July 15, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
In France, it is customary to take a summer holiday in July or August. Since all French people are given a mandatory 5 weeks of paid vacation every year, summer is the time to make the most of it. Les vacances, in other words. During that time, it’s not expected that you will be half-available by text, Zoom, email, or Facetime. It’s expected that you actually take time off, recharge, have some fun, swim with your kids.
In that spirit, on Sunday, my family and I will fly to Lyon, the food and architecture mecca south of Paris. My old friend, Nils, will pick us up at the airport and drive us home to his house, hopefully with our luggage, though my optimism on that front has dwindled to about 20%. After a few days, we will drive to the Lac d’Annecy in the Alps for 3 days and then come back to Lyon. After two more days, we will head down to Collioure, to see Karen and Jerrod, of Rue du Soleil fame, and swim in the Mediterranean. Then we drive up to the Dordogne and the Lascaux caves, Eyrignac –topiary heaven– and then back to Lyon and, finally, we will fly home. All in 3 weeks’ time. The enormity of this trip, the packing, the little details, the virus concerns and precautions, the organizing of our lives here (cat sitter, garden waterer, back-up cat sitter if the first one gets Covid, etc.) has been exhausting and, somehow, also exhilarating, like something heavy from the last few years is being shed.
There are some goodbyes and leaps of faith: Last night, we made a birthday cake for my friend Selina’s daughter, Eloise, for whom I created a carrot cake recipe which I named after her (remember my cake theory of life from last week?). It sits in my fridge ready to be picked up. My highbush blueberries and raspberries are almost ripe; I will miss them. I will also miss most of my peas and my echinacea blooming; we can’t possibly eat all the radishes before we go. My potatoes are ready, but they will need to wait to be dug and hopefully won’t all get eaten by chipmunks. The pumpkins, corn, beans, tomatoes and a next planting of lettuces will hopefully still be here when I get back. But who knows? The robin nesting over our side door will likely have young ones by the time we return, and, if we’re lucky, we will see her teach them to take their first flights before they disappear into the low trees that border our yard.
We will likely not come home with French mustard, which I understand is hard to come by. But I will come home with stories and travel tips and off-the beaten-path locales to share with you all. I can’t wait for that.
I hope you, too, will take some time off, shut off your phone, close your lap top, and enjoy a few walks or popsicles. When I come back, we will start back up again with new stories, new ideas, and, as always, I will strive to bring you world, with a French twist.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
COOK (Or, Imbibe): We have a new Bouffe today! Kate Christensen has written about the cloudy, licorice flavored, perfect summer southern French liqueur called Pastis. She has two recipes and lots of ideas for how to drink it, cook with it, and, even make it, here. I cannot wait to have a glass with ice when I get to France. It will be my celebration, the start to mes vacances.
WATCH: New movie alert! We have a review of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a new movie about a 1950’s London housewife who goes to Paris in search of a Christian Dior dress. Andrea Meyer reviews it and says it’s just what we all need right now.
READ: Catherine Rickman has a great piece today, which I was personally interested in, about how to border hop to Spain if you’re in France for your vacation this summer—this is something our family is thinking about doing when we are way down in Collioure. She tells us how and whether the extra planning is worth it here.
Also, this week on Frenchly, we published this lovely piece by Philip Ruskin about unusual and remarkable museum cafés in Paris—places you can go to savor art and follow up with a lunch or treat in an outdoor café.
While I am gone, we will be publishing all sorts of things about movies, travel, jazz, vegetarian French recipes, French female rappers, urban farms and more. Come back to us at Frenchly.us to see what’s going on.
You’ll hear from me again on August 12th. Bonnes vacances!
PS: Some housekeeping: If anyone is interested, I will be teaching a memoir writing class virtually through the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance in August—I would love to have you.
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Top image, Shutterstock, Eyrignac gardens.