From Loriol, we went on a road trip though Stephanie’s family tree. In Burgundy we spent two nights at her aunt’s pre-French Revolution farmhouse (it had been 20 years since Stephanie last visited). In Auvergne we visited the family of a cousin she’s never met (more precisely her first cousin once removed), we toured the farmhouse where her maternal grandmother was born—which is still in the family (occupied by her great aunt), and we saw the grave where the descendants of her great-great-grandmother are buried. Nearby we drove through the town and saw the house where her mother was born. In Provence we spent an afternoon with two of her cousins and their families.
The visits were mostly unplanned, in part due to the weather, which had turned unseasonably wet, thus preventing us from camping (comfortably). In the case of the cousin she’d never met, we literally walked up to the door of what we assumed was their house (based solely on description—we didn’t have an address) and knocked. We were very warmly welcomed. It was the type of trip we’d been dreaming about for several years, traveling deep into central France and exploring her roots, but one that we’d never had the time or the means to do. It gave Stephanie the chance to add pictures to the stories she’d heard growing up, while also rekindling some family bonds.
When the rain passed, we found ourselves in Provence, eager to spend a few nights camping before returning to Le Cannet for our final two weeks in France.