Quite frequently, P. and I have conversations about where we would prefer to live that, however, never seem to find a clear resolution. In fact, I find this question one of the most difficult ones to answer. With our heart constantly drifting between la campagne and la ville (the countryside and the city), the question that we keep asking each other comes back to us the same: “T’aimerais vivre où ?” (where would you like to live?)
Do you know?
There are many reasons why we like to live in Boston. It is la ville without the shortcomings of one. While we are able to enjoy the benefits that a big city offers — with its diverse culture, interesting architecture and numerous universities — we also have ample access to nature with gorgeous beaches, mountains and open fields nearby. But I have met people who liked none of the previous, as hard as it is to believe! Sometimes, they tell me that they hate the beach because they cannot stand the thought of getting sand on their bodies, or they find the countryside boring, with not much to do. Moi ? I would not hesitate for a second. La campagne is really where I feel comme un poisson dans l’eau (like a fish in water), in complete harmony with the surroundings. Let me say this: you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. After all, I grew up in the countryside.
So before I stopped in Paris, I visited my family in the countryside. From there, my journey looked as if it took off in exactly the same way as it did only a few months before, when I came in May. Except that this time, I managed to hop on the newly open extended TGV line connecting Paris to Metz. What a welcoming change! I even hardly recognized la gare de l’Est.
It only took me one hour and a half instead of the former three before I arrived at the train station in Metz. I was greeted by my brother B. who came to pick me up as my parents were still away on a trip themselves. Beside, they did not know that I was coming. C’était une surprise ! After an hour drive, we finally reached the village, à la campagne.
When we arrived, Ortie the black cat was meowing by the door leading to the back garden. “Regarde-la, cette sale bête,” my brother said with a frank smile, teasing me. “Elle ne pense qu’à bouffer !” (look at this little devil; she only thinks about eating). I smiled back because I knew well what he was getting into. B. knows that I am actually quite fond of Ortie, and that I have warned many times that one day, I would take her with me back to the States. “Mais non, elle est si mignonne,” (she is so cute) I responded swiftly, feeling Ortie rub and purr against my legs.
We prepared a healthy lunch together — quinoa and sautéed cumin-flavored zucchinis and carrots, with a fresh salade verte (green salad) — all vegetables freshly picked in the garden. A wholegrain baguette and fresh faisselle cheese* bought on the way completed our meal. As I was savoring every single mouthful of this food, I tried to remember the last time I had eaten faisselle. Maybe the year before? Since I have lived in the States, I have not yet been able to find it anywhere, to my biggest regret; I love this type of fresh cheese.
Since B. had to head back to work that same afternoon, I was then left by myself for a few hours. I paused and tried to think about what I should do. I sat down and felt a big yawn stretch my entire face. I walked to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror to find red, puffed-up eyes showing clear signs that I was indeed quite tired. The thought of taking a nap sounded quite appealing, yet after I looked outside and saw the clear blue sky, I suddenly felt a new burst of energy move through my entire body. I was too scared to miss a second of that moment and instead of a rest, I decided to take a walk outside the village. And this is what I discovered.
* A faisselle (pronounced feh-sell) is a type of unsalted soft curd cheese deriving its name from the container in which it is sold (the recipient is in fact pierced with small holes to allow the whey to drain out).
There were the same cows and pigs, the same trees and fields that I remembered from my last trip. The signs of the end of summer and beginning of fall were obvious, however. Nature was slowly changing, giving way to a different type of landscape. Every morning, the fog was throwing its white veil over the fields that made everything look dramatic and magical.
One of the apple trees found at the end of my brother’s back garden was so full and heavy with ripe fruit that many apples were already lying on the ground. In fact, over the weekend that followed, my sister-in-law G. and I kept laughing at how obsessed with picking the apples maintenant (now) my brother was. “On va cueillir des pommes ?” (Shall we go and pick some apples?) he kept asking when instead, G. and I were obviously more interested in lying on a deck chair, greedy to feel the still generous sun on our faces and legs. We managed to fill a few baskets with apples that B. carefully lined in cagettes, to be kept for the winter. And, because this year the trees did not give as many apples, they decided to keep the fruit for them to eat instead of making apple juice.
