At long last it was time for our much-anticipated vacation! Two weeks of family and touring in France and Italy. I was ready.
We arrived in Lyon on Saturday evening and dove right into family activities. Notably, meeting Francois’ new niece and nephew, Ellea and Victor!
Then it was dinner and off to bed. Sunday had a lot in store: spending the day with the extended families of both Francois’ mom and dad.
The gathering was to be held at his aunt’s house on the outskirts of Lyon. The house had belonged to her father, who built it, and was passed down to his daughters. Now his two aunts maintain the property.
We started out with greetings and cheek kisses, which I have improved at but have yet to master (I find myself doing the awkward face dance with people when I go in to kiss the wrong cheek). We all ogled over the babies for a while and then settled in for some snacks and rosé pamplemousse (rosé with grapefruit syrup – delightfully refreshing!).
His family speaks very little English, so I took the opportunity to test my French-speaking skills. Apparently they were not very good, because his uncle joked that it would be easier for me to speak Russian than French based on how much I was struggling. He’s probably right!
Next, we settled in for lunch in the backyard. The setting was lovely.
As with most French meals, there were multiple courses to enjoy. First up was a duck salad with olives, walnuts, tomatoes and homemade vinaigrette. An indulgent brick de chèvre (pastry sheets filled with goat cheese) rounded out the dish.
Next was a plate of sweet items – fresh strawberries, chocolate pudding and a homemade apricot tart that Francois’ mom had made that morning. The apricot tart was my favorite – both sweet and tart, with a pastry crust that toned down the concentrated apricot flavor and added crunch. I made sure to save it for last!
A cheese course rounded out the meal. I tried fromage blanc – a very soft, chilled cheese with a consistency close to yogurt – and absolutely loved it. I added sugar (which is the custom) to add some sweetness.
After lunch we spent time with the family for a few hours before some of them began to depart. We stayed for a light dinner with Francois’ aunts and then were on our way as well. It was the perfect welcome into this lovely country!