Quick update for French posts

If you’ve been following my trip to France (yes, I’m home now, darn it!), you’ll have seen some errors and broken links. I think I fixed all of that, and they should be a more enjoyable read. And now that I’ve gotten back into blogging, maybe you’ll see some Bethel posts. Note the “maybe”! Bethel is just a bit of let down after the excitement of visiting France. But I am already planning another trip to Ireland, tentatively April 2017.

Last day in France

First, here’s a couple videos from yesterday’s train ride:

This one has some agricultural stuff:

And one more:

NOW: My last morning in Paris… I spent quite a bit of time debating whether to go to an embroidery story via taxi or just walk to the art store I saw last night. Finally decided to walk through the Luxemborg gardens and go to the art store, when I discovered that the embroidery store didn’t carry DMC thread. A slender reason, but I was also conscious of the need to get on the airplane to head home. 

Here’s the day’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/2BYDEqCJAnvJ22wq6

So I bought some cool pens and a coloring book to keep me occupied on the way home. I had a couple items that wouldn’t make it through security if I carried my rolly bag with me, so opted to check it. I’d reserved a shuttle for the ride to the airport, which was uneventful. Getting to the gate was a little stressful though.

Orly, the airport I left from, was pretty confusing. Lots of stores and the airline desk wasn’t immediately apparent. I finally had to find the information desk and get directions. Even with those, I still wandered around for awhile before finally spotting British Airways. Once checked in, I went through security quickly and discovered I had way too much time to spend waiting to get on the plane. And I should have eaten lunch before going through security. Whatever! Lol!

Reflection:

What a wonderful trip! I thoroughly enjoyed France. The people I spoke with were friendly and helpful, and it didn’t seem to matter that I couldn’t speak much French. I think my accent for the words I did know improved, and if I were to learn French, I would want to do that in France to get the accent right. We had amazingly good weather; I was expecting rain and possibly a bit of snow, but it was very warm for the most part. I did wear my jacket most of the time-it was winter after all-but rarely my sweater and jacket. Never did wear a hat and/or scarf, and only once wore my gloves.

It was fascinating to walk just about anywhere and come across beautiful buildings that were obviously important in some way. I didn’t always figure out what that was, but loved seeing them. I did have a translation app on my iPad, but totally forgot about it. One of my favorite things to do was find a cafe, sit down and order something to eat and drink, read a book on my iPad and people watch. So relaxing! And never any pressure to get going or order something else. 

I highly recommend a trip to France!

Avignon, January 3

Avignon is a beautiful town along the Rhone River in southeastern France. The old part of Avignon is walled, but this wall is quite different from the one in St. Malo. It’s very narrow and there are no borders along the walkway, so I was very glad they didn’t let the tourists walk on the wall. I could just see myself gawking at something and taking a misstep and falling off… There is a lovely path alongside the wall though, so I took a couple of hours and walked around the town. 

Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/2kFe2TnJLvB2xGDR9

I didn’t walk across the Pont St. Benezet; it’s an ancient bridge, built and rebuilt several times. Between people destroying it and the Rhone knocking it over, the town finally gave up on rebuilding it. Some ways past the bridge is a high bluff; of course I had to get to the top! 

At the top you can see forever… Or at least a very long ways! You could see Fort St. Andre across the river. I didn’t visit the fort, but it was a fascinating view from the bluff. The river itself is very peaceful; there was no boat traffic when I was on the bluff, but since it’s winter, I’m guessing the tourist boats are all packed away for the season. I was on the bluff again later in the day; there’s a beautiful public garden up there. One of the bits is a grotto; you can walk up these rock stairs and get to a viewing area that gives you a wide angle sight surrounding Avignon.

You can also see Mont Blanc. I talked to a German guy and his son, and he told me the white peak is actually sand, not snow. I couldn’t find a webpage to confirm this however, so either I misremembered the name or… Who knows what! 

The rest of the walk back to the hotel was uneventful; no more stunning vistas or unfinished bridges. I was supposed to have gotten a bus ticket to Isle Sur La Sorques, a large antique/flea market but I didn’t organize that before leaving for France and it was too late by the time I got to the tourist office. The bus was gone and the market would close by noon. So I just wandered around Avignon. I couldn’t even force myself into any museums, though I think I should have visited the Palais des Papes. But it was a beautiful sunny warm day, so why spend it inside?

I walked up to the botanical gardens, the Jardin du Rocher des Doms, instead and wandered around there for a couple of hours. Nothing too special, but it was nice to be wandering through trees and bushes, a duck pond, a couple of children’s playgrounds, a large patio with a view of suburban Avignon… Just relaxing and quiet. 

The afternoon was more of the same, just wandering around, taking the occasional photo, and I spent a little time reading at a cafe and enjoying a glass of wine. I spent some time at the hotel later too, repacking and organizing the suitecase for the return to Paris and my last day in France. Sad to be going home, but I’m looking forward to seeing my girls, the Boston Terriers Becky and Babe.