In our village, two minutes away from my parents’ house, my brother and his wife own a meticulously renovated, old house that they have kept extending over the years. Whenever I come back, they always seem to have a new project. Last year was the addition of the outdoors pool with newly planted trees.
Every corner of the garden is welcoming for retreat and rest. I found the same amazing orchard that my brother takes care of with lots of love: fruit trees, colorful flowers, a multitude of plants and bushes next to which a small stream runs through, and vegetables that I am jealous of. With a bench to sit on or a hammock to lie in at every five meters, I had found a haven of peace for the full length of my stay.
B. also wanted to show me the gorgeous field of flowers that is part of a project at his work. “Ca s’appelle la prairie fleurie du jardin passerelle, (It is called the flowered meadow of the footbridge garden) B. told me when I asked. Stunningly beautiful! On the way there, since we were on foot, we stopped to pet Monsieur Y’s newly born lambs. I could not help but remember the many summers spent at my uncle’s Henri le moutonnier, where my aunt and I used to give the baby bottle to the weakest lambs. “Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais j’ai toujours eu cette attirance pour les moutons et les chèvres,” I told my brother (I have always been attracted by sheep and goats). This always triggered jokes played on me by my kiwi friends while I lived in New Zealand. There were indeed many sheep to pet in New Zealand, I soon realized!
“Regarde, on peut les manger, celles-la” B. said (you can eat these ones) when he held a bunch of bright orange flowers to me. I had never seen these small flowers before. What were they?
“Ce sont des capucines, he added (these are nasturtium flowers).
For an entire week, my daily routine looked about the same: wake up, have breakfast, go to the garden to get vegetables or sit on a bench, cook lunch with G. or my mum, eat and chat, take a walk, nap, pet the cat, take snapshots, go for a run, cook again, eat and chat, skype with P. and sleep. One afternoon, I even made my amaranth quinoa chocolate cake, with flours bought at the local organic store.
On the only Sunday I was staying with my family, we drove for a short fifteen minutes to l’Écluse *16, a small tucked-away restaurant in Alsace, to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Located by a canal where we strolled after lunch, the place itself is unpretentious — although the old-fashioned interior décor proves that they would be in great need of some design advice — but the food was delicious and creative, prepared almost exclusively with locally grown produce.
*écluse (n.f.) means navigation lock in French
My mum also wanted to show me the new small local fromagerie (cheese shop and factory) that had only opened in May, where we bought flavorful cumin cheese, faisselle and yogurt. “Ils ne font pas de fromage de chèvre ?” (Don’t they make goat cheese?) I asked her. “Ah non, l’élevage des chèvres, ce n’est pas fréquent ici. Il faut plutôt aller dans le sud de la France pour en trouver.” (Raising goats is not common over here. You have to go to the south of France to find them.) I was quite impressed by the cheese actually as every single item we bought was tasty.
Perhaps because I was so much into a quiet mood, I did not have much desire to be in town. Yet, when G. suggested a shopping day in Strasbourg, I did not need to be asked twice. Beside, I could not even remember the last time I visited this city, so I was rather looking forward to it.
On my last day, as I was walking to my brother’s house, my attention was caught by le pommier (apple tree) behind my parents’ neighbour’s house. I found it so beautiful as it stood high and tall, right there in the middle of Monsieur F.’s field, that I stopped and pulled my camera out.
“Tu prends une photo du coucher de soleil ?” (are you taking a picture of the sunset?) Monsieur P. said when he saw me, sticking his head outside the window.
“Non, du pommier,” (no, from the apple tree) I responded.
“Ah, il est malade, il n’a donné qu’une pomme cette année.” (It’s sick. It only gave out one apple this year)
I looked back at the tree, trying to see signs of the sickness that he was referring to but couldn’t see any. Malade ? Vraiment ? It looked so strong and firmly planted.
I felt a pinch in my heart. This tree had always been there as long as I remembered. I wondered how old it could be. Seeing it die made me sad.
Would it be there next year again? I secretly wished so.
“So, what do you think?” P. asked me when we skyped with each other, one last time before I left. “La campagne ou la ville ?”
“After a week like this one? No question, La campagne. But wait, I am off to Paris tomorrow, so who knows! I might change my mind again.”
