Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Are you taking time to check-in with yourself and give yourself the care, love, and attention you need? If not, it’s perfectly okay to set aside time for yourself to do whatever you want/need to do during ‘me time.’ Maybe your thing is yoga, meditation, running, paddle boarding, reading, tending to a pallet garden you built, sewing some pillowcases for your home decor, making a dress to match your homemade mask, paddle boarding, refurbishing furniture, tooling around with some new tools, or even playing animal crossing with family and friends, but whatever you want to do during your assigned ‘me time,’ make sure you’re doing it and giving yourself a break.
If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post - “French Alps swim session” - you can click here to read about a wonderful hike to a waterfall, picnic, and swimming hole experience I had in the South of France! Otherwise, if you’re all caught up, buckle up and let’s continue this journey together! In the spirit of continuing the trend of where I was this time last year, let’s continue our time together in France!
When I originally agreed to a mini-Eurotrip with my now boyfriend, the whole point the trip started was in order to attend his brother-in-law’s best friend’s wedding. After we spent our afternoon swimming, we ended up having a delicious, casual dinner at the Groom’s parents’ house. It was almost like a rehearsal dinner, except it was all homemade food and in a backyard and super small (so, basically, my ideal vision of what a rehearsal dinner would look like). The next morning started out super relaxed. We woke up early enough at our AirBnB so we had plenty of time to get cleaned up, to get dressed for the wedding, and to pack up our things since we were checking out.
We all met at my boyfriend’s brother-in-law’s parents’ house and headed over together to the wedding. I’d never been to a French wedding before, but it was pretty cool to see how it was done. There were two separate wedding ceremonies. The first wedding ceremony involved everyone squeezing into the small local courthouse in order to make the marriage official in the eyes of the law. The second ceremony involved everyone leaving the courthouse and taking a short walk up the street to the church in order to make the marriage official in the eyes of God. It was a long morning, but it was amazing to see two people so clearly in love commit to the journey together.
The two ceremonies were definitely incredible to see, but the wedding reception was unlike any other wedding I’ve ever experienced. Everyone drove about an hour from where the ceremony was held to drop things off at a local hotel where most people would stay the night. The reception was held at a Chateau in the countryside that was rented out for the weekend. To kick things off, there was an outdoor happy hour where hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served. There was a DJ that played for awhile, and then there was a live Saxophonist who literally brought the place down. He played along with some hits and tore up the dance floor (dirt and grass driveway) while he played. I’m very proud to say that my boyfriend and I were the very first people on the dance floor at the reception, and everyone else followed suit. The cocktail “hour” continued until the sun went down, and then, much to my surprise, people started to line up to head inside to the actual reception. If you’d asked me a year ago with no prior knowledge of French weddings, I’d have assumed that the happy hour was the reception because that's how awesome it was. I would have been wrong.
The Chateau was decorated beautifully for the reception, and everyone filed in to find their assigned seats. My boyfriend did not tell me that we were actually going to be seated at the head table. In the moment I wanted to laugh because of how crazy life can be sometimes, and now, looking back, I still want to laugh. How someone like me who speaks an embarrassing amount of French and had only met the bride earlier that day ended up at the head table is beyond me, but it was an incredible night. The charcuterie dazzled, the wine never ran out, and the actual wedding meal consisted of both steak AND foie gras.
There were beautiful speeches (most of which were in French, so I couldn’t actually understand what they were saying, but I swear I could hear the emotion in their voices), a portion where every woman present joined the bride in order to serenade the groom (the lyrics that were handed out were also in French, but I gave it the old college try), and, my god, there was dancing. So much dancing.
As the dancing continued throughout the night, there was an open bar outside in addition to the wine that never stopped flowing, as well as long tables of desserts that were set out. One of the funniest things to happen at the reception (besides me attempting some horrible French and communicating basically through smiles and excited hand gestures) occurred when I disappeared from my boyfriend to check out the dessert table. I have an almond allergy, and in case you weren’t aware, most French desserts include almonds of some degree. The head chef of the wedding personally came out to point out exactly which desserts I could have and could don’t have, and then he made me go back to the beginning of the table with him so he could quiz me, making me point out and show him I knew which desserts were okay and which were off-limits. When my boyfriend finally found me by the dessert table, I introduced him to the chef and then proceeded to show him exactly which things I could eat and which ones were Johny killers. There were only 3-4 desserts I could have out of the 20ish total, but the ones I could try were absolutely delicious. Almonds, be damned!
The wedding reception didn’t end up wrapping up until 4 o’clock in the morning - at which point we made our way back to the hotel. When we finally got back to the room, we were still so energized from all the excitement of the day that it took us nearly another hour to even fall asleep. We stayed up talking for awhile before exhaustion eventually took over, and my eyes refused to stay open.
Have you ever had a picture of something in your mind and then the reality of it was so much better? That’s how I felt about my experience at the French wedding last year. Let me know! Subscribe in the e-mail submission box below and reach out, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so happy you're here and that I’ve been receiving a lot of really incredible stories, questions, and feedback from a community all over the globe! Other people’s stories that I’ve gotten to read via e-mail, text, tweet, DM, etc. recently bring me such smiles, and I am so grateful for all of it! I hope I get to hear all about whatever stories you’ve been thinking about as we’ve been on this virtual journey together! Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you have any restaurants/eateries/pubs/coffee shops/ice cream joints/theatres/lookout spots you would recommend in other countries or even in your current home town or city, I'm absolutely 100% all ears!! I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, truly, thank you.
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of travel adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
55. 13.1 in Dublin
70. the Kingsroad
75. Dear Nana
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