The packing made me want to sit down in the middle of the floor and weep.
Just in case you were wondering, here are the ingredients for insanity: one weekend in a friend of a friend’s chalet in the Jura, three daughters, three snow ensembles, assorted gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, and warm socks…
We were crazy to say we’d go. I thought to myself as I stuffed another recyclable grocery bag full of Germain family flotsam and jetsam. This is just not worth the grief.
And don’t even get me started on Clem’s paraphernalia; fold out baby bed and mattress, bottle warmer, mineral water, stuffies, the list goes on and on and on towards infinity.
I, unwisely as it turned out, started stuffing grocery bags full of our stuff in favour of suitcases. At the time I think I was hallucinating with exhaustion, because I remember calculating that five or six grocery bags should do the trick.
THIRTEEN overflowing grocery bags later, and I was theeeees close giving up. The thought of unpacking all these bags in the Jura, then repacking them and then unpacking them in two days times was enough to make me want to lie and say that I couldn’t possibly go because I had come down with a sudden case of the plague.
Of course I was delighted with the prospect of spending a weekend with my friends. Of course I thought it would be wonderful for the girls to play in the snow. But truth be told, the only thing that kept me from capitulating in the face of packing was the thought of Raclette.
You see, we had planned ahead of time to eat Raclette for dinner on Saturday night.
In case you are one of the poor souls who has not yet sampled the god’s vittals that is Raclette, it is the heady combination of all sorts of charcuterie and boiled potatoes, with melted Raclette cheese (and the Jura is like the Mecca of Raclette cheese) poured all over it.
As any French person will tell you, food is the most important aspect of planning any trip.
I have to admit it; the Raclette was the clincher. If it wasn’t for the prospect of a sublime Raclette, I would have thrown in the towel before we had even got out the door.
So, dreaming of Raclette, we shoved our three girls, fold out cot, two sleds, and thirteen grocery bags vomiting our stuff everywhere into our trunk, and hit the road.
Two and a half hours later we reached a road that had about three metres of snow piled up on either side. Our leader, Pascal, directed us into a little parking area that had been carved out of a snowbank.
We all got out and looked around us. Lots of snow. Lots of Ice. No path. No chalet. No lights. Nada.
Turns out the chalet was lost somewhere in the Jura night about 250 metres up the hill (which in turn, was covered with 3 metres of snow).
It was pitch dark.. It was 10:00 pm. I started to wonder how on earth our grocery bags would ever make it up intact to the chalet. If they ever found the chalet, that was.
This is what happened next.
Thank God our friend Martial is officially the best equipped person in the universe. He handily pulled out snowshoes and head lamps out of his trunk and the three guys kitted up to go and find the chalet.
I stayed in the heated car with the girls, calming myself with visions of Raclette.
Anyway, to make a long story short, by midnight we were all in the chalet, along with all of our stuff which the guys had pulled up the hill on rigged up sleds. There may be a few odds and sods of ours that will be found by the chalet owners when the snow melts, but by that point I really didn’t care.
The men hardly even cursed me at all for my totally unadapted packing technique (there’s French gallantry for you). As I was hauling myself up the hill and kept getting my legs stuck thigh deep in snow I just thought of Raclette. Beats palm trees any day.
And when we got into the lovely chalet, I checked out the kitchen first thing. Judging from the size of the pots & pans it looked more than promising.
Saturday morning dawned and we found ourselves in Paradise;
There’s the chalet up on the hill to the left. That was quite a climb. Thank God for the Raclette is all I can say.
Franck strapped on a pair of snowshoes to get down to the car to go on the daily baguette run (because even if you are snowbound, a French person needs their daily bread). Camille hitched a sled ride on his way back up.
We made a snow fort with the girls when the rest of the gang went skiing…we basically worked up an appetite for our Raclette.
And then the skiers came home and Raclette time drew near;
Martial made several kilos of potatoes and threw in a couple of saucisses de morteau for good measure.
We got the platters of charcuterie ready. Yum.
Pascal took care of the precious locally-bought cheese.
And then it was time…ahhhhhhhhh….all the packing and getting stuck in the snow and repacking and unpacking…
It was all worth it.
And you know what? The Raclette tasted even better because we had earned it.
***Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for injecting a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in Grignan or Georgia.