www.meganjoychapman.com

Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

Goût de France: My First French Kiss and Vintage Villa

Villa

As we got out of the car we were greeted by Astrid, the seventy-something, propriétaire of L’Harmas whom my husband kept calling Asteroid by accident. At my husbands expense, it became a running joke between the four of us that would come back to bite us later. But that’s a story for another day.

“Sorry,” Astrid said, revealing her thick French accent with German undertones. “I did not hear the buzzer. Were you waiting at the gate long? I was on the phone scheduling your maid service.“

She fit my stereotype of a proper mature Frenchwoman perfectly. Her mouth looked like an asterik, permanently pursed, and she wore a blue and white striped nautical top with navy pants. But instead of a beret or scarf, a thin headband secured her ash-blonde bob.

Astrid welcomed us with a customery European kiss—one on each cheek— three times. I tried not to feel slighted when I only received one-and-a-half kisses. I guess she was tired by the time she got to me after already busting out nine in a row to my husband and two friends.

She pecked her cheek against mine, quickly swiveled half way to the other side but stopped mid-stream. Instead of proceeding she shook her head vigorously and threw up her hand. “Ah! In some cases it’s four kisses. Too much, too much! How about some chilled Rosé?”

Inside our Vintage French Villa

The dining room was just off the kitchen and became our favorite room in the house. The yellow walls and many windows gave it a sun-room feel. Fresh pink peonies were there when we arrived.

The dining room was just off the kitchen and became our favorite room in the house. The yellow walls and many windows gave it a sun-room feel. Fresh pink peonies were there when we arrived.

Astrid led us in through the dining room entrance just off the kitchen and poured us each a glass of crisp Rosé . Alcohol was the last thing I needed to add to my jet-lag and hunger, but I’d heard that turning down food or drink from the French could be direly detrimental. And I wasn’t about to get off on the wrong foot with Astrid, especially after my altercation with the fromage coguette at the Intermarche supermarket.

French doors opened into the garden.

French doors opened into the garden.

A Villa with a Little French Character

After giving us the run-down for laundry, garbage, and what bathroom not to use because it was out of commission, Astrid mentioned she’d be back in a couple days to check on us, and then left so we could settle in. Once bedrooms were assigned we hauled in our luggage and put groceries away.

Chap’s and my bedroom was down a long dark, narrow hallway at the back of the main house or villa. Two dimly lit lamps in the hallway provided minimal light. It was somewhat creepy at first but I adjusted to L’Harmas’ foreign character and eeriness after a couple days.

Most rooms had fabric-lined walls with water stains along the borders. So it smelled musty—not offensive—just oldish. The dark furniture was ornate and tattered oriental rugs were scattered throughout. A fire place in the livingroom added to its charm.

I caught a shower to rinse off thirty-one hours of travel , then headed to the kitchen to inspect my canvas for cooking. It was much smaller than expected with very little counterspace.

Adding to my adventure, I’d soon learn that many things in France were smaller than in America.

Adding to my adventure, I’d soon learn that many things in France were smaller than in America.

I had to pinch myself. I felt like I was in a movie. Lost in a strange foreign country—Car breaks down. In search for help, I stumble upon an abandoned villa. . .

The hallway bathroom had about 15 different leftover face-mask creams and essential oil scrubs along with used combs and hairbrushes! Used combs and hairbrushes???

The cupboards in the kitchen were also stocked with leftovers from former visitors and the spice rack was full. But the herbs looked and smelled like they hadn’t been used in years. I was glad we’d bought our own at the market.

On a more positive note, I fell in love with the garbage chute.There was a little metal square door on the wall where garbage was tossed. It dropped into a garbage can located in a cabinet only accessible outside. “To keep the smell and bugs away,” Astrid had said. I told Chap, my carpenter husband, that I wanted one for our house.

Using the groceries we’d purchased, we quickly threw together a rustic Provencal meal.

Store bought organic rotisserie chicken, assortments of cured meats, fresh cheeses including Gouda, peppered chevre, and truffled brie, cured olives, fresh baked bread, and a salad with thick aged balsamic vinegar, local olive oil, oregano, Mediterranean sea salt, and crushed red and black pepper.

Store bought organic rotisserie chicken, assortments of cured meats, fresh cheeses including Gouda, peppered chevre, and truffled brie, cured olives, fresh baked bread, and a salad with thick aged balsamic vinegar, local olive oil, oregano, Mediterranean sea salt, and crushed red and black pepper.

Rather than make it look pretty, the four of us just dug in and had at it. Then it was off to bed for a good nights rest, so we’d be ready for our first full day in the historical town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Inspired Recipe Remakes

Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes

Chicken Brining Recipe

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

3 Responses to “ Goût de France: My First French Kiss and Vintage Villa ”

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