Saturday, November 5, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 7)...

WE, Sept 7 (Corgoloin, Dijon & surroundings)

Ah ha!  Is there a method to their madness?  Was there a deeper meaning to making us sleep in their bedroom?  Why yes!  The head of the bed shares the very thin wall of the kitchen.  F&D wake up early and start banging around in the kitchen and guess what?  We can't sleep.  On our vacation, we are not allowed to sleep.  This works better for them.  They've always had a hard time with us having a fantastic sleep in the cold, dark basement because we don't wake up until nearly lunchtime.  Passive-aggressive?  I think maybe.

So, we're up for breakfast.  Brioche & chocolate milk in a bowl to dip your brioche.

On the schedule for today, visit Sabine's work: Cadeus to watch them make wine barrels.  This is a pretty awesome process.  They are made by hand.  They are different sizes.  The metal bands are different colors.  I took plenty of movies...will post.

Later we pick up our niece Emmanuelle and bring her back to F&D's house for lunch and then head to Veuve Ambel, which is a modern take on the production wine cellar.  Self guided tour.  Wine tasting afterward, even Emmanuelle (she's 14).

This evening we visit Laurent & Laurence for dinner.  On the menu, aperitifs of caviar, pate on bread, eggs with mayo and saussison.  Appetizer of seafood chowder called St. Jacques.  Dinner of ham, rolled with gravy and pasta.  Cheese to help digest and then dessert. Apple tart from Francoise and coffee.  So, so full!

We put on Justin & Sam's wedding DVD and looked at one of the photo books that I made for Jerome (his first 10 years in the US).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 6)...

TU, Sept 6 (Guedelon, Fulvy, Semur en Auxois & Corgoloin, France)

Wake at 7am - however I had never fallen asleep, so this was pretty easy...we had a very quick breakfast and got on the road to meet up with Jerome's parents; Francoise & Daniel at Guedelon.  

Guedelon is a construction site for a medieval castle where the builders are using the same techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages.  However, we did see a water hose hidden in the brush and also they did have electricity for a camera that was mounted on the top of the castle.  All that being said, it was a pretty cool place to visit and explore.  Almost like an actual Renaissance Festival atmosphere.  I wonder if they will have Ren Fest's here once they are done (in 2027).  We also ate lunch there which was food from the Middle Ages as well and in much need of some pizazz.

After spending a good amount of time at Guedelon, we drove to visit Jerome's grandmother Mamy in her nursing home.  It was a short visit and she seemed very happy to see Jerome - her memory doesn't last very long and she nearly doesn't recall who he is.  She's in her 90's, so what do you expect?

One cutish~sad story while we were there mingling with the old folk.  The lady in pink on the right has decided that she doesn't want to be there anymore and if we could just open the door, she will be on her way. Under her arm are some clothes. Every time they told her that they couldn't let her leave, she would say "Merde, Merde, Merde (which means $h!t, $h!t, $h!t), if I had known that, I would have never come here".

After our short trip we headed to Fulvy to visit cousins Claudette & Robert.  This is a typical stop on our way from Paris to the French countryside.  Because we had friends with us, I asked Jerome if it would be OK if we take a look at Mamy's house that is still in the family and is just down the road a piece.  We were given the keys.  As we headed there, we were about to pass by the village cemetery where some of Jerome's family is buried.  Dee had mentioned that she wanted to visit a cemetery, so this would be a perfect one to visit.  While walking around, suddenly there appeared on the hill behind the cemetery wall, a sheep - baaing.  We talked to the sheep, who seemed very interested in living people in the cemetery.  Next time we looked up, the sheep was gone.  In short order, the sheep brought another sheep over to see us and soon was accompanied by yet another sheep.  They were very curious about us.  So cute.

Onwards to Mamy's house.  It's an interesting place that hasn't been lived in for years.  Jerome says that his aunts and uncles come and stay during the summer months.  Otherwise the place is completely closed up.  Once inside, it has a very strong mildew smell, no indoor plumbing, thick stone walls, a garden area with the compost pile that Jerome and his brothers were told to pee into when they were little boys.

Needless to say, this place has potential.  I could see putting a bit of money into this place and actually (dare I say...) living there. Jerome was slightly excited about that prospect and put the bug in the ears of his parents.  "Don't sell" the place because we want to buy it.  Oh man, if they ever decide to sell and don't tell us, there will be hell to pay.

After our visit we started heading to Corgoloin, still in separate cars, our friends wanted to stop at the next interesting village that we were driving through while traveling to Jerome's parents house.  Semur en Auxois is a medieval village with turrets and towers.  We stopped for some quick pictures.  

While we were busy doing some sight-seeing, Daniel & Francoise raced back to the house to prepare dinner.  I believe what we had were elausettes son tate fries - will have to check that with Jerome...

Then it was the politics of where we were going to sleep.  Usually we are in the basement or the guest bedroom, but this time it was different.  Jerome's parents wanted us (for whatever reason) to be on the same floor as our friends, so they gave us their bedroom and our friends took the guest bedrooms. This caused quite a ruckus, all in French, but as usual we didn't win.  I had never even seen the inside of their bedroom before and now I was sleeping in their bed - weird.  At least this night I slept well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 5)...

MO, Sept 5 (Paris, France and the surroundings)

Today is the day we say good-bye to the Saint James...sad, it was really nice meeting you.

Jerome and Lou went to go pick up our rental car, which was going to be a Ford Focus, but turned out to be a Peugeot 3008 - whoa, pretty nice car (crossover/SUV).  Apparently, when they were giving the Focus a wash, they left the back window open a tad and the back seat got soaked.  So, we got an upgrade!

