Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A French Countryside Wedding

A week or so ago, I shared about our day in Paris and said that what brought us to France in the first place was my best friend's wedding.

Well I really want to share some of the great experience of the wedding itself. We managed to book a flight on Air France (I HIGHLY recommend flying Air France if you can) that landed in Paris around 8:30 in the morning. Then, we hopped on a train to Montbard where we were picked up by one of the groomsmen and taken to the countryside.

Isn't it pretty?
My friend and her (now) husband had booked a gîte for the wedding party and all the guests coming from out of the country. A gîte is basically someone's house that they rent out for vacationers (similar to what you'll find in the US on HomeFinder). This was by far one of the most genius decisions ever. It allowed everyone to be centralized and just made things simple for everyone. And the views weren't bad either...

Our room had everything you could need in an accommodation and looked out over the courtyard.

The entire property had multiple buildings and our group took up 2 of them. The guests stayed all together in the larger house and the bride and her family stayed all together in the house that was about 15 steps away.

Once we got everything settled, we went in search of the bride and were greeted by this gorgeous view:

Inside the "bridal house" we were greeted by my best friend's mom, grandmother, aunt, sister and this:

Actually, this is maybe half of what we walked into. The bride's family had gone to a local market to pick up fresh yummies for crudités for the party that night.We washed and cut and prepped pounds upon pounds of veggies within hours of landing on French soil. I will say, that market had the BEST nectarines I have ever tasted in my entire life.

That evening was the couple's civil ceremony in the groom's hometown of Fresnes, Côte-d'Or. 

After this, we returned to the gîte for a party. The bride retired early, as her big day would be coming very soon. The rest of the friends and guests stayed up drinking French wine and champagne and devouring plate after plate of cheeses, meats and a variety of the groom's favorite dishes until the wee hours of the morning.

After a short nap, it was time to get up and get ready for the big day! The bride hired a hair and makeup team for her family, soon to be family and myself (just one of the perks of being in the wedding :) )

After a minor issue with nearly burning the wedding gown while trying to steam it, everything turned out perfectly and we made it to the church. The ceremony went off without a hitch and the couple emerged happy as clams.

The church itself was amazing. It's been standing for centuries and centuries. The entire time we were in France, I was constantly amazed at the thought that even some of the "newer" buildings we saw are still older than the oldest buildings we have here in the US. 

The reception was held at Château de Bussy-Rabutin in . Looking down the hill from the church, you could see the chateau in the distance. 

We made our way to the chateau and were greeted by the couple.

The reception started with a cocktail hour and allowed us some time to go exploring. the grounds were incredible.

We ran into the couple taking pictures...

...and decided it was a great place to take a picture:

We also found a hedge maze and made our way to the center.

The bottom left is the entrance, top right is a view from inside and the others are close-up of the maze walls.
After that, we made our way back to the main reception area for group pictures and the bouquet toss.

For some reason, this picture is one of my absolute favorites from the trip:

I think it's because the only thing that's relatively in focus in the shot is the expression on her face and she just looks so happy.
After that we made our way inside for dinner. My intent was to get a shot of each course, but I only managed to get one of the first course and the desserts. Don't these look yummy?!

Apologies for the lack of focus....I may or may not have had a few glasses of wine by this point.
Let me tell you, the French know how to throw a party! The cocktail hour started around 6 PM and we weren't served the last course until around 1:15 AM (that's over 7 hours!). Then, we proceeded to dance literally until the sun came up. 

We returned to the gîte and those of us who had to catch an early train stayed up while those of us who had a later one managed to catch a few Z's before we headed into Paris.

Before we left, we took one las tour round the property and visited these little guys.

They were very friendly. Maybe it was because of the leftover carrots we brought them. Maybe they were just easygoing. Either way, it was one last memory of the countryside to add to the mix before we left.

Have you been to anywhere out of the mainstream? Where did you go? What did you see?
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