This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
Looking for another place to spend our vacations
After my parents realized that it was not a vacation for them to have 4 or 5 of their young children in their bedroom in the maisons familiales, they decided to look for somewhere else. My father remembered that one of her aunt, a first cousin of her father, owned a small castle in the Loire valley. So, he called his aunt Charlotte and his cousin François, her son., to see if the family could spend some vacations in the castle. Having reached an agreement on principle, my parents wen to visit during a week-end to get a detailed agreement.
Château du Lathan
Château du Lathan
My great aunt Charlotte was widowed and lived in the château with her son François and his family: his wife Anne-Marie, his three sons Benoît, Olivier and Patrice and his two daughters Catherine and Marie-Violaine. My cousin Olivier has the same age as myself.
The château is rather large for eight people and most of it was not used, except when they had family visiting. So, there was plenty of room for us to spent vacations in the château.
As you can see in the picture, the château has three levels above ground. It also has a large basement with some small windows in the back. We were sleeping in several bedroom on the top floor and were using a kitchen and a dining room in the basement.
There are several other buildings near the château: an orangery (to store during winter the orange trees in boxes that you can see on the picture above), a dog kennel, a horse stable, etc ...
There is a rather large park attached to the château. In the park, there is a water feature, called the "canal", that is not a real canal. It is 500 metres long and 25 metre wide.
The Canal and the Château
It is in the canal that I finally was able to swim for more than 2 minutes, at the age of 14. Nothing to boast about for a future Navy officer.
My uncle François was what you would call a "gentleman farmer". The main entertainment for my uncle and my cousins was hunting, in particular the "chasse à courre" or "vénerie", that is hunting exclusively with dogs.
In particular, my cousin Olivier has had dogs to hunt the hare, the roe dear and the red deer for more than fifty years. Last time I was there he had 150 dogs. Her is a video were you can see him riding and hunting with his dogs.
We spend enjoyable vacations in the château, playing with our cousins. They were somewhat wild.
For example, this his a game they played while we were there. Outside one of the bedroom on the top floor there was a hornet nest. They would go in the bedroom wearing only a swimming suit and carrying a fencing foil. Then, they would open the window and let only one hornet enter the room. The game was then to kill the hornet with the foil. Once the hornet was dead, it was time for another one. For us that lived in the city, this was another world completely. I was recently talking to my brother Philippe about this post and he told me to not forget to describe the hornet and foil game.
We spent only two summers in the château. We could have come back more times. The reason why will be explained in the next episode.
Continue to Part 17
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