Saturday, July 21, 2007

And so it ends

The day in the rental car was fun. Spent the morning wandering the old part of town in Quimper then we drove out to Pont de Raz - the "end of earth".

I'm on the plan Monday and then in Denver until Friday. I'll try to get some photos up over the weekend.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Solo success!

It's been a pretty productive 2 days here in Normandy. Tuesday started out kind of rough when the number 2 bus never showed up. Still not sure what happened - the stop had a 2 and time schedule, just no bus. I ended up walking to the Caen WW II memorial. Even weirder I followed the bus route some of the way and still never say the 2 headed in my direction. Strange - took me about an hour and that included at least one wrong turn and back track. The museum is impressive. The call it a peace museum and I spent about 6 hours there. Much to my relief the number 2 was at the right spot when I got out of the museum and I avoided another long walk!

Today I rolled out of bed at the crack of 6am to take the bus over to Bayeux. There were 3 buses scheduled to go to Bayeux today but two of them didn't leave Caen until after lunch so I opted for the 6:50 departure. The bus got to Bayeux around 8 am which gave me plenty of time to grab a coffee before heading over to see the Bayeux Tapestry museum. If you not familiar with it the Tapestry is around a 1,000 year old linen cloth with the story of William the Conqueror embroidered into it. The museum has a 15 minute movie about the story and then they give you an audio guide that tells the story as you walk around it.

From the museum I headed into town to check out the local market. It was pretty small, only around 50 booths so after walking through that I headed up to the cathedral. The cathedral is huge. I took some pics but am sure they won't do it justice.

It was only about noon and I didn't want to head back to Caen so early so I caught a different bus into the City of Arromanches. This is the little town where the British created a temporary port right after D-Day to bring equipment and supplies in. The museum in town had a nice little movie - they literally started the english version 5 seconds after I paid my admission, great timing on my part!! - that shows the planning and setup of this temp port. I think they said that 15 of the 115 pieces are still out in the harbor. Another interesting afternoon.

This could be my last report. I catch the train back to Lorient at 7:23 am tomorrow. We have a rental car lined up for Friday and plan to drive to the Western edge of France, the Brest area of Brittany. I might get a post up Saturday after I turn the car back in.

I have lots of Pictures and will try to sort through them and post some by the end of next week. It might be tough because I am scheduled to fly up to Denver for a BIE conference on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading - hope your having a great summer where ever you may be!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Soloing in Normandy

I'm down to my last 7 days of summer vacation. I managed to get my reservations handled and am typing this in an incredibly hot and muggy internet cafe in Caen, France.

I'll be in Normandy for the next 3 days. Planning to go to the WWII memorial in Caen tomorrow and then maybe taking a bus over to Honelfeur (sic) in the afternoon. Wednesday I am planning to take the bus to Bayeux and spending the day over there, Thursday at 7:32 am my train leaves for Lorient.

It just got through pouring rain. I mean Arizona monsoon pouring. Brittany has these all day rains that the locals call spitting. Valerie and I rode our bikes down to a little bar in Port Louis in the spit yesterday. Today it poured while I was having dinner. I waited out the rain, picked up a few beers and am now heading out to check out the town.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Last post for today

Had enough? Is anybody even reading this? Please post a comment if you are - anything!

Monday we drove south from the L'isle. Our first stop was the market in Cavillion. From there we went to the village of Fautenot. There is a famous French writer from there named Alfonso Daudet. We visited the Daudet windmill and walked around the village a bit. We spent the rest of the day cruising around looking for fabric stores.

Yesterday we returned the car and took the TGV back to Lorient. We changed trains in Paris which meant a Metro trip from Gare de Lyon to Gare de Montparness. Everything went smoothly!

I'm flying solo in Lorient today. I'm thinking about making a solo journey up to Normandy sometime in the next week ( I come back to the US in 12 days, the trip is going fast). I figured I should test my skill at communicating in France with virtually no French skills before I set off by myself.

