Day 4 was the “surprise day”. We were told only to be ready by 10:30am.
I began to grow suspicious when a seemingly endless line of Peugeots began rolling into the driveway. We were led to the front door, where the surprise came in the form of a huge welcoming party! Needless to say, we were all rendered speechless.
After a flurry of introductions and a hurricane of faire la bise, we all packed back into the cars and caravaned up into the Vosges mountains for a big lunch party.
We arrived at an auberge on the summit. Auberges are basically mountaintop restaurants. This one was very charming with a lodge-like aesthetic. We took up two big long tables!
It was the setting for a wonderful afternoon. A delightful local pinot noir that had a very pleasant creamy finish was poured.
And once the wine was flowing, so was emotion as my father made a very nice toast.
It was pretty much one of the best days of his life, as it has been his dream for over a decade to meet all the French relations, and here he had them all in one room.
An appetizer course of salad and meats was served, and then for lunch we had flammekueche. This is an indigenous dish made like a very thin pizza with cream, local cheese, lardons and onions. It was rich and delicious.
As was dessert. How can you go wrong with this:
We mingled and talked for hours. Some of the group performed a country line dance. It shocked me that French people even knew what line dancing was, much less could do it with the best of them, but it was explained to me that it has become a new fashion in France.
My dad had an amazing time being the star of the show. This will probably be the only time in my life that I see him in a pink cowboy hat, so I have to post this picture:
Leonie was having some fun with the hats as well.
A million, billion photos were taken by everyone. At one point my eyes were sore from all the flashes. I have photos with all the people that were there, but I have to stick to the big group shots for the sake of finishing this blog entry.
I guess our visit was such a big deal that it may even be mentioned in the local town paper. All I know is that I left that restaurant with a full belly and fuller heart.
We had an afterparty back at the Gensbittel farm, with drinks and pretzels. Fabienne brought her accordion out and played some traditional Alsatian music, and people sang along and danced. The sun was setting and it was very touching.
After the sun set, everyone said their goodbyes. Several of them we will see later in the week, but some we will not. Thank you to everyone who was there, you truly honored us and we will never forget!