I have always admitted my preference for cities over countryside, perhaps mentioning it too often. When I asked B. to recommend a place we might spend a few days out of Paris she asked if I were sure. I was. I had suddenly yearned for a drive on narrow roads, passing cows and sheep grazing in the fields and stopping to explore towns always called Saint-something or other-in-somewhere.
Not only that, two days before heading to the maison d'hôtes B. had raved about, we were invited to Sunday lunch at C.'s place in the country about an hour outside Paris, despite her concern that I might miss the smell of bitumen. It was super, a wonderful lunch in a huge garden with rosé to drink and lots of delicious food. And what better way to finish the afternoon than a visit to a local brocante and a walk in the nearby village. Except that on the walk I managed to turn my ankle, which proceeded to balloon up so that I hobbled to the train and had to take an expensive taxi ride back home from the station.
Making a long story a bit shorter, it improved enough over the next two days so I could wrap it in ice and navigate the car from Montparnasse station to a lovely house set in gorgeous gardens in a tiny village near Alençon, called, yes, Saint Denis-en-Sarthon. Just up the road from Saint Céneri-le Gérei, one of what the French call "Les Plus Belles Villages en France". Gene much preferred driving on the right side of the road on this trip, our marriage was not tested, and we had a lovely time.
Despite our best efforts and directions from everyone we asked, we were unable to find the Crypte Saint André in Mortagne-au-Perche, described to us by a road worker as formidable. We also spent quite a bit of time driving tiny roads trying to find the Chateau d'O, marked on a map of chateaux in the area, but apparently owned by someone who dislikes visitors. We finally came across it entirely by accident, hiding behind its high walls and locked entry gates. Very intriguing.
The Chateau de Médavy, also a bit shy, doesn't open for visits until "real" summer, which to the French means July and August. We did visit the Chateau de Sassy, home of a library of 30,000 books and visited in 1968 by Queen Elizabeth, who was given a horse from the Sassy stud farm as a parting gift. Her bedroom remains untouched since then. I presume it is dusted from time to time. It looked fine.
All in all, lovely trips to the country, despite the injured foot. This should do me for some time. Paris looked great when we got back.
Photos can be found at www.instagram.com/shellioreck