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Yesterday was the big day where we, the baby girl and I, had the good fortune to arrive in Sainte-Etienne to help celebrate the fifty year wedding of Tonton Andre and my Tantine. My cousins Vincent and Veronique are wonderful hosts, they gave us each our own room and put their oldest son in a sleeping bag downstairs, the poor lamb. He is being really good about it, however yesterday he might have gotten his revenge with me. After all the festivities, the cousins, all excited about showing the baby girl and I the surrounding countryside, decided to take us down to a cascading river. All we had to do was take a little car ride into the surrounding hills. We park the car, Vincent, Veronique, Xavier, Louis-Marie (the oldest son) Clervie and the baby girl and I head off down hill towards the river. The path at times was a little slippery with small rocks shifting under our feet but we got to the bridge that hung over the river without any trouble. There were others splashing around and the overall picture it created of lush greenery, cool cascading water forcing a path around big rocks and boulders, still waters further down clear enough that I could see the bottom up from the bridge that I was standing on while admiring this graceful tapestry of nature, was amazing, I could understand how a painter would be moved to try to capture this beauty onto his canvas. However, I was feeling frail and tired yesterday so I stayed on the bridge with my cousin Vincent, the doctor, while everyone else went down to wet their feet and climb over the rocks.

When they had their fill of the water and joined us on the bridge, Vincent led us further into the hills to show us the Tour d’Auriole, the way to the Tour wasn’t that bad, the path meandered up and down with rocks strewn everywhere serving as steps leading us to the site of the Tour. At the base of the Tour the views were beautiful, forest everywhere interspersed with Chateaux and always the beautiful river Loire in our presence. One of the four grand rivers of France, my cousins are very proud of their rivers and they love to show them off in their best light, so Vincent said that we absolutely needed to climb up to the Tour. I have always maintained that I am the clumsiest person ever, if there is a way to fall, I will find it. The only way to get up to the Tour was to be half lifted, half pushed up to the summit. During the course of trying to get my feet onto solid ground, I felt my right knee graze the rocky ground. Did I mention that I was in a skirt? By the time that everyone got up to the Tour, my cousin the doctor looked at my leg and said “oh dear”, Veronique gasped and I looked down and saw my bloody knee from scraping it and right on my shin a huge black and blue hematoma already all swollen. My family was really upset that I got injured, me, I didn’t care. As I was trying to console them, I said that it wasn’t the first time nor the last. It wasn’t anything worth fretting about. Did I mention that I also stepped in a weed that leaves an incredible burning sensation on your skin and that it burns for hours. It is still burning on my other leg which does help distract from the hematoma on the right leg.

Otherwise we had a lovely day, we went to church at 11:00 to bless and celebrate the fifty years of shared happiness and then we went to the nearby school where a buffet was set up for us and family friends. There was a six foot long dry sausage that I took a picture of, salads, pâté, tabbouleh and other goodies to eat. The desserts were ice cream and a huge apple tart.

Our stay here was a wonderful ending to our trip throughout France, today we are off again on the trains to get back to Paris. I’ll be hobbling on my two bad legs, oh joy.