Our original house in France, the Moulin de la Ribotière in Les Alpes Mancelles
Last weekend Emily and family came to visit and we decided to take a drive north to where our first house in France was located. We especially wanted to visit our dear old friends the Tireaus. We planned a lovely picnic along the river, inviting them to join us. Since the day turned out to be gray, drizzly and cold we ended up bringing our picnic basket to their house instead.
We have known the Tireau family since we first bought our little moulin in 2002. They lived up the hill from us and we became very good friends. They hold a special place in our hearts.
Left to right: Rick, Aurore, Maxime, Philippine, Anita, Daniel, Jos, Zinnie, Emily, Quinn
They own a large piece of land with a huge garden, fruit trees of every description and lots of animals. They served us a piece of their lamb for lunch. They certainly can and do feed themselves from what they raise. Quinn was very excited to meet all the various creatures. I think this was the first real rabbit he'd ever seen.
He was very gentle and respectful with the animals. Being mostly a city boy, these encounters are quite magical for him.
Zook the mule is a beast we've known for as long as we've known the Tireaus. He's at least 12 now and mules can live 20 years, so he's just middle aged. He has a most distinctive and loud hee-haw, which we're quite familiar with. We have watched Anita chase him down the road as he likes to escape and have his own adventures!
We were very lucky to meet this wonderful family. They welcomed us and helped us so many times when we were first learning about life in France.
Anita gave us French lessons and often invited us to share meals with her family. This was the first time she had met Zinnie.
This little river, the Ornette, ran right past our house. It is a favorite with trout fishermen.
When we first met the Tireaus, Maxime was 9 and Philippine was 5. They spent a lot of time catching little fish in our steam and playing with our dog Morgan.
Our little hide-away was a Hansel and Gretel cottage, surrounded by forest and completely removed from the rest of civilization.
It had a big garden where we spent a lot of time working and entertaining.
Emily and Jos were married at the Ribotière and Anita and Daniel were their witnesses.
Emily produced a theater festival in the nearest village for three years in a row. We have so many wonderful memories from those summer days and all her talented friends eating and partying at our house.
Actors, clowns and musicians came from Spain, Holland, England, Belgium and Italy to participate in the festival.
We painted scenery, made posters, constructed sets, created props. It was an extremely creative time of our lives.
Emily's wedding reception and dinner took place in our big garden. It was 100% handmade with Emily, her friends and ourselves doing everything. We created a meal with as much fresh food from the garden as we could.
Even the wedding cake was made in our kitchen. It was really beautiful.
The mood was very rustic and romantic. People came from all over Europe and the U.S. to participate.
The theme was an elegant picnic and it came off very well indeed.
All these special moments and people rest in this pretty part of France from which we've moved away. It is a real pleasure to revisit the area from time to time to refresh these happy memories.