Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Le Bapteme de Valentine

The reason for our weekend visit to France was to attend the christening of our niece at my brother-in-law's home town of Gisors in Normandy.

It was a big family occasion, not just for the French contingent but also for the Welsh side of our family, with my mother, step-father, aunt, cousins and my cousin's girlfriend all congregating in this lovely French town.

We stayed in a beautiful chambre d'hote (bed & breakfast) called La Neaufliere, located just outside the town. It was our second visit this year and we were happy that we had found the most perfect accommodation with fabulous hosts. However we were sad to hear that the owners are putting the house up for sale to relocate closer to their own children.

It was lovely to see our extended French family again, who we've got to know really well since my sister's wedding in 2001. We all met at the church and greeted each other with the usual set of four kisses each. In Normandy it can take a while to say hello to people you haven't seen for a while and you also have to make plenty of time for goodbyes. One of the French uncles had mistaken me for my sister, so I hope that was an unspoken compliment to my French language skills. We were also pleasantly surprised to see the owner of the chambre' d'hote, Mme Marti, assisting at the christening ceremony.I had wondered how she'd known that there were four children being christened that day. Actually, maybe I need to practice my French a little more.

The ceremony included washing the babies' heads with water at the font and the godparents and family confirmed their commitments to looking after baby Valentine. 21st C Dad was chosen to be the godfather and he played to the occasion beautifully, alongside Melodie, my sister's French would-be sister-in-law, a mademoiselle who works in the music copyright scene in Paris.

After several readings and hymns (and photos of the proud parents), we ventured off into the countryside to visit a beautiful mill for the celebratory lunch. I love old French buildings and this location certainly held up to the idyllic image that I always carry in my mind.

The afternoon was spent enjoying delicious food accompanied by a steady serving of wine, culminating in the presentation of the celebration cake

The christening happened to coincide with a rugby match between Wales and France, so the celebrations couldn't have ended without a rendition of "Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" and "La Marseillaise" from the respective parties. I am sorry to say that the Marseillaise was the stronger performance, which also represented the finishing score of 34-7 to France. However, not being a rugby supporter or very patriotic, neither offered a great disappointment to me.

After a fabulous afternoon, the day ended with another celebration, that of the 40th wedding anniversary of Monsieur et Madame Leroy, my brother-in-law's parents. So off we went to celebrate with champagne, more food and a touch of traditional dancing in the local "Salle des Fetes"...ah, that's a much more pleasant name for a community centre. The French are very good at that...

...and they were better at "le dancing"!


Jo Beaufoix said...

The Mill is so beautiful.
looks like you've had a fantastic time and fitted so much in to your weekend.

Ruby in Bury said...

What a brilliant time you had! Your sister looks like you!
Melodie is very appropriately named for her job!!