bienvenue à la beauverie

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I must begin by saying- if you feel like you might hate me a little after seeing this collection of photos, that’s fair.  Our stay at La Beauverie (the elegant farm estate we visited in Normandy) was charmed, to say the least.  Mornings were a collection of soft light and gentle caffeination, as the sun made its lazy crawl over the mountain from the East.  Days were peppered with road trips, archeological digs in the ruined cider press just down the hill, and conversations with cows.  Our nights became a welcomed routine of cheese board crafting, vegetable grilling, and apétitif sipping on the patio.  We would eat late, just in time to watch the sun tuck in across the valley and give way to a clear starry blanket overhead, perfect for gazing and gushing.  Pure bliss, if ever I’ve known it.

The route to La Beauverie was, however, a bit less magical.  It was 95 degrees (fahrenheit) the day we travelled from Paris to Normandy, and M and I were both looking forward to swapping the city heat for a bit of countryside breeze.  Of course the air conditioning on the train was broken and no one could seem to get the windows open.  Knee-to-knee enclosed in a small car with four fellow travelers, we worked up a good 2-hour sitting sweat.

Upon arriving in Caen, the car rental process proved far less intimidating than expected.  Phew.  Oh, it’s a Volkswagon.  I have one of those.  We can do this…

No more than five minutes of smooth sailing in, our sporty little Polo was pulled over.  Six officers circled the car, posturing with strong-looking shoulders and shiny badges.  They were writing things down in notepads and speaking in muffled tones.  The largest of the group leaned down towards M and demanded his license.

“Désolé, désolé,” our flustered American accents gave us away immediately.

“Touristes?  Les Etats-Unis?”

“Oui!  Désolé…”

“What do you s’ink of Donald Trump?”

Apparently we’d driven down a bus lane.  Luckily for us, the messy political situation back home seemed to be punishment enough, and we were released with a warning.

Mindful of lanes not meant for us and round-abouts-a-plenty, we followed our digital directions to Mesnil-sur-Blangy, all the way to La Beauverie.  We turned down the dirt road for the farm, our minds a mixture of exhaustion and excitement.  Confusion was soon added to the mix, morphing into skepticism as the dirt path became grittier and clogged with thick mud.  We straddled huge tractor tire tracks and felt the dull ache of draining bank accounts as our rental went over one bump, then another.  Thorns crept out into the path, digging their claws into our precious Polo as we passed slowly by.  Eventually, caution beat pride and we quieted the engine.  On foot we ducked through brush and padded over mud into the clearing.  Shining in the hot Normandy sun before us was, well, nothing.

The seemingly abandoned space of mostly meadow boasted two structures; one small shack almost entirely consumed by hungry weeds, and another so far gone it was impossible to tell where all four walls once stood.  This could not be La Beauverie.  It just couldn’t.  And it wasn’t.  A quick Google search, a change in zip code, and a fifteen minute ride later, we were entering our Norman paradise, greeting the spotted cows as we came.  Our senses quickly growing drunk with the sights and sounds of sweet seclusion, all trials of the day faded as we climbed the cobbled steps.

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