Tag Archives: Les Battees

Leaving Les Battees

31 Aug

Well, I did it.  I left Les Battees.  I find that every time I leave someplace on this journey it feels like at least some sort of leap of faith.  New adventures ahead…still unfolding… some are known, but much unknown.

My host Roy couldn’t have been sweeter as I left from the train station not far from Les Battees.  He was helpful in all the little ways that mattered to me in my departure outside of the comfort and nestling of the French countryside.  He walked me into train station, assisted me in turning in my e-ticket for a “real ticket” and directed me to “compost” my ticket, a validation of sorts required for all tickets before entering the train.  And he assisting me in finding my car number and seat number on the train and finding the appropriate section of the gate for my car.  It’s the little things that make a difference when venturing out on one’s own into new territory.

I had fun my last few days at Les Battees.  It was simple fun, but it was what I had grown to count on.  Enjoying the fresh country air, simple lunches outside, strolls in the countryside.  And of course you can’t forget ironing sheets and cleaning bathrooms for the guest house.  Perhaps not always fun, but a good experience in its own way.  I was glad to be there to assist Roy in the myriad of daily activities during his busy season as the Chambres D’hotes.  And, like Mary Poppins, every good custodian of service has a time to arrive… and a time to leave.  Today was my time.

And where did the wind blow me you may ask?  Well not too far away.  I jumped on a lightning fast French train called a TGV and headed to Paris.  And that’s where I am now!  It is still amazing to me that all of the places that we think and dream of visiting and seeing are actually real places that you can get to… if you buy a ticket!

I was a little nervous about leaving the nest.  But I collected my remnants of high school French, left behind Les Battees, and headed on my way.  I have been here now just for hours really.  I am sitting outside a cafe spending a little time until I can check into my hostel in Paris.  So far my two hours of being in Paris have been quite welcoming!  A friendly Frenchman helped me get my huge (it seems to be growing) red suitcase off of the train.  And then I found my way to the metro.  Pretty easy all in all with friendly French staff throughout.

I had an unexpected experience on my way to the metro…  I was attempting to make my way through the large metro door for handicapped and those with luggage.  It took a few times to get through and on the other side there was a friendly Frenchman who seemed to be waiting for me to make sure I made it through.  Once I did he became my escort of sorts… carrying my bag for me and leading me along the long route to my metro line.  He only spoke French so I understood some of what he said, but there were other things I was not quite sure I understood.  He ended up escorting me on the metro and once I arrived at my stop he exited with me and carried my heavy bag all the way up the stairs.  What a help!

Being a suspicious American I did wonder some of what he was asking and saying…  but my instincts told me not to worry.  When we arrived at street level of my stop he continued to speak in French and I continued to only partially understand.  I was able to communicate that I couldn’t check in for another few hours.  And he continued to communicate things that… I wasn’t clear I understood.  So I played it safe and found two nice English-speaking Frenchmen to translate… and suddenly the conversation became simple.  He just wanted to make sure that I could get to my hotel okay with the bag.  “Yes, it is not far” I said.  Then he amicably shook my hand and headed on his way.  Welcome to Paris!

I am spending the night in a little hostel for women only and will spend the next few days touring Paris.  I was fortunate enough to get a little tourist direction from a local connection I have through a networking group.  So I am ready!  Paris here I am come.  But for now… just a little more time before me and my luggage can check into my hostel.  Their doors are only open for check in only from 7-9pm.  So I am writing as the evening sun begins to set and the cool Paris air tosses things about.  It’s good to be in Paris.

I will depart with my favorite new quote from the Course in Miracles workbook, Lesson 244.  It says simply “I am in danger nowhere in the world.”  And so it is.

Photo of Les Battees Guest House nestled in the surrounding French countryside.

Final Days at Les Battees

27 Aug

Wow.  It is hard to believe it is the end of August already.  Time feels full and good.  I am doing my best to stay grounded as I walk through my final days at Les Battees, making the beds, cleaning the kitchen.  The weather is amazing as I breathe in the fresh clean country air that by now I have become accustomed to.  It seems that summer is beginning to slide away here in the Burgundy region of France as you can feel something fresh in the air ushering in the new season.

Thankfully there have been a few breaks in the busy Les Battees schedule these last few days.  Time to catch up on a few things like cleaning the kitchen,washing all the sheets and towels, and breathe and rest a bit preparing for the new set of guests.  The relentless nearly unstoppable pace of July and early August has dwindled.  It seems now the is a day or two to take a break.

Life has been good here at Les Battees.  Roy, my host has been quite busy lately preparing dinners for guests known in France as table d’hote, which literally means “host’s table”. He offers an optional vegetarian meal to guests who stay here for an additional cost.  Over the summer I have come to appreciate Roy as a chef.  Now also mind you, at his root he is a scientist with a Ph.D. and background in food science and research.  His scientific manner bleeds through in his cooking, methodical and precise, but also consistent and filled with the utmost care and concern for the quality and authenicity of the meal he is preparing.  Roy has a policy with the food her serves at the table d’hotes… he never serves a recipe or meal to a guest without first testing it on friends to make sure that it is a high quality, enjoyable meal.