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Technorati Tags: La Tartine Gourmande, Food Photography, Food Styling, lorraine, France, Food & Travel, countryside, campagne
What a beautiful place. Your descriptions make me feel that I am there with you enjoying the view!
How lovely is the french countryside. The photos are wonderful. Alors, bravo!
Beautiful post, just gorgeous.
Bea, I think you need to live everywhere in the world so you can capture it through your lens and share it with us. So beautiful…and I love that adorable little lamb!
j’aurai bien aimé lire le récit qui illustre ces trop belles images qui rappellent une certaine idée de la France, comme on ne la perçoit plus d’ici.
Merci pour ça !
This is really beautiful. Thank you because Alsace is the region I am from and I miss it so much!
Superbes photos, comme toujours!
J’aime particulièrement l’air que tu as pu capturer sur le cochon ainsi que sur le petit mouton: craquants!
..very beautiful post.
tes photos sont de plus en plus sublimes… que d’émotions… on lit à travers chacune d’elle ton amour pour la France, ses paysages, sa campagne, ses produits… et je suis tout à coup fière d’habiter ici…
Thank you for tucking us onto your shoulder for all the best views!
Merci pour les jolies photos comme toujours. J’ai grandi a la campagne comme toi mais en Picardie, j’aime la ville et la campagne, et le compromis maintenant c’est Seattle qui comme Boston est pres de tout (mer, montagne…).
Je vois Strasbourg..dommage que nous n’avons pas pu nous le dire. Cela m’aurait fait plaisir de te rencontrer et commenter toutes les belles photos. Comme je suis de Strasbourg, je t’aurai montrer certains endroits ou les touristes ne vont jamais..En tous cas les photos sont belles et je voulais te dire que grâce à toi, je me lance de plus en plus dans la photo. J’ai de la chance aussi d’avoir mon compagnon qui le fait très bien. Alors c’est merveilleux. Merci encore pour les belles images et je te souhaite un bon séjour chez nous. A bientôt.
Gorg photos, as per always … LOVE the kitties, especially. And the cow. OK, they’re all so lovely 🙂
Que la campagne française est belle et tu la rends d’autant plus sublime par ton regard. On y sent tout ton amour pour ces racines fque tu as. Et j’aime ta suggestion de phonétique américaine pour le mot faisselle.
my significant other and i had the same debate… we solved it by finding an absolute perfect medium – a small picture-perfect village that’s actually attached to a town, a bustling university town where there’s loads to do/see. it takes us 20 min by bike to get to the city centre, we live by the river, and near the countryside. – incredibly lucky, i know. we can’t believe our luck either!
anyway, just an idea. maybe you can find sth like this too.
i enjoyed your photos and your story immensely! that first photo is amazing!
Lucky me, to find you again on a day with a post like this (lost all my favs, thanks to Ilva I have your url again). Simply beautiful, Béa. The wildflower project that your brother is tending to, sounds interesting. My brothers have tried to keep one of their meadows with wildflowers. They say that the first year after seeding, it works and then the flowers slowly disappear again. The cosmos are probably they most persistant. How interesting, that you didn’t know nasturtiums. They were always prolific in my mother’s garden. That they actually are edible, flowers and leaves, I found out much later, when I lived in the USA, when flowers in salads became en vogue.
Ces photos de “la campagne” sont si belles qu’elles en sont émouvantes… c’est possible, docteur ?
Cela fait des mois et des mois que je te lis… Je me lance à t’écrire car j’ai vu des photos de Strasbourg. Tes photos me font à nouveau apprécier ma ville, dont je parcours les rues chaque jour. Ton blog est un vrai régal, et comme disait alhya plus haut, tes photos me font apprécier à nouveau mon pays, et c’est un grand cadeau que tu me fais!
Ah, the constant struggle of where one wants to be and how one wants to live. Access to both worlds seems like the best solution to me, which you seem to have. On the other hand, it would be amazing to give all to a special place in the countryside …. Choices, choices.
A lovely post.
Superb photos. Really quite breathtaking.
Bea, thank you so much for that trip (an armchair trip for me). It has been over 10 years since I was in those areas of France that you have talked about. I would live there in a heartbeat! But s.o. wants to keep his feet on US soil. Your photos are awesome! Thanks again! Cheers!
