Bon Voyage Paris.
Now before you go getting carried away with the title of this post, NO I did not do acid or any other hallucinogenic drug while in France. I did however tour the entire Northwest region on a vacation within my vacation.
I think I made it pretty clear last week that I love Paris. Who wouldn’t? Beautiful art, beautiful architecture, beautiful people (which obviously went up during my stay ;) I mean, what’s not to love?
Welp…along with all of that, Paris is a big bustling city that is, as is any big city, highly commercialized. That’s why it was amazing to get out of Paris for a week to tour the Northwest Coast and Countryside.
Now, getting out of Paris was no easy feet. For the amount of traveling we were doing, we had to rent a car, and driving in Paris is absolutely insane. I mean, it’s not quite “India Insane”, but it’s close. Once we got out of the city (which, to drive like 4 miles, took an hour), the driving was relatively smooth sailing (especially for me in the passenger seat ;) Some interesting things we noticed about driving in France though.
Apparently, the French don’t believe in traffic patrol. In all of our travels, we saw not one single highway patrol or traffic police ANYWHERE.
Instead, they apparently have radars on the highways the somehow catch you if you speed. Despite the signs and warnings, we didn’t see one camera or radar. Maybe they’re hidden? Maybe they’re bluffing? Who knows?
They also don’t believe in using many traffic lights. Instead they have roundabouts. Lots and LOTS of roundabouts. I went through literally 20 times more roundabouts in the week of traveling, than I have in my entire life.
If you plan on driving in Paris, GET A GPS. There are so many side roads and little alleys that you would just as well miss that you actually have to drive through to get places.
Apparently, on these one lane roads, it’s ok to stop, throw on the hazards, and take your sweet time loading crap into your truck while traffic accumulates behind you. This happened numerous times. This had me audibly cursing the French.
When I first turned on the radio, I was happy to hear a mix of French and English hits. Joke’s on me! They don’t believe in variety in France. I heard the same 10 U.S. hits, and the same 5 crappy French songs every damn minute. I had seven stations I was shuffling between and they ALL played the SAME DAMN SONGS. One can only take so much Lady Antebellum.
But aside from the driving weirdness, the trip was amazing. Our stops included: Giverny - to see Claude Monet’s house, garden, and museum, Rouen – saw the sight where Joan of Arc was burned and indulged in the best chocolate of Normandie, Honfleur – to enjoy the amazing harbor, Mont. St. Michel, Dinan, Cancale, Aboise, and Vouvrey.
This all covered three provinces: Normandy (where we saw the D-Day beaches, specifically: Gold, Utah, and Omaha), Britagne (amazing crepes!), and Loir Valley (where we toured castles and drank lots of wine).
My French also improved mightily on the trip as English speakers aren’t quite as abundant in the country as they are in Paris. During our wine tour in Loir, none of the wine people really spoke English. We met Aurori, Laetitia, and Bresson. We spent an hour chatting with Bresson, the owner of a winery we visited who didn’t speak a word of English.
Outside of Dinan, we stayed at possibly the most amazing hotel I’ve ever stayed at. It was basically a huge converted barn out in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere. It was owned by an amazing French couple, Patrick and Ann-France, who ran it more like a bed and breakfast. They cooked homemade French Dinners and Breakfast for us, and showed us around there amazing property.
So in a nutshell (well, I suppose it’s too late to really nutshell this post, but oh well) the Northwest countryside of France was AMAZING!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Bon Voyage Paris.