Hope everythings good back in the states.

3 days in a rental car

Saturday we picked up the rental car in Avignon. We had to get the car there because the Avis location in Arles is closed on Saturday.

Our first stop was the Perrier source located south of Nimes. Since it was Saturday, the tour consisted of a 45 minute movie (in French) - during the week you visit the bottling operation etc but that part is closed on the weekend - we skipped the tour but hiked around the grounds and visited the chateau. That part of the trip was a bit of a disappointment but the next stop more than made up for it.

The Pont du Gard is incredible. Pictures and post cards don't do it justice. It and the Coliseum in Rome are the two most impressive historical sites I have ever seen. We did the museum tour then hiked out to the site. You can walk across the bottom section and then there's a little path that takes you up the hill too some great views. Awesome!!!!!!

We reserved a hotel room in the little town of L'isle sur la Sorgue. The Sunday market is pretty big - Valerie thought it was bigger than the Saturday market in Arles but I didn't. We spent most of the morning touring the vendor booths and then set out to visit the Luberon.

We visited a small village whose name I didn't write down then went towards Gordes. As we approached Gordes Valerie recognized the town of St. Pantelone as a village that we had visited on a van tour we took back in 1998. There is a small church there that has an interesting legend about babies being risen from the dead ( Is risen a word?)

We then drove through Gordes but decided it was to touristy and headed off to the Abbey Senaque. This proved to be a big problem as there is a little road that leads to the Abbey and there was a major traffic jam. We managed to get out of there and went over to Rousillon. We did a hike through the Ochre cliffs, had a beer, and headed for our Hotel room.

8 days in Provence - Arles

We are back in the Lorient region of France. It was a sunny fun filled week in Provence. I'll put a couple different posts up to recap the week.

Valerie's Mom's train was 30 minutes late so we picked her up around 11 pm on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning was spent at what the locals refer to as the small market, there were still lots of stalls and it seemed pretty big to me but Saturdays market had significantly more vendors. After an afternoon siesta we went to the roman arena for the bull run. It is an interesting event. (I have lots of pictures but no way to post them so I'll get some up after I return.)

Thursday we took our own tour of the Carmague. There are three companies that provide jeep tours but they are kind of expensive - 4 hours for 48 Euros per person. We decided to take the regional bus down to Les Santes Marie de la Mar, a small village at the bottom of the Carmague. We visited the park orthonligique which in English means a bird sanctuary (or something to that effect). We then took the bus the rest of the way to the village, had dinner and went back to Arles.

Friday we visited the Cloisters de St. Triomphe, took Valerie's Mom to the train station. Had a nap, visited 3 other sites and called it a day;

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Made it to Arles

Well my vacation really started yesterday. The first week was pretty much spent just getting acclimated to France time and hanging out in Riantec.

We took the TGV (France's version of the high speed train) from Lorient to Marseille. The journey actually started at 5 am when we got up and secured Valerie's Moms house. Even though her place is in a small village the place is secured like a store front in a big city ( metal doors that roll down over the front and back doors, storm shutters etc). From there it was a bus then boat then second bus to get to the train station in Lorient. The trip itself was uneventful, unlike the trip from Paris our trains were on time and no problems with the connections.

We are spending 5 nights here in Arles. Valerie's Mom should be on a train headed to Arles right now - we are meeting here at the train station at around 10pm. Tomorrow morning is the big market, then a bull run at night. A bull run is similar to a bull fight with the big exception that the bull does not end up dead. In a bull run young athletic slightly nuts kids run in front of bulls and pull strings or ribbons from there horns. Local merchants provide prizes for the successful individuals. Not as much blood but still lots of action.

Today we hit the tourist office and got the Arles museum pass. We made it to the Ancient history museum and the ruins of the roman baths. There are 5 or 6 other places we will try to get too in the next couple of days.