This past weekend, my family and I headed into the countryside for a much needed escape from the often oppressive beat of the city. Paris has innumerable charms that certainly enchanted and quickly won me over, but even in the best of love affairs we all need a moment away.
With my parents visiting in France for a week, we rented a car and drove to the Loire. Arriving at a 16th century Chateau about 25 minutes outside of Tours, we were immediately taken not only with the beauty and grandeur of the castle itself, but also of the lush gardens (which I will speak about in another post) and endless forests surrounding the perimeter.
As we arrived on a Thursday evening, we were eager to spend much of our time exploring surrounding villages and wineries the better part of Friday and Saturday, thus leaving ourselves Sunday to explore the castle grounds. As planned, we hit the ground running and managed to discover some of the most beautiful and historically rich castles in the region.
By Sunday we were ready for a rest. Waking up to ominous grey clouds outside my top floor window – the smell of rain was thick and impending – the air crisp and damp. As we sat down to breakfast, drops of rain could be heard tapping against the pane glass windows as we sleepily sipped out morning coffee. It held off though, just long enough for us to think it safe to begin our trek through the orange and yellow tunnels the forest had made. Then it came. Thick and heavy drops of rain fell from the sky and we ran to cover ourselves with what leaves remained on the trees. Once the it stopped, about five or so minutes later, we noticed the forest floor now glistening wet and the treasure that the try crunchy leaves had been hiding from our view, thousands of chestnuts.
Chestnuts are protected naturally by a spikey and unforgiving exterior that allows the nuts to mature unharmed. As the chestnuts reach maturity, the hard shell begins to split and the glistening dark brown chestnut pops through. Seeing this bounty before us, my family and I leapt to the ground and carefully began to extract the nuts from their treacherous casing. Filling our pockets to the brim we trudged back to the chateau with big grins on our faces, proud of our foraging accomplishments.
When the train arrived in to the Gare Montparnasse that evening I immediately felt that jolt and electricity of the city rush through me. Its an addicting and fire like feeling having such culture, art, and excitement surging and pulsating in all directions of where one lives, yet all in a rush can knock you to your feet.
As we finally made it to the apartment and all crashed haphazardly around the living room, leaving our bags wherever they fell, we remembered the chestnuts. As any sane human does on a Sunday night when they are just too tired to cook, we ordered sushi – lots of it. Its one of the simple pleasures of city life to have just about any kind of cuisine imaginable brought right to your door. Along with our sushi we prepared out chestnuts, our little reminder of the simplicity and the beauty of the country right alongside our California rolls.