I’ve often featured posts from Steph’s Blog in France in my Wednesday’s Bloggers Round-Up. You know, she’s the Irish llama and alpaca breeder who also runs a carp fishery and a holiday gîte. Anyway, today, she is hosting a Christmas Blog Hop and I signed up to participate. So after reading my post, just click on the links below to discover a whole host of other blogs! There are even lots of giveaways if you make a comment. My free gift (to be drawn on 15th December at midnight) is an e-book edition of Kati Marton’s Paris: A Love Story, definitely my best read this year.
Celebrating Christmas with the Loire Connexion
We’re driving around the village of Céré la Ronde in the Loire Valley looking for the Auberge de Montpoupon, where the Loire Connexion* is holding its Holiday Celebration & Dinner but we can only find the Auberge du Château. Then I spy a pair of Sparkly Antennae and a Santa Claus hat and I know we’re in the right place.
We park the car and follow the antennae to the entrance and are soon drawn into a room full of festively-dressed anglophones and anglophiles (except Relationnel, who’s left his suit behind in Paris). Summer, who is the drive and energy behind the Loire Connexion, is greeting each person as they walk in. I see some folks I’ve already met at the Shaker and am soon introduced to new faces.
It’s not long before there are forty or fifty of us all talking ten to the dozen in French or English. Summer comes up to me discreetly and says, “I want to show you something.” It turns out that Louisa, from Closerie de Chanteloup, who has already decorated the room, has a surprise for us. We’re soon taking turns to be iphonographed with various Christmas accessories of her making.
After that, we all go down the stairs inside the inn, then outside and through a courtyard to a second building where tables are set for fifty people. We find our places, which are more of less according to where we live in the Loire, and the meal begins. First, some beautifully cooked sea scallops, followed by guinea fowl stuffed with foie gras and Darphin potatoes, accompanied by white and red wine from the region.
The words of Christmas carols appear next to our plates and a fiddler is suddenly standing on a stool. We break into a hearty rendition of Jingle Bells, led by Summer, and followed by other carols including the Twelve Days of Christmas which some of the people seem to be having trouble keeping track of. Not being a very good singer myself, even though I love Christmas carols, I am delighted to have a good male voice at the same table. If he makes a mistake, however, so do I!
After the cheese, Summer announces that all the women have to take their spoons and move to another table for dessert, which is a wonderful way of getting people to mix. The « crémeux du chocolat » goes perfectly with Louisa and Fred’s wonderful pétillant. We have our coffee and the tables are cleared away so we can dance.
Relationnel and I, who haven’t seen much of each other all night, then start jiving, one of our great loves that we don’t get to indulge very often these days. The aches and pains from covering the back wall of the fireplace with refractary mortar all day seem to have disappeared, as least for the moment. The sparkly antennae and Santa Claus hat change heads a few times and we suddenly realize it is 1.30 am and we still have to drive home!
By then, everyone is reluctantly saying goodbye. But we know that Summer has other great ideas up her sleeve and we’ll be seeing each other again very soon!*a friendly anglophone and anglophile community in the Loire Valley with an “x” factor. We are:
– eXpatriates of all different nationalities.
– eXplorers – French nationals who may have lived abroad, work internationally or just enjoy time spent with an international crowd.
– eXceptionally English – We live in France. We speak French. But, when we get together, we enjoy speaking English. We welcome anyone who wants to join the conversation!
– eXchange eXperience & eXpertise – At our relaXed and informal events, we have a great laugh, but also provide a safe haven of support and friendship. We naturally share contacts, information and support to make Loire Valley living even more pleasurable.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to write a little review for the Expat Blog Awards: http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/526/aussie-in-france. Closing date: 15th December 2012.