I started this post toward the end of our week (last November) in Paris so will just pick up from what I was writing while there. Since Paris, however, we spent 6 weeks in Portugal (see previous post) and recently returned to Lyon to finish our long term VISA process. After Lyon, we spent two days in the blistering, frigid, windy, yet sunny, city of Marseille. Now, back to Paris and all that is France.
We’ve been in Paris for a week now and are getting ready to leave tomorrow. About halfway through our time, last Friday night, the terrorist attack occurred. At last count, 189 were killed and over 300 critically injured. Naturally, Paris, and the world, are in mourning. All museums and other National sites have shut down in honor of all impacted. The Eiffel Tower is dark as is Disneyland, all museums and other national sites of interest.
You see we did get in some sites before everything closed down.
Our flat in Paris was on the fifth floor. In the US, what we consider the first floor is the zero floor in Europe. There was no lift! Yes, we carried our five bags up 94 narrow steps. Then down again when we left. Of course each day we walked up those steps more than a couple times!
An interesting fact about France is that in most public places where steps are involved, escalators are only available to go up, not to go down. In some train stations there are no escalators. Elevators are marked for wheelchair use only. You would expect us to be quite svelte by now with all the steps and site seeing. Not happening. In Lyon we had 85 steps to our flat. Our hotel in Marseille was on the second floor, really.
Over the past two weeks we traveled from Pierrelatte to Saint Remy visiting Arles (the haunts of Van Gogh), Les Baux (another Roman Castle and village on the road from Rome to Spain), Nimes (pronounced Neem, the birthplace of denim and home of a well restored Roman arena). Most of this time we spent with Stella, our former exchange student from Italy and her boyfriend. What a great re-connection we had.
Then we covered the sites of the movie “A Good Year” in the Luberon region (past post). From there we headed to the French Riviera visiting Monaco, Nice and Antibes. We found the Riviera to be very crowded and the beaches quite rocky. Not our cup of tea. For the past week we’ve been in Paris arriving via train from Lyon where we returned our car. Yes, we’ve covered a lot of territory.
What we’ve learned. The French have some great national highways much like our freeways called the autoroute. The exception is, as in Mexico and most all of Europe, these are private toll roads. You can take the two lane state funded highways for free. Most of the time these roads are more scenic, are well maintained and much slower! However, the cost of the autoroute can be as much or more than what you pay for fuel. For example, traveling from Villefranche sur la Mer on the Riviera to Lyon we paid $54 Euros. Ouch! Didn’t use a full tank of fuel though.
I think I’ve talked a bit about food. Just a note, cooked carrots are very common in Provence. (Sorry Janneen). We’ve had them in Paris also but not every dish. Maybe it’s just the season?? Serving sizes are generous. Dessert and coffee are integral parts of the meal. It seems that everyone eats dessert and has coffee after. Coffee always comes after dessert, never with! When in France… Oh yeah, I’ve been doing it too. The coffee is typically a shot of espresso. It’s very good, a satisfying end to the meal. Desserts are good too.
Also related to eating out, the waiters and waitresses, as a group, really hustle. They get paid a liveable wage and want to keep their jobs. They work at their career!
The French do love their dogs. For the most part they keep them on a leash. However, there are times when they are on laps in restaurants. Hmmm. And that was on The Riviera! The French aren’t big about picking up after their pooches. Gotta be watching your step.
Most Brasserie/bistros have outside seating. This is great until you sit down and realize you are in the smoking section. Yup, the outside spaces are where the smokers sit since they can’t smoke inside. There are a lot of smokers in France, young and old. It’s surprising the national health care doesn’t fine people for smoking since it must impact health care costs. And people smoking at the entrances to public places as well as along public walkways can’t be good for anyone. Enough of my soapbox!
The man purse is alive and well in France.
Now for some pictures. We say Au Revoir to France and we’re off to Barcelona, Spain.