Thanks for stopping by Swirling Notions, Bea. It was great to see you there. And, oh my, I think I like this post even more than your last (just when I think they can’t get any better).
Funny you asked the question about where you both want to live . . . my husband Christopher and I were just pondering that this weekend. Luckily, Healdsburg, where we live now, was one of the places we picked. Although we also thought an old farmhouse in the hills south of Bologna, with a pied-a-terre in the city, wouldn’t be bad either.
On a totally separate note . . . I never knew nasturtiums were ‘capucines’ in French. Any relation to the monks?
Quelles photos, tu es la meilleure.
what a great trip home! thanks for sharing your photos, beautiful!
It seems that you had a great trip, quite stunning pictures you took.
That first picture just absolutely took my breath away, that field of flowers is beyond lovely.
So incredible! We talk all the time about where do we want to live. I’ve never understood people who say they couldn’t live in the country. If I could I’d always have at least two houses so I could spend time in both. Travel is the next best.
Love those TGV’s, nothing to compare!
Thanks for a little taste of the country! Now I’m ready for Paris!
I’m such a sucker for the animal photos.
Magnificent! Your pictures are always so dreamlike…
I prefer to live in the countryside, but I like to be close to a town because I enjoy what towns offer (especially culturally speaking).
Toujours aussi belles tes photos et tes histoires interessantes !!
Merci pour tous ces cadeaux !
I think I need to move to the country now!
ta photo dans le train est adorable!
merci d’etre passéè chez moi…
plein de bisou
You´re not only serving food for the stomach but also for the soul!!! Merci!
Béa… quel talent. A travers tes yeux et l’objectif de ton appareil photo, tu mets en scène la vraie beauté de la nature. La photo du petit agneau m’a presque émue (je ne sais plus si j’ai envie d’en manger maintenant !). Mille bravos, continues ainsi à mettre en valeur notre campagne et espérons que ces clichés donneront envie de la respecter.
These pictures are so beautiful that I just want to cry! My stomach just flipped, but in a good way. ; ) That cute little pig got me again and the sheep peeping from behind the tree.
I hope you do a book of your photographs, because I would love to have these to page through and linger over with some coffee curled up on my couch.
So many gorgeous photos of France! You just told me you would like to go to Aveyron…well we have been thinking about going to Strasbourg at Christmas break. We’re hesitating between there and London…there are so many places to go!
Boston would be fine were it not for the Red Sox 🙂
I think these photos are some of your best work, Bea. They are evocative and inspired.
i’ve admired your blog for a while but it’s time to say hello! these photos are beautiful. i’ll have to come back and view them again when boston city life gets me down.
What incredible photographs! so many capture my own childhood memories. Tha apple basket and the strawberries in particular. Wish I was going home. Thanks so much for sharing! My grandmother would have loved your blog!
Beaitiful pictures Bee!
You make a strong argument for country living, Bea, both with your eloquent words and your glorious photos. But I am a city boy through and through. I live in Chicago and love it, but if I could live anywhere, it would be New York City in a heartbeat. Once when we returned to the city from a lovely week of camping on Lake Superior, I sat in the car to watch our stuff while my wife ran into the store to get milk and bread and such before we went home to our apartment. Buses rumbled by, horns honked, roller skaters and pedestrians jostled for sidewalk space, there was a siren in the distance… and I could just feel myself relaxing. I was home.
C’est une splendide vision de la Lorraine que tu nous offres…
Dommage que ton passage à Strasbourg n’était pas prévu d’avance, j’y aurrai volontier passé un moment avec toi!
Bon séjour à Paris!
Béa… c’est tout simplement merveilleux… je reconnais ici tant de choses et en même temps, à travers tes photos c’est une découverte! J’habite Nancy… mais je viens d’une petite ville où la nature prend le dessus, et je ne l’avais jamais vue de cet oeil!
Vive le Tgv et tous à l’est!
Bea, your pictures make me dream, so beutilful pictures. I live at the countryside about 3 years ago, at the begin was a little difficult, but now I cant`live anywhere. Here is all I loves, the trees,my roses, dogs,my kitchen (ji) etc., all places have sides good and side bads, but you arrive to some place and say, here, I want to be here, is the moment and the place.Thanks for nice moments and beatiful pictures. xxxGloria
Ah ! que je comprends l’envie de ramener un chat dans ses valises !
