Today was a sombre day for my host family and it was time for them to be together and spend some time relaxing. it had been a stressful time recently for them and I didn’t want them to feel obligated to do anything special for me. Prior to this weekend they had arranged to have lunch up at the local farmhouse so I could enjoy the local cuisine and culture. They are truly good humans.
Ferme Auberge du Grand Ballon is a fabulous place to spend time with good humans for a real French farmhouse experience. All the produce is grown and raised on the farm and the wine is all from local vineyards. This is a very fertile region and the food is robust and tasty.
Dominique, Paul-Matthieu’s mother introduced me to a traditional drink (name escapes me right now) that reminded me of my younger years as a child with the exception that this drink would get you so pissed if you kept drinking it. It tasted like lollies (candy) from school. Phillipe the family patriarch then suggested beer and red wine be consumed over the main meal. Who was I to argue, when in France, do what the French suggest. Lunch was lovely and the company truly great, we laughed and told stories and spoke frenglish at times and translated at other times. but we were laughing non-stop through out the meal.
The boys wanted to take me to the memorial sight of the Grand Ballon. This is where the French defended their country from German invasion in WW1. There were two strategic posts that were to be defended at all costs by the French and we were standing in between them when on the farm. The memorial was a solemn reminder of lost lives and the fight for liberty.
We walked through the trenches and the battlements, found barbed wire fence lines and underground bunkers. This was a very constant reminder of just how harsh it was there in the early 20th century. The German border was well in sight and you could see exactly where it started. It starts at the tree line of the Black Forest and heads back over the German Alps.
We had to move a little hastily as I was heading to Barcelona from Basel that evening and we had about an hour to get to the house, pick and be off to the airport. I truly loved my time with the family and their friends it was a true cultural experience and they were just wonderful. I hope to return there and visit them again one day.