Back in France only eight hours in and I’m already ready for a baguette, some cheese and well all things wine related. Pre heading north I meet up with a friend from Paris and we decided that after my red-eye we should day trip over to the Palace of Versailles. Which in all reality is only a hop skip and a jump from the airport in good traffic. An hour worth of driving, synced up to some good Spotify you’re there in a blip. Wendell and I catch up as we get ready to explore the gardens. But we soon realize upon arriving that we nearly have to run through the property to make it all the way through as it’s nearly dusk. So onward it goes. We jet through the beauty of what once set the bar dating back to the 11th Century bringing to light strengths and weakness of a country, and visually still dose till this day. This beauty, well, is as beautiful as one would expect. As it empties, near closing the desolate grandiose entries make you feel as though you were meant to be walking there in full dress years ago. A blink of the eye and a que to exit the parking lot puts you back into the reality of today’s constant move and shift.
A drive and drop back to Paris. Post conquering one of the most terrifying roundabouts known to all humans. I feel like I can drive anywhere now! And onward to up north for a night drive solo up into the depths of the countryside that I like to think of as my second home some days as it nearly is some months. And where well I would have my second home if I ever took some time off. The dewy dense smell of all things wild and green fill the air. And the subtle scent of wood fires burning make it cozy as one would think.
The journey which typically is google screen grabbed on my iPhone for those normal moments when I lose signal. I start into the quaint village of Barneville la Bertran at a perfect little hotel restaurant with impeccable food near Honfleur. Starting the next day I wander the countryside and small towns tracing from Honfleur to Troutville exploring all things of years past to the present. The smell of sea and fish are profound constantly. In search of beautiful views, roadside gems and fish markets with more personality than most. The days continue roaming room amazing apple orchards, to impeccable calvados makers, to morning of restaurant visits, good eats, and amazing locals.
Just when you think you knew all of all from Normandy my mind gets blown yet again. As I stop in the day prior to shoot at a bakery and in my broken french realize that I was not to show up at two in the afternoon, but two in the morning. My mistake gladly paid off the following morning if you were wondering. And after a three hour drive back to the hotel, a few hours of sleep and and a three hour drive back I arrive at two in the morning ready to bake bread. The two incredible boisterous brothers that run Au Chant du Pain bakery know how to stay awake that early and smile the entire time. When they actually threw back a few espresso shots I knew they were human. As the beautiful bread made with love kept flowing all morning. Once we prepped everything in the walk-in for the oven, then we replaced the entire walk in full again as though nothing ever took place for the past six hours. Nearing the end of the refill the smells of warm baked grains and crackles of the crust as it came to room temperature filled the air. Sometimes there is nothing better in life than bread in all honesty.
The trek through the country continues as I near Fromagerie Durand for a quick hello. This small cheese producer in the heart of Normandy doesn’t need press as its cheese stands on its own When you discover good cheese makers you never want to tell, ha, its like the discovering the holy grail. The young children seemed to flock here if not for the camembert, then for the happy cows and family heart to the company that was prevalent all around.
On a normal day a trip would be complete then and there, apples, calvados, cider, bread, cheese. Somehow things managed to extend of course when I realized I was about to miss my flight in the midst of holiday traffic headed back to Paris on the A13. – Christina Holmes
(Along my journeys I have the fortunate experience of meeting the most amazing individuals. Welcome to those along this journey that helped make it yet another memorable one, thank you all as it was my pleasure to meet you. )