The Rest of France
I have accidentally erase all of the rest of my postings, but still have the pictures so following will be an incomplete journal.
La Turbie-a monument rebuilt out of old Roman ruins in a town above Monaco.
A neat hotel we stayed at near Monte Carlo
CHATEAUX OF LOIRE
We did an incredible trip to the Loire Valley where there are so many Chateaux. We saw 5 in 2 days and they were all incredible.
My handsome husband at Chambord
The famous double staircase
A section of the incredible roof of Chambord
Azay le Rideau
Swollen creek near the chateau
Wysteria was growing everywhere and smelled wonderful
Side view of the famous arches over the river
Cheverny where family is still in residence
Some of the many trophies from the annual stag hunt
Some of the many dogs kept to assist stag hunts
I read somewhere that Nice is like the tacky, colorful sister to the refined, elegant Paris and it seems to be true. Nice is full of color similar to that found in Italy, lots of yellows, pinks and blues. A lot of the food is Italian with pasta and olives. The people of Nice don't like to be compared to Italy, though. They were once a seperate kingdom and in the early 1900's they voted to become part of France.
I joined Maurice in Nice where he had to work and did a lot of exploring on my own.
The water is an incredible blue, the shore little rocks
One of the colorful streets in Old Nice
A colorful church
The lamps in Old Nice
Above is what is called the Switerland of Nice, a mountainous area above Nice which was full of beautiful views and little water falls.
We decided at the last minute to make a trip to the Burgundy region for the week-end. It is a beautiful region and the country side was golden with wheat ready to be harvested. It was also cherry season and farmers were selling them at road side stands at half the prices in Paris.
Our first stop was Auxerre which turned out to be a fabulous little city. I almost missed the old part after we had seen the cathedral, but Maurice wanted some water and we found it.
Part of the exterior of the cathedral
Joan of Arc had been here
A great clock in the old part of Auxerre
Avalon was next, a great walled city
Avalon cathedral with an anorexic saint on front
We found a wonderful chateau for the night by calling while on the road going through Fodors. It was fabulous and I think I could get used to living like we did there.
The Chateau Vault
An old castle tower left from the 11th century on the grounds
Two hot air balloons took off while we ate dinner
A view of the wheat fields from Vezalay, another neat town
An old door in Vazelay
An old tower in Semur
Interior of Cathedral at Semur
We were really tired of working on our apartment (see renovation) and decided on a quick break. Maurice wanted to be by the ocean, so off we went to a section of Normandy to a little town called Etretat. I had never heard of it, but once I saw the cliffs on the ocean it looked familiar to me. The town itself was full of those timbered buildings with wood carvings on them. Our hotel was across from this ancient building which was wonderful to look at. There were quite a few tourists around as it's almost the last week before school starts in France, but I also heard a lot of people speaking Italian.
The building across from our hotel
We walked around the town first and it was charming, but the beach is the breathtaking area. It is a rock beach and on either side stand two white cliffs, both with arches curving into the water.
The famous arch
It was a beautiful day with blue skies, a light wind, and cool temperatures. We climbed a path that went up to one cliff where a church sat in a perfect place overlooking the bay beneath. There was a great view of the little town of Etretat below and the other arch further on. When we walked down, it was time for dinner, which was good but with poor service located in the old building across from our hotel. Afterwards, we went to the little casino and lost 50 francs in almost no time at all.
The next morning we walked up the path to the other cliff where there is a beautiful golf course and more striking views. It was great to be there and smell the ocean and watch the waves. A really nice place to visit.
August 25, 2001
I have a good friend, Nancy, from California. We took her for an overnight trip to Chambord, one of my favorite chateaux, just about 1 1/2 hours from Paris. During the summer they have a great presentation at night called Metamorphosis where you can walk through the castle at night each holding a lantern. It's lots of fun and different. My favorite part is going to the roof where all of the turrets and chimneys are lit up in green and gold. It's a magical experience.
A view of Chambord as the sun is setting.
The next morning we went through a neat little town called Beaugency. It has an old chateau, narrow streets, an old church tower, all very charming. There is also a statue of Joan of Arc in the square, so she must have been here at one time.
Joan of Arc
A neat arch in the old town square.
After dropping our friend Nancy off at the airport we were on our way to Les Arcs, an area in the French Alps where people hike and bike in the summer and ski in he winter. There has been a major heat wave in France with temperatures at 100 degrees which is very unusual at this time of the year. I am hoping for cooler weather when we arrive there.
On the way to Annecy we stopped for lunch at a little town near Dijon called Turnus which has many 4 star restaurants and is known for a casserole dish that is manufactured there. We had a great lunch at a little place, not 4 star, but very good. Afterwards, we stopped to take pictures of the local abbey. I never heard of the town or the abbey and it was really beautiful, even though all of the stained glass was new.
A view of the inside
An unusual sculpture inside
We spent the night in Annecy with Maurice's Aunt. I have a special love of Annecy as we were married in a small village near here and it was the first time when I realized how wonderful France is, outside of Paris. Annecy has a fabulous turquoise lake at it's center which has been left undeveloped. The old town is full of wonderful architecture the center of which is an old jail that splits a canal the runs past. It has been made into a pedestrian area and I love to walk around it.
