Vive la France!

Vive la France!

Welcome to my blog -- follow us as we travel around France.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dordogne to Normandy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another foggy morning, but this time it was misting, too, and cold.  We got things pretty well organized last night, and since we didn’t have to pack or move the kitchen stuff, getting the car loaded was much less of an ordeal than on our previous moves.  We left most of what we bought for cooking, including the little bit of food we had left, behind.  Derek & Pat arrived about 8:30 and helped me get the suitcases in the car.  They have a friend who has some health issues and had mentioned last week that she might benefit from bed lifts like Mom’s.  So, we offered them the bed lifts, which they gratefully accepted.  We need the room to get all of our purchases home.  I plan to jettison a lot more before we get everything all packed.  We have another set of bed lifts at home and for $20 it’s a small sacrifice.
It was a little after 9:00 when we got on the road with Francine on the dashboard.  By the time we got to the Autoroute, about 15 miles, it was raining and it rained off and on most of the way north until we got into Normandy.  The traffic wasn’t bad, though, and there was only one place where there was a back-up.  Unfortunately, it was so foggy that we couldn’t see anything from the highway and I’m sure we were missing some nice scenery. 
We stopped at one of the aires (rest areas) for coffee, and checked out the boutique.  They had polar fleece jackets on “promotion” – buy one for 24.90 euros and get a second one for 14.90 euros.  Did I say it was cold?  Those jackets looked pretty darn warm, so we both bought one.  We had to laugh, though, because it seems like we always end up buying jackets when we travel because we don’t bring anything warm enough.  We figured that this is the fourth time.  We bought sweaters in York (England), jackets in North Conway, New Hampshire, and fleece jackets at the Target in Tumecula, CA when we were there at Thanksgiving and it snowed!  Anyway, those jackets made the rest of the day much warmer.
Traveling north through different regions and departments, it was interesting to see the changes in architecture.  Most of the time we were in farming country and saw a lot of cattle and sheep as well as crops – plowed fields as most crops have already been harvested.  I think one of the things that makes France such an interesting place to travel is the diversity of the landscape from one region to the next.  It’s almost like going through different countries.  Since other countries have laid claim to areas of France at various times throughout history, you can see the influence of those countries.  For example, Germany in the east , Italy in the southeast, Spain in the southwest, and England and Norway in the northwest.
The trip was approximately 370 miles according to Michelin and Francine followed the same route.  We were on the road for about 9 hours, including 3 stops.  It was just  before 6 when we arrived at our hotel in St. Pierre du Vauvray, which is right on the Seine.  The hotel is very charming and the people are so nice.  There is an elevator – a typically French elevator that is probably not even a meter square.  They very kindly let Mom in through the basement, so she could take the elevator from there, avoiding any stairs.  They originally had us in a room on the 3rd floor, but switched us to one on the 1st floor (in the US it would be the 2nd floor).  The new room has a bigger bed (2 twins on the same headboard), and a much larger and nicer bathroom with a separate shower.  We also have a terrace, which is the roof of the porch below us, and have a view of the river from both sides.  We are in the rounded part of the building.  Since there is only 1 flight of stairs, I let Mom use the elevator while I take the stairs.
We had dinner in the hotel dining room and it was excellent.  The décor of the dining room is like an old ship's dining room, or captain’s dining room.  We had a starter course of shrimp and scallops in puff pastry, and Mom had halibut for her main course while I had rack of lamb.  There was a chocolate dessert that defies description.  Suffice it to say, it was so good!
There were 2 families each with 2 little boys, and 2 couples also in the dining rooming.  It was interesting to watch the parents deal with the children.  The dining room has an aquarium with several different varieties of gold fish and that really attracted the boys, who are all French.  Two of the boys are maybe 4 and 6, the other two a few years older.  The younger ones were quite active, but the parents did such a good job of keeping them under control without raising their voices or having to scold them.  They came into the dining room about 30 minutes after we did, and they were still there at 9:30 when we left – pretty late for young children to be up, eating dinner.  The same family had breakfast with us this morning and the kids didn’t seem to have suffered for it.

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