Observations on French Travel
French "amusements" and/or observations
Energy savers! I love this!
The lights are always out until you walk in. Everything is sensored to read your movements. Long dark hotel halls become light when you cross the threshold. Hotel rooms magically light up when you enter. Public restrooms give you just enough light to not wretch at the filth...now I know why Kensington's has travel toilet seat covers! However it's a rare find if a toilet has a seat!
Aroma therapy! Life's too short to not use beautiful smelly soap.
Everywhere we've been the soap has been delightful. An explosion of fragrance and lather. The water is hard. French soap lathers, SOAP brought from home does nothing. I'm not the shopper who buys fancy soap. I never have been. But now I get it. Sometimes the fragrances trigger my shoulders to relax. I get the same response when crossing the Bourne Bridge. Now i think, just like with cheap wine, life is too short to only use Irish Spring😃! I'm soon to be a soap hoarder...I feel it coming on....
Eggs, eggs and more Eggs! Farm lands aplenty!
The eggs are smaller here and luscious. All free range. Often from chicken coops on property. Beware of the boiled egg! Chances are good that basket of eggs are fresh and uncooked on that breakfast buffet. Unlike in America where dozens of boiled eggs are ready for you to grab...France wants you to boil your eggs to your liking❤️! I love this idea!
Butter! Glorious Butter!
Did you know of the butter Sandwhich? Butter is the number one condiment in France. I wish I hadn't discovered this. In France, people grocery shop daily. This is for 2 reasons! Freshness and limited storage space! Every day we see people with their baquettes under their arms and sacks of veggies. However the butter is bought in big blocks and left out to soften. No small sticks here, mon amie!
Butter! Glorious Butter!
No Plastic! No Paper! Don't even Ask!
Global stewards, Europeans have long ago given up the free bag while shopping! If you didn't bring a sack prepare to carry you stuff all akimbo or purchase a sack at the register! I like it! Americans need retraining! FALMOUTH will soon be "plastic bag free"! There is Less trash floating around on streets here...global stewards.
Tolls ... There is no free ride!
Most highways are privately owned. In a stretch of 20 miles you could pay 4 tolls to 4 different owners for the right to get from point a to point b! There is some regulation on how much these private road owners can charge but we have not figured it out...
Collectively we have agreed to stop bitching about the Mass pike!
I miss his toes! Crazy, Right?
Remember Dick Van Dyke and Laura and their "twin bed master BEDROOM"? In every hotel room since we've been here...twin beds! No big deal as we are so beat at the end of each day we fall into our respective Twin and the snoring commences but... I miss the warmth of him. The reassurance of finding his toes...crazy, right?
Enough for now
Stuck from start to finish...
Mark has been itching to go to the paratroopers museum In St. Mere Eglise for as long as I've known him. Today appeared to be the day!
You see his beloved Dad jumped with the 507 airborne on June 6, 1944 into hostile territory at age 20 or 22. Mark has few memories of his Dad's war stories rarely told. But this he's got to see.
We meet our friends at breakfast and our host is unhappy with the service. When he talks to our server about his grumpy demeanor it becomes clear this man is the owner of the restaurant not a server.
But ultimately. Our host and restauranteur become friendly and all is well.. We get invited back for dinner.
On our way out the door we recognize our "server" with Princess Diana, famous movie stars, prime ministers and Vienna boys choir in photos that line the walls... (Egg on face...)
A farmers market that takes up 2 city blocks is happening out front of the restaurant. Not far from where our rental car is parked.
Mark wants to head to the paratrooper museum. Roxanne and I negotiate an hour of shopping at the market and then we'll go. He acquiesces... We are off to the market! Yeah!
It's Saturday! Everyone is out! This is a big deal! There is fish, veggies, shoes, flowers and dining room sets. We even saw mattresses. Kids in prams, brides in sandwich boards and Scuba masks (entirely different story), grand parents with carts and people with dogs. There were chickens, pigs and bunnies in crates. There was fresh breads, jams and wines...
Then it dawned on us...didn't we park in this lot last night?
We scurried to where we thought our car was
...and there wedged between the cheese guy and the woman with scarfs...and blocked entirely by the Vietnamese food truck was our Nissan rental car.
Marks shoulders sank in disappointment.
I laughed at the ridiculousness of the entire situation. Which only made Mark mad...
But really, who does stuff like this happen too? Really?
French Profanity was written in the road dust on our car by angry purveyors!
We clearly were taking up prime market space. A ticket flapped under the windshield wiper..
Mark and I did what any out of towner would do...we walked by the car and looked appalled. Who would park on such sacred space the night before the market. Looking puzzled, we walked right by. Owning no part of this calamity.
Mark was disappointed. He was recalculating in his head that we were going to have to go to the paratrooper museum tomorrow...
Meanwhile, our host found out we'd be on the road by 2pm and he'd take care of everything... No worries.
We head to see the Bayeux Tapestry which is ancient. It depicts the Norman invasion and was the original "picture book" for the illiterate towns people. It tells the story of the battle of Hastings. It has survived intact for 9 centuries. Crazy to contemplate! Embroidered, colorful, intact and still telling the story.
We hurried out of the museum as Mark wanted to be back at the car in time to get on the road to St Mere Eglise.
We divide up. The girls go to hotel to retrieve bags and guys go to police to pay ticket ...
Our plan is going to work out. All is well.
Hotel keys don't work. No worries. We get new keys. Time wasted.
