Travel: Celebrating Fourth of Jul with a French accent

June 29, 2017 - accent chair

My wife, Kathy, and we have a bag full of red, white and blue pinwheels, some Stars and Stripes-brand break cakes and a parcel of mini-flags. We’re scarcely set for a holiday blowout in a nation — outward Paris, that is.

It’s a Jul Fourth weekend 2016. My wife, Kathy, and we have a bag full of red, white and blue pinwheels, some Stars and Stripes-brand break cakes and a parcel of mini-flags. We’re scarcely set for a holiday blowout in a country.

Strangely, nothing of a stores is stocked with prohibited dogs or chips. No one around us seems to be doing a same.

With friends Kevin and Martha Klasing, we’re on Autoroute A6 out of Paris on a approach to a city of Saint-Avit-Sénieur, 375 miles divided in a Dordogne River valley. Here, nonetheless a roads are busy, it’s usually an normal summer weekend.

The French call a A6 a “Route du Soleil,” given a highway aims south during a setting of betrothed sunshine. Our toll-taker gives us a grin.

“Have a good Fourth,” says Kevin but thinking, and yet a male looks confused, he nods.

We pay, given this is a French highway with tolls, and he hands us some arrange of reserve container containing strawberry yogurt cups and a pamphlet for kids starring Babar a Elephant.

Being Americans in France isn’t new to us. But somehow we never get used to a drill. “I wonder,” Martha says, “if Babar’s ever met Uncle Sam.”

In a 1990s, a 4 of us lived and worked in Paris. When we could, we transient a city for vacations in a Dordogne or, as a French say, “Périgord.” Historic towns such as Sarlat-la-Canéda and Bergerac dot a area, a continue is mostly comfortable and there are steep dishes and Saint-Émilion red wines on clearly each menu.

Cuisine is one of a area’s large draws. Small-scale restaurants combine on internal flavors regulating a region’s chestnuts, walnuts, mushrooms and famous truffles. And even yet it has antiquated cavern art and overwhelming straight villages built into cliffs along a river, a Dordogne tends to be reduction touristy than Provence.

It’s also a shorter float from Paris on a TGV, France’s fit high-speed train. From Charles de Gaulle Airport or Gare Montparnasse, a float to Libourne, a region’s categorical station, takes 3 hours.

Especially in summer, when a Dordogne River and a smaller sister, a Vézère, are labyrinth lazily along, we can lease canoes or kayaks during one of a outlets that dot a riverbanks, paddle divided an afternoon, and dump a boats off during designated points downstream.

Even a peculiar stormy day can lead to some good exploring. Because a area has a prolonged story of being battled over by a English and French, a Dordogne is adult to a ears in walled towns famous as bastides, fortified churches and hundreds of châteaux and castles, including those open to visitors during Beynac, Montfort and Castelnaud.

Saint-Avit-Sénieur itself is microscopic. But tighten to a encampment is Cantegrive, a easy hilltop farmhouse that — interjection in partial to owners Joan Roberts, an expat Vermonter — has been incited into a low-key motel with views of horses in hayfields and a few area châteaux.

Inside a 17th-century mill building are dual rentable sections that, with an upstairs and downstairs and full kitchens, are radically eccentric houses. What Roberts calls “La Grande Maison,” a former stable and booze cellar, has 3 bedrooms. La Bergerie (where sheep once lived) offers two. Both have an ethereal attract pleasantness of French doors, terra cotta tiles and strong mill fireplaces.

“For a grill, for a grill!” Roberts shouts as we expostulate in. She’s fluttering spices and sticks — things to make a glow flavorful.

Roberts misses American-style barbecues, a burgers-and-beer kind, and now, with Jul Fourth on tap, we are happy to assistance out. We uncover her a pouch of break cakes and flags.

“Some things are missing,” Martha decides. “Big things. We can’t do a Fourth but them.”

It’s a morning of a holiday and we’re assisting Roberts dress adult cruise tables with star-studded paper tablecloths weighted down with jars of olives and pickles.

Kevin and we are handed a selling list. After some drifting acid in exhausted towns we find a store in Beynac with an huge pointer cheering “Foie Gras!! Souvenirs!!”

Pay dirt. We lapse like conquering kings.

Out into bowls on a starry, striped tables flow a locally finished potato chips we’ve found. “Trois parfumes!” announces a bag. Three flavors. “Vinegar, Eschallot et Moutarde.” (Vinegar, shallots and mustard).

I’m removing hungry. It’s time to light adult a grill.

This is an disdainful holiday party. Roberts has invited usually Americans — those who are here on vacation or a few who have late in a Dordogne — including her pals Oliver David and Astrid Hunt-David, who live in a subsequent town.

“Wow,” Oliver says when Roberts puts on a nationalistic cassette fasten full of howling choruses. “Love conference those American voices.” When a beef is starting to smoke, Astrid grabs a bun. “I never eat prohibited dogs,” she says, “but on a Fourth, we have one. Just one.”

The Davids contend they’ve attempted carrying internal French friends over a few times for a Jul Fourth holiday. “Strangely enough,” Astrid notes, “they were a ones bringing a American flag.”

The marching song sounds even louder as we splash cans of Kronenbourg lager and break them adult like frat guys when we’re done. A foursome of Finns staying in another wing of a motel are out in grass chairs.

“So, how aged is it?” shouts one of a men.

How aged is what?

“The country. America.”

We have to consider a minute. We scream out a number, and afterwards ask: “How aged is Finland?” The nationalistic song hits a crescendo. Cymbals crash. We do not hear a answer.

“It’s time!” Kevin announces. He’s parading around with feu d’artifice — literally “fake fire” — a French tenure for fireworks. For a kids of friends who are also staying during a inn, he has a parcel of glow-in-the-dark necklaces and earrings.

Everyone stands behind behind underbrush and beds of flowers as Kevin and we light adult a essence of a $14 firecracker pack.

A hang that’s called “Helicoptere Aries” is impotent. It whistles off in a low, grass-cutting trajectory. “Compact Adonis” rockets adult high and true. But Kevin has aflame it tighten to my right ear. When it lands it sets off a tiny brush glow nearby a pool.

The kids are clapping. The Finns are slamming their shutters. My scalp feels like it is burned. The celebration is roughly over.

“Well,” says Astrid, who’s over nearby a fizzling stays of a grill. “I’m going to make an difference this year. we feel inspired.”

What? we say. My right ear is ringing.

“Pass a moutarde,” Astrid adds. “I’m going for my Jul Fourth prohibited dog No. 2.”

— Peter Mandel is an author of books for children including “Jackhammer Sam” (Macmillan) and “Zoo Ah-Choooo” (Holiday House). He can be reached during

If we go …

Information: and hunt for “Dordogne.”



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