My paternal grandmother, who we fondly refer to as Mamie in my family, is a retired hotel restaurant cafe owner. Mamie is now in her 80s and still lives in the same house where the hotel used to be. The place was called Hotel Moret (Moret is Mamie's maiden name).
You can still see the large inscription Hotel Moret, on the entrance side (see picture above, circa 1900). The house is located on the village square, by the bakery and the little city hall (as well as one of the lavoir or wash house of the village).
It is a three-story building. The backyard is lovely and peaceful. Back when the hotel opened at the beginning of the 20th century, there was also a horse stable for guests to leave their horse and carriage. There is also a long boule ground (a French game like petanque played with metal balls and a jack), with stone benches and lots of trees and bushes around, a long patch of grass with apple trees and a large vegetable garden. Mamie has a green thumb, so the backyard during Spring and Summer time has beautiful flowers all over. My favorite part is the old big Linden tree, or Tilleul, whose shade makes it a perfect spot for an afternoon siesta. And not to mention the delicious tea infusion you get from collecting and drying the Linden tree flowers!
I was a little girl when Mamie retired so I still remember the layout of the cafe. The counter was long and brown, with glass shelves behind, on which all the liquor bottles were displayed, along with some soccer trophies (the cafe was the headquarter for my village's soccer club back then). I remember the slamming sound the cabinets doors would make, in which the glasses were stored. I particularly remember the display of French syrup bottles (I think the brand Mamie used was Monin). My favorite flavor, back then, was strawberry flavor. In french, syrup is sirop, and it is a very typical drink for children to have along with adults at an aperitif or anytime (usually about one tablespoon of syrup + water): But that's not the only use of sirops. You can enjoy it as a:
- demi-fraise: beer with a little bit of strawberry syrup.
- blanc cassis: white wine and blackcurrant syrup.
- diabolo menthe: mint syrup with French limonade (not to be confused with American type lemonade. Limonade is sweet sparkling drink made of a combination of water, sugar and a little lemon). A French classic!
- Monaco: grenadine (pomegranate) syrup, beer and limonade
The few memories I keep of the cafe being open have filled my heart with great pride. I love to sit with Mamie and listen to her stories, while we share her ritual 4 o'clock tea time. I can't wait to share more with you!
Thank you to my brother David for refreshing my memory. Indeed the syrup brand (sirop in French) our Grandmother used was Bigallet, not Monin. Merci David!:) I owe you an aperitif!