There was a time in my life that my desire to travel was undiminished but the budget was severely strained. And yet, we still made plans. One year when my daughter Lisa was in college, she went to Copenhagen for a semester abroad. I took my income tax refund check the spring before she left and purchased tickets for my youngest son Sam and me as far as London. We had to wait until she got to the program in Denmark before we could determine exactly where that October weeks’ vacation would be located. I had imagined that expenses would be minimized by visiting her and staying with her in her dorm room. Well, she Skyped me very excited that the week we planned was actually a week of no classes and she could explore Denmark any time on her own…..let’s go to France.
That was not what I wanted to hear exactly, but I started my research. I found homes we could rent for the week in France for good prices, both in Paris or in Brittany or Normandy, but the amount was above what I wanted to spend for lodging, as it would affect the budget for the activities we could afford. So I pondered…and, as is my habit, I pondered aloud.
Once again I was in the right place at the right time. I was working at Vanderbilt University in the Department of French and Italian and one of the grad students overheard me and said, “Stay at my parents’ house!” The next day he told me he did not think that would work. Hopes dashed, I wondered if we could make this trip. He then said, “My parents are concerned that their English is not good enough, but if you don’t mind, because they are Italian, you can stay with my best friend’s parents.” Mind???? Me???
hosts lived in a house built over 500 years ago. The village had streets so narrow that there were two car parks and we walked inside the town.
The top of the hill had a ruined castle which our hosts told us was destroyed in the Revolution and many homes repaired and strengthened by stones from the castle. Their home was old, with Roman arches in the cellar, which had an entrance to the street and once served as a cafe.
There was a windmill just outside the village for pressing olives for oil and an aqueduct, built in the 1700s in the Roman style, that helped serve as a landmark when we got lost on the small back roads.
This village served as a wonderful base for our exploration of part of Provençe and we will forever appreciated not only that grad student with the big heart, but his friend’s parents who welcomed us as family and came, a few years later on a trip to the United States, to visit with us. In such ways, the world becomes a smaller and friendlier place.