Car still blocked in. No worries. We can wait. Mark starts to pace.
Police rip up ticket ! Score! (Stupid Americans!). I get a photo with the two pleasant cops...
And we are off...
Directions always challenging....but finding gas? No that was tricky. We found a gas station but the pump did not work....grumble grumble..
We find gas just before we were going to have to push the Nissan.
Meanwhile the car is covered in french profanity when we pull into busy gas station. What do we know? We can't read it! But the drivers of the cars all around us can...
Lots of staring
Lots of glaring
An occasional smirk
We move on. Museum is open til 7 pm. We've been trying to get there since 9 am. It is now 3:30pm.
Marks quiet. That's his response to stress. Just be quiet.
We make it! The museum is great! The stories are amazing...Mark tells us stories beyond the exhibit and now...
There is no affect. Body language is "droopy". Attitude is...let's just say...unpleasant...
It's been a long chaotic day. We need food.
At 4pm no eating establishments are open until 7pm. Nothing. Ugh!
Our host buys us all banquettes and we head back to Bayeux.
Roxanne and I decide to do laundry. Remember we only have carry on's.
There is a learning curve to french launder-mats, especially if you can't read the language.
We figure it out after much trial and go to neighboring cafe for wine while our clothes spin to cleanness!
It's 8pm. We laugh about the days calamities! We envy the men back at the rooms enjoying a nap or Internet time. We bring the wine with us to the laundry... We are nearly done. When it happens.
Lights out. Door locks. Automatically!
We stand staring at each other with mouths open with only the light of the revolving dryer to see each other with.
Visions of an overnight in a French Laundry are flying thru our heads... Our cell phones nearly dead. Our guys fast asleep. They will never miss us and come looking.
Could this day begin and end more challenging?
The headlines: Two American women found sleeping on top of dryers in downtown laundry...
At least we had wine and clean clothes!
Needless to say there was a lock release button and we were set free with minimum embarrassment...
We didn't have to press our faces against the cold glass and beg passers by for mercy...
We laughed at all the possibilities...
Stuck all night in a laundry...
Stuck all morning at a farmers market...
Today we were just plain STUCK!
We held hands and barely spoke...
Powerful, Sobering,and Concerning....Normandy American Cemetery
I've heard about June 6,1944.
I've watched "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers".
I've listen to the stories shared by WWII veterans but somehow until your here, on the cliffs looking out over Omaha and Utah beaches, with the 9,387 headstones behind you...it just doesn't resonate.
Tour buses of every nationality empty into the parking lots and this spill of humanity is remarkably somber. Instinctively voices are lowered to a respectful whisper. The demographic of guests is clear.
The baby boomers remember their parents angst. They remember their Uncle or grandfather and the stories. They are here, like me, to honor and thank this generation for their sacrifice.
Missing from the tourists this day, any one under 40.
Sure there are some school groups. But those kids are too busy flirting with each other or texting on their cell phones to really take this place in.
We wondered out loud if "the greatest generation" will truly be lost when our generation is no longer here to care? What if years from now these protected memorials fall into disrepair and are lost to development because the lack of stewardship.
We walk down the center mall of the cemetery and stop like hundreds of other Americans visiting when we hear the National Anthem over the loud speakers. The Americans stop, face the flag and wait until the song is complete to continue their visit.
This training from childhood made the non-Americans stand out as they continued to browse the gravestones.
Then it dawned on us. Maybe this act of respect is no longer taught? Isn't our anthem more associated with "ball games" these days? Secretly, I know several of us wanted to yell "play ball" when the song ended. Training.
We walked to the chapel reading the stats:
Latin crosses 9,238
Stars of David 149
Missing in action 1,557
Sets of Brothers 45
Medal of Honor recipients 3
I placed some small American flags at graves of unknown soldiers. Several visitors bought flowers to lay on the graves.
Gun shots get our attention. We turn to look back toward the main memorial and the the bugle sounds the haunting sound of "Taps".
The sniffles start. The Kleenex are pulled from pockets and purses throughout the cemetery.
Kids. Just young adults doing what their country asked them to do... 16-40 year old soldiers memorialized here. On this hallowed ground.
So grateful to have made this visit. Photos to follow as they are on my camera not my phone.
Some warn the French are unwelcoming. I was told more than once how rude this country can be.
Not the case so far.
In Bayeux, we saw signs stating "Liberators ️Welcome".
Bayeux.... Steeped in history!
*It's where the tapestry that which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England!
* it's the town that hosts the largest British WWII cemetery.
* it's the home of the "memorial for journalists killed in the line of reporting". The last name was added in 2007.
1,889 journalist have been added to this memorial between the dates 1944-2007"
Our host worked his magic and found us the last 2 rooms. This place has no rooms available until Danny talked to the manager. How does he Do it
Thank you to all the liberators...
This town is charming!
I was selling a house that had a stream in the back yard. My sellers were getting frustrated. Together we hatched a plan for a realtor open house focusing on duck races down the fast moving stream.
We had 40 or so ducks. At the party, my husband and the seller discovered their interest in WWII...
My seller (our host) said one day in jest, (so I thought) "sell my house by Bastille day and I'll take you and your husband to France."
So here we are...
After we checked in to our sweet b & b last night, Roxanne, our hostess, presents me with our "traveling" duck... A survivor of our Duck Races...
So ...here you go... "as our duck travels..."
TRAVEL as an incentive to sell your house?????..I haven't seen that on HGTV!