John and I started the day with what was supposed to be a little jog, but I saw a sign that said “Eglise du Cevenac” and I said “let’s go there.” The sign said 3 km, so that should be easy enough, right? Well, it turned out to be 3 miles (there really are too many English living here) and the last mile of it was straight uphill. But the setting could not have been more beautiful. It seemed like the Ohio back roads of my youth—dense forest, beautiful green fields, lily-pad ponds. We saw only 2 cars while we ran. It was cloudy and crisp. So up the hill we went. At a crossroads we saw two little farm houses, one with masses of potted plants, one with a cat on the windowsill.
Just about 400 yards up the hill, we saw an old paint horse in a pasture. He had a mop of blond hair over his eyes. I said hello, and John took our picture. He was, ahem, well fed, and I quite wished he could come with us if only for the exercise. But he was behind a fence, so John and I continued on our way up to the church. What a view! We could see for miles around—beautiful farms, country homes, and even a few chateaux. We toured around the little church, then headed back down hill. As we passed the horse he ran with me for a while on the other side of the fence. His workout for the day!
When we got back to the house, I did some Yoga on the lower terrace. What a wonderful view of the river, with fragrant roses and lavender surrounding me. When I came back inside John had prepared our breakfast—some croissants, strawberries, and local melon. We took it down to the upper terrace and had breakfast with le chat, who sat at the table like a person waiting to be fed.
When the Hinckleys rose, we headed to St. Cyprien to go to the market. It was huge! We bought wonderful olives, duck breast, more strawberries, zucchini, onion, potatoes, and a bottle of Irish beer from an Irish expat whose French accent made me laugh hard. The Hinckleys went home for lunch (Justin has food allergies so it’s easier for him to eat at home), and John and I stayed in town and ate at a café: a gorgeous salad with local walnuts, and a pizza with peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
When we returned home, we watched the Tour, then walked up to the castle. It’s a steep walk up cobbled footpaths, and it’s a major destination, so there are plenty of folks making the trek–some more able than others. But at the top is a beautiful castle and church. We toured around, and Emma and Justin showed off their own running skills, as we timed how long it took them to run from the entryway up to the church. John told them they had to run it 10 times and we would take the average. He takes the same approach to children that he does to our pups: Exercise them to fatigue!
We came home and made a lovely dinner and ate it in front of the window. This window makes us understand why so many French artists painted landscapes—you could imagine the view out the window being a large painting of a landscape hung on the wall of a home with no view. But this is a proper view, and I have to keep looking at it to believe that something so beautiful actually exists.
After dinner, the kids watched The Incredibles and the adults had some lovely conversation over the wine we bought out of the basement. Such a great day. Thanks again Hinckleys for inviting us to France.