Meet the Bros

After an unforgettable week with Brigitte and Paul in the warm Mediterranean Turkey (many thanks), we returned to Paris. Just in time for Autumn, we adjusted to the season by resting in the childhood flat of Paul, where Brigitte would prepare a nice breakfast like she always use to, and practice the piano playing lovely tunes. And within a few days it was time to meet the rest of the Brossier family!  For the following six weeks, we visited Paul’s family in France. Paul is the youngest of two brothers and a sister. It had been over two years since he had seen his family before parting for his grand journey; from France, Barcelona, across the north to Greenland, from North to South America. The eldest brother, Eric, and his family were returning to France for the holidays. With Paul and Eric’s return in September, it was a big Bossier reunion, or as I like to call: ‘Bro time’.

During the first week, we made trips out to see the family in and around the Parisian area. I met Paul’s sweet sister, Charlotte. She recently had her second child, Joseph, and had been on maternity leave from work. She invited us to a elegant fruit de mer lunch (Fruit de mer is seafood. It literally translates at “fruit of the sea”) in the historic Montmartre neighborhood. We spent some nights with Charlotte and her family, in their cozy home outside of Paris.  In the mornings we would walk Paul’s niece, Rose, to school and in the evenings we shared dinner and her husband, Mathieu, made delicious pastries (best in France!). In the southern suburbs of Paris, we made visits to Paul’s father, Philippe. Paul was introduced to Philippe’s new home that he just got with his girlfriend, Annie. We shared a pleasant walk with them along the riverside neighborhood and shared nice dinners prepared by Annie. The following day we met Annie’s daughter for lunch, and together we drove down to Fontainebleau, a wonderland for the sport of bouldering. Phillipe is very kind, very smart, and he makes an incredible chocolate cake that Paul has been raving about since I met him.

IMG_0097

With Charlotte having lunch in Montmartre.

IMG_0241

With Charlotte and Brigitte, we made a nice day tour, observing the historical monuments of Paris. Here, we stand outside the Louvre; one of the largest museums in the world.

IMG_0107

We exchanged turns holding the newborn, Joseph!

IMG_0136

A stroll through Phillipe’s block.

IMG_0152

Back in the early days, Paul was known as the “Billy Goat”, because he was the smallest one who would be ahead of the group during long family hikes. I concur, he is still quite the goat.

Back at Brigitte’s home in Paris, Eric and France arrived with their two daughters, Leonie and Aurore. It was a return from another season in the Arctic. They make annual sailing expedition on their vessel, Vagabond, anchor in the Arctic sea, and locked in after the sea freezes over. Throughout the season, the Vagabond serves as a station for researchers. After hearing about them and following the media updates, I wasn’t sure if I would meet an intimidating duo. Come to find out; Eric and France are very kind and so humble about their lives. Their daughters, Leonie and Aurore, are sweet, too. Their hugs and kisses gave way that they liked me. Leonie was my English speaking buddy, since she has been learning at school and from the researchers on board. Impressively, she knows some Inuktitut, the language of the Inuits of the Canadian Arctic region (where they lived during the previous winter). I wont forget witnessing the girls first day out in the unfrozen urban world; their joy glowed in a typically gloomy Autumn afternoon, making bouquets of fallen leaves, dancing, and happily socializing with the children in the park.

In addition to the reunion, the “Bros” had arrangements to attend some big events. First up, was the Adventure Film Festival, in Dijon, France. The line up of documentaries included the Sur le Grand Océan Blanc (The Children of the Cold is the English title) featuring the story life of Eric, France, Leonie, and Aurore on board the Vagabond.

Paul and I arranged a ride to the city, Dijon (as you may know; Dijon for it’s mustard) to meet with Eric and France. I met ‘Middle Bro’ François, and his girlfriend, Christoo, when the arrived to join us at the festival. It was three days of inspiring films; tales of men and women who venture the world documenting their projects, special communities, and environmental issues. We saw the premiere of the Sur le Grand… and the film received an honorable prize at the end of the festival! And thanks to François and Christoo, we had a convenient location to go to rest. What a joy it was to be amongst amazing travelers and talented film professionals! Despite my understanding of French, all the films were incredible!

IMG_0288

Eric and France, sitting with the director.

IMG_0301

The closing of the festival, with all featured persons and directors.

After the weekend, we carpooled to the city Grenoble, where we had stayed in François and Christoo’s home. Their home was so inviting to cozy up in the spacious main room, eating bro’s homemade cookies and surrounded with hip funky Brazilian music and paraphanilia. Why? Because, François and Christoo run an awesome Samba group name Cie la Batook. Cie la Batook is a drumming group, based in Grenoble, influenced with precision styles from Africa and Brazil, and of their own unique flavor. The groups presence is silly and mischievous – but of good intentions – to bring music and dance to life where they may be.  The group has made a lot of noise, in Grenoble, and around the globe! The group had toured to Brazil and Africa for performances.

IMG_0367

They prepared a Grenoble special- Raquette (cheese fondue) dinner that was amazing- sorry that you had to miss this Paul.

IMG_0324

With François showing off our new shirts at a hip-hop show in Grenoble (Merciii Xtoo!!!)

