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travel + culture

on the road and what's out there.


out of office : the french countryside, done right

Caitlin Surakitbanharn

i'm not sure if there's a wrong way to enjoy the french countryside...but i do know there is a right way to do it.

we departed Amsterdam after a week of great times with great friends, and we were off to Limoges, France, to visit Jao's old, very good friend, Etienne.  Etienne's family has a kind situation about 25 minutes outside Limoges, and he invited us to visit with him and his family for 5 days.  we happily accepted.  we were both really looking forward to relaxing with his family and enjoying some time, a bit disconnected from the world.

but we really had no idea what kind of treat we were in for.

we arrived at the Lamy farm under the cover of a dark, rainy night, so we couldn't exactly see what we were arriving at.  Etienne's family welcomed us with a  true, warm french heart....they immediately put a glass of red wine in our hands and gave us a huge plate of fresh cheese to eat.  it was pretty late and after a few more glasses of wine... we headed off to sleep in the lofted room above the garage....and then we woke up the next morning..... and realized Etienne's family home was literally a 300 year old french farmhouse straight out of a fairytale.

oh...and it was Bastille Day.  so his entire family, including his beautiful nieces, were there for a little outdoor feast....

our dining location for the entire week with Etienne's family

the beautiful Susanne, skeptical of Jao taking her photo

and her heartbreaker sister, Josephine

myself, Etienne, and their horse, whom we believe is named Jocko

and Etienne's brother, Martin.

so OK beyond the horse and the amazingly beautiful outdoor dining and the non-stop supply of mind-blowing wine, fresh french cheese, and FOIE GRAS AND DUCK BREAST (like no big deal, that was every meal)....oh yeah there was a pool (hand-built by Etienne's dad), a motorcycle for us to run around on, and endless meals that were so made with love....

pool time, like this isn't the most picturesque pool you've ever seen. bikini, Triangl

a little joy ride....

on our cruise...

Etienne and his spectacular parents.

Etienne's father, pouring the Moet, amongst the cheese and salad.

 we even got a good history lesson in... in the neighboring town of Oradour, the city itself sits in ruins from when, during world world 2, the nazis invaded and killed almost everyone without reason.  this kind of thing happened frequently (small towns, totally destroyed by the SS) throughout france and other places in Europe, but isn't talked about so often in the history it was humbling to learn about.  especially because Etienne's mother grew up in a nearby town, and had very vivid memories of the aftermath.

so essentially, our week off the grid in the French countryside was everything you could ever image it being.  we learned some french history, we celebrated Bastille Day, we drank 30 year old wine (seriously) with dinner...and the casual table wine was typically about 10 years old so...we drank really well, we swam in the handmade pool overlooking the farm fields, we rode around on an old motorbike, and we ate nothing but duck breast, foie gras, fresh french cheeses, beef skewers made from a cow they killed like, 3 days earlier, and escargot.  every. single. day.

and to top it off....we were able to do all of this and spend it with a great friend and then become a little part of his BEAUTIFUL family for a week.  Etienne's parents, brother, and sister welcomed us with open arms and by the time we left, we felt like we were a part of their home.  we spent late nights drinking fine whiskies with his dad, mornings eating eggs from their chickens with his mom, afternoons talking world affairs and girlfriends with his brother, and every evening was spent gathered to eat and drink well together.

it was heaven, and nothing i could ever say about our time there could ever do it justice.