A quick back-history on where we are staying… In 2002, when Mike and I had only been dating seven months on and off, Mike went to study in Bath, England. Not knowing what to do with myself, I went to visit with the idea that I would travel around Europe on my own for a couple months. As it turned out, my cousin Kim and her fiance at the time, now husband, were care takers at a chateau in France for their family friends from San Juan Island, Nash and Linda. I decided to go visit Kim and Adam for a while. Mike came to visit that Christmas. The following year, I returned with my mother and my friend Cori and my mom’s friend Cari for Kim and Adam’s wedding.
I honestly didn’t think I would ever be back here for any length of time. When we found out that our scooter was illegal, however, it changed our plans more than we expected. A passing comment lead to a call that lead to an email that lead to me calling Nash and finding out that they would be here at the exact same time that we needed a place to go. A quick train ride from Paris led us here, meeting a family that we had never met before in their chateau 6000 miles from where either of us were from.
I was reluctant to come back for a few reasons. First, I felt that the experience that I shared with Kim and Adam in 2002 was so unique and special that I couldn’t hope to recreate it in any way. When I returned for the wedding, it was hard seeing the chateau on such different terms. The first time I stayed here it was quiet, there were only three of us living on the grounds and at night we had all 15 bedrooms to ourselves. There were no rules or schedules and we shared fires and dinners and talks every night. At the wedding, with the place full of people, there were more rules and deadlines and obligations and I had to section off the new experience so it didn’t taint the old in any way.
When we returned this time, I prepared myself to section off another part for this experience. I didn’t know what to expect and it wasn’t really clear what we were going to be doing here. However, upon arrival, we found that this place still cultivates the pace of life that we had become so addicted to the first time that we had visited.
We got in at about 5pm and walked around the property. The place looked exactly as I remembered it. We sat down for a slow dinner with great food and wine and conversation and we sunk into the slowness and haven’t sped up since.
This pace is possibly where my heaven exists and coming from a week of my lesser hell it is only highlighted even more. My heaven is a place where no one has anywhere else to be for long long periods of time. This is a place where people expect to eat together without the television on and where it is expected that it will take a couple hours at least. It is also a place where all of the participants appreciate food and appreciate the process (both Linda and Patty are high caliber cooks and Linda loves to garnish).
I have expressed my love for this lifestyle before, when we were in Brazil with our friends and we all knew we were going to be hanging out every day and every night for over a week. What I was surprised to find is that I am enjoying it so much even with people that I had never met before. I think this place draws it out of you. But also, the people who are found hanging out at a chateau in St. Julien L’Ars in March are also the kind of people who are taking life pretty slow.
I don’t want to seem like I’m all “best time ever” but today was the day I realized that the dinners weren’t going to stop and I changed into chateau gear. Literally. In 2002 my chateau gear was an over-sized navy blue vest with a duck apron underneath. Today I found a floral dress/apron that I put on for the brocciu making and don’t plan on taking off.