Gone country

Sunday, August 31, 2008

La Rentrée is in full swing and Parisians are abandoning the sand, sun and holiday homes and flocking back to their 20-meters-squared flats in the city. Gui's mom returned Sunday from her few weeks spent on the beaches of Deauville and Normandy, and since we weren't able to meet her at the beach, we decided to spend a day together at her late father's home in the village of Marcq.

Marcq has less than 600 inhabitants and is considered "the country" by city folk, yet it's literally a 20-25 minute car ride from our apartment in the south of Paris. Gui and I spent Christmas day there, and it's where I learned just how much food my stomach could handle in one sitting (I stopped after eating my 6th course). The property that Gui's family owns there is currently for sale, as they're looking to buy property in a more popular place closer to the beach. It's a shame because Les Trois Granges, as the property is called, is really spectacular, especially in the summer. It's comprised of three separate buildings - one main house, a guest house and another completely gutted guest house that once served as Gui's grandfather's workshop. There's also a fairly large garage and enormous carport on the property, but the most striking asset, in my opinion, is the land itself. It's full of gorgeous flower gardens, brilliant green grass, charming stone arches, and a variety of fruit trees. Guillaume and his cousin Ben even have their own trees that they used to hang out in when they'd visit their grandpa as young, nature-loving boys. In one part of the land, there's a scarcely-tended garden that once boasted hearty tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, raspberries, and fresh herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage. There's something very nostalgic about the place. It's rustic, but not in a trendy way; it's grand, but not grandiose; it's mystical, not unlike The Secret Garden.

Being there during Summer was totally different from my first visit in December when we mostly stayed indoors, keeping warm by the chimney and staying drunk on fois gras and champagne. The garden really beckons in the summer sun, tantalizing the nature-loving spirit in even the most stubborn, city-loving folk. It was both a sentimental and exhilarating endeavor uncovering the treasures in the garden and behind the cobwebs of the lifeless buildings. I felt like Guillaume must have felt when he was a kid stumbling upon the tools in his grandfather's workshop imagining himself one day old enough to have his own workshop and tools - except my imagination was envisioning a massive garden and a small farm.

While we were there, a family stopped by unannounced to take a peak at the estate, but were asked to arrange a proper rendezvous before visiting. We were all relaxing after a late summer lunch, and apparently, impromptu visits are less than welcome, especially during August. I felt a twinge of guilty relief that they weren't allowed past the gates to be enchanted by its picturesque beauty, wishing that the place could stay "ours" just a little while longer.

When we finally made our way back to reality, I shared with Gui my newfound interest in living outside of a big city, in a more rural setting someday. I've always been a city girl, but more recently he's heard me gab about owning a garden and living off of our own, seasonally-grown fruits and vegetables, and he understands my appreciation for horticulture. But, the moment I mentioned owning a small hen house, he made it clear that that was where he drew the line. He has no desire to be a farmer, to own any more animals than a cat or dog, or to labor on a farm under a beating sun. I suppose my ideas for a home on the range are going a bit too far, but I guess the part of me that misses the green grass and wide-open spaces of living in Texas is longing for my own piece of earth to harvest and tend. As electrifying as Paris may be, it pales in comparison to the dazzling scape of the countryside and all the possibilities that it brings. Although we don't have set plans on how long we intend to stay in Paris, the Texan in me is optimistic that we'll find ourselves a little closer to my roots wherever we land next - even if that means an apartment with a simple garden.

Pictures from our visit in Marcq. Enjoy!


Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

I, too, have dreams of living on a farm with chickens. Maybe that is an american thing? Anyway, it's among the first questions I have for a new beau. "How do you feel about chickens?"

Rest assured I will have some. You can come stealmy eggs. :)

L said...

Les Trois Granges sounds just like the house in L'Heure d'Eté, and it sounds like the story will be similar.

Irisa said...

So cute! :)

misplaced texan said...

L: I haven't seen that movie yet, but it's on my short list! I know a lot of people don't like Juliette Binoche, but I really love her.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it's a rainy day here in Atlanta, but I so enjoyed looking at these photos to take me away for a few minutes. I always enjoy looking at actual "homes" as opposed to photos of street scenes and the Tour Eifel. Thanks for the little break. I hope you get your own garden one day.

misplaced texan said...

thanks anonymous...for this and all the other comments you've recently made. They made my day! :)

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.