Okay people, since you insist. I thought I might get away with just showing you a picture of that country house without spilling all the beans but apparently not.
In short, the house in question belongs to a lovely French lady who leads a conversation group I've been attending for the past two years. She has made it a tradition to invite the group to her place in the spring but in spring 2009, she was knee deep in renovations and this past spring, her husband was quite ill. So she rescheduled for last weekend. Although the group initially started last fall with around 15 members, only four of us faithfully attended until the end of the year and believe me, it was worth it!
With the addition of two spouses who made the trip, some two hours south of Paris, and the lady of the house and her husband, we were eight for lunch: aspic of asparagus with shrimp, roasted veal in a heavenly sauce of seasonal mushrooms, a cheese course, and a plum tart, all home-cooked. Monsieur poured a cremant from Burgundy for an aperitif (which then came with us to the table) and then followed with a red with the cheese. Meanwhile, the hostess regaled us with stories of her family through the ages. The property has been in the family since the 14th century although the house only since the early 18th. And despite some fabulous art work and furnishings, it's still very much a home as evidenced by the swing set in the yard and the stacks of puzzles, games, and doll furniture for the grandchildren. Not to mention the big screen tv which I didn't notice until much later in the afternoon when the master of the house could not resist checking out how France was doing in its Davis Cup match. FYI: they won.
After lunch, we set out for a walk around the property including forest and farmland. This is when I realized how clever I had been to choose low heeled boots as part of my tenue de campagne as suggested by the invitation. We walked for a good two hours, perfect on a lovely day and after that lunch. (Note to Sweet Freak: while Madame is usually a skirt, pumps, and sweater set kind of gal, on Saturday, she was sporting a pants suit and sandals, which she traded in for loafers for the walk.)
So there you have it. An unforgettable experience.