Last September, we returned to France to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary at Fontevraud Abbey. Our agenda for the two nights: the three Rs – rest, relaxation and reminisce.
The Frenchman got a bit emotional as we started to drive into the village. Strangely, it felt like it was just yesterday when we were arriving for the wedding – so excited and stressed and just a big ball of emotions. This time, however, we were much more relaxed and excited to have the time to ourselves.
Reliving the Rehearsal Dinner
On our first night at Fontevraud, we went back to the creperie where we had our rehearsal dinner. The owner of the creperie remembered us (!) and is such a warm soul. We had sent her a thank you card after the wedding to show our appreciation of accommodating our large group and providing an excellent meal; and she said that she still has the card at her desk – how sweet! For many of our American friends and family it was a memorable meal since it was their first time trying a Brittany-style savory crepe (known as a galette).
I had the same galette that I had for the rehearsal dinner – the Forestier which consisted of ham and mushrooms with a cream sauce. The Frenchman, for his dinner wine, left it to the owner to choose a bottle from a local vineyard nearby (the wine was so good we ended up visiting the domain the day after and brought back a few bottles with us). Typically the Frenchman enjoys a savory galette and indulges in two sweet crepes for dessert. His favorites are the classic (and simple) crêpe beurre–sucre (butter and sugar) and recipes involving artisanal/regional specialties (calvados, crème de marrons, and other French deliciousness).
Reading the Welcome Cards
At the wedding, we had asked our friends and family to fill out welcome cards which prompted guests to include their name, a self-portrait, and their favorite memory of us. We informed the guests that we would read these cards at our one-year anniversary since we thought it would be a fun way to remember our wedding day.
We searched the grounds of the Abbey’s for a quiet place for us to sit and go through the cards.
It was a great way to re-live the wedding and share some of the memories our guests had of each of us.
Hands down, the best card was from “Croque Monsieur“, French for “grilled cheese” (which we had served as a late night snack for guests).
Translation: My name is Croque Monsieur and I look like this (drawing of a sandwich). I came from close by and traveled by (question mark). My message to the couple: Thank you for inviting me late in the night to satisfy drunken people’ appetites. Enjoy your Croque! My best memory of Carol or Nico: When I got taken a bite from!
Reliving the Ceremony
In the evening, we had reservations to Le Restaurant at Fontevraud to enjoy a Michelin star dinner with Chef Thibaut Ruggeri. He had wow’d our guests for our wedding dinner and we were excited to delight in his creation in the restaurant setting. Before dinner, though, we decided to walk through the wedding spaces and go through the wedding day. We went back into the Chapelle where we played our processional and pretended to walk up to the altar and then walked through the Cloister where we had the Vin d’honneur.
Reliving the Wedding Dinner
For dinner, we were seated at the same table where we had enjoyed our wedding tasting dinner – what are the odds?! And we thoroughly enjoyed the meal we had a year later.
One of my favorite dishes is Le Champignon de Paris à Fontevraud which we also served as the first course for our wedding dinner. It is made from local mushrooms (called Paris mushrooms) grown in the caves of Saumur. These mushrooms are cooked in three different ways and assembled to create the dish. The bowl is topped with a thin lightly crisp top which you break through to get to the mushrooms at the bottom.
Another favorite was the dessert which was called Le défilé des religieuses which means “the parade of the nuns”. There was a pun on the term religieuse which evokes the history of Fontevraud and is also a type of French pastry consisting of two choux pastries, one on top of another. The dessert consisted of five different plates; while there was a religieuse pastry included, the other plates had variants to this dessert in shape.
Not only was the meal quite the experience, but during the meal, one of the servers came up to us to tell us “Happy Anniversary” and told us that he had been one of the servers at our wedding dinner and remembered us. Definitely a special way to end the evening.
Night Tour of Fontevraud
After dinner, we took a walk around the grounds and had the whole place to ourselves. One of the famous features of the abbey is that it is the burial site of King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son King Richard the Lionheart. It was wonderful being alone on the grounds and enjoying the serenity of the abbey in what I can only describe as a majestic silence.
We had such a great time reliving the wedding a year later. If you’ve had a destination wedding, I would highly recommend revisiting your wedding location. It was really exciting and memorable for us to walk through the space again and relive the day with just the two of us. We hope we can make this a tradition and revisit the Abbey whenever possible.
We’ve already been talking about returning this fall when we go back to France and this time we’ll be bringing our little one to experience it as well.
P.S. Here we are before our dinner… 15 weeks along with our little babe in the belly.
Unless otherwise credited, all photos are by LesSoufflet.com