A view of Lac Annecy from balcony at Maurice's aunt
The jail in Old Annecy
I liked this fountain
One of the many beautiful windows with flowers
After loafing around for the morning we set off for a hike across the hills here in Les Arcs to go see a chapel set up on a mountain in the middle of no where. At least, it seem that way to me, although when we finally arrived it was set above a village far down below. We weren't the only hikers as hiking is very popular here in Europe. Anyway, it is in a fabulous setting and is called Notre Dame de Vernettes. I wish it had been opened as the inside looked really interesting from the outside window.
Here it is from a distance
Close up view
Cow with one of those Swiss bells
I kept thinking I could here cow bells and we finally came upon a herd with what looked like electric shock wires to keep them in one place, maybe like the ones I've seen to keep dogs in a yard. The walk back was really long and hot. A cool front is supposed to arrive tomorrow afternoon with showers. I hope so. It is wonderfully cool here in the evenings.
Maurice's Uncle Rene told us to be sure and see a little town called Beaufort while we were here, so this morning we set off over hill and dale. It wasn't far in kilometers but it took a long time because of all of the curves and turns on the road. On the way we passed some country that reminded me of Scotland, all grass and rocks, which is a very popular hiking area.
The country side
Then we came to one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever seen, Lake Roselend, which is fed by glaciers and is a milky turquoise color that stood out against the green mountains. This whole area is so majestic that it is hard to capture on film.
We carried on to Beaufort, the little town where they make the famous Beaufort cheese. We even went to the cooperative where it is made and saw it being mixed in huge containers and then went into the cave where giant wheels are kept cold to age.
Here is the cheese aging in the cave
Beaufort itself is a beautiful little town with a stream running through the middle crossed by little pedestrian bridges and flowers everywhere. It had a charming little church painted pink inside with little flowers and alpine type decorations on the ceiling.
On our way back we stopped in a more upscale village called Megeve which is very wealthy with a fabulous pedestrian area selling such things as Hermes scarves. When Maurice told me about the town he took his index finger and brushed up with it on his nose and sniffed; the French sign for snobby. It was almost too perfect, like Vail, but fun to walk around. This church was painted blue inside..
Looks a little like wedgewood china
We could have gone on to Chamonix, but were feeling tired. Driving those mountain roads can get to you so we saved it for another time. It was a great day.
Today we went over a high mountain pass into Italy. When we ski here it is possible to ski into Italy, so it's not too far, as the crow flies. This road had impossible hairpin turns. When we started off it was foggy and as we went up and down mountains we occasionally had sun, fog, or rain.
It looked like this from our apt window
At the top of the pass was a statue of St. Bernard as well as a hospice. A lot of military operations took place up here, too, during the wars and there were monuments about that. We came to the first little town called La Thuile where we had lunch. In that town, and also on many buildings in the Savoie region, the roofs are covered in thin slabs of rock. I guess the slate that is used must be readily available. It used to just be seen on old buildings, but it is coming back into style.
Close up of a roof covered in slate
The part of Italy we were in is on the back side of Mont Blanc that we see in France. We made a quick trip into a touristy town called the Chamonix of Italy. It had an incredible view of Mont Blanc.
Great view of Mt Blanc
It was a great day, but I was glad to get back and out of the car. Those roads take a lot out of me.
Today we went up another winding road over another mountain pass to another little town. It was cloudy and raining when we left. By the time we started up the mountain we could only see about 10 feet in front of us and never got the car out of 2nd gear because of difficulty seeing and some more hairpin turns.
The road after it cleared up some in the afternoon
The pass was called Col de l'Isere and it's the highest one in Europe. It is closed in the winter due to snow and it actually started snowing as we reached the summit. Then we descended into the valley of the Arc where the little town was. It's called Bonneval-sur-Arc and it's a little place totally surrounded by mountains with all of the roofs covered in gray slate. Someone was smart enough to forbid phone lines, cables, satellite dishes and cars in it so it's like a place lost in time. It rained the whole time we were there leaving all of the slate shiny. It was cold, in the low 40's so we went inside a quaint little restaurant and had a good meal of cheese, salad, ham and a great cheese tart. We enjoyed walking around afterwards imagining what it must be like to live here.
The village church in the background
A close-up view of a roof.
It's been a great trip. We leave tomorrow for Paris and our regular lives again. Maurice starts work on Monday. The next time we are in Les Arcs there will be snow everywhere.
October 7, 2001
To celebrate Maurice's birthday I arranged for an overnight stay at Mont St Michel. I had read that it was a great place to walk around at night after all of the tourists had gone home and it was. It's wonderful to be driving along in the countryside and all of the sudden get a glimpse of MSM in the distance. What an incredible location. I can see why a church was built here. It has an almost mystical quality in it location on the edge of the ocean with an unexpected mountain rising up over 200 feet and being surrounded by the tide twice a day. Before a cause way was built residents and tourists had to keep an eye on the time or they would be trapped there until the tide went down again. I've heard buses and cars have been covered by the ocean. The tide rises the highest here than anyother place in France. The first recorded building on this site was in the 8th century. There are remaining buildings from the 11th and 12th centuries and it has been built and rebuilt many times in a mixture of many styles.
