Three of us girls meet up early Saturday morning at Gare St. Lazare in the 8th arrondissment, stand under the time board waiting for our train to Yvetot to show up, then when it does, two minutes before departure, we run and grab a three seater situation which turns out to be a compartment for six. While the other three solo passengers literally nod off, we, of course, spend the 1 hour 30 minute journey, gabbing non-stop. The thing about good friendship is, it gets even better on trains. We’ve known each other for only 5 months, but having been tossed into similar expat experiences, we’ve a lot in common, plus, we liked each other instantly, each easy-going and irreverent in our own sassy ways.
A lot happens in Paris and it’s important to share it. To be up on all the little details that make life the sweet pleasure it is. All the little details, like the latest from the kids school social scenes, updates on the home front, which husband is home, which traveling, we dissect neighbors and new friendships, voice our suspicions about things, laugh about it, roll our eyes, marvel at attitudes, wonder what challenges are on the horizon, assess, predict. You know, the usual girls chats that keeps the world going right round.
Then, voila, it’s our stop, we go find the car rental kiosk, get our Pugeot or whatever French car, fetch the map, and in moments, we’re out in the countryside heading to our village. We’ve gotten lucky, the weekend is sunny and 70, so the plan on arrival is to throw bags in the room, put on the new polka-dot bikini and head to the pool, which is just what we do. Our hotel is down a dirt lane, set off in the fields, the grounds are full of cherry trees and flowers, and the desk guy offers us drinks on arrival. Heck, yeah.
Before that, lunch on the veranda, see how we fare … …. a stroll around the village abbey ruins, splendid set of ruins, it was. Stone soaring to the sky, now notches for birds nests, and spaces for tour guides to stand and let people marvel.
Serene is the word that comes to mind to describe it.
After pool-side lounging (bold evidence!) and reverent spa-taking, the spirits revived, we meet to plan the dinner spree. Our friend, a consummate gourmand and expert on all things French, had found a little local bistro by the Seine that served the county’s finest and had been smart enough to reserve. So, off we go to the Auberge du Bac, sit on the terrace, watch cargo ships go by and cycling tourists turned away with no reservations. Two girls pull up outside the resto, ‘settle into the riverfront’ – put their wet clothes on the walls to dry, change down by the river, wash a few things, walk over to the Auberge, only to be turned away. We almost ask if they can join us, as they had worked hard for their dinner, but they were young, packed up their things, and set out to undoubtedly find another fine spot.
or plate of veggies, I paid 4 euros. What?
Sunday, on the terrace in front of the Abbaye Saint-Georges de Boscherville, we had a slow lunch and viewed the garden walls and rolling hills behind the towering abbey in front of our plaza. A pretty sight especially since we could anticipate going to tour the grounds after lunch. I’ve always been intrigued by the life of a monk. The communal life, the robes, the chanting, plus making wine or beeswax candles all in the name of the Lord, not bad work if you can take the hours. Abbeys mostly occupied prime real estate too – gorgeous settings, with gardens and orchards all in the spirit of community and helping the poor.
We return that night on a crowded train, anxious to see the kids and hubs, but still making jokes left and right, one of those kinds of weekends, when everyone is on cue and the material is all that stuff in our collective lives. Sometimes you just need to laugh. Comedia dell’ train. Thanks girls!