This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
In 1939, before the start of World War II in France, a law was passed that established the period of summer school holiday from July 15th to September 30th.
In 1960, this period has been changed to June 30th to September 15th.
During my childhood, we would spend the first 3 or 4 weeks in Binic in Brittany, in my paternal grand parents' house.
Then we would go to my great-grandmother house in Poullaouen, also in Brittany. The house is named "La Salle".
When it was no longer possible to go to La Salle, we started to go to non-profit vacation houses called "Maisons Familiales de Vacances".
My maternal grandfather, Henri, bought a small land in Binic in 1929 and built a house to spent vacations with his family. The house is still there and is owned by several of my first cousins.
The address was 27 rue de la Coudraie. A "coudraie" is an area where there are "coudriers", another name for "noisetiers", hazelnut bushes in English. The name of the street has changed in the 1970s.
27 rue de la Coudraie, Binic
source: Google Maps Street View
Every year, my grandparents Henri and Annick would spend the summer in Binic, from mid June to end of September.
Henri had owned several cars starting with a Citroën B14 in the 1930s. In the 1950s, he had a Renault 4CV and that was the car the he drove until he was 84 years old.
The 4CV stayed in Binic and my grandparents were driven from Paris to Binic and back by one of their sons.
Henri would hire a nanny to take care during the day of the younger children, so that the mothers could rest and have a real vacation.
There are two beaches in Binic, on each sides of the small harbor: the "Avant-Port" (before the harbor) and the "Banche". I have never thought what was the meaning of "banche", until now. It appears to mean "bench of soft and plain rocks in the sea".
The Avant_Port is the fashionable beach, while the Banche is the family beach. The Banche is closer to the house and is less crowded, so this is where we would go every day, morning and afternoon.
The "Banche" Beach, Binic
Except on Sunday, in the morning, we would go to the beach and exercise for one hour in the "Club Binic-Banche" under the direction of Mr Tocqué, a local high school gym teacher: running, jumping, throwing and of course playing games. Marie, my mother, would stay at the house.
In the afternoon, we would go back to the beach, and Marie would also go. We were ordered to go into the sea up to our neck even if it was raining or it was not so warm. The reason was that there was no shower at the house and the clunky bathtub was very impractical are rarely used. I believe that for the many years that I went to Binic, I took a bath maybe two times.
So, for 3 or 4 weeks, we would not used soap, except to clean our hands.
Paul, my father, suffered from psoriasis and he was not comfortable near the sea. So, he did not accompany us in Binic for the duration. Usually, he would come for a week-end, arriving Saturday morning and leaving Sunday night.
Of course, in the 50s and 60s, there was no Internet and using the telephone long distance to Saint-Ouen was expensive. So, my parents were exchanging letters every other day.
The second part of our summer vacations was spent in our great-grandmother house "La Salle" in central Brittany. Paul would join us there.
Continue to Part 11
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