While I am preparing tomorrow’s continuation of The Art of Entertaining, I thought I would let you know what I’ve been doing over the weekend. We are still in Annecy, France for the week. Annecy is a darling town in the French Alps on a crystal-clear lake. It’s about three and half hours outside of Paris by train and about five hours by car. My husband was born and raised here and his parents have lived in the same house on the lake since 1969. The primary reason we are here is because my husband’s mother broke her leg. She is almost 80 years old and she fell down the front porch steps. All the way down, top to bottom. Just for the record, I have been complaining to deaf ears about the dangerous steps for the past eight years. Just saying. Anyway, David’s mother is now recuperating in a physical rehabilitation center in the countryside. The second reason we are here, remember, is because I found a house I would like to rent on the lake. The third reason is that this is the only place that I’ve actually ever seen my husband happy as a clam. So here we are.
In all honesty though, I used to hate it here. We moved to Annecy directly from Santa Barbara last year and we initially thought it would be great to live with David’s mother. Not a good idea. Note to self: stay in charge of your own life. Enough said. Due to the circumstances, I hated Annecy and could not wait to get to Paris. We have had a beautiful life in Paris the past year but there is just something missing… I think it’s called nature. Like I have said, it turns out that I am more of a country mouse than a city mouse. I need to see the sky, breathe fresh air and have a slower pace. Annecy offers all of that and more. As you know, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my surroundings. I make no excuses for the fact that I like to “look at pretty stuff.” Pretty much everything in Annecy is lovely. The architecture, the gardens, the little town, the lake, the wooden motorboats, the restaurants, the weather and the farmers market. What are the people like in Annecy? Lovely, as well. Even if you have a $10 million dollar summer house on the lake, no one would know it. Everyone here seems to be rather modest. It ain’t nouveau Malibu if you know what I mean. It’s more old school Malibu. I like that. So here we are.
Annecy is in my husband’s soul. His life is here, his childhood is here, his memories are here, his children were born here and his father passed away here. His history is here. My husband is not the type of man who wakes up with a big fat smile on his face. He is not easily amused like his happy-go-lucky wife. We are actually not allowed to speak to him for a good 30 minutes after he wakes up. “No talking,” he says as he puts up his hand. I’m not sure if this is because he’s French or just a douche bag. However, when we are in Annecy, David wakes up almost jovial. He wakes up early and goes to the boulangerie to buy his favorite croissants, meringues and pain aux raisin. Whenever we are out and about in the little village, people stop David on the street to say hello. Old friends. It makes him happy. It makes me happy to see my bunny this happy. So here we are.
I think sometimes you reach a certain age and a certain situation where you are reminded of what’s important in life. To me, right now it’s tranquility. I don’t care anymore about the hustle and bustle of a city whether it be New York or Paris or Los Angeles. At this point in my life, I care about a garden, the peacefulness of the lake, a big open sky, a farmers market, and the fact that I saw a lady bug, a butterfly and a swallow all in the span of two minutes. But don’t worry, it’s not like I’m in the boondocks. Geneva is 35 minutes away if I need a little pizzazz and one of the perks of living in Europe is that the train will take you to any Spanish, Italian, English, Dutch or French fantasy you have within a few hours. I hope that the little house on the lake that is for rent will work out. The house has been in the owner’s family for over 120 years, five generations. That being said, it needs a little love. This is how I like to find houses. Remember, you can’t buy charm. Charm has to evolve.
So we’ve all been to farmers market. We all love farmers market. But this farmers market in Annecy is special. It starts every Sunday at the crack of dawn in the old town over the bridges, under the arches, surrounded by flowers, watched by swans, loved by all. The cheese is made by the same family for generations, the chicken lovingly roasted by the Algerian man, the apples picked from the orchards of the old-school French family and baby artichokes from sunny Provence. In the winter, the farmers market still reigns, offering piping hot spiced cider and award-winning sausages. And there is not one f*cking Juicy sweatsuit in sight.
Over the weekend, we also went to visit David’s mother at her physical rehabilitation center. After her fall, she had to have surgery and is now required to spend one month recuperating. The rehabilitation center is in a converted 17th-century church in the French countryside. Swear to God. It is unbelievably charming. I was thrilled to be at the rehabilitation center for two reasons. One, obviously, because it was visual feast and secondly because it was the first time in 2 ½ years that I wasn’t stared at. Let me explain. I am in a wheelchair because I’m completely paralyzed, as you know. Not only can I not move my legs, I cannot move my arms either. I know how weird this may look. I get stared at all day long and not just because I’m so gorgeous. :-) So, being at the rehabilitation center, everyone was in a wheelchair and I blended in! You have no idea how good this made me feel. I was normal. I was one of them. No one cared about me and I loved it. All eyes were off of me and I didn’t feel like a marshmallow ALS victim. For all they knew, my husband could have pushed me down the stairs which was what I was prepared to tell anyone who asked. :-)Voilà! That is what I’ve been up to… Stay tuned for more of The Art of Entertaining. Hint: Luxury is in the details.