"St Pierre du Val - some memories to share." Personal Page by ranger49
To understand the title of this album and find out how these memories came to be shared - and with which VT member please see
This was our fourth Gite - first visited at Easter and again in September 1986.We selected it from the Farm and Country Holiday Guide. What a valuable publication that was!
It was printed and distributed in the UK and contained brief descriptions of each property with a poor black and white, postage size photograph. They were sold in bookshops and W.H.Smith.
All the listed houses and cottages were taken from the official French Gite Guide. The back pages included advice about how to book, including sample letters in French to be sent to the owners; advice about using International Reply Coupons; travel information and recommendations for maps and money exchange.
Rentals were incredibly cheap - even then in the early 1980s two families sharing a gite might pay as little as £30-£40 each per family per week.
Somehow - without internet or GPS we found our way to the most isolated of rural destinations.
Back home, by this time, we all had "fitted kitchens". and were buying Elizabeth David cookbooks and cookware.
Cooking facilities in gites were often primitive in comparison but "eating in" was a Must, a hangover from the days when it was a family holiday with children in tow, still persists.
Market shopping and communal preparation of the evening meal, glass of wine in hand was a happy ritual with lots of laughter.
This small kitchen was very well equipped and between us some quite astonishing dishes were created. The last night before leaving for home was usually spent in a local restaurant - a treat and so as not to make a mess after we had spent the afternoon packing and cleaning.
But the penultimate night was the time when a unique meal was created - using up the leftovers plus some luxury additions. Some of them are still talked about!
Meals were always served with a minimum of fuss a la mode "en famille". Shorts cuts in the absence of a suitable serving dish (and to avoid extra washing up) were permitted - but napkins and candles were essential.
After dinner we adjourned to the fireside where sometimes - just as in the House of Commons - we remained until 3am discussing the burning issues of the day and putting the world to rights.
When friends, unfamiliar with self catering in a rural gite asked " But what do you do for entertainment in the evenings?"we had some difficulty in describing what we "did".
When staying at St Pierre du Val our two favourite places for eating out were Auberge du Cochon d'Or in Beuzvillle, and Auberge de La Truite on the road in to Honfleur which is pictured.
During our stay at St Pierre du Val we encountered a couple of problems.
We were travelling with my brother and sister-in-law. The rear screen of their brand new Peugot 309 imploded while we were on the beach at Etretat. It was Easter weekend and the car was taken to a garage by the breakdown firm to await repair after the holiday. Somehow we got back to St Pierre du Val - how is lost in the mists of time.
But back at the house the gas had run out and there would be no deliveries until after Easter.
Madame the Marquise brought electric heaters and a camping stove , casseroles and an invitation to lunch on Easter Monday.She intervened on our behalf with the less than efficient local garage and ferried us in and out of Pont Audemer.
Michel de Saint Pierre was a successful writer and a charming host who seemed not in good health when we visited.
Later that year, when we returned in September with another relative we were invited again to lunch, and to drinks one evening when their daughter, also a writer, was present.
We were saddened to hear of the death of the Marquis a few months later in June 1987.
This lovely old miniature pony had been the pet of the children of the Chateau and spent out his days here in the verdant field outside the garden of Le petit four.
On our second visit to St Pierre du Val my sister-in-law, an accomplished watercolourist, painted severral paintings of the barn and lovely meadows and orchards that surround the house. So all of us who were fortunate to share the experience of staying at Le Petit Four have something more than photographs to remind us of those happy times.
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