After 6 amazing days in the Bretagne region of France, we said good bye to our splendid host Isabelle and headed about 5 hours south to Charente-Maritime and a little village called Thaims. Our host Brigette greeted us immediately upon arrival with fresh honey and jam and set us up in our new home. It was an extremely nice and warm welcome that immediately made us forget about our long journey in the car. The property where we are staying is gorgeous. Nestled in the countryside, it blends perfect French architecture with modern amenities. The exterior has retained its old vintage feel with light brown original stone work and baby blue shutters. The interior is completely remodeled with hardwood floors and an updated kitchen. Our rental is attached to the owners home so we are able to share their spectacular garden filled with colorful flowers, vegetable garden, and lemon trees. In other words, it's a perfectly manicured French village home.
We mentioned in one of our previous posts, that we do not speak nor understand the French language and its something we regret not taking the time to learn a bit prior to our arrival. In a way, we feel very ignorant about it. We find the French to be extremely hospitable, gracious, warm and welcoming. The ability to communicate and unlock the power of conversation with people around the world is one of the greatest thrills of travel. Everyone we have come into contact with has offered assistance, whether it be in the local grocery store, restaurant, or gas station. Rick even had to have the car serviced and our mechanic made ever effort to help us and speak English. Both our hosts have been wonderful to us and we wish we could hold a conversation longer than a minute. It would be nice to converse with them over a glass of wine, learn more about their history, share a laugh together, and just take to the time to understand one another. So far, everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful but we feel that the language barrier is limiting us from realizing our full potential on our journey in this beautiful Country.
However, this whole lack of understanding the French language doesn't bother our kids. Everywhere we go, they manage to make friends and play with other kids as if they were pals for a long time. On the day of our arrival, Leo was playing soccer on the yard with the owner. They both were laughing and telling each other things (Leo in English and the gentleman in French). If you were a passerby and observed the interaction between them, you would think it was a grandpa and grandson having fun, living in the moment and enjoying each others company. As I sat back and watched Leo being completely open and free, I wish I was more like him; a wild child with an amazing soul, full of empathy, compassion and love for life. After they finished playing, Leo walked over to the French monsieur, gave him a high five and said “merci”. It was a moment that I’ll never forget, bringing tears to my eyes seeing him so happy and respectful to someone he’s known for 30 minutes. That moment is why travel is worth every penny.
The next morning, Rick and I managed to squeeze in a workout and that felt amazing. After breakfast we packed our car and drove to a beach called La Grande Cote in Saint-Palais-Sur-Mer (about a 45 min drive from our village). This part of France reminds us a bit of Spain. It’s very dry, hot, and life seems a little slower here than up north. You can also tell this area attracts a lot more tourists for the beaches. The beach was huge and partially nude, hahaha! We were not brave enough to join that part of crowd ;-) For the next several hours we simply enjoyed the hot air and sand in our toes. The Atlantic waters are a bit warmer than their English Channel counterparts so Leo and Mila waded in and out, keeping each other entertained all day.
The following day was pretty much the same (beach in the morning and early afternoon). Rick went for a run with our host, who is a professional triathlon and ironman athlete (and let me add that he is 64 years old!). In the evening, we decided to pay a visit to a tiny French village called Talmont-sur-Gironde. This place in considered as one of the most beautiful villages in France, with a stunning Church of Saint Radegonde build in the 11th century. Its another area that is dominated by the sea as the entire village is perched on a rocky peninsula. We walked around for the evening, snapped some photos and headed back home.
We got back around 9 and our hosts were outside and we had the urge to get to know them a little more because after all, the most amazing aspect of travel is meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. We used hand gestures, a French dictionary and Google translate! Technology is such a blessing! Our hosts’ daughter, who speaks fluent English was on the phone helping translate some of our conversation. From the side, it probably looked like a scene from the movie “Family Vacation”! We managed to discover a few things about each other and shared a few laughs. It was a lovely evening spent with a super nice french couple who truly made us feel at home. It was a a great evening that made us even more thankful for this whole adventure.
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