One thing perhaps we all agree on:
There are few things as welcoming as a French table set for a meal.
This past Sunday in the south of France began beautiful and at peace, birds chirping outside this country castle the only sound in the 7:00 a.m. sunshine. A serene scene, quite the opposite of the election of the day, right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen against Emmanuel Macron, a centrist who supports the European Union.
I am working this month of May with a team to renovate into a yoga retreat center the historic Lamothe Castle and Farm in southwest France. A few minutes drive from us, atop a hill, stands the village of Lectoure where I attended mass Sunday at Cathédrale Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais de Lectoure, a national monument dating back to the 12th century.
The acoustics in the vast cathedral were amazing, especially when enhancing the hymns sung in French. Just like in the U.S., an altar boy had a difficult time holding a heavy candle during a lengthy sermon; I was relieved when his co-altar boy came to the rescue. Teamwork! It was also a tad cold inside this towering stone structure. I note the locals wore sweaters plus coats. I’m no doubt identified as a tourist new in town by my short sleeve shirt.
After mass, outside the Cathedral the good people of Lectoure gather on the warming main street and sit together in cafes. It looks nice but we’re due back to the castle for lunch and then the continuation of some work projects. I walk on the sunny side of the street back to the car.
Our work at the castle involves renovations from room to room, and there are a good number of rooms! Some involve just cleaning and moving furniture. Other rooms need a bit more love. Above right Sandra, an artist from Hungary patiently paints a bed frame after we rebuilt and made it sturdy again.
We also unload and assemble new appliances and much furniture. On some of these projects I team with Simon, a mechanical engineering student here in between his studies in Paris and Tokyo. I find he is a rare breed indeed, a male who actually reads IKEA instructions thoroughly before proceeding. Because of that, our end results are actually in balance and ready to stand the test of time. Voila!:
Speaking of end results, we all know the resounding winner of Sunday’s election for the President of France was Emmanuel Macron. Addressing thousands of supporters in the grand courtyard of the Louvre in Paris, he spoke of unity and said Europe and the world are “watching us” and “waiting for us to defend the spirit of the enlightenment, threatened in so many places.”
The views across the rural landscape of the Lamothe Castle and Farm are stunning indeed! It’s easy to imagine that when the renovations are complete this will be an amazing place for people from all over the planet to come for yoga and meditation retreats…and of course tremendous French meals.
On this important Sunday in France, after another wonderful team dinner en plein air, as a golden sun sinks through the tall trees protecting this historic castle, the world seems a warmer place now than when the day started.
Love and Peace,