We drove the the St. Ouen Flea Market and walked around a bit.  It's pretty huge and somewhat expensive.  I have heard since that there are smaller flea markets around France that are not of these days I figure this out!

We are always in search of a modern bathroom facility when we are in France.  "We" being me and whomever we are bringing along ~ Jerome could care less.  So, we are told that there is "the toilets" around the corner.  Both Lou and I have to use it.  This bathroom happens to be for men and women.  In fact, you get to walk right by the open urinals in order to get to the stalls.  Avert your eyes, ladies. Also, it seems to be where the flea market sellers do their dishes.  There were some wine glasses being washed in a very large bathroom sink.  Hopefully not the wine glasses we were about to drink from at the restaurant that is on site; Chez Linsette.  This was an extremely gaudy restaurant, filled with Christmas decor as only the French can do.  There was live music and luckily we got there just before the kitchen closed for the afternoon.  The woman singing was loud and would sell you one of her CDs for the low, low price of 20 euros!

After our flea market visit, we traveled to Versailles.  We came up what I would call the back way.  This was a way I didn't recognize.  You can nearly drive right up to the palace.  Last time I was there (15 years ago), my sister brought us a different way, through some naked statues and gardens.  Well, we found out some valuable information...Versailles is closed on Monday's.  So, again, just a photo op from outside the gates.

The village my sister lived was not too far away, so we took a drive there to see if I could recognize the place.  We found the roundabout that had the name of the village spelled out in foliage.  Took some pictures for my sister and then headed to Uncle Dudu and Aunt Janine's place.

We stopped at Carrefour to pick up some flowers and the next thing you know, we can't find Dee.  We looked for her for a good 10-15 minutes before we found her.  She took a wrong turn looking for a bathroom.

Had dinner at Dudu & Janine's.  Herve, Noemie, her brother Bastien and his girlfriend Matilde joined us.  Noemie was very happy to see me; happier than all of the other French.  I guess the three weeks she spent with us helped with my credibility...depending on if they find Noemie credible. ;)

Let me tell ya, a Murphy bed is very neat that it tucks away and everything, but man, their Murphy bed is so uncomfortable.  Couldn't sleep AT.ALL.

france & italy trip...(Day 4)...

SU, Sept 4 (Paris, France)

After enjoying an excellent breakfast at the Saint James of croissants, scrambled eggs and sausage, we found ourselves back on the streets walking to the Metro.  Today we visited Le Louvre.  Well, visiting means to go on the grounds and take some pictures but not wait in line to go inside.  There is a little above ground tunnel that we walked through in order to get to the grounds and when we returned the same way and had to cross the busy Paris street, I was caught in the middle of the street with cars quickly coming at me and I acted as though I were a squirrel caught in the middle of the road.  Those cars were not going to stop...or slow down.  Luckily I am alive to tell the story.

We continued with our quick tour of Paris by heading over to Notre Dame.  Again this was a photo op mostly, just to say we were there.  Our friends were not interested in waiting in any sort of line in order to see the inside.  Dee decided to bring out what we fondly refer to as "Palmy"...a blow up palm tree that their son gave them.  He would be our constant companion on this trip and featured in many pictures.

Next stop was a place that Dee was interested in...The Bastille.  She was born on Bastille Day and would like to take a look.  We took a lot of subways in order to get to where you exit for the Bastille.  It was rainy that day and we went over to the "you are here" map and tried to find the easiest way to get to the Bastille.  A nice Parisian, YES, I said it...some are actually nice, asked us if we needed any help with directions.  Jerome asked him in French where we could find the Bastille.  The man showed us by pointing up to a statue that you could see from the subway station and answered in English "that was where the Bastille was".  Jerome said he wanted to see the prison.  The guy looked at him and said that the prison has been gone for 222 years!  That is why the French celebrate Bastille Day - it was when the prison was destroyed!  Oh boy!  How embarrassing!  Jerome not only is not recognized in France that he is French (and a French speaker), but he totally doesn't know the history.

Next stop was the Moulin Rouge and Pigalle.  This is the red light district of least a lot of sex shops and movie theaters.  You can see a burlesque show, also known as the follies.  We noticed a little train that would take us all the way up the inclined hill to Montmarte and the Sacre Coeur.  It was pretty inexpensive and so much easier than walking.  The train had a little recording continually running to let you know of the sites you were was not always telling us at the most appropriate times but you could figure it out...the voice of the English speaker sounded just like a guy I worked with at Chrysler; Cristian.  This guy seemed to have an almost Australian accent.

We walked around Montmarte, taking in all the art that is jammed in that little square.  As we were having lunch, Dee told us a story about fake artists and that she didn't believe that the artists that we see here, standing with the art are the same people who did the painting.  She said she saw a courier going from one artist to the next dropping off pieces...interesting.  I wonder if it's true?  They don't seem to have the same pushy caricature artists any least with them, you see that they are the ones doing the work.

Over by the Sacre Coeur, there were some street performers.  One guy I'll call "monkey man".  He was climbing one of those famous Paris street lamps and using his upper body streangth to hold his lower body upright, horizonally, like a flag - plus so many other amazing moves.  It was neat to watch.

Final stop on the tour for the day was the Arche Defense.  This is an interesting modern "cube" with a hole in the middle that is in the financial district of Paris.  It's an office building, but I don't know how it works...there doesn't seem to be any windows or anything. 

Headed back to the Saint James and had some Kir in the lounge and then outside under the hot air balloons.  Then off to bed for our next adventure in Paris.