|Marie & Jillian - at Faucon, on the last day of biking in Provence|
|The Eiffel Tower - we finally made it!|
The Photo Tour we did with a professional Parisian photographer was really interesting. Three hours on foot, walking in the Ile de la Cite and le Louvre area, being shown different shots and being told some different photograph tips, all went far too quickly for me; Jillian. Gilles was a very interesting person as well, so we felt we'd stumbled on a unique Paris adventure. It was cold though, bitterly so, just like it was for the Montmartre walk and the bike tour. Hat, scarf, gloves - we needed the lot, plus the wonderful jug of hot chocolate we enjoyed at the Hotel du Louvre Brasserie, before meeting the Photo Tour group.
|Marie with Clemence, our Citroen 2CV chauffeur|
I (Marie) found Paris a fascinating place. So much to do and so much to see. I particularly enjoyed the evening dinner cruise on the River Seine, where many of the sights lit up at night, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and many many bridges. Another highlight was a three hour ride in a chauffeur driven Citroen 2CV, which included a light lunch stop at the very classy Le Place Royale in Place des Vosges. Our chauffeur timed the red lights well on the Champs Elysee, and we were able to stand up - the sunroof folded back - taking photos of the Arc de Triomphe.
Meres $ Filles, a quaint restaurant in a 16th century building near our hotel in rue Saint Paul, was a great find. We've loved the food in France too. Marie experienced snails for the first time and could have eaten twice as much as she ordered! French cuisine is always beautifully prepared and presented. Meals at home in NZ will seem very tame in comparison and we'll have to prepare them ourselves!
(Marie): After leaving Paris and staying in Avignon and Isle sur la Sorgue, we began the self-guided bike tour organized by Peregrine Adventures. We experienced Le Mistral on the first day, a very strong wind (thought we would be blown off our bikes), and freezing cold, but the next morning woke up to a brilliant clear blue sky and far less wind. The weather just improved from then on and the last day saw us biking in t-shirts. Provence is certainly a beautiful place to visit and should be on your itinerary if you are planning a trip to France. The countryside was very picturesque, with the grapevines and trees in their autumn glory.
|Jillian - Les Dentelles behind, wine for Mark on carrier|
Jillian: I loved the French countryside, with its quaint old fortified villages built high on hilltops, ancient lanes, people going about their everyday life - and us being able to join in, buying our daily lunch bread at the boulangerie, tasting and buying wine in some villages, including a Caveau in Gigondas, plus olive oil, goats cheese, saucisson and olives. And Marie had some chocolate for us to finish with. We mostly rode along narrow country lanes, alongside vast areas of ripened, and ready to be harvested, grapes, and through many fascinating little hamlets with their markets of vegetables and flowers. There was some riding on the flat, but all too often it seemed there was a hilly stretch thrown in, especially in the villages
|Bedoin village, with the dramatic Mt Ventoux background|
The last stop on the bike tour was Vaison la Romaine, and after 2 nights staying there in a wonderful old home we traveled by TGV (fast train) to Nice, where we spent three action filled days catching up with Jillian's oldest son Mark. We included a whistle stop trip south down the coast to Monaco, before heading back to Paris , for two more nights before catching the plane back to Christchurch NZ.
PS from Marie: lunch in Monaco, looking right at the super yachts - wow! And Jillian taking pics of a little turquoise dingy. Some things don't change :-)
We're back home in New Zealand now - 29th November 2010. Seeing all the earthquake damage has been sobering. Hard for Darcy, with cracks in his house, and needing damage repair. Marie and I only lost some glasses and plant pots. And my darling wee Foxy, nearly-16-year-old Maggy, has had to be put down; very sad.
Darcy has had his 70th birthday party, celebrating with many friends, just after Marie and I arrived back. It's been a good trip, with amazing memories of all that we packed into the 3 months. Who knows what will be next!!
PS - keep scrolling down to the bottom of the site for more photos