26 December 2009

16 Years Later and A Little Munchkin

After leaving picturesque Annecy, Chris and I traveled a little farther north to a relatively small city called Thonon-les-Bains. It is situated right off of Lake Geneva, in the Savoy region, with a little over 30,000 inhabitants. We stepped off the train into more cold and snow and were greeted by a very, very special person...

I have to put this picture first and foremost because after not seeing seeing one another for SIXTEEN years(when Chris was just 6 years old)...Chris and his former au pair, Sylvie, were reunited!!! It was a truly wonderful and joyful reunion to witness in every way- recounting memories of long ago, comparing old photos to new ones, and getting to know Sylvie's husband and 4 1/2 year old daughter Elina(pronounced El-een-ah).


We went to visit Château d'Allignes, a gorgeous place where Sylvie and her family frequent on Sundays to hike, picnic, and see the stunning views.

Little Elina badly needed new boots and constantly had freezing toes...lucky her got to be carried...I miss those days!!

Snowy peaks in the distance.

View of Lake Geneva from the Chateau grounds. In the summer the lake is flooded with tourists, vacationers, and boaters but this time of year people flock to the surrounding mountains to ski.

This path leading up from the Château was lined with holly bushes, the tiny red berries standing out against the stark white snow.

Evian happened to be a very close drive from their house, so we took a little visit to see if the infamous water was really THAT good right from the source...it was pretty spectacular. There were 3 different places throughout the town with fountains where people line up with bags of water bottles to fill with fresh Evian water.

Each holiday season Evian commissions an artist to decorate the town. This year, the artist collected piles and piles of driftwood from the lake and formed them into faces, animals and unidentifiable creatures and lit them with an eerie orange glow. OoooOOOooOOOOO

Many of the creatures had big enough hollow insides to accommodate kids climbing in and out.
These creatures were pretty daunting and seem like recreations of a child's nightmare...I guess French children are just extra brave...

Carousels have been huge in France ever since the first carousel was built for the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris. The Exposition was a World's Fair held on the 100th anniversary of the start of the French Revolution, and is also the reason the monumental Eiffel Tour was built. This particular carousel was great because it was free for little Elina to ride for as loooong as she pleased...well...only because the pour daddy's got to push it around in circles themselves. HA!

And of course, like everywhere else we've been, we could not stay away from the local market. The only difference at this market is that it was FREAKING COLD and people were still out spending their Euros. Incredible.

Tough market-goers.

Elina was a little unsure about the cheese guy...

Wrapped in their warmest winter garb...

Back at the house, a snowball fight ensued. They recently moved to a small area on the edge of Thonon and built the whole house themselves. The house is mostly finished- with new oven arriving only days before us. Their big, snow-covered yard was perfect for making tons of bonhommes de neige(snowmen).

You can't catch me!

Oh yea, wanna bet?!
Elina wanted so badly to "faire l'été", or make summer, which to her meant making snowmen out of all the snow in the yard so that it would disappear and feel more like summertime. She is in an only child and absolutely loved having Chris and I there for a while so we could play games and make snowmen together.

I cannot emphasize enough just how wonderful the three days were that we were lucky enough to spend with Sylvie's family. We will hopefully be able to go back in the summer some year to go paragliding with Eric and swimming at their special place on Lake Geneva. While I did not want to see Chris go, this was a perfect end to his 12 days in France avec moi!!