Ce sera la ville pour moi, avec des escapades fréquentes dans la nature…
beautiful countryside besutiful food
I return to see your pictures I love them!!! Make me so happy look again and again,Beautiful, Bea Gloria
I’ve been going through the many posts I’ve missed in the past couple months. I’ve been incredibly focused on work and missed all your gorgeous summer tarts. Your work in the Boston Globe looks great! I used to live in Boston, and I still read the Globe food section b/c it is so well done. France looks beautiful too:)
Bea, the beauty of your photos brings tears to my eyes. Not sure if it is the content or the artistry, but probably both. Thank you for that journey through your French countryside.
Like you and your husband, we, too, debate all the time about where to live. For some people there is no question, for others like us, it is difficult.
bea, your photos and story made my heart ache – in a good way.
i think we were made to be close to nature – beach, country, open sky, mountains…whatever feels best, but we all need this connection in our lives, no?
Once you eat vegetables or fruit from your own garden, you’ll never wan’t to eat anything else. The difference is just incredible. Storebought vegetables and fruit don’t even come close.
Truly amazing pictures Béa… makes you long for a few peaceful days à la campagne 🙂
such a myriad of beautiful photos of your travel! exquisite shots again and again bea!
i browsed on your other site…[photography and food+style] love it! great great job!
Merci beaucoup holybasil. Ravie de savoir que cela te plait ! C’est vrai, la campagne francaise, quel bonheur !
Anita, oh you bet that I would love that. My dream job! 😉 Keep thinking this, to send the good energy! 😉 Merci.
Im, ah desolee s’il n’y a pas la traduction. Ce n’est pas la meme chose evidemment, mais Google traduction, c’est mieux que rien. Merci de votre visite.
Lolotte, thank you.
Karine, ah oui le cochon de Monsieur M. Il en a des tas, et quelles gueules ils ont! Ils m’ont fait tant rire.
Isabilla, thank you.
Alhya, merci, super gentil a toi d’ecrire cela. Cela me touche! Tu as bien raison d’en etre fiere. On y a le gout de la nature et du terroir, meme si beaucoup de francais ne le voient plus.
Alanna, thank you!
Isabelle, ah j’aimerais bien voir la Picardie moi aussi un jour. Il y a tant de regions en France ou je veux aller! Merci de ta visite. Seattle, c’est super aussi. J’ai eu la chance de voir en septembre, l’annee derniere. Quelles montagnes!
Eleonora, merci! Oui je sais, j’aurais aime y rester bien plus longtemps, une autre fois j’espere.
Nicole, thank you. Ah yes, these cats were adorable. Ortie is a queen! 😉
Sophie, merci. Oui tu le dis bien joliment. Je me rends compte oh combien j’aime mon pays a en vivre loin!
Maminas, that sounds perfect indeed. We have this in Boston too at the moment, so we feel privileged.
Merisi, hello and welcome back. I am glad you managed to find your way back here. I guess I might have seen the flowers before, but did not know we could eat them.
LN, oui tout a fait! 😉
Aurelie, ah merci bien de ton commentaire et bienvenue! Strasbourg est une bien jolie ville en effet, alors profite de la chance d’y etre. J’aurais sans doute tant a y decouvrir.
Christina, yes difficult, and driving us nuts all the time!!!! This is the price that comes with living overseas too, non?
Mrs W. Thank you.
Deb, I am not sure whether there is a relation with the monk, but I will surely search!
I am glad to read that we are not alone to have these debates about where to live. Quite hard at times to know, isn’t it?
Beah, merci 😉
Kat, thank you.
Quickthinker, I was also blown away by this landscape of flowers. It was simply gorgeous. Like you want to lie in it!
Tanna, oh yes the TGV was AMAZING. Such a nice change for us coming from l’est de la France.
Peabody, I am like you! Love to take snapshots of them. They are just so cute.
Rosa, merci! I hear you.
Corinne, merci de ta visite, comme toujours.
David, I think you should. A nice change from la vie parisienne.
Olga, thank you for your sweet note.
