It’s difficult to find the words to describe how I felt when we arrived at our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny for our long-awaited Easter holiday. Absolute joy, elation - pick a word, any word describing happiness, and double it.
We had an overnight stop at Calais this time, based on our experience of the previous Easter where the journey to Folkestone to get the tunnel was long and arduous. We expected it to be even worse this year because of the huge number of English taking advantage of the four bank holidays in a row and disappearing to France for a longer than usual break – ten for three, as my French friend put it !
We turned the key in the lock at about 5.30pm. The house was in good shape, our friends Nicole and Alex having seen to that. The garden was neat and full of flowers and the room was smelling delightful thanks to the vase of muguets left for us.
It didn’t take us long to settle in. Nick took Lulu up to the château to stretch her legs. She knew immediately she was setting off on a familiar and favourite walk, pulling him up the steep hill with the lead at full stretch.
Then we walked down the hill for the shops which are all of two minutes away. We selected a few essentials from the boulangerie, the epicerie and the boucherie and marvelled at how easy that was. At home in the UK the concept of village shops is long gone. To get produce like this we would have to get in the car and drive to the supermarket.
The things available locally may be slightly limited, but they’re there. We chose paté d’asperges and chipolatas from the boucherie, salad, steak haché and local fromage de chèvre from the Spa shop, a baguette called a “tradition” from the boulangerie and something pretty special for dessert. Nick lit the barbecue.
Our first evening there was even better than I could have imagined. We enjoyed our meal on the terrace, overlooking the rooftops of the village, watching the swallows swirling around, listening to the chatter of village life as the sun went down.
Being true Brits, we stayed outdoors much longer than most people would, just because we could. Having donned our jumpers, we sat out until the church bells chimed their last chimes for the day at ten o’clock. The swallows and the bats had done their job of entertaining us and gone to bed so we did too, very happy to be back home in France.
We had a fantastic week to look forward to.