I attended a Batook group rehearsal, which was the last before their performance in Alberville. It was the second adventure-traveler themed event, Le Gran Biouvac. The name means “the big camp” and it was a grand convergence of adventurist. The Biouvac featured books and signings, showcased products and films. François, Christoo, and Batook had schedules for entertainment and Eric and France were scheduled to speak before an audience. Paul and I? We were the incognito bike touring stars, of course. At showtime, the Batook marched before the crowd of attendees, beating the drums for an exciting show that invited the crowd to dance along.

IMG_0358

Batook band practice, which was already exciting and fun to witness.

IMG_0350

To the Batook-mobile! Paul and I joined François for a carpool ride to Albertville.

IMG_0507

What could those sneaky Batook-ers be up to…?

IMG_0438 copy

Performing a hit show at the festival!

IMG_0497

The beginning of the interview with the Vagabond family. It was brilliant! For the duration of the talk, as Eric and France are breaking down technical explanation of their work, the girls were smiling and waving to us, and getting up to hug Paul and I during the talk. Just being themselves. And that something I appreciate about France and Eric; they are relaxed about their lives.

One major attendance was a famous figure in the cycle touring world; Claude Marthaler. He has been touring by bike, for as long as I have been alive. Paul had met and toured with Claude, years ago, when Paul was a youngster on his first bike tour in Africa. We scored an opportunity to have lunch and conversation with Claude. Paul bought his book featured at the book fair. It was the book that we found at the Casa de Cyclista in Peru. One of the photos in Claude’s book, is a photo Paul captured; a dead python they propped on the sponsored tire, bearing the brand name, Python.

IMG_0498

Paul and Claude at lunch.

IMG_0531

Paul buys the book, Le Chant des Roues.

IMG_0532

And there is the page with the Python. It was cleverly made to look natural.. but the secret behind the photo (it was dead).

The final feature of the weekend was the screening of the film, Sur le Gran Ocean Blanc, followed by the Arctic family making a stage appearance and audience interview. The announcer called for François and Paul up to the stage to recognize each “Bro” for their adventurous endeavors. What a moment!

IMG_0538

Back In Grenoble.. I had the pleasure to meet Christoo’s family! Christoo has two lovely children, a bit younger than me; Judy and Louie. A short drive from their home, is the home of Christoo’s parents and her two sisters live nearby, too. So, for many occasions, casual or special, they meet at their parents for a huge Sicilian style lunch. We gathered for  a few lunches, one celebrating Louie’s birthday. And another evening, Mallorie, a niece of Christoo, cut 4 family members hairs and I was invited to have mine cut too. It all started because Paul came back to France with so much hair, they thought he was “The Dude”.

IMG_0373

Her daughter Judy took France, the girls, and I on a stroll through Grenoble, and took the cable cars up to the Bastilles, a place on the mountains overlooking Grenoble and the great Alps!

IMG_0377

Paul, Francous, Christoo and I, arrived to her mothers on bikes - a tandem for Paul and I! there's a lovely bike path that connects their homes.

Paul, me, François, and Christoo, arrived to her parents on bikes. Look! A tandem for Paul and I! There’s a lovely bike path that connects their homes. (Photo credit: Angel, Christoo’s momma)

Christoo and her sisters, her mother, her daughter Judy, France, and I, all gathered after a great meal.

Christoo and her sisters, her mother, her daughter Judy, France, and I, all gathered after a great big meal. (Photo credit: Angel’s camera shot)

...the dude abides...

In the salon chair… the dude abides…

Wallah! And us after the cuts. Thanks!

Wallah! And us after the cuts. Thanks Mallorie!

Back in Paris, it was a lovely reunion with all the siblings and their families. Many days of gathering at families homes, celebrating the October birthdays of Louie, who turned 19, and Paul, who tuned 35.

IMG_0571

Everyone was gathered at Brigitte’s to celebrate Paul’s birthday. It was the first one in many years where the family could all be together for such an occasion.

IMG_0573

Louie opening his birthday card. Aurore is just as excited!

IMG_0598

A happy Grandmother; from left; Leonie, Rose, Brigette, Joseph, and Aurore.

IMG_0622
IMG_6592

I had an absolutely wonderful time with Paul’s family. They all made me feel so welcomed with big smiles and hugs. I am in awe of their humbleness and strong brotherhood. Amazing for what they do, and all beautifully kind. Also the family of Kristoo, all whom I had the pleasure to meet and touched to be so lovingly welcomed. And additional shout-out to the super great folks who make up Batook. Thank you all for your generosity, sharing all these wonderful meals and occasions with me.My time in France was unforgettable. Merci beaucoup!

3 thoughts on “Meet the Bros

  1. Hi Marie, I am Brossier’s friend, Isabelle : Eric gave me your blog address to get the last news of the Brossier and to see what you are doing : good to see all of you guys.. We know each other for decades and I am so glad to see all of them on your blog. Say Hi to PM, he will remember me and I add you on my blogroll on my blog : I have a blog too, where I write about my life in the States : I live here for 5 years : first in California and now in Kansas .. See ya .. Isabelle
    PS : you look great PM with your short hairs ..

    • Hi Isabelle! That’s great that Eric gave you the link so you could see what Paul’s up to. You would be so impressed with him.. he came a long way since he left his home in Europe. It was a great pleasure to meet the Brossiers and I loved my time in France. How can we check out your site? I’ll have to explore a bit after I write this message. Please do share! Thanks for reading and feel free to message us anytime!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s