“Our Home For The Next Week”
Bonjour from Normandy! I can say so much about our week in Normandy, how do I even begin? When Andrea and I got off the train, our hosts Nadia and Jean Marc were waiting for us; two American girls with backpacks the size of their bodies, prepared to “work” in any capacity needed, let the adventure begin!
“Nadia, Our Host Mother And Her Lovely Countryside Home”
“Our House & A Hen Visiting The Kitchen Window”
“View From Our Room”
We drove 30 minutes from where the train left us in Bayeux, to a section of a tiny village named “Sallen”. Small family farms and fields extended as far as the eye could see. On our drive home we saw so many cows, and we learned that black and white cows are for milk, brown cows are for meat, and the famous Normand cows are for both.
“Curious Cows – So Cute”
“Normand Cows – The Cows Always Curiously Stared Us Down”
Nadia and Jean Marc have a beautiful home built out of stone with a large garden, many chickens and 4 goats, 1 adorable dog, and a simple, organic, sustainable lifestyle. Nadia and Jean Marc welcomed us into their home for one week, and shared with us their family, their lifestyle, endless delicious meals, laughs, and great conversation. It couldn’t have been a better first WWOOFing experience!
“Caramel – One Of Our Goat Siblings”
“Having Some Laughs One Evening Looking At Wedding Photos”
“Our Host Brother, Manu”
Our first day we picked blackberries ( I will now forever have a new-found appreciation for blackberries!), which was a slow, spider filled process. We also watered and picked tomatoes from tunnels filled with a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Our first dinner was a large feast of a variety of mushrooms from a mushroom hunt our host parents led that morning in the forest. I know what you are thinking.. you find people off the internet in the French countryside, trust them enough to pick us up and take us to their house, and then eat the wild mushrooms that they have picked from the forest… In the world we live in, it seems scary and uncomfortable to put so much trust in literal strangers in a foreign country, but I am so glad that we did! I am not going to lie, I was feeling very hesitant to eat the wild mushrooms, but I live to tell the tale! Jean Marc has been collecting, identifying, and eating wild mushrooms from the forest for nearly 30 years, and has never eaten a bad mushroom! We ate different mushrooms all week; on crepes, in fresh cream, in pate, on bread, and they were delicious!
“The Fruits Of Our Labor”
“Wild Mushrooms In Fresh Cream And A Crepe Cooking”
We definitely did more eating than we did working! Nadia and Jean Marc are both amazing cooks, and they really showed us traditional gastronomy of Normandy. It was delicious, amazing, and very much appreciated! And why don’t they have fresh cream in the United States?! We are doing something wrong. I plan to write a follow up post dedicated only to the delicious food that we ate, and I will share the recipes that Jean Marc and Nadia shared with us!
“Wine, Melon, And Bread Everyday Keep The Doctor Away”
“Whenever We Needed A Snack”
It is a very interesting way of life that people in Sallen have. Our family lives a very simple life, using their chickens for eggs and occasionally meat, and their crops (mostly a variety of heirloom tomatoes) for eating. The most interesting aspect of their philosophy I found is the way that they trade, share and obtain in- season, local produce from neighbors and friends. We had fresh cow milk with our coffee every morning from the neighbor, Madeline’s cow. All of the food is absolutely fantastic, fresh, local, organic and just magnificent!
“Farmer Andrea On Our Way To Pick Up Fresh Milk”
“Precious Baby Cow! Madeline In The Background Milking Mama Cow”
“Madeline With Her Fresh Milk//It Doesn’t Get Any Fresher Than This Everyone!”
Nadia and Jean Marc are talented artists; Nadia practices basketry and Jean Marc is a wood worker. We were both able to dabble in these areas and they were not easy! We don’t bring too many skills to the table, but our smiles and our willingness to learn French, which was often comical, seemed to be all we needed to be useful.
“Struggling With The Beginnings Of A Hair Barrett”
“Wa La! Look What We Made (With Supervision And Much Guidance)!”
“Host Family Enjoying The Afternoon”
Overall, we had an amazing exchange with our first family. Spending 7 days in the French countryside was not enough time, but the moments, conversations, and laughs were priceless. We were able to experience and enjoy a true lifestyle in the countryside, and I loved it! I cannot wait to continue to adapt my lifestyle back home to one which moves in harmony with the world we live in. Tailoring my existence to incorporate the ideas, priorities, and philosophies (and definitely meals!) that I was exposed to here in Sallen. It will be hard at home, as none of my neighbors currently have cows, but I can get creative and try!
“Fromage = Life”
“Silly Goats – They Will Eat ANYTHING & EVERYTHING!”
“Wind Energy & Drying Laundry”
“The Garden Of My Dreams”
“The Sun Sets On Our Time In Sallen”