France Day 19: Fresh Air, Art, Architecture, and Wine

We visited a place in rural Provence called Chateau La Coste, which is a beautiful, vast, experimental modern architecture and sculpture garden with meandering but purposeful pathways, breathtaking views, and wine vineyards throughout. If you love design, geometry, art, and getting sauced while taking a gorgeous stroll through a place guaranteed to inspire you or at least provoke insightful conversation, this is the place for you. Although art isn't really Geoff's thing, he was kind enough to think of me when he saw this place. I also think my friends Scott and Becky, whose wedding I filmed last summer, would love this place as well, and I thought of them while we were there.

There were a couple of path choices we could have made, but we took the shorter one with more art a bit closer together. You can't see one installation from another one. There's quite a bit of clever and well-planned situating, but still a bit of walking. Since I'm all pregnant and it was somewhat warm, and we had two little ones who are on a non-stop adventure, we wanted to not overdo it. But the place was so amazing we were there 4 hours anyway.

We started with lunch at their restaurant, Le Cafe de Tadao Ando. The cafe had a unique way of blending from indoors to out, and making you feel like you were almost floating on the water at foot-level. I believe we had something involving duck and roasted potatoes. Bittykins, of course, was quick to remove her sandals and try to wade while we spent 17 seconds looking at the menu, so we held her back as long as we could, but inevitably, by the time the meal was over, she was IN the water.

After lunch, we meandered through the property. At the end, we saw a sculpture by one of my favorite artists, Alexander Calder. (If you follow me closely, you know I'm a huge Calder fan, and I think I even wrote about it on my intro page on this website.) The photos tell the story of the rest of our day.

We found a number of beautiful structures & sculptures...a group larger-than-life brass foxes tucked away in the forest, a series of partially constructed walls blended with bricks, iron balances, and coins that made a statement about the progression of the French economy that prompted a long conversation while the children frolicked around, a cool cave-like area with a nest for a roof (ahhh about 20 degrees cooler in there), a cross made entirely of giant red fiberglass balls (it would remind you of drops of blood), and a church-looking structure where the pews faced the front, but there was no light source but a sliver in the floor at the front, and a screen in front of that, so you could make shadow puppets. Much to think about. It makes you question - what is it we're really worshipping? Sometimes I wonder in this digital age of self-promotion that the only religion we prescribe to anymore is the religion of ourselves. It was a reminder to me to stay focused on the Creator of spirits, and the savior of our souls.

[This is actually he first blog post in awhile, despite it staying in chronological order. I took a break from blogging and internet life in general, partially to reflect on my purpose, and if my actions reflected my purpose. I reflected on what the consequence of sharing my life would truly be, and if my efforts needed to be here. I decided as long as I share things that are truthful and beautiful, it is helpful and good. Any negative consequence is not my intention, and promotion of comparisons is not a reason to hide myself away. And so, here I am. I'm back. And I don't write for self-glorification, but out of passion to share my life and my vision. And I've decided that's OK.]

Oh! Oh, I forgot. Butterscotch took to screaming about something fairly early in the day, and lo and behold, this DOG appeared out of nowhere as soon as he did. I said, "SEE? Look what happens when you scream. The Naughty Dog has come to visit you. And if you scream any more, he might lick you."

An hour or so later, far, far across the garden, Bittykins was screeching inside a cubed structure that caused her every shriek to be amplified and reflected right back into my ears to the point Geoff and I couldn't hear each other talk. Well, who should appear as soon as we exited? The Naughty Dog.

Acutally, the Naughty Dog wasn't naughty himself at all, but sweet and friendly and must have belonged to someone who works there. He followed us around quite a bit, though. And he appeared one last time before we left, perhaps as a warning to the kids to not scream in the car all the way home, but also to say a sweet farewell.

We were starved and needed a bathroom badly not too far into our drive home, and we got caught in the rain getting into a patisserie.... The Middle Eastern family who owned and operated the place had mercy on me when I requested a bathroom. Turns out the wife was pregnant, too. :) Our kids started having a meltdown, and she handed them each a small piece of candy. (Oh, my. But hey, it worked. They stopped. Turns out she had two little boys as well. This wasn't her first rodeo.) We bought several pastries, but for me, the winner was le chausson aux pommes, or apple slipper. This is an amazing flaky, croissant-crust with many layers, folded into an apple turnover (but not turned over or enclosed all the way when baked). Stunning. Lightly crispy, chewy, tart, sweet, just-right, barely al dente apples. The flaky layers crumble in buttery goodness when you pick it up, it's so heavy. A pale crunch when you bite in, the faintest hint of cinnamon aftertaste. Flakes stick to your lips. And they go. Everywhere. Didn't care. Too good to care.

I'm getting that way about a lot of things here...

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