The summer countdown had finally come to an end—Paris was now in view as our plane descended. For me, the eleven-hour flight had been a breeze (I can sleep anywhere, even on a plane, despite my 6’2” frame). It wasn’t long before we were navigating through Paris’ périphérique extérieur in late afternoon rush hour traffic.
Finally, we reached the A10 freeway headed southwest and began to take notice of the lush green hue of the grass, plants and trees. By the time we reached Tours, a couple of hours later, we were amazed at the height of the Loire river, a beneficiary of spring’s heavy rains. Driving along the border of the Loire, our eyes devoured the breathtakingly beautiful landscape on our way to Langeais—the medieval village close to home.
Arriving in Langeais
On the way home, we debated whether to stop at a road-side cafeteria on the A10 or gather food at a market near our destination, our concern being that the stores might close before our arrival. We opted for the latter (or I should say, my wife opted for the latter—I happen to love the steak haché with frites offered at the cafeteria, but she didn’t want to delay our arrival home). Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in Langeais, the Carrefour supermarket had just closed.
We continued driving through the medieval village, realizing that we had nothing to eat at all in the chateau (since we hadn’t been there since last summer)—the natives were restless (that’s to say, my daughters and I). To our surprise, we spied a storekeeper just closing his tiny grocery store near the town square—ten minutes past closing. My wife prevailed on him to allow us to purchase some food. That was great news, until he informed us (after we have gathered our supplies) that he didn’t take credit cards and we weren’t carrying any Euros (my dear wife forgot to bring our foreign currency). The man pointed to a distributeur de billets (ATM) close by. I inserted my credit card, requesting 200 Euros; the screen told me 40 Euros was the maximum limit allowed at the machine. Praying our supplies didn’t exceed that sum, I grabbed the cash and found out I still had 10 Euros to spare.
On the last leg of journey home, our spirits improved now that we knew we wouldn’t be going hungry tonight. We were soon at the outer gate of our property and then began the long meandering drive through the pathway of the forest to the chateau. My lovely wife exhaled, “It’s so beautiful,” as we stared at the patchwork of leaves overhead.
I had to agree, it seemed even more beautiful than normal. Although it was 8:30 p.m., the sun had not yet set. Though France, particularly Paris, had suffered through a spate of torrential rains, flooding the streets on the bank of the Seine river, the moisture made the tapestry of nature even more gorgeous than past summers.
We are Home!
We walked up the fourteen steps to the chateau’s front door. As we opened the door, the familiar musky smell of the interior assaulted our nostrils—not an unpleasant smell, but one that signaled our arrival home. The entry statue greeted us as we entered. I retrieved the luggage and then took my customary spot at the Steinway grand piano, renewing my acquaintance with the ivory keys, rehearsing the last half of Chopin’s Quatrième Ballade, much improved since last summer’s humble beginning (but still a long way to go).
After our dinner of ham and cheese baguettes with jus de raisin from last fall’s harvest, we walked around the chateau in the twilight. In the cool of the evening, we made a fire in the hearth of the large sitting room and reminisced about times past.
By the time the sun set, it was time to ascend the grand staircase and retire to bed–and dream about the coming days in paradise.
Our heavenly summer séjour was just beginning.