Cour du Miracle. Translated to English, it means ‘Miracle Court’. The legend has been told since the early 18th Century, a part of Vouvant’s history, if you will. Today, however, I am sharing my very own, personal story of the ‘Miracle Court’, and the café that occupies it: Café Cour du Miracle. I am the eldest child of its new owners, Sue and Dean Richards, and the 20th of October, 2019 marked eight months since Mum and Dad left Perth, Western Australia to start a new chapter in Vouvant, so I feel it is only fitting to reflect on their decision to migrate to France.
Our family have called Perth home for the past 26 years, though whether Perth or another city, being lucky enough to have a family as close as ours, home could have been anywhere in the world. We immigrated from England to Australia in 1993 as a young family of five; mum, dad, and (at the time) three young daughters. I don’t remember much about it and certainly can’t speak to the complexities of the immigration process, or the numerous stresses involved in moving a young family half-way across the world.
The truth is, I was completely oblivious to what my parents were going through at the time...
... only that my younger self could vouch wholeheartedly for the white sandy beaches, the beautiful weather, and the most delicious mint chocolates that were served at our 1996 Citizenship ceremony.
It had been Mum and Dad’s courageous decision to migrate, hoping for a ‘sunnier’ upbringing for my sisters and me. They wanted more, and different, opportunities for themselves and their family. As it turned out, they weren’t wrong! I have so many wonderful childhood memories with my family in Australia, from the birth of my youngest sister, to picnics and tip-and-run cricket at the beach or at one of Perth’s many beautiful parks, as well as my parents’ business successes and the blessings that we received because of this, such as being educated in reputable schools, our family holidays... And, of course, there were my mother’s traditional, very delicious, Sunday roast dinners.
At my current age of thirty, I can truly appreciate just how much my parents unselfishly gave to us. Their love, their time, and their unwavering support in absolutely anything and everything meant that for the last 30 years, they have not once put their own agenda first. Their lives have revolved 360 degrees around our lives.
Fast-forward to 2018, and in true Sue-and-Dean-style, mum and dad made another courageous decision to move to Vouvant, France. They wanted to do something a little different and really liked the idea of the French countryside. This time (and finally), it was a decision that they made for themselves. We were surprised that it was happening but then again, not so, because they had been talking about it for some time.
Of course, their excitement for moving to France wasn’t without reservations.
Will we like it? Will we miss the girls and our new grandson? Will we succeed? Only the future could tell, but how very exciting for them to be doing something so very different.
The last few months of Mum and Dad being in Perth were wonderful! Thanks to a last-minute surprise from my sister, who was living in the UAE, we were able to spend Christmas en famille. We were even able to take ourselves away south of Perth, to Pemberton, where we first lived 26 years ago when we arrived in Australia. The girls and I will look upon these memories and be forever grateful for the time we shared together as a family.
Mum and Dad at work
Mum, Dad & me
My Dad, the rock star!
On 20th February, 2019 our Mum and Dad left Perth for France. Now, eight months on, it is still difficult to write about. Thank goodness my parents were downstairs in the café when I started working on this blog post. Reflecting on that evening at the airport, waving them goodbye through the departure gate, I was still fighting to hold back tears. I’ve got a reputation of being a drama queen in the family, but I have no problem owning the fact that I miss my parents.
Life without having Mum and Dad nearby in Perth has been an adjustment, however, I believe there’s a silver lining to everything. My sisters and I have always been fiercely protective of one another, to the point that people comment all the time about how lucky we are to have a ready-made ‘best friends club’ (and bridal party.) We all have our own lives – our jobs or studies, sports and hobbies, relationships and friends. I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but as we navigate this new chapter in our lives without having a second home to just ‘pop in’ for dinner, the four of us girls have become even closer. We interact on an almost-daily basis, whether it be about important life advice or just tagging the other three in a completely relatable meme on Facebook.
And, of course, I pop by my sister’s house for dinner instead now.
Just joking! Our parents now have their own life too. Despite the distance, I can very confidently say that my sisters and I are ever so proud of Mum and Dad for taking on the everyday challenge of owning and operating their own café. Has it been difficult for them both? Yes. Are there challenges that lie ahead? Most definitely! But I don’t know of a better duo to achieve their goals together and will probably never meet another in my lifetime. My sisters and I have every confidence they will love their new home and that they’ll be loved by locals and tourists alike... Mum, with her ever-so-homely (and heavenly) cooking and baking skills, and Dad, with his welcoming charisma, and his laughter, which he probably doesn’t know can be heard two floors up.
Personally, I’m so happy that my parents have created this opportunity for themselves. On my recent visit, I could see with my own eyes how happy they are, how they are landing on their feet. I could feel in my heart that all is well, that I needn’t worry about them being lonely or unhappy (or hungry, ha!) They have made friends with so many wonderful people in and around the village. My Dad has even found a Blues band to play with and has performed at the popular Fête de la Musique night in Vouvant! It was an absolute pleasure to visit Vouvant this summer, and meeting everyone who stopped by their lovely Café Cour du Miracle.
My parents, and the way they have chosen to grasp their life, continue to be an inspiration for myself and my sisters. Already, I can’t wait to visit them in France again. Hopefully next time, I will be able to say a little more than just “Bonjour, je suis Australien!” Please… DO keep me accountable.
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