Train from St. Malo to Avignon – January 2, 2016

This will be a short post-it was a day long train ride from St. Malo to Avignon. I took some movies, ate lunch and was bored… 

This one is Voves, Center Region:

This one got deleted from my iPhone before I wrote down exactly where we were:

St. Malo, New Year’s Day

St. Malo, New Year’s Eve

Roxanne sent pictures of my darling girls at about 2 a.m., and shortly after that, thanks a to a text from Orange, the company I used to activate my cell phone in France, I discovered I was nearly out of cellphone coverage. So the plan for the morning was to find the Orange store-I had a street name, but no number. I headed off in the right direction and trudged through more St. Malo suburbs. I passed two towers, one seemed to be of fairly recent vintage, while the other was much older. I have no idea what they were for, but they were very cool!

Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/eoaJKRyxhsyxjCes7

I found the street I needed, and it seemed like it might be the right one… I passed a small shopping area and then on the other side of the street was a huge shopping mall. I figured someone could help me figure out where the Orange store was. Lo and behold! It was in the mall!! So awesome!

My mistake yesterday was in not adding to my data plan. So I got that fixed and I now have a month of cell coverage for 20 euros. Much cheaper than the 35 euros I was charged the previous day. I was really glad I pointed to the map app on my phone, before we finished figuring out what I needed. Minutes in France means just that-phone call minutes. I didn’t know I needed a data plan; I’d forgotten that from my initial setup. 

After the cell phone was taken care of, I had fun exploring the huge Fred Meyers-like store and the shopping mall. My goodness these people eat a LOT of yogurt! One whole case/store aisle of nothing but yogurt. The grocery store is much like any store in the U.S.; different brand names and everything is in French (duh!); there is a real butcher that will cut exactly what you want (and pre-packaged meat too), and the bakery has those beautiful French sweets and baguettes. Some pre-packaged cheese, some that has to be cut and weighed. Smaller fresh fruit and veg area. 

I took the bus part way back to old St. Malo; I wanted to walk the wall of the ancient town. I passed the ferry terminal on the way. Would have been fun to take the ferry, if I’d known about it, but would have had to be a fast turnaround trip. 

I only saw pleasure boats in the harbor; all sailboats, not that I paid a lot of attention. Coast guard cutters too. On my way to the Orange store I passed a 3 masted schooner too. I took a photo of it, but it needs some photoshopping before I can share it. 

 (Well, my WordPress app isn’t letting me edit the photo, so will have to add one later)


 I finally entered old St Malo, absolutely crammed with tourists, so I skipped the wall walk and just wandered around. Narrow cobblestone streets, tall buildings… how did people live that way? All crammed together… Maybe that was only true during a siege though, because there was nowhere to grow vegetables and I still wonder where they kept the horses and other livestock. 

I wandered down the beach-yes, beach combing! I brought some shells home. The beach is long and very flat during low tide, but at high tide it comes very close to the sea wall that protects St. Malo from the ocean. My feet were wet all day; on leaving the hotel in the morning I walked up the beach and got caught by a wave before I could get up the steps. Oops!!

Last day at Bayeux, December 30, 2015

It’s long past time to get back to my journal. My last day at Bayeux was an exciting morning of: laundry! And recharging my cell phone! Errands… Always with the errands. Doing laundry was actually fun, because it was an exercise in learning how to use a French self-serve laundromat. No attendant, just machines. And wow, this is a way better way to do laundry! There is only one place to put your money, and you need to have your clothes in the washer with the soap ready before putting your money in. Same goes for the dryer. So I started an empty washer and an empty dryer before I figured that out. They’re all numbered, so you put your stuff in, pay the money and choose your washer or dryer. Even the soap is paid for at the one “money spot”. Much better for the owner since all the money goes somewhere behind the wall-makes it really hard to jimmy the coin thing open!
  
Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/553uXKgM4o2ELhhP7

Getting the cell phone charged wasn’t a big deal, except that it was just 12:00 noon and chances were the store wouldn’t be open during the lunch hour (& a half, or two hours). No big deal except we were leaving at 2:30 and I wouldn’t have time to charge the phone and get to the train station if they were closed til 1:30 or 2. But, I lucked out and got 117 minutes. Which later turned out to be a mistake. Oops. 

A short train ride to Rennes, and then a longer one to St. Malo. It was dark by the time we got to St. Malo, but I walked anyway, through the ‘burbs. I was not convinced I was going in the right direction til I got to the sea wall and saw the ocean. I walked down the street, past the hotel… Turned around and found it, and discovered that Mary had arrived only ten minutes before me. Dumped gear and ate, and had to run across the sand before heading upstairs to bed. 

Here’s a couple videos of the train ride:

http://youtu.be/6RqjbSiLCFw and http://youtu.be/duO1Hyhf-jo