When I moved to DC I met Albine at a Meetup and we quickly became friends. She is a fun, intelligent person and we can talk for hours. When she graduated with her masters though, she moved back to France. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to see her again in April this year and have a local host in her beautiful country.
Albine splits her time between Niort and Nantes for work. We started my visit in Niort, a lovely old town, and Albine's hometown. The first few days we actually took some day trips to surrounding towns. Day one we went to the coastal town of La Rochelle, one of Albine’s favorite places. She says it always feels like a vacation, and she was absolutely right. It's gorgeous and the smell of the saltwater adds a relaxing atmosphere to the already laid back French vibes.
That night we were discussing the genealogy research I had been doing. Albine wanted to know if I had any French ancestry and I remembered finding someone very far back. I went to look at my research and found on my paternal grandmother’s side, an 8th great-grandfather named Nicolaus de la Peine who was born in Bressuire, France in 1635. I tried very poorly to pronounce Bressuire, and once Albine finally figured out what I was saying she got super excited. Bressuire was only an hour away! We are going, she decided, and I happily obliged. So day two was spent visiting Bressuire, which happened to have a lovely palace. On the way back to Niort we also visited the village of Marais Poitevin, which is built around canals. It was a lovely day of wandering old streets and lively conversation.
We spent a few days in Niort, wandering the streets, eating at cafés and hanging out with her friends. It was a wonderful time.
The only other time I had been to France was when I was 16. It was so nice getting to go back as an adult, and to have a local friend show me around, (and order for me in French.) This time I was completely enchanted with France. It is so beautiful! I took so many pictures, even for me, haha. There were so many sparks of inspiration. And there was more to come. When the weekend came we headed to Albine's second home, in Nantes. Stay tuned for that in my next post!
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.