Aug 15, 2014

Childhood memories in France

Marine's cousin, Florent, his partner Aurielie, and their daughters Laura and Aeline, live in the border town of Saint Louis, France. It's just minutes outside of Basel, Switzerland so we stopped to visit. Aeline and Laura are the cutest children I never understood. Aeline because she spoke French, and Laura because who knows what language she spoke. We headed into Switzerland to find them some candies and to explore for ourselves. We also came across the Tingely fountain, which was whimsical, weird and wacky.

After finding some Swiss chocolate for the girls, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Strasbourg. Marine was born in Mulhouse and moved here when she was little. Her aunt, uncle, and cousins all live here. After meeting my family and seeing where I spent childhood summers in the States, I was really excited to see Marine's slice of childhood. I couldn't understand the language, but the feeling is the same.

We spent time swimming in Marine's grandparents lake. The lake itself lies just 2 kilometers from the German border, and was originally used for trench building during WW2. Later, the German army filled the dug out hole with bombs and artillery and filled it with water so the allied forces couldn't use it. Once the war was over, small cabins that had to be self assembled were sold to refugees, and after rebuilding had begun in Europe, Marine's grandparents purchased one. Marine says her cousin used to dive to the bottom and find old memorabilia like German coins underneath.

After some swimming, Marine's aunt took us to the castle of Haut Koeningsbourg. The castle sits on a Alsatian hilltop where it can see much of France and even the Swiss alps on a clear day. Below the castle was Le Montagne Des Singes (Mountain of the Monkies). a wildlife preserve filled with Monkies that walk up to the patrons and collect popcorn right out of their hands. It was 1,000 times better than seeing them in cages in some crappy zoo. We also took a river cruise, saw some other animals at the local park, explored the cathedral, and the museum of decorative arts.We've walked through the streets of Paris, the markets of Florence, the canals of Venice. We've strolled hand in hand down La Rambla, the waterfront of Saint Tropez. All of it has been incredibly romantic, but this was different. I saw into the past of the woman I love. I met the people who helped raise her, I jumped into the lake she cherised as a child. What could possibly be more romantic than that?