Monday, August 7, 2017

The Magic of Mirmande

Magical is the perfect description for the three days we spent in the village of Mirmande, France. My husband and I have vacationed three times in France: a bike and barge trip in Burgundy, a cycling tour of Normandy, and a river cruise in the South of France.  This summer, we capped off our river cruise with a stay in Mirmande to visit a high school friend who retired there with her husband.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect holiday. Our friends picked us up at the train station in Valence, took us to lunch in the countryside and then introduced us to Mirmande. We started with a tour of their home near the top of the hilltop village, accompanied by their dog Kirby, a.k.a., Kirbs of Provence.

After we oohed and aahed over the picturesque simplicity of their stone cottage and marveled at the view, we walked down the hill to L ‘Hotel de Mirmande to rest before dinner. The village is a vision from a fairytale. Named one of the most Beautiful Villages in France, it charms visitors with ramparts from the 5th century, houses built with beautiful stone facades and winding alleys lined with stone. Add in the fact that the population numbers 525, and you’ll begin to get a feel for the tranquility we experienced.

We discovered its beauty is easier to appreciate when walking downhill, as the uphill climb to dinner in my friend’s garden was a challenge, making the chilled wine awaiting us a welcome treat.  We lingered over our four-course meal and several bottles of wine before wending our way down to our hotel, flashlights in hand.

Day two, we enjoyed warm croissants in the café as we watched the village come alive and chuckled at the antics of the kittens across the street. Next was a trip to the Renaissance palace and town of Grignan. Because I’m an author, my friend wanted to take me to this village made famous in the 17th century by the letters of Madame de Sévigné, a French writer. The village was a bit more lively but still peaceful. We returned to Mirmande for our afternoon siesta, a tradition in the heat of the summer, before walking to the Café Margot for another leisurely dinner.

Day three was billed as a “day in the life,” so we ate breakfast and then took a morning walk with our hosts, a trek they do most days. As we wandered, we were greeted with lilting Bonjours from shop owners and neighbors.

Lunchtime found us touring the pottery in nearby Cliousclat before dining al fresco at La Treille Muscate, where my husband ventured out and ate Toro—yes, bull.  Before napping that afternoon, my friend and I hit the shops in Mirmande.  I found a dainty bracelet at Le Passage to remind me of my visit, and at Au Gre Demes Envieswhich means To my Liking in EnglishI picked up a dress to send to a friend. She’d admired my hostess’s dress in a Facebook photo, so we did international shopping via email.

Our last day in Mirmande, we experienced the friendly Saturday market and selected the ingredients for the midday meal.  Though we didn’t want to leave, we were soon ferried to our hotel in Valence in preparation for catching the early morning train to the Paris airport.  It wasn’t long before reality intruded on the magic of Mirmande, but thankfully, the memories still linger.

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