The typical French civil ceremony was brief but quite nice, nothing in particular to note. As my boy was a témoin, he played a central role in the process. And I don't think he's done this in a long time -- if ever -- so that was probably one of the reasons he was so nervous. But all went well, and the mariés came outside in a tiny shower of rice. We took our cars down the road to a picturesque point where everyone took photos overlooking the river Creuse. Afterwards we headed to a local hotel-restaurant where the reception was to be held, and the next few hours were spent gorging ourselves on wonderful food, wine and champagne. The restaurant overlooked La Creuse, and with the fabulous weather things just couldn't get any better. After a lovely salad with goat's cheese as our entrée, we savored our beef filet and then dug into an incredible dessert, a pavé au chocolat avec coulis à l'orange, as you can see above. This was incredible -- probably one of the best chocolate desserts I've had in a long time. And I can be pretty picky! If a fondant is too rich, or the texture isn't right, I'm often disappointed. But the texture of this delicacy was smooth, onctueux, chocolatey without being too rich. The perfect ending to the meal.
We lingered a bit and enjoyed the moment, the sunlight washing through the windows, and then rushed out to the waiting boat to take a tour of La Creuse... A really nice way to wrap up the festivities! Most of us were ready for a nap by then, so I dozed quite a bit while we made our way down the river, with fortifications on the banks, some rocky cliffs, and riverside campsites where families were settling in for their summer vacations. We saw a few boats, but not a whole lot -- maybe the bad weather of the previous weeks had scared people away. Either that or summer just hasn't fully set in yet.
But I spoke too soon with regard to the end of festivities -- in fact after the hour-and-a-half promenade, we got into our cars once again and drove around the area, briefly stopping to take in some local sites, including this castle, called the Château de Breuil-Yvain, as I later found out.
I took some exterior photos around the site; apparently the castle is privately owned, and people actually live there, so we couldn't visit the interior. We saw a young gal driving an impressive lawnmower around the grounds, and although I thought she might shoo us off the property, she didn't say anything. When we returned to Orsennes for the cocktail hour around 7:00, I noticed a poster in one of the local cafés and realized that it was indeed the same castle -- apparently they have plays, spectacles and other forms of entertainment there throughout the year. I wonder if they rent it out? Perhaps one can still attempt to rival the Parker-Longoria nuptials at Vaux-le-Vicomte...
The cocktail hour extended into a full-fledged dinner, to our surprise... Two wedding meals? Well, why not? We knew we were staying the night in the region, but this was still unexpected... More champagne, and then some of my favorite wine, an ice-cold Riesling -- I even asked Bernard if he had me in mind when he chose it! He knows full well how much I enjoy Alsacian whites. He winked and said bien sûr -- anything to make me happy! And what goes better with a dry Alsacian white but a stunning plateau de fruits de mer...? I focused on the shrimp at first, but then soon realized I had lost time and only managed to sneak in one langoustine, before devouring a few raw oysters (which my boy cracked open with a knife; I kept expecting oyster to splatter across the table) -- something I never enjoyed before living in France. The only disappointment I find in seafood platters here are those horrendous tourteaux -- what's the point? They look huge, but then when you break open the shell there's practically no "meat" inside... I don't know how those poor crabs carry around all that shell weight! Give me a Chesapeake Bay crab any day. I guess I really am a Maryland girl at heart.
Something that I really loved about the café-restaurant where we had dinner was the unique artwork on the walls, all pieces most likely donated by local artists. There were also murals on the walls themselves, and some great quotes, scribbled in large handwriting. It was a tiny, intimate, convivial setting, and if you ask me, there's no better way to enjoy a wedding meal and to share the moment with friends and family.** The quote above is from Paul Eluard, a late 19th-century, early 20th-century French poet, in his "Capitale de la douleur". Roughly translated: "The curve of your eyes embraces my heart..."