A LOVE STORY

I love a good love story – especially a cross-border, cross-cultural Mysore-romance.

Around this time two years ago I was in Mysore with my friend Claire who I knew from Sydney (and from Sharath’s week in Bali when were delayed at Darwin airport for six hours after our plane was grounded due to “hitting a bird!”). During the Mysore trip, Claire met Laurent from France. After a few visits to Australia by Laurent and more time in India together, Claire moved to Provence in the south of France and on August 18 this year they married.

As part of the wedding festivities Claire and Laurent generously welcomed me into their home for the week before the wedding. They live in a little village called Calais about 20 mins from Aix En Provence. It is an absolutely beautiful part of the world, and felt strangely familiar, I think because I have seen it captured in countless Cezanne paintings.

It was wonderful to spend time with Claire (especially practicing together in the morning!), to see her new world and get to know Laurent better (and hear his side of the Mysore romance story!). Laurent grew up in the same village where they are living now with his parents and three brothers. It was also a true delight to meet the whole family (everyone lives within a five minute drive of each other) and get a taste for life in Provence.

Crepes made by Laurent – delicious with homemade apricot jam!

Claire’s lovely mother in law Chantal offering a drink of the traditional Marseille drink Pastille, ainseed liqueur

The days passed quickly, filled with bike rides through fields of sunflowers, swims in the pool, strolls through the cobblestone streets of Aix-en-Provence and visits to beautiful markets, villages and wineries. Oh and did I mention the food – crepes cooked by Laurent, paella by his mum Chantal, amazing organic produce from the markets, goats cheese, olive bread, peaches and local rose wine. It was such a treat – and this was before the wedding even started! In fact the day before the wedding we all went to the annual “aoli” festival  – a local festival celebrating garlic with 500 people and a traditional French band at an alfresco lunch under the trees.

The wedding, of course, was beautiful. Claire wore an “haute couture” gown with an incredibly long veil and Laurent looked very smart in his suite with a hot pink tie and socks. They were married in a town hall, which sounds not so romantic – but in a French village the town hall is a gorgeous old stone building with an interior like an anteroom of Versailles! The reception was held in their village, in a beautiful medieval building with a view across the pastures of Provence. We drank champagne from Champagne (that Laurent and Claire had picked up themselves – as you do in France!) and indulged in more good food – especially the wedding cake and an incredible array of French cakes for dessert.

Roberto had taken a side trip to visit some friends in France and Barcelona in the week before the wedding. He made it to the wedding though and was able to capture some hilarious footage of action on the dance floor  – stay turned for his blog posting!

Our little treehouse in Provence equipped with its own coffee machine!

After the wedding, the newlyweds went back to their house and we went to stay with Laurent’s brother Frederic in the wooden tree-house at the back of their property. Frederic was keen to make us as comfortable as possible and so gave us a nespresso coffee machine to make a little coffee in the morning when we woke up. It was such a good set up we were almost reluctant to leave!

Moving countries for love is romantic and exciting but can also be nerve-wracking and overwhelming. It entails saying goodbye to friends, family, work, community, security and starting again. The challenges of a new relationship can be amplified when everything else is also new and unknown. It requires an open heart, an adaptable mind, a sense of adventure and “no fear”! Fortunately, Claire has all of these qualities in bucket loads. I wish her and Laurent happiness and harmony as they begin their married life together.

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