Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The end is the beginning?

On Sunday we departed La Rochelle with its three towers and colourful port. We collected the car and drove towards Ile de Madame to meet up with Alain, Gilles and our other cousin Michel.

This area at the mouth of the Charente gave us a view of the channel leading to open water; the channel the Comte de Paris took and was stranded on. We tried to identify the exact location but it’s not certain. There’s a low causeway accessible at low tide to the Ile which is topped by a fort. We inched our cars along the rocky road and then drove long the coastline looking at the intriguing fishing cabins installed at the tide-line. Some are large enough to sleep in if need be. Seafood and fish are important products from this area.

There’s an aquafarm and attached restaurant on the Ile. We made for that. Gilles had brought flags of NZ and France for fun. Working my way through the lunch courses and wines (plenty of that over this trip) and listening to all the French language swirling around me (much of which I couldn’t understand) I really felt like a tiny part of an important story.

As we were checking out, a French guy overhead that at least one of us was a Kiwi and started up a conversation. He and his friend were very knowledgeable about some of the All Black greats so thank goodness I could name-drop a few players from the past, even though I detest the sport. It was a very warm exchange between strangers.
It’s a shame the French know NZ rugby players but not about their country’s original foray into the South Pacific. The French government gave up on NZ which was their first choice for a base there and moved on to the Marquesas and Tahiti.

JC and I had to leave, which was a bit sad. Everyone except me is retired and their time is free to do what they choose but I still have to work and the trip back to Paris was a long one. There were lots of hugs and 'bises' and then an uneventful return journey. Once again a big thankyou to JC for helping to make this trip so much easier for me. This past weekend has been a milestone, memorable, precious and a special time spent with JC and my French family. I so hope we can all keep in touch.

In this last photo left to right: Michele and Michelle, Annick, Peter and Christine Tremewen, Gilles and Micheline Fornat, Alain Boussiron and me (JC behind the camera)


Alison said...

Reading about your family connections and encounters has been really interesting! I believe that a few generations back, on my maternal grandmother's side, someone married the French maid! Lol. That's about as close as I get. You must have had a wonderful get-together.
See you in a few weeks!

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.