My husband and I settled into “our” home easily enough. Our bedroom was quite spacious with large “French” windows. (Aren’t all windows in France French?) The bathroom was divided into two rooms: the commode was in it’s own room separate from the double sinks and shower room. That worked for us. The salon or living room was the perfect size, small enough to be cozy but large enough for plenty of seating and a large television. The dining room sat eight. The kitchen was every chef’s dream. The front and back garden were perfectly proportioned, with a lovely olive tree in the back and a great deck with a casual seating area as well as an alfresco dining area. That house was absolute perfection.
We took off to the massive Super U to purchase groceries, as our little village market was closed. (Who knew that after a month of having Parisians about, the market owners needed their own vacation for a short time during the first of September. Something that had escaped my research.) Note to self: wait until the second week of September to head out into the French countryside.
We were quite impressed and saddened to see this massive grocery store that resembled a Publix, Costco, and Sears all rolled into one. Although, on the plus side, we were able to purchase everything on our list and a few dozen things we had not even thought about. Driving there and back was still quite the ordeal, but I knew that eventually I would feel more comfortable behind the wheel in a foreign country. After all, I had spent months researching the driving rules in France. No, I am not obsessive at all.
We wandered all over the countryside that week. We went to a few chateaux. Our hosts had actually recommended the Chateau de Brissac, and it did not disappoint. It was stunning and incredibly enough still in the same family for over five hundred years. In one room they had the current Duchess’ wedding gown, as well as their daughter’s wedding gown – she married a prince, naturally.
We found a few family owned wineries with their own caves. It was only neighborly to try some, right?! There was nothing fancy about them, just great wine, with grandma helping out. Who could ask for more.
We wandered all over our lovely village eating at all of the restaurants, which was no easy thing since my husband’s French Health Pass never came in. (Who knows why mine did but not his?) He had to keep getting COVID tests every three days. Not fun, not fun at all. There was a great museum about the Loire Valley called, Loire Odysse’e-Bateau Loire de lumiere in the village. It told of the history of the Loire Valley from the earliest times to the present. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
All too soon my husband’s time in France had come to an end. You see, what I have not yet mentioned was that just before we left for France, the doctors had found a mass in my husband’s abdomen. They told us to go on our trip, and when my husband returned they would have him scheduled for a battery of tests. It was a difficult goodbye. I wanted to go home with him but he would not hear of me leaving. My college girlfriends were coming to France as he was leaving and he would not have our trip canceled. He can be quite stubborn when he wants to be.
Our daughter was going to be at our home when my husband returned and would take him to his appointments. We did not expect a biopsy until I returned toward the end of the month. These things actually take a lot of time to schedule. It’s not at all the way they portray it on television.
We headed back to Paris so he could catch his flight the next day. The staff in the Angers train station could not have been more helpful. The TGV staff were equally wonderful. We stayed at an IBIS hotel at the Paris airport and they were horrible. I vowed that I would never stay there again. American Airlines did a tremendous job making sure my husband was comfortable, as he had begun to be in a great deal of pain that final morning. I kissed him goodbye at his departure area, hoping that the tests he would be having would answer so many questions.
Then I went to the arrivals gate to meet my college girlfriends. And that is a a story all by itself. Stay tuned for the next installment of this once-in-a-lifetime-trip…at least, I hope to never have a trip like that again!