Saturday, June 29, 2013

Central France: Party Time!

After renting a car at the Geneva airport (from the French side to avoid rental car fees for crossing the border), we drove around 4.5 hours to central France. After winding down through mountains from Geneva, our trip largely looked like this. We listened to the French radio station, F.U.N., which played at least a decent amount of English songs. We also used the GPS to stop at a small restaurant where we enjoyed some delicious salmon for lunch.

We arrived where we were staying, Chateau de la Cazine, in the early evening. The hotel was really cool, each room unique. Behind the bed was a bathtub (and yes, I most certainly took a bath in it). This was the only place in Europe that I have stayed in where the bed was actually a queen size and not 2 twins pushed together.

The Chateau was gorgeous. Most things were white, airy and bright.

The outside looked a lot like Downton Abbey.

Horses right next to the Chateau. I think you could organize horseback riding, but we didn't do this.

Back side.

After walking around a little, played a makeshift poker game in the lounge during apertif, and then had a delicious dinner in the dining room. The presentation of the food in France was top notch. I really wanted to take a photo, but I had a feeling it would be rude, so I abstained.

The next day was the "wedding." From now on, I will just call it the wedding, but our friends didn't actually get officially married (legal reasons), so it was really more of a celebration. We had no idea when the day started that the celebration would be 13 hours long. It was quite the fun day. Oh, and I almost forgot. We had a great breakfast that morning (again no pictures). We went with 2 of our friends to a nearby town that had a Saturday open market, bought a rotisserie chicken, baguettes, strawberries, pain au chocolat, and nutella and chowed down at a nearby park. It was really fun and absolutely fantastic. Also, several of these photos are not mine, but taken by our friends.

After cleaning up, we were ready for the wedding. This is J and P. P is a close friend of ours that I met in grad school.

J and I

P and his girlfriend, S.

Tables for the wedding.

Ceremony (not legal ceremony)

The happy couple!

The bouquet toss was done immediately. I love this photo. This is the exact moment where my friend is trying to get S to catch the bouquet.

I also managed to get some action shots of the bouquet.

Cocktail hour was more like cocktail 4 hours. We hung around outside sipping champagne and eating hors d'oeuvres that were absolutely delicious. Salmon, caviar, petite sandwiches, mini soups. Yum!

Chillin' in the sun. I think this is when I got sunburnt.

Our friend, A, found a cat (or chat).

View during the wedding.

After hors d'oeuvres, we hung around until dinner (8 pm).  

Dinner was 6 courses and went from 8 pm - 1 am. After each course was dancing, speeches, etc. And at midnight (after the cheese course) was the surprise! The food was so amazing: foie gras, beef, cheese, baguettes, ... We really ate like royalty.

Dancing (bride and her father).

Surprise! The fireworks were so awesome!

After the fireworks was cake cutting. This is a traditional French cake cutting.

The cake was so delicious. My favorite was the pistachio and cream, but J liked the chocolate one.

After the cake was the first dance, 1 am, followed by more dancing until 4 am. J and I made it until 2 before going up to bed. I slept very well that night. In the morning, there was a brunch for wedding guests. We hung out with the bride and groom and friends for a long time, probably until around 1:30 pm. Then, we went biking with our friends, P and A (also friends from grad school).

We saw a lot of cows and learned a new French phrase, "Oh la vache!" which means "Oh, the cow!" I like that one. It has the meaning of "Holy cow," and would be used in such contexts.

Based on the number of cows we saw, I understand how the phrase came up.

After we had biked a little.

J and I

We rode our bikes to the nearest town, called Noth. It was so picturesquely French. I loved it.

After Noth, I was getting tired and hot. So, A and I rode our bikes back to the Chateau and hopped in the pool while the men continued on to a little town called Lizieres. The following pictures are from J.

The boys then met us back at the Chateau for some relaxing by the pool. The water was rather cold despite the hot day, or as the lady next to me said when I gasped after stepping in the water, "Froid!" Yes, tres froid.

After getting our core temperatures down, we took a drive to la Souterraine (another town) in search of a restaurant, but discovered that most restaurants were closed on Sundays. So, we headed back to the Chateau for dinner and then a stroll in the twilight. It was P's birthday, so we also got some complimentary champagne. P snapped this photo on our walk. It was between 10:30 and 11 pm at this time. I was shocked by how light it still was (sunset around 9:45).

We really had an awesome time at the chateau and in central France. It was really cool to attend a French wedding, one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. A huge thank you to the bride and groom for including us. :)

On Monday, we got up early to catch our train in to Paris, our last stop of the trip...