Well my last day in France has come and gone and I’m ignoring packing my suitcase. I’m waking up in just a few hours to get on a train to Paris and then (hopefully) catch a standby flight back to America. I’d rather it not happen, but I’m starting my summer job on Wednesday so it must. Details on the job later, for now let’s concentrate on the last 2 days, shall we?
Tuesday morning started at 4:30am when we woke up and got ready for our 5:30am departure to Middelkerke, Belgium. Joëlle and Benoït had a LOT of champagne to deliver. Those Belgians love their champagne! The town is a casino town, so they do a lot of business there. A 3 hour drive turned into a 5 hour drive because of detours, accidents, and traffic along the way. But we made it!! Quick recap of Belgium: beer shopping, amazing lunch, best chocolate mousse ever, walk on the boardwalk, strongest wind I’ve ever felt outside a hurricane, the North Sea (Azkaban, anyone?), best hot chocolate ever, secret bathroom in a casino, chocolate paradise, rading a candy store, and a 3 hour, uneventful drive home.
So the next day (today) we heard some interesting town gossip!! After working on the vines on Monday, we saw a bunch of policemen and a doctor and we thought that some old lady was having heart palpitations or something. But in a town this small (about 20 families, all of whom have something to do with the champagne industry) news travels fast and it turns out that it was a MURDER!!!! Creepy, right??? No details yet, we’re hoping to find out more tomorrow! My family knew the man, but not very well. Apparently he had gotten into drugs and other bad things, so they kind of kept their distance from him. But that is the town scuttlebutt from France.
After gossiping at breakfast, my aunt and I walked up to Aunt Catherine & Uncle Bruno’s house (sight of the French food marathon) so I could say goodbye. My Aunt Josette is staying here another week and a half — no fair! But I must say my goodbyes. After that, we journeyed into town to pick up my cousin Pauline from school as she had a half day and then we went to the grocery store so I could buy souvenirs. Everyone buys souvenirs at the grocery store, right?
After lunch, my Aunt Josette and I took a long walk around the village for some movement. And this picture happened:
We walked, talked, and made it back to the house just in time to climb in the car for a little last minute sight-seeing before dinner. We went to Hautvilliers which is the location of the abby where Dom Perignon discovered champagne! He’s buried in the church there, which I saw, but I felt it more prudent to show you another beautiful landscape picture I took by climbing on top of some very tall rocks.
After poking around Hautvilliers, we dropped Pauline off at dance class and we puttered around town, including the grocery store again where my cousin Marie and I bought some eclairs and ate them in the car. Normal behavior for 6pm, yes?
Finally once we got Pauline, we were literally 6 houses away from our house when we saw Aunt Astrid’s car at Mami Anne-Marie & Papi Michel’s house (my “grandparents” here and Benoït’s/Bruno’s/Astrid’s parents), so we decided to stop by and say hello and goodbye. Of course Astrid had her baby, who is constantly fussy, but she was frustrated and asked if I’d take la petite Iso for a few minutes and I worked my baby magic and she fell asleep in my arms. Back home they call me the “baby whisperer” (seriously) because I can calm any infant and make them love me. Everyone was like “Oh my gosh she loves you, she won’t stop looking at you!” If you didn’t know, I adore children and, while it will be a long time before I have my own, I definitely look forward to a BIG family!
I hate goodbyes, so we’ll skip over that part and return to the part where we walked home and ate dinner. My Aunt Joëlle made croque monsieurs for dinner, which are amazing grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. But she made mine with pineapple instead of ham and, of course, the cheese was gruyere. I don’t know what makes a croque monsieur so much better than just a grilled cheese sandwich, but trust me on this. After dinner we watched “Alice in Wonderland” with the girls and then I had to say goodbye to my cousin Pauline because she has school in the morning & I won’t see her (Marie is already on summer break, so she’s coming to the train station). Pauline cried and cried and made me tear up, so I told her to go to bed and that I’d wake up in the morning to see her again.
I still need to pack and now I’m leaving in like 7 hours, waking up in 5. Awesome. Hopefully next time we talk will be Friday on American soil as I recover from jet lag and get back to my mom’s house! Au revoir! I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my adventures!