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Your key to finding French Bliss

A Heartfelt Memoir of Life in a French Village

Within five minutes of meeting Joni Sutton, I knew I wanted to be her friend. She is simply one of the most joyful people I know. I can't even picture her without a huge smile on her face. We met in a French class at the Alliance Française where we were both perfecting our language skills. We quickly realized we had several things in common: we had both been high school teachers, we enjoy hiking, and we both love exploring the French countryside more than anything!

Wise woman that she is, Joni chose a husband that shared her passions for music, hiking and exploring tiny villages in France. Their endless curiosity and desire to discover what is beyond the next bend laid the foundation for an exciting journey together.

Chip Williams also brought to the table his vast knowledge of wine making, a topic Joni didn't find hard to swallow.

They began their travels throughout France, making friends wherever they roamed, as often happens when you explore with open hearts and minds. Newly 'retired" (teachers never fully stop working!) they had more time to devote to their excursions. They started a blog to keep family and friends up to speed, and found they had a collection of stories that inspired people. Who hasn't dreamed of shaking off mundane daily life for an adventure in France? Of course this kind of experience comes with a healthy dose of ups and downs. Joni and Chip candidly recount their tales, allowing the reader to feel they are tucked in the suitcase right along with them. So French Bliss had to become a book. And you simply have to read it.

(There is a link to purchase it at the end, but first let's have a look inside!)

take a sneak peak:

About an activity at a local wine festival:

“One of the local bottling companies was holding a wine bottle uncorking contest. The goal was to see who could uncork twenty bottles the fastest. Four finalists, all young women, were introduced and brought to the stage with loud cheering. Each ran onto stage to blaring rock music. Each was asked what kind of corkscrew they wanted to use. The crowd oohed and aahed with each choice. Then it was time for the main event. A countdown started - trois - deux - un - allez! As the music blared and the MC screamed about the action, the women pulled corks as fast as they could. The first to get her 20 bottles open was greeted by huge cheers from the crowd and Queen’s 'We Are the Champions.’"

About grocery shopping in a different country:

“When I got to the front of the checkout lane after a long wait, the cashier told me I had picked the wrong apple on the scale. She told me which one to pick and sent me back to reweigh and label my apples. I couldn’t find the apple she named as a choice on the scale, so I came back, horrified to see a long line of people waiting at the checkout late behind my cart. Waiting for me - l’américaine. Plus, I had to tell her that I had failed to find the apple she had named on the list of choices. She shook her head with just a bit of disgust, and took my apples to the produce section herself. I followed with my invisible tail hanging between my knees."

Armistice Day (November 11):

"There is no school in France on Armistice Day, and the memory of two world wars looms large here. As we drive or hike through small towns, we can’t help but think of all of the war movies we’ve seen, with American GIs carefully entering small French villages searching for and fearing the enemy. As we hike through the woods, we think about the French resistance fighters who may have been hiding in these same woods, or barns, or farmhouses. One day we were in a small gift shop and I started visiting with the shopkeeper, who was born in 1927. She talked about the war and about the German planes that had flown over their small town every day….She said to make sure to look at their town’s war memorial, and that I would see how many people from her town had died in the wars. She was very proud of the number of Resistance fighters from the village….When I told her that my father had fought in World War II, there were tears in her eyes as she told me how much the French people appreciated the help of the Americans. It was a conversation I will never forget.”

Our last day in the village:

“After packing and cleaning in the morning, we took one final hike in the glorious weather. We strolled through the hills above our village for over two hours, with only t-shirts, our jackets tied around our waists. At one point we came out of the woods into a clearing. The view was a vast expanse of vineyards with the hills and trees, still with some fall color, behind them. And one lone vintner pruning his vines. Chip saw the stunned look on my face and the tears welling up. He said, “There’s no crying in hiking, Joni!”

Get your copy of French Bliss here!

Looking forward to new adventures with Chip and Joni soon!

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