A Weekend, a French Castle and Wine
I loved Cinderella as a little girl. I had a pink record player and listened to the record of Cinderella over and over again. I remember laying on the floor of the family room under a blanket and pillow fort I had made, not only listening to this magical story but imagining my life in a castle. There are no castles in Utah, so it had to stay in my imagination, an impossible dream or so it seemed.
When I was sixteen I visited my first castle, but when I was twenty-nine, a magical thing happened; I was invited to spend a weekend in a castle. At the time, I was living in Bordeaux, France and a local friend of mine was from a bourgeoise family; her parents just happened to own a castle in the Dordogne. While driving there with our children, she started explaining the protocol for the weekend. I was surprised by this but was thankful once I was there because believe me there was protocol to be followed.
I think it just might have been one of my most educative weekends while living in France. We wined and dined at lunch, went on long walks, had drinks before dinner in front of the castle watching the sunset. We even lit a fires in the romantic old fireplaces taking the evening chill off the house while sipping on wine; the castle had no heating!
After spending that weekend, I told her that her Mom and Dad were beautiful for their age. She said, " Allison, that is very normal, they are healthy, they don't drink alcohol." I looked at her in shock and said, " Ummm, I am a bit confused your Dad has an impressive wine cellar, and we all had wine with every meal." Her answer, " Tssss, you do not understand, wine is NOT alcohol!"
I learned about the French bourgeoisie, French family dining and even got a cooking class from her Mom; blood wurst and apples. I was lucky enough to be invited back and even though I thanked her I don't think I ever told her about my childhood dream to sleep in a castle and that she made that dream a reality. The French know how to spend a weekend away and if you are ever lucky enough to be invited to a weekend house by someone French, GO!
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife