Month: June 2016

Au Revoir, Loches

Loches. We left on May 28, nearly 11 months after arriving in this quiet medieval town. We decided to spend the month of June in Italy, before returning to Canada when our visas expire at the beginning of July. Our last week in France was a series of goodbyes; to friends, classmates, tastes, sights, and sounds. Our last trip to the market up the street, a last beer on the sunny patio of our local pub, my last chausson aux pommes (my absolute favourite french pastry). A foggy glimpse of the logis royale from Danica’s bedroom window. A tearful last day of school. One last afternoon spent at the Jardin Publique, a last play with une meilleure copine, final visits with friends. A last dinner out at the restaurant across the street from our house. A quiet contemplative wander up Grande Rue, the cobbled pedestrian street we called home. Throughout this difficult week of farewells, we reminded the kids of one thing : “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened”. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this one. There …

Corners of Our Town

During our last couple weeks in Loches, I became rather nostalgic. Walking through town would have me wistfully remembering our first time strolling up to the cité royale, walking through the archway with Joan of Arc’s name. Our visits to the twice-weekly market, the many trips to our favourite boulangeries, the little metal shop signs…The list goes on. I started snapping photos of all the little details. The bits and pieces that sometimes started to seem commonplace. All the pretty that surrounds you when you live in a tiny medieval town in the Loire Valley. There is no question that we live in a pretty outstanding part of the world, in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. Vancouver Island is incredibly gorgeous. But it lacks the history. The stories behind every stone, every château, every ancient building. When I look at these photos, the history is staggering, the beauty undeniable. Some of our favourite corners, views, doors, and streets. And so, I thought I’d share some corners of our town. I will miss this. We all will miss this.

Festival des Jardins

There was one other Loire must-see that we waited to visit until spring, le Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. This fairytale château plays host to the Festival International des Jardins every year, and we knew we wanted to see the 2016 edition. It’s grounds and château are also home to an incredible collection of more permanent artist installations. We had heard about the installations and seen some photos, but I don’t think we were quite expecting how much we enjoyed this visit. The domain is huge, and dotted all along the walking paths and throughout the expansive grounds are these fantastical installations. Some appear simply to emerge from nature while others are striking and bold in their statement. The enormous twig huts above were my favourite, they just look so surreal sitting there. The farm outbuildings are part of the exhibit as well. The old hayloft houses a beautiful recycled metal installation; another of our favourites was a twisting log, made of laminated wood pieces, which winds it’s way through a barn. We really loved all the water features. There were numerous ponds …

Chédigny

Loches is one of the larger towns in it’s immediate area (with a population of a whopping 6500 or so!) and is surrounded by the most charming villages dotted throughout the countryside. This is something I just love about France. La campagne (countryside) is simply full of teensy gorgeous villages! Some of them have populations as small as a hundred, and their history goes back with the families for hundreds of years. There will be a whole string of these villages within a five to ten minute drive of one another, with one or two schools servicing every half dozen villages, and each one having it’s own boulangerie and maybe access to a small market. I was always so charmed as we drove through the country roads, passing all these beautiful unique spots. It is something I will definitely miss when we go home. About a twenty minute drive from Loches is Chédigny, population 500 or so, and with a reputation for having the most incredible roses and flowers in spring. Oliver had a footie tournament one weekend in early …

Jardins de Villandry

Still catching up on our last couple weeks in France! When we arrived back in Loches after our quick trip to London, we had to really start packing up and preparing for our departure. Knowing we would be spending five weeks in Italy, we decided to pack up a whole bunch of our belongings to ship back home to Canada. In between packing and tying up loose ends, we spent our last weekends visiting a couple more château gardens, which we’d been waiting to see in full spring bloom. We spent a beautiful sunny May day with some good friends visiting les jardins de Villandry. After a yummy picnic on the banks of the Cher, we went inside the château gates and were amazed by the beautiful gardens. Highly structured and rather unlike any other gardens we’ve seen this year, Villandry’s gardens are beautifully maintained and very precisely appointed. The potager is planted in patterned squares, each with a different colour theme, and punctuated by rose topiaries at every intersection. Each year, the potager is planted …

Harry Potter

A much-delayed second blog post of our visit to the Harry Potter Studios in London back in May! Again, please excuse the photos — dead camera battery, really low light and a lot of glass cases made it hard to get great pics on my phone. While we were in the train station area, we had the chance to get a up close with the Hogwarts Express steam engine, and the kids tried to push their carts through platform 9-3/4. There were some train compartments set up with a few select scenes from the movies, which were fun to walk through. There was also a small section devoted to the graphic design team for the films. The scope of their work was pretty amazing, as every single book cover, label, newspaper, magazine, flyer, sign, map, package, etc had to be created from scratch. That must have been a pretty dreamy job, if you ask me. Next, we had lunch in the backlot, complete with Butterbeer of course! The kids were divided on their opinions — Oliver adores anything sweet, …

Harry Potter

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean it is not real?” – Professor Dumbledore (JK Rowling, of course) I find this quote to be particularly poignant for me. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 20 years old. I quickly devoured each book as it came out, and have reread each one numerous times. I don’t think a book or series ever made such an impact on me as this one did, I absolutely love it. I love the movies pretty well as much, each and every one. When the kiddos came along, I shared that Harry Potter love with both of them as well. So the quote — just because it’s in my head doesn’t mean it’s not real, right? Sometimes I still wish I’d gotten my letter on my 11th birthday. Turns out, I’m just a muggle. I was so excited to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford, just outside of London. It was definitely a huge highlight of the trip for …