This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
If I seem to remember many things from my childhood, it is because I have some help from my mother Marie and from my older brother Philippe.
I asked Marie how many times we went on vacation in La Salle and other locations, and she told me that she will look into the family archives and send me the information.
My father Paul kept for most of his life after they were married some kind of a family diary that he called the "livre de raison" (the book of reason). Mary, who is 95 years old, has all the notebooks and she looked for all the dates about my childhood vacations. Three days later she sent me a one page Open Office document with much more that I asked for:
The last line is:
- September 4th , you leave for Brest, to enter the Naval Academy, and this is THE END OF YOUR CHILDHOOD!!!
So that we would not always go to the same places (Binic and La Salle), my parents decided to look for other places (not too expensive) to go during summer and they discovered the "Maisons Familiales" (Familial Houses). Those were inexpensive hotels, only for families, where the guests participate in the management of the house. For example, they have to clean their bedrooms by themselves: nobody else was coming to make the beds. They were also washing the dishes together after each meal, that were taken together at fixed hours.
- Paul liked to walk outside and there were plenty of places to walk to.
- Paul' sister, my aunt Françoise, had a vacation house in Samoëns and it was an opportunity for my parents to see her and her family.
To go there, we were taking the train in Paris to the city of Annemasse, then another small train to Samoëns.
Train Station in Samoëns around 1910
The first Maison Familiale we went was named "Clairval". It was a rather large house in the mountain. In the picture below, you can see the village of Samoëns in the valley.
We went to Clairval in 1957, 1958 and 1959, each time for at least three weeks.
This was a very dynamic community, with plenty of common activities, mostly for adults, in the evening after supper.
For us children, there were nannies to take care of us, so that our parents had real vacations.
Paul, my father, would go on climbing walks, often with other guests of the house, so that he could go with them in their car to the start of the climb.
We had no car before 1968. Paul had gotten his military driver license at the beginning of World War II, but he had never really driven a car. And Marie did not get her driver license before 1968, at the age of 47.
Once or twice, my parents went to visit Switzerland with my aunt Françoise and my uncle André. I believe this is the only time when Marie went to a foreign country after her wedding, until she came to visit me in Vancouver in 1999, with my brother Philippe.
Clairval was a dynamic house, but it was also noisy. After three years in Clairval, my parents switched to smaller Maison Familiale, also in Samoëns: La Falconnière.
La Falconnière, Samoëns
We went there in 1961 and 1962. I was eleven and twelve years old, so I had more autonomy: no more nanny for me.
I accompanied more often Paul and other guests in climbing walks.
La Falconnière was much quieter than Clairval, so it was much better for my mother.
However, my younger brothers were sleeping in my parents' bedroom, and their sleep were often interrupted during the night.
So, in 1963, my parents looked for another venue for our vacations and they found a good one.
But this is a story for another time.
Continue to Part 13
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