Sumer is icumen in

A Busy Month of June

On June 6 (yes, we got married on D-Day) we celebrated 43 years of marriage. Our celebrations consisted of two things: first, a wonderful dinner at Blackey’s, a Montpellier restaurant recommended by our French teacher, Elodie. We enjoyed a tasting menu (with wine pairings, of course) and spent the evening reminiscing about each year of our marriage. It was a very long dinner!

Our faded wedding photo. We’ve faded a bit since then, too!

The other part of our celebration was coffee related. The Breville espresso machine that we bought on our first day in Montpellier had to be replaced in the first year, and this year the replacement gave up the ghost. After much debate, and especially after a recommendation from Nicholas, who serves us coffee at Cafe de la Mer, we decided to blow the budget on a SMEG. I don’t want to say it’s been life-changing, because that would be excessive hyperbole (see what I did there?), but we are in coffee heaven.

Our anniversary gift

The next weekend we made a day trip to Bouzigues (also Elodie-recommended), which is known for its oyster farms. We strolled the beach, watched kids playing, and enjoyed a lovely terrace lunch.

Bouzigues oyster farming

Phil hates oysters, and I can’t say I love them, but when in Bouzigues. . . I ordered gratinéed oysters (huitres en francais), which were very rich but good. And we each had an entire fish (yes, we had to fillet them on the plate) for our main course.

I had already eaten one oyster before I remembered to take this photo.

We love taking back roads, and on the way home from Bouzigues we spotted some interesting buildings. We stopped for a stroll and discovered Lavérune, a truly charming village near Montpellier.

Lavérune church. We wonder who maintains all the gorgeous flowers there.

We wandered through tiny, twisting streets and marveled at the quaint buildings–all very old.

Interesting décor on this home

But the main feature of Lavérune is the Chateau des Eveques, the 17th century home of the Montpellier bishops. Today it hosts events, houses an art museum, and features a game room that on our visit was filled with chess players. We especially loved the massive chateau park, which boasts the tallest plane trees we’ve ever seen.

Gorgeous park at Chateau des Eveques

The next weekend we attended the annual Marché des Potiers, or pottery market, in Marseillan, a small town about an hour southwest of Montpellier. We strolled around the pier, which was crowded with interesting restaurants, before landing on Brasserie le Marius, where we enjoyed a leisurely three-course lunch. We chatted over lunch with the gentleman at the next table, a native of Marseillan, who was interested in us because we are Americans and was very kind about my lousy French.

The Marseillan quai

After lunch we took a quick reconnaissance stroll through the pottery market before making our way to la Maison Noilly Prat for a tour and tasting. Phil’s favorite cocktail is the Vesper martini (the James Bond one), so checking out this prestigious vermouth maker was essential.

The Noilly Prat tour

The tour was in French, so we didn’t understand a lot of it, but we still loved seeing where and how this fortified wine is made. We got to taste three versions of the work-in-progress, to help us understand the impacts of aging and refinement, outside among the huge barrels. And the completed-product tasting was quite interesting: four types, ranging through extra dry (my favorite), to dry (the most common), to rouge (the favorite of our friend Sheri), to amber (think of cough medicine).

The lovely courtyard garden at la Maison Noilly Prat

There was a bar, of course, but we had to leave to complete our primary mission: exploring the pottery market. It was wonderful, with such variety and so many unique works of art. One large vessel kept calling to me, and over the course of an hour I succumbed. We now own a beautiful piece (alas, I’ve lost the card so can’t credit the artist) that will always evoke happy memories.

A beautiful work of art for our home

That sounds like a busy month, right? But it was all just a runup to the main event: a week in Stockholm visiting our kids! We were so excited, since it’s been almost a year since we’ve seen them. After a long travel day with two flight delays, we finally arrived at our adorable Airbnb, just a ten-minute walk from the kids’ apartment. They met us there and made a delicious late dinner as we caught up. The next morning I enjoyed breakfast on the balcony overlooking the garden before Phil woke up.

Petit dejeuner

We spent the day walking, doing a few errands, and chatting before it was time to head into the city for a special dinner with dear friends Ann-Lii and Fredrick, who had recently returned to Stockholm after living in Montpellier for six years. We miss them, but we’ll try to see them each time we’re in Stockholm.

Delicious food with great friends and family!

After dinner we headed to a hi-rise bar for a nightcap. It was about 11pm and still light! We had a wonderful time, and we hope to see these speical friends again soon.

Close-to-midnight sunset, viewed from the bar

Our timing for this trip was based on Midsommar, the Swedish summer solstice holiday, and the favorite holiday of our son-in-law, Nic. The four of us had such fun preparing the food–two types of deviled eggs, two types of herring, Nic’s homemade bread, crudités with dip, cheese and egg pie, roasted potatoes, potato and fish gratin, and much more. Amelia made flower crowns for everyone, and we were well supplied with schnapps (or in Sweden, snaps).

Phil in his flower crown

Our celebration was held outside the kids’ apartment, on a grassy area with picnic tables and grills. Another group next to us supplied a Maypole, and we shared our snapps with them. I had brought our pétanque set in my checked bag, so we had a hearty tournament, which Nic won by a hair.

Nic: the winner in Midsommar fashion as well as pétanque

Nic’s friend Douglas joined our celebration and made it even more fun–but he had to leave early for his OTHER Midsommar party! Aside from eating delicious food and playing games, the main activity of Midsommar is singing special songs as one drinks snaps. And so we did.

One of many special mommy-daughter moments

The day was perfect in every way. Naps were taken. Many laughs were had. Delicious food was consumed. And we all may or may not have slightly overdone the snaps.

Beautiful Amelia on a beautiful day

We took it easy on the rest of our visit, just relaxing and enjoying being together. We headed into the city once more, the day after Midsommar, for a delicious brunch (real bacon! Eggs Benedict with avocado!) at the Greasy Spoon Cafe. We played games (Hues and Cues, really fun!), Amelia and I worked a jigsaw puzzle, we cooked together, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. On our last evening, Nic and Amelia, who make their own kimchee, served us a most delicious vegetarian bibimbap.

Delicious bibimbap: rice, carrots, homemade kimchee, fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, and two kinds of sesame seeds

The next morning the kids stopped by to say farewell (and to pick up their espresso machine, which they generously loaned us), and we were off to another long travel day (yes, more delays, but this time we enjoyed the Air France lounge at CDG). We arrived home late that night, and the next morning we were treated to a delicous brunch by our friends Gwen and Tom. 

Beautiful brunch table at Gwen and Tom’s house

And, except for the fact that our dear Texas friends Danny and Lynn are arriving this afternoon for a visit, that concludes our busy month of June. We are enjoying life and making memories at an astonishing pace, and we’re grateful. Happy summer to all!

Summer sunflower décor at our neighborhood shopping mall

1 thought on “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>