Five years ago Remi was our house guest in Melbourne for over four months. Remi was a French backpacker, travelling around the world for almost two years. On his way to Australia he met our daughter Tess. She invited him to our visit our home and we liked him from the first time we met. Remi went looking for work in Queensland, but soon returned to Melbourne. We invited him to stay with us, and almost instantly Remi was like part of our family. He was a wonderful guest with a love of life and a strong passion for the outdoors. He told us stories of his home on a lake near the French alps and his love of walking in the mountains. He frequently cooked delicious French evening meals for us, sometimes skyping his mother for the recipes. We were sad when he said goodbye and continued his travels, which eventually brought him back home to France. When Remi arrived home he met Barbara and now they have a gorgeous little daughter Naska.

So when we planned to travel through France on this trip, Remi invited us to visit his home town of Annecy and meet not only Barbara and Naska, but also his parents, Guy and Dominique. We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time now.

Remi, Barbara and Naska picked us up from our hotel at 10.30am. Their original plan was to drive us up to their home in the mountains, where Remi manages a guest house, but because the weather was bleak and the mountains were obscured by clouds, they took us instead to Guy and Dominique’s home at St Jorioz, which is a short drive around the lake from Annecy.

Guy and Dominique made us feel very welcome. As they spoke little English and we spoke almost no French, we had to rely on Barbara and Remi to translate our conversation into something we could all understand. Despite the language differences, it was smiles all around and we all got along really well together. Naska was smiling and talking, and she and Marg formed an instant connection. As good as it was to see Remi again, it was equally wonderful to meet his family. They are delightful people and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.

Dominique cooked us a delicious traditional French meal, and when Barbara took Naska for her afternoon nap, the rest of us took the opportunity for a walk through the village to Lake Annecy and a walk along the lake shore with Remi and Barbara’s dog, a husky named Joey. The skies were grey, the mountains shrouded in cloud cover, and at times the rain came down heavily. But we had fun and enjoyed the walk nevertheless. Guy showed me his boat, which he likes to sail on the lake when the weather is fine. Joey jumped into the lake in the direction of a couple of ducks, but Remi kept a tight rein on her harness.

St Jorioz is a peaceful, quiet village on the shores of one of France’s most picturesque lakes. Rising high above the distant shore are the mountains. The waters of the lake are crystal clear. The Tour de France often passes through the village. For a time, Paul Cezanne stayed in a nearby village a little further along the lake shore and painted landscapes here. What an amazing part of the world this is for Remi to grow up in.

Late in the afternoon Remi drove us back into Annecy to our hotel. It has been so good to see him again. And now we have four new French friends, his family – Barbara, Naska, Dominique and Guy. This has been a memorable day, easily one of the highlights of our whole trip.

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