Lilo, ah merci. Tres gentil a toi. Mais tu sais aussi bien que moi qu’on ne peut pas resister a la beaute de notre belle campagne, n’est-ce pas? Tu en fais une superbe ambassadrice.
Anali, what a sweet idea Thank you! I love the idea of you having a cup of tea on a cold Bostonian day, with a book full of my pictures! Sweet.
Betty, ah yes, choices, always choices! Wouldn’t it be nice that we ONLY spend time discover new lives and places?
Susan, thank you very much!
Shaun, oh nice. It makes me happy to hear I can provide good moments like this. Many thanks.
Catherine, The thought of your grand-mother is so sweet. Love it!
Nabeela, thank you.
Terry, oh this is a great point indeed. I have many friends just like you, and it is always so interesting to talk about it and share points of view. Perhaps it comes from what we were more accustomed to as children? How knows? I suppose that as long as I can have great access to fields, forests and open spaces, then I am fine. Otherwise, I go bananas!
Loukoum, merci. Ah oui, si je l’avais su et si j’etais restee bien plus longtemps, je t’aurais fait signe. J’espere une prochaine fois, quand je viens pour un peu plus longtemps. Voir cette belle ville avec toi est un bonus!
Sha, merci beaucoup. Profite bien de la beaute tout autour de toi dans notre belle Lorraine!
Gloria, this is great to hear. It becomes addictive for some, like it would for me. I am just more at peace in the countryside! Thank you for your sweet notes 😉
Adeline, ah oui, la prochaine fois, je dois chaparder Ortie!
Yoyo, thank you
Julie, thank you so much. I really appreciate.
Jeni, merci! Your words touch me. You are right, for some people like us, it is never a settled choice!
Chanelle, you are so right in writing it this way. We are truly meant to be part and close to nature. Our lives sometimes keep us away from the simple pleasures found around us. It is good to remind ourselves that when we are stressed, we can just be happy looking at a tree. It is alive, after all! And I LOVE trees!
Yakumo, oh yes, you are quite right. Merci
Ces, thank you so much. Sweet! I am delighted to hear you enjoyed visiting my portfolio too!
This was enchanting, thanks so much for sharing it with us. You should try making faisselle yourself!
je ne sais pas comment tu fais. ce doit être un don de pouvoir saisir ce moment où l’on se rend compte de la bonté de la nature avant sa beauté, de la quiétude des animaux, ou de la chaleur d’un plat. Je crois que tu aimes vraiment chaque instant que tu photographies. Et nous on aime voir ces images que l’on espère éternelles.
I want to join the rest and say how absolutely enchanting your photography is.
Your blog is such a joy to visit.
What a stunning travelog–thank you so much for sharing!
autumn always gives me an impression with a tiny trail of sadness (probably because of its mood, or its next is snowy winter)… but look at your fotos… NOT! Full of life! Really fantastic!
Like you, we quite often discuss where to live 😀 I grew up in city, and friends around me adore countryside so are stuggling to get this life-style in the city, it is tough (and expensive…). So glad to hear how lovely Boston is.
bonjour beatrice, tes photos sont extremement magnifiques mais surtout elles expriment un sacre beau regard! je te lis moins bien en anglais mais le voyage ds tes photos est un regal! jespere que ce voyage ta fait du bien!!!
Ma chere mangeuse de tartines,
Je te lis tout le temps et avec grand plaisir.Ce dernier voyage en France
fut absolument delicieux.Je ne connais pas du tout ce coin de la France (
grandie a Paris, vacances en Suisse) mais j’ai tres envie d’y aller.J’aime
vraiment beaucoup tes photos de nature, elle sont magnifiques.Tu arrives a
capturer l’essence de l’endroit, du moment ( celle de paris sont aussi
excellentes), de la lumiere. Il y a un livre la dedans……..
I have been visiting your blog daily… I just can’t get enough. Your photos are just outstanding! By, reading the comments left, it is very clear you are a big inspiration to many people- including myself. Thank you for sharing your passion so freely.
bellissime foto, emozionanti, complimenti
I love your site. Your pictures are amazing, what kind of camera do you use?
Tes photos sont absoluement magnifiques, Je suis tombee amoureuse avec ton website! Compliments!