The view from below-tower being renovated
Since it is all built on a hill we did a lot of climbing. After checking into our hotel we walked around, or up and down, actually. We made it to the side where there is an opening to the water. The tide was down and we could walk out onto the sand and around part of the town. We saw a woman coming back from a long walk across the low tide area, her feet covered with mud. We could see lots of hikers in the distance. People can get trapped out there if they don't pay attention to the tide times. We had a great view of the estuary and saw a little chapel not seen from above.
View of low tide across to Normandy
MSM has so much history. It was fought over by both Normandy and Brittany, it held out against the British in the 100 Year War, it's been a monastery, a prison, it's been visited by kings, it's been luxurious. At the time it is a ministry again.
The next morning we took a tour of the Abbey at the top. It is not ornate at all, although at one time it was painted in many areas, it is now austere.It was an interesting tour with great views from above.
A view of the top tower
It was a great visit. I took over 100 pictures. It was very crowded for October and we could only imagine what it was like in Summer. Afterwards we drove along the coast a little and then made the drive back to arrive in Paris by 8 PM.
February 14, 2002
Maurice took me to a great little town in Burgundy for Valentine's Day. It was in a wonderful hotel over-looking a river with an indoor heated swimming pool and a famous 3 star restaurant where we had an incredible meal and ate too much. The town is called Joigny and had a neat area with narrow streets and old buildings.
An interesting looking building in Joigny
I liked this window in the church in Joigny
On the way back to Paris we stopped at several little towns to look around. One that was really interesting, with a huge covered market, was called Sens. Many buildings in this area have interesting roof tiles, such as the ones I saw in Dijon.
Roof on part of the Cathedral in Sens
I liked this window in the cathedral
On the way to Les Arcs, where we ski, we always pass a castle on a hill and have always wondered about it. This time, Maurice made a reservation at a place up by the castle and we stopped over night on the way. The little village called Chateauneuf has 85 inhabitants and is loaded with charm. It only takes a little while to walk around although you can walk through a forest out to an old chapel, and there is a great castle to walk through. It has an interesting history in that the wife of the Chateauneuf ruler poisoned him, but got caught and was tortured and then burned alive in Paris. That ended that line. The castle passed on to Philip Pot and his family for a number of years. He was the person who turned Joan of Arc over to the English where she was burned at the stake. At the time, Burgundy was its own kingdom and often fought against the French.
A door in the castle. All door ways of that period were done in this style.
This was above a doorway in the village.
The next day we drove through the countryside past vineyards along the Burgundy canal which we want to take a barge on sometime, and freshly tilled fields waiting for spring plantings. We went into the town of Beaune, also in the Burgundy region and walked around a really neat little city. It also had those neat roofs like I saw in Dijon, sort of an Argyle pattern.
It even has its own arch de triumph
June 9, 2002
Maurice had to go out of town to vote today so we decided to visit the small town of Provins full of interesting things like half-timbered houses, ancient towers and cathedrals, and even a part of an old rampart. It was all great to look at and we enjoyed our walk around the town, after a great lunch.
A shot of a wheat field just feet outside of Provins
A man selling baskets he was making by hand
Half-timbered house sort of sagging in the middle
The old ramparts from outside Provins
Did a quick trip to the famous wine country of Bordeaux. On the way down, we stopped at a small city called Royan to sit on the beach and look at the Atlantic Ocean.
These tents are special to the area and the wind won't blow them over
We saw these sheds everywhere along the ocean-the net is to catch fish at high tide
I loved the color they painted this one
As we continued on down the coast we passed a little village called Talmont and stopped. It turned out to be so charming with holly hocks blooming everywhere and little cobbled streets leading up to an old church overlooking the ocean which had to be shored up underneath as it is in danger of falling into the water.
The church and some of the holly hocks in the cemetery
On the side of the church nearest the ocean
Stayed at a great B&B sitting like an oasis in the middle of an ocean of vineyards. A week after we left there was a terrific storm and the vineyards lost about half of their crops. We took a ferry across to Medoc, the home of the most famous Bordeaux wines and took a tour at Chateau Beychevelle whose wine has a viking boat with a sail at half mast. It turns out that the estate is on the wide river and boats often docked there to wait for high tide. Saw the famous Mouton Rothschild estates, too, but didn't get a tour. St Emilion was a great little town with an underground cathedral carved out of the soft stone over 300 years.
Hydrangeas are everywhere in Bordeaux in the summer
I liked the spider web with the hydrangeas behind
Sculpture of the viking boat on the grounds of Chateau Beychevelle
A window in a well off church in the wine town of St Eteph
August 25th, 2003
Hiking in the French Alps
Church in La Belard
Which way do we go?
A glacier passed this way
Snow at the top
A museum in Chartreuse area where the famous liquor is made