One Summer In France – Episode 36

It wasn’t until they were all sitting around the table under the loggia having dinner that evening that Isabelle finally broached the subject of her visit – and that was only after Bruno had asked.

“So, ma petite, why are you here? And more importantly, why are you here alone?”

Agnes held her breath waiting for Isabelle to reply.

“It’s Alain,” Isabelle began. “He’s been promoted at work and will be doing a lot more travelling – Italy, England and even India on occasions. He’ll be away for weeks at a time.”

Agnes watched her as she fiddled nervously with the salad on her plate. So did Alain’s absence on business mean that Isabelle was giving up on her marriage?

“Are you and Alain separating?” Agnes demanded. She couldn’t bear the suspense a moment longer.

“Non! Whatever gave you that idea? It’s just that Alain’s work headquarters will be based in Paris now, so even when he is not travelling he will have to spend his time there and not in Nice.

“So we’ve – or rather I’ve decided and Alain has agreed – that I’m going to move back to Bretagne rather than stay down south alone for weeks at a time. He knows I’ve never really settled down there. That I would prefer to be near family.”

Agnes let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Where are you going to live?” Bruno asked.

“That’s why I’ve come up. To start looking for a house and to ask a favour.” Isabelle took a deep breath. “Can I please live with you for a few months while I find somewhere?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Bruno said with a straight face. “Your maman and I have got used to being alone.”

“Bruno. Stop it this minute!” Agnes said. “Now is not the time to tease.” She smiled as she looked at Isabelle. “I can’t think of anything we’d like better. Of course you can stay here while you house hunt. Stay as long as you like.”

“Your maman is right,” Bruno said. “It will be like old times having you here. How long are you staying this visit?”

“Alain is in Italy at the moment, due back next week. I’ll need to be back home by then, so about five days. I’m going to start registering with local estate agents and begin to find out what’s available.

“There is one more thing,” Isabelle added, looking at Agnes. “I’m hoping to persuade you to come down south for a few days and help me pack up the house ready for moving. I could do with the help.”

“We could both come and have a holiday at the same time,” Bruno said.

Agnes looked at him. A holiday. Didn’t he remember just how much work was involved in moving just from the auberge to here? A holiday it wasn’t. And Nice was a thousand kilometres away.

“What?” Bruno said, seeing the expression on her face.

“Surely you remember how stressful moving is?” she said.

“Well, we could go down early and have a few days’ holiday before starting the packing. We could both do with some sun.”

“It’s a great idea, Dad,” Isabelle said. “Come back with me and I can show you Antibes, Cannes and Monaco – all the fun places – before we start packing the house up.”

“It would be our first summer holiday in I don’t know how many years,” Bruno said thoughtfully. “We’ve never had the opportunity to go down south in the summer before. You were always busy, with the auberge being so popular.”

Agnes looked at him. Had he really missed going away for summer holidays because she was so busy with the auberge? He’d never mentioned it before.

And Isabelle? Intuition told her that Isabelle wasn’t telling them the full story behind her desire to come back home. Maybe over the next few days she’d relax and share the rest of her news.

“D’accord. I give in.” Agnes smiled. “We will have a family holiday before the hard work starts.”

“Bon. That’s settled,” Bruno said. “A holiday in the south of France. It will do us good.”




Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.