Our way took us north and before we knew it we were faced with several flights of steep stone steps up to Sacre Coeur. Our reward was a stunning view from the summit and a pleasant walk back to the flat afterwards.
Our week in Paris was stuffed full of art. We had thought to include a trip to a show and some shopping. In the end we did go to Galeries Lafayette where we walked circuits of the floors of women’s fashion, looking at the clothes for ideas for colours, shapes and styles. We sat and had a coffee break at a tiny café and gazed out over the atrium to the various floors we had just walked around. Looking up you can admire the Art Nouveau stained glass dome. The department store celebrated its Centenary of the Dome on October 16th, 2012, The Dome was designed by architect Ferdinand Chanut and glass artist Jacques Gruber and is 43 meters high, made with metal and glass and capped with a metal lantern.
During the week we also took an impromptu dining cruise along the Seine which was the closest we came to the Eiffel Tower. For the rest we wallowed in arty things: rich and celebrated paintings, sculptures and so many beautiful objects. In addition to the Natural History Museum – which was something of a disappointment – we visited the Orangerie, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and the Petit Palais. One day we walked along Boulevard Saint Germain to find the Café de Flore, celebrated for its famous clientele. It retains its Art Nouveau style and it played host to most French intellectuals in the post-war years. We went there on the recommendation of our friend Georgy. There I ordered tea and ate the most expensive and most delicious Tarte aux Abricots that I have ever tasted!
After days spent on our feet we headed for our bijou base to freshen up. We played a hand of cards with a glass of wine then walked round the corner to dine from the choice of local restaurants.
We returned to St Vaast, to the gorgeous summer weather and some good beach time.
Teddy and his parents came to France to spend two weeks in Normandy. This, for them, was a long shot; they are real sun bums and, like the climate across the Channel, a French summer on the north coast is an unpredictable beast. In the end the weather was superb, the holiday in St Vaast was pronounced the best ever stay they have had in France, they felt it could not have been bettered if they had crossed the pond to spend their hols in the Caribbean! Many of the days were spent at the beach at Jonville, on the beach on the river side of the headland at Pointe de Saire. They latched onto the inflatable boat which has been languishing in the garage with very little use. Teddy became very proficient at rowing. During their stay, at the beginning and the end of their fortnight I enjoyed pleasant swims from the beach at high tide. Nick took the family out fishing and they brought mackerel which was eaten grilled or smoked. In the middle of their stay at the house Nick and I took a train to Paris and stayed for six days at the apartment of our friends who live opposite us in rue Marechal Foch. The post to follow this one will feature our trip.
When we returned we spent the last few days with the Perrymans then waved them off, leaving us a few days to clean the house and shut it down. On Saturday evening we had a supper party to which the Poulets, the Tailles and the Lerminez came. Francois had offered to cook cote de boeuf on our BBQ, a handsome offer which resulted in a happy evening which everyone enjoyed.
This was a nice finale to our summer in St Vaast: it is highly likely that autumn will have kicked in when we return in a few weeks’ time.
At the end of July we crossed to France to join my niece Katie and her family at our house in St Vaast. They were on the tail end of their holiday and we were going to spend 3 days with them before their return to Dorset. During that time Nick took the boys mackerel fishing and on their last evening, it being Katie’s birthday, she and Martin went out to supper whilst we looked after the boys. They were as good as gold.
After they left we readied the house for the Perryman arrival later in August. We enjoyed a game of Spite and Malice with the Tuttles and were entertained by Daniel and Christine one evening at which all 4 of the lifeboat skippers were present. Respect!!! At the end of the evening we walked down to the quay to watch a firework display. We then flitted back to the UK for the usual round of regular appointments. Our stay in WK coincided with the Village Show, for which event I entered some chutney and my pearl-button cushion. It is a fairly low key affair with not many entries for most categories. Thus getting 2nd out of 2 entries for the chutney and 2nd out of 3 for the cushion is something of a hollow triumph!! Still, it was an opportunity to participate in village activities and the concert we attended in the village church on the Saturday evening was a delightful interlude of Elizabethan and Jacobean music peformed by Pantagruel. It was the first occasion I had stepped inside the church since we moved here in September 2010 and a worthy debut.