Dressed in our Sunday-best clothes, we were heading to Chinon, France on Dimanche (Sunday) for the Brocante Mensuelle (Monthly Antique Sale) which attracts local people and tourists with colorful displays in the squares and along the ancient streets. Doesn’t such a festive event deserve equally attractive attire? We thought so. Old serving dishes, fragile teacups, pewter pitchers, copper pans, tiny brooches with intricate designs, hand-embroidered cloths and other goodies would be there for me to examine, photograph and possibly purchase. Other men and women had the same thoughts and drove their cars in a rush to the parking lots and streets, filling every imaginable spot. I knew this would possibly be beyond frustration for Jim, although he can handle the challenge with the best of drivers.
A brightly-colored sign pointed to a Vide-Grenier (empty out the attic) on a narrow side road in the small community of Anché. “Hey, Jim, let’s turn on this road. It could be more fun to shop here for the garage-sale type stuff than in Chinon. It should be easy to park in the field, and prices are usually lower in the small towns.” This was a French accordion lullaby to Jim’s ears, easy parking and cheap prices.
We walked in the sunshine, checking out everything from baby booties to the kitchen sink.
Sausages cooking on a hot grill lured us to a picnic table with a sweet family, sharing laughter and cookies together. The three-year-old boy had a tiny car in his hand, and he was more interested in playing race car driver than eating his food. Older sister wanted attention since little brother caught our eyes instead. She talked loudly, but then fell silent and bashful in front of the camera. The middle-child was quiet for the entire meal. Middle-children are often left out, unfair, but it happens. Sending love to our middle child pronto with that thought. We left the festive group in the sunshine and made our way to the car with no purchases, but our personal bags were packed with the kindness of strangers and memories of a fun morning, our favorite Brocante Mensuelle.
“Since we are dressed in our Dimanche-best clothes, maybe it would be a good time to visit the Chateau Marcay.” With this suggestion to Jim, we drove to Chateau Marcay, a luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant situated amidst the vineyards in the village of Marcay, just a very short drive from Chinon. Catching sight of the chateau at the end of a long driveway lined with trees will elicit a gasp and heighten the anticipation of reaching the romantic room. In other words, when you see that long, long line of trees and the pretty castle, you will whoop and holler, “Heavenly days! Get outta here! Look at that, will you!? You mean we are gonna stay there!” After you get hold of yourself and park the car, you will be walking across the courtyard with the rocks crunching under your feet, but you won’t notice it because you will be floating in the clouds.
I would like to say that I had this type of arrival experience when Jim and I stayed long ago in this far away land. No, we arrived at the beautiful chateau, very tired, cranky, totally annoyed with each other and a long way from being romantic, or rich. Still, we planned to indulge in one night at the splendid hotel. Our timing was not good since we were not on speaking terms with each other. (Read more Chateau Marcay and our experiences in the book “A French Opportunity” available in paperback or Kindle by clicking here for the French Amazon site or here for the American Amazon site.) Have you ever planned a wonderful party, or vacation, and then when the time arrived you felt like screaming instead of laughing? It happens! I believe we finally warmed up enough to not totally waste a bedroom with a view of a tower, close enough to touch it, and a room with big bed in a French chateau worthy of romance!
Sending a letter in advance to make arrangements to visit would have been the proper way to enter the chateau, but I had not. “Sorry, Mama, I know that was bad manners, and you raised me better than that!” My business cards were completely gone, so I blundered around telling the nice lady at the front desk, who spoke better English than I, about my book and I scribbled the name of my website on a piece of paper. Then, we ambled down the ancient hallway past antiques, paintings and a comfortable salon to the sunny terrace, finding a shady corner with an umbrella to enjoy cake and coffee. At least we were in love and smiling at each other, completely in the moment, enjoying the view and allowing the sumptuous ambience to capture us in that cloud of romance, even though we are not young newly-weds anymore. Perhaps, even more reason to be here.
We returned to the front desk to a trio of young ladies. Of course, Jim was in fine form then with three beautiful young ladies to present with his version of Southern Alabama charm.
Laurence graciously volunteered to show us around. She didn’t know what she was getting into, but she did a fine job and she is welcome in Opp, Alabama anytime! We saw two equally beautiful bedrooms, one much larger than the other. My favorite was the blue bedroom with the drop-dead beautiful bathroom! We were not staying this time, but our visit caused us to put another stay at Chateau Marcay on our bucket list. Perhaps, you should also!!
Thanks to the readers for coming around to visit us, and special thanks to Charline, Laurence and Stephanie. Oh, and I must say thanks to the family who shared the picnic table with us.
Be sure to click over to the Chateau Marcay website for information and beautiful pictures, without me in the bathroom mirror!