Last friday Mark and I celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary with a lunch by the lake. Our friends/landlords Maggie and Eric surprised us with an afternoon cocktail on the patio; a delicious concoction of a traditional French Kir but made with sparkling wine and a hint of blackcurrant liquor called a Kir Pétillant Cassis.
Afterwards, we picked the kids up from school and set out for our weekend adventure: Annie and Nico‘s wedding party in Domérat. What an honor it was to take part in their special celebration!
It would be a long trip in our little Peugeot. Domérat is a tiny town smack dab in the middle of France. On the way, we saw dozens of interesting ancient structures. I snapped photos when it was convenient. I have no idea now where I took this:
We arrived around 3 pm Saturday at the park where the celebration was to take place. This was really Annie and Nico’s one year anniversary, but because they had to leave for Texas right after getting married last year, they was no time for a reception. This party was “Texas-themed.” A UT longhorn decorated the entrance, and anyone who had them wore cowboy hats and boots (this is France so there weren’t many). Even little Ellie’s onesie had cowgirl fringe.
It was a beautiful day. This was the park that Annie and Nico grew up in and it was beautiful as well.
The kids had a playground and more importantly, other kids to play with which they did for hours and hours. The grownups set up several areas where the traditional game of France was played. It is called Petanque and the simple premise is to get your two metal balls the closest to the small colored ball. Mark tried his hand at it, but I stuck with darts and frisbee (stuck, get it?).
Not surprisingly, both Annie and Nico’s families were warm, funny and welcoming. We’ve made several new French friends! Around 7 pm, a buffet of h’ordeuvres appeared along with a spiked punch that magically kept appearing in my glass. It also helped with the language barrier – my French seemed to be improving.
I think all of my future French lessons should start with a glass of this rum punch.
Had I known what was in store for us later on, I wouldn’t have eaten so much Fougasse de Foix. Okay, yes I would have.
But then around 8:30 pm, they called us in to dinner.
The tiny babies (including Ellie!) were taken to the nursery for the night. The children had their own table while we were seated thoughtfully next to Nico’s English speaking cousins.
The first course was served buffet style and it was extensive, as you can see. I did not know at the time that this was the “first course” and proceeded to top off my already comfortably full tummy.
Around 10 pm, the children were lead to a separate room to wind down and watch movies, while the grown-ups started cranking things up. The lights went down and the dining room turned into a disco hall. It was a surreal experience actually. Perhaps it was the music, but I felt like I was in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It was around midnight and this here cowgirl was ready to crawl into a nursery playpen and digest the cow she’d just eaten.
Many of the guests were planning on camping at the park and had set up their tents earlier. Annie had invited us to do this and I really wish we had! But we hadn’t, and it was a 45 minute drive to our hotel. It was time to say au revoir.
“But you’re going to miss the fish! The cheeses! All of the desserts!” Annie told us. This was truly going to be an all night feast.
I don’t know how they do it. Annie said first we would be served the Pause Glacée, which is an ice cream containing alcohol that is supposed to reinvigorate your appetite.
I don’t think these people are human!
Maybe that’s why I like them so much.