Felix Basset is a friend I made when I went on a school trip to France in 2005 when I was 14 years old. He wasn’t even my host, he was another students’ but we connected and have stayed in contact ever since. When Kel and I arrived in France, Felix offered for us to stay at his parents’ place in Fleurines. He said that his parents would love to have us and that we could stay as long as we’d like! It was an offer too good we couldn’t refuse.
After a long hard cycle, we finally found the house of the Basset family. The Basset Family are a very special family! We had the pleasure of staying with Francoise and Frederic for one week. They are proud parents of 3 children. They don’t live under one roof as they are all living in different parts of France. Felix lives in Amiens, Noemie lives in Marseille and Adrien lives in Troyes. Fred and Francoise really opened their home to us. They said to treat this house as if it were your own. They showed us to our room, the kitchen where they said to take anything we wanted, the TV, even offering their keys to a car so we could get around. It was like we had known them for years. They had so much trust in us that they would leave their house in our hands while they were working and we’d only just met! They treated us really like family, as if we were their children.
It was great to live with a French family and experience the food culture! For le petit dejeuner (breakfast) we would either have some sort of pastry or a slice of vanilla cake made by Francoise, with some tea. Le dejeuner (lunch) would differ. If both F and F were at work we would drive down to the shops and get a baguette, slices of ham or salami, some slices of cheese and either go to a park or back home to enjoy it in the sun. Fred was home one lunch time as he had a night shift (he works with Air France) that night and barbequed salmon and we had it with crème fraiche and pasta – delicious!
Pour le diner (you guessed it – dinner!) it was very special. Francoise would prepare an entrée, main, followed by cheese and dessert. The entrée was always something very fresh. To me it was sort of Mediterranean. Lots of fresh tomatoes, mint from the garden and olive oil featured a lot. One night we had tomatoes which she had confit’d – not sure what the proper word is haha – which were delicious!!!! Mains had some sort of meat with rice or potatoes and vegetables. Then came the cheese platter (yes, cheese platter is after dinner, not before), which ended up being our favourite part of the meal. Brie, camembert, blue cheese, comte, different types of goats cheese and I forget the names of the others. Goats cheese is definitely my favourite type. That oozy, creamy goodness slathered onto a piece of crunchy baguette, washed down with a glass of wine … oh la la!!!! We now have a new appreciation for cheese and wine. The amount of different cheese they have in the supermarkets is five times the amount back home. We don’t consider ourselves big drinkers, especially for wine, but I think we acquired a taste for wine staying with the Basset’s. We would look forward to cheese and wine time!
In the French culture, dinner time is not just to eat your meal and leave. It is a time to slowly eat each course and talk about each other’s day. In our case it was a funny time as we would speak both French and English around the dinner table. I could speak French with them and Fred can speak English. Francoise could speak some English whereas Kel couldn’t really understand any French so they would teach each other words, sometimes having conversations via charades haha. We shared many laughs at their table. The weather really improved when we arrived so most nights we’d eat outside. As it only gets really dark about 10:30pm, the sun would be out and it would be perfect!
Over the weekend we took a train to Amiens to visit Felix where he is studying medicine. It was really great fun spending time with him. We met some of his friends who were so nice and welcoming. In France, everyone has to learn English at school so most young people have at least basic knowledge of English – but most are too shy to use it! Fex’s friends were really friendly and we all got along so well. Strangely enough their English seemed to get better as the night went on haha. A couple of the guys produce music which is really amazing. Amiens is a student city and what’s interesting is that most students live on their own in a one bedroom apartment. Some do have flat mates but most just have their own place.
We ended up staying for one week and one day in Fleurines and it was much harder to leave than we thought. Since they wouldn’t take any money for anything, we did little things like wash the car, Kel mowed the lawn, I cooked one night etc. To say thank you I wrote a note on some handmade paper I had bought in Nepal and gave them a cushion cover from India. Francoise ended up crying after reading the letter and when we were saying bye as we were leaving! They really did become our French parents. We will be forever grateful that they let us stay and are so appreciative of their generosity and kindness! They will definitely be lifelong friends of ours!
PS we are so upset as we didn’t take as many photos as we should’ve with them! I guess we were enjoying ourselves too much!