The summer of 1955. I was 16 years old with a round-trip ticket to France on the TSS New York in hand, some cash in my pocket, a brand-new Leica IIIf around my neck, fluent french in my head, and, only two days before I was supposed to embark, all the plans fell through!
To go or not to go? Serendipity became my guide on what turned out to be a magical tour de France.
Below, needing captions and some editing, are pictures I took of my stay with some lovely people in, I still believe, one of the most charming spots in the world, le Château de la Meyfrenie, Verteillac, Dordogne. It was a life-changing experience.
It all came about by chance through a connection made by a woman in Paris who rented me a room and thought it would be a good experience for me to visit the Perigord region of France and stay with some acquaintances of hers in order to experience life in a vanishing culture. And that is how I ended up at the Chateau de la Meyfrenie and the Famille Guillard!
Un Séjour à la Meyfrenie, 1955
Back in 1955, trans-Atlantic crossings were mostly made by ship. The Greek Line’s TSS New York was a known bargain, attracting off-beat and lively travelers. The crossing, which took a week, was an adventure in itself. Because it sailed from Boston and stopped in Cobh, Ireland, a large group of “pilgrims” spent the voyage transitioning themselves to full inebriation in order to properly celebrate the arrival in their homeland. The seamen were Greek but, unfortunately, the crew attending to the passengers and food were German. I would have preferred it the other way around!