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Lake full of memories
The picture of the lake at Le Lauzet-ubaye in Alpes-deHaute-provence (April 2017, issue 223) brought back memories as it matches almost exactly one I took in 1972 when, at the age of 18, I stayed in the village for two months working as an au pair for a Parisian family, looking after their two small children.
I became friends with another young woman staying with her family in the chalet next door and we spent most of our afternoons down by the lake. We used to take their little dinghy and paddle it across to the shaded side. The people already enjoying the afternoon shade one afternoon were amused as we fell in trying to get out of the boat (the water at the edge was not deep), but then looked slightly horrified as I started to take off my wet dress, until they realised I was already wearing my swimming costume underneath.
On a more sombre note, I learned a lot that summer, especially from the children’s grandmother. I was a little confused that the children’s mother, who I had assumed was this lady’s daughter, called her ‘ tatie’ (auntie). Even though the weather was very warm, I saw the children’s grandfather wear a short- sleeved shirt only once, revealing the concentration camp number tattooed on his arm.
When the children asked about it, they were told “when you are older”. Madame explained to me later that during the war, her sister had thrown the children’s mother as a baby into her arms as she was taken away to a concentration camp. Madame never saw her sister again. I was very moved when she said: “It is difficult to know how to tell the children without perpetuating the hatred.”
ABOVE: The lake at Le Lauzet-ubaye