A Visit to a French Country House

On Saturday, Cliff drove us out to a little village called Chateau-Landon, about 65 miles from Paris to have lunch with an old work mate of his at his country house. Cliff’s friend has been retired for several years and he and his wife have a high-rise apartment in Paris and a few years ago also bought this century-old house in the country. Since then they have spent much time beautifully restoring it with the help of an amazing Ukrainian family of construction workers who speak only Ukrainian. Cliff”s friend is an expat, born in Germany and raised in Boston, and his wife is from Venezuela; they are 4 years into the process of getting their French citizenship. Cliff’s friend teams up with a few random others from among a big group of other unaffiliated musicians to play in rotating jazz clubs in Paris. They’re an interesting couple.

The house is amazing. Also amazing is the fact that neither Chuck nor I managed to get a good photo of it, which we didn’t realize until after we had left. How is that possible?! The house is 2 stories plus a walk out basement and a full furnished attic. The front of the house is very close to the street and has a big tree in front of it, hence it’s difficult to photograph. The back of the house has the biggest sloping lawn I’ve ever seen and includes the back lawns of a couple their next door neighbors (not sure how that happened) and by the time we got to the back property line, you could barely see the house. But all of the houses on that street are built on the side of a hill where their back yards slope down to a little river with fabulous walking trails along the river and through the adjacent wooded area.

It’s a lovely little picturesque village with a whole lot of history. For example, there’s a huge basilica which was built in in 545(!) and later became the Royal Abbey of Saint-Severin. Today it’s a retirement home. The business district is on the top of the hill where there are 2 large churches, a city hall, 2 pharmacies, a flower shop, a grocery store and a handful of restaurants.

After lunch, we went for a walk down the back lawn through a gate into a stone wall and into another walled area with fruit trees and then through another gate to the river. From there we went along the river and then up through the main village. It’s got natural fortification since it’s built into the side of a hill and the streets are interesting and steep and all the houses have great views. Here’s a bit of what we saw.

The identification sign as you enter the village.
We had wine, cheese, and pate on the grass lawn behind the house as they tend to do here. In the rear you can see where the back yard slopes down. The tiled area is new and I suspect it’s for gatherings which include dancing.
We ate lunch in this area behind the garage that they’re converting into a covered patio. The house is just to the left of this area.
Doesn’t this look like a watercolor painting? This photo was taken through a window in the attic.
Chuck walks down the hill with our hostess – they’re only about half the way down. Their house is the gold one on the left and all of the back yard visible in this photo came with their house and belongs to them.
After we walked down to the river, we walked along this path. Across the river is a lovely park and periodically there are old bridges that allow access to the other side.
Each house along the river has a little structure down by the river where the women came down and did their laundry in the river.
And there are several large communal laundries around town for people whose houses are not on the river. Apparently this was also a good place for sharing community news.
This was the site of one of several mills found around town.
This the the Royal Abbey of Saint-Severin that is now a retirement home. Photo does not really show how huge this place is.
A public well where people came to get water. Now a planter box.
Site of the old town market.
A view of the terraced houses.
A flower shop.
One of the windows in one of the big churches. You know I never pass up a stained glass window!
This huge (8′ tall?) 3-D fabric wall hanging was handmade by one of their parishioners and was really amazing. The photo doesn’t begin to do it justice.
A lovely view of one of the churches just as it starts to rain.

What a wonderful day in the country!

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