Having breakfast with my French mother using the teapot my grandfather had sent them from China three years agoHaving breakfast on the front porch with my French mother using the teapot my grandfather had sent them from China three years ago

I love Paris, but nothing can steal my heart from the south of France. My first experiences of France three years ago were with my French host family for five days in Toulon, France during a two-week high school French trip with Minnetonka High School. I’ve kept in touch with them since I left, and this weekend I was able to pay them a visit at their house in the Côte d’Azur!

I cannot emphasize how beautifully this weekend passed by – upon receiving me to their home that night, we had a beautiful midnight summer supper in their garden full of roses, magnolias, and lemon trees. Oh, and an occasional hedgehog or “hérisson”! Their azure swimming pool was lit up with floating bulbs, which we borrowed for our beautiful terrace table. The hot summer night was brimming with the music of “cigales” or cicada and we had chicken, fresh salad, and my French mother’s homemade tiramisu accompanied by some Pierre Hermé macarons I had brought from Paris. (They are the best in Paris – even better than the popular Ladurée – with flavors ranging from Jasmine, Vanilla-olive oil and chocolate passion fruit.) “Life is simple, but good” described my French father Alan, who’s a captain at the port of Marseille for the French Marine.

A summer evening meal in ToulonA summer evening meal in Toulon

Saturday morning, we attended a family funeral in a Catholic church at Aix-en-Provence – and it was very moving to see family and friends mourn the death of a beloved father in the family. Death is universal, and we all feel the pain of loss when someone with whom we’ve shared important memories in our lives passes away.

Escaping the summer heat in St Cyr sur Mer with my French sister and her best friend.Escaping the summer heat in St Cyr sur Mer with my French sister and her best friend.

We returned to rest and have a simple fresh lunch in the garden, and that afternoon my French sister Anne-Charlotte took me along for a visit to her friend’s country house in St Cyr sur Mer.

With a view of the Mediterrean from their home, we took a dip in their ocean-side pool to escape the south summer heat with her friend’s cousins. Each young girl in the family had a small signet ring on their pinkies with their family crest ingraved on it (Brazon de Chevalier) – worn traditionally by French nobility. I believe I was with quite the company this weekend!

Hyere's traditonal flag colors red and yellow are referred to as "Sang et Or" which actually means "Blood and Gold"Hyere’s traditonal flag colors red and yellow are referred to as “Sang et Or” which actually means “Blood and Gold”

That night we had another gorgeous dinner with Normandy cidre and I returned to Paris the next day on the train after visiting the small quaint Italian-style village Hyere with my French family.

A well-needed rest, I’m ready to make strong progress for my two weeks at this internship and hopefully start sending some products through the supply chain to the USA for Foodco!

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