They were both incredibly generous, inviting me to their homes (Meine gave me lovely tea and berry pie and Alexis had me for lunch with his family) and openly answering my many questions about their lives.
Miene lives part-time in Chaillol and part-time in Paris, where she works. She specializes in a variety of mediums: mask making, painting and creating sets for theater. If you are in France and interested in taking a mask making workshop at her awesome house in Chaillol you can find the details here:http://mienemathon.eklablog.com/
Aime’s friend, Bernadette, took me to market with her one morning which is where I met Alexis. He is a watercolor painter-traveler-naturalist and has a permanent gallery of his work at his house. Of course, I loved seeing his studio and hearing his story of how he makes his living from traveling (Nepal is his favorite), watercoloring throughout his trip and then handing everything over to his editor/publisher who creates books for sale. He has been making art professionally since he was around 15 years old and is incredibly prolific.
I like that his work ranges from mountains and landscapes to caricatures of local musicians (Aime being one) and cartoon-type scenerios with animal personalities. He clearly has a good sense of humor.
Later, Alexis invited me to visit a goat farm where they make chevre (unfortunately I was so absorbed I completely forgot to take pictures) and on a mountain walk. He knew about every plant and animal we encountered. I remain in complete awe of the huge variety found in nature across the planet.
As a naturalist, Alexis was the perfect person to introduce me to some of the natural ecology of the high Alpes. He showed me the coucou and the parachute bird (it flies high in the sky, drops its wings and dives straight down making a dropping parachute sound as it falls…amazing!). Below are frog eggs.
After the walk we had a lunch of rabbit (that they raised themselves), salad, cheese, bread and home-made kombucha! They have a huge garden in the front of their house and animals everywhere. It reminded me of home.