One of his favorite dishes lately has been a polenta and olive dish served with roasted vegetables (sweet potato, fennel and red peppers) accented with yummy goat cheese (you haven’t eaten goat cheese until you have visited France!) and a fresh mint herb salsa on the side.  The dish is a real treat to eat.  It is an earnest pleasure to enjoy the meal surrounded by other guests appreciating the care, freshness and taste of the meal.  I caught him once dipping his bananas into orange juice as he was preparing a dessert featuring bananas.  “What are you doing?” I asked him… wondering if perhaps the ceaseless days of work had finally gotten to his head.  He informed me that dipping the bananas into the orange juice keeps them from turning brown.  That is the kind of care he puts into his cooking!

Over the weekend Roy and I took a quick escape on Sunday to the local brocante.  A brocante in France is somewhat like a rummage sale or an antique or flea sale in the states.  It is a mostly organized occasion with local people bringing their antiques, finds or excess items to sell.  I have come to love these events as I can pick up a little of this or a little of that for extraordinarily good prices.  I bought a camera at a brocante and at this most recent brocante I found a sweater that I liked for the outrageous price of 1 Euro and a  jacket as well for 2 euros.  As someone who has been living for the past year solely on work exchanges, it is a joy to make little purchases that fit into my traveling budget!

 I have learned that wherever I go, wherever I travel… I am unmistakably American. Being American is something that leaks out of me as I try to speak French making a purchase at the local brocante.  It is distinct as I speak to guests visiting here at Les Battees from Begium, England, the Netherlands.  “You’re American, aren’t you” they say.  Roy informed me that the giant size dishes that we use to serve dinner, the dishes that are too big to fit into the dishwasher and have to be washed by hand, are called by the French “Les Americans”.  Funny.

I have just a few days left here at Les Battees.  My plans are mostly set although I find I am still a bit quite about them as the final details weave and fold into place.  But for now I am content to breathe in the fresh French air and let myself be for a bit.  Feeling the excitement of the time I have spent here and the good of what is to come welcomed in by the brisk almost autumn air.

The photo is of a beautiful blossoming dahlia in the gardens of Les Battees.  Always the source of information, Roy shared that dahlia’s used to be grown for their somewhat potato-like root and eaten.  But apparently today they are mostly enjoyed for their beautiful bloom.

Bed-Making, Bohemian Rhapsody and Runner Beans

17 Aug

Well the busy pace of life continues at Les Battees.  July is the holiday season in France and seems to bleed into August.  The daily rhythm continues… dinners for guests prepared by Roy, ironing sheets, doing dishes, and making beds in the guest rooms while discussing important issues in life… like the origin of certain English words…which leads us to conversations about Canterbury Tales and the language of the time (14th century) used in the book… and ultimately somehow digressed into a conversation about the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and the muppet version of that song.  To say things aren’t just a little bit “koo-koo” around here from the unrelenting daily work at Les Battees would not be the truth.  But alas, so it goes.

The busy times has brought guests from the Netherlands and England. There have been French guests who have mistaken me for Roy’s wife and wondered why it was that I was so unfriendly not speaking a word to them… Unfortunately they did not understand my friendly American smile that I offered which means something like… “I come in peace… and I cannot speak your language!”  Yes, it seems I have digressed into saying that I cannot speak French.  My “foundation” of high school French has proven quite… inadequate… as mostly I tend to say “Je ne parle pas Francais”  which is, of course, I don’t speak French.  Part of the challenge I have found in speaking French is listening to and understanding French when spoken by a French person.  A whole different ballgame.  The other night at dinner there was a Dutch woman speaking French with the French guests so beautifully.  I had French envy.  Despite my challenges I still think it would be fun to speak French or another language in addition to English.

I remain “pampered” with the wonderful food here at Les Battees.  I never tire of French cheese and my prior habit of eating little dairy has had to simply… go out the window.  Roy continues to pull fresh vegetables from his garden, some familiar, and some less so.  The other day he picked some green beans from the garden.  They looked innocent enough until I saw the bright red beans on the inside.  They didn’t look like any green beans I had ever had!  Roy calls them runner beans and says that he thinks these are the same beans we use to grow kidney beans.  He steamed them and served them up with one of his famous mushroom omelettes.  Yummy!

We have another busy weekend ahead and then it looks like possibly a break…the first in weeks.  When I am not busy with the Chambres d’Hotes lately I am spending my time busily researching for my “next step” when I leave Les Battees… plans still under development.

So in the meantime, still making my way.  Ironing the sheets.  Making the beds.  And in between grabbing some sunlight and taking breaks in the fresh country air accompanied by the gentle hills surrounding Les Battees.