Friday, October 29, 2021

Let’s be Franc…

 Many people have preconceptions about the French. What drives us crazy is people will tell you how unfriendly and rude the French are when they have never been here or interacted with any French people. They tell us there are only hole-in-the-floor bathrooms and you must bring your own toilet paper. Today we dispel some myths.

The first thing you must learn when traveling to France, is before you interact with any French person you must greet them properly, otherwise you are considered very rude. A bonjour madame or bonjour monsieur will open more doors than a doorman at the Ritz. No greeting? No response.

It is a school holiday in France right now so many things are on altered schedules. We arrived in Blois via train and needed to catch a bus. There was no indication of where this bus might be. We stuck our heads into the doorway of a bus that was going the opposite direction and the kind driver left his post and walked us down the platform to where the one we needed would show at some point. People are happy to help when you show a little effort and they realize how bad your language skills are compared to theirs. Even if they don’t speak any English at all we manage to figure things out. Speaking like Tarzan and acting out charades have done very well for us.

Our Airbnb hostess has left us treats in the morning like fresh homemade butternut squash sweet potato soup with a vegetarian base. She offered to drive 20 miles to pick us up from a garden. Tonight she brought us fresh organic apple compote that she made. This Airbnb is immaculate with ironed and starched sheets and tea towels. It is not like most Airbnbs where we must clean when we arrive and the towels all seem to be sour.

The public restrooms have all been free, which I admit is a change. We used to have to pay a euro. They do not provide toilet seats, I guess it is one more thing to clean. The men’s room is interesting because often there is a woman in there cleaning when a man goes into use it. Nobody seems to look or care. The bathrooms are clean and more plentiful than I remember. As for toilet paper I am including a picture of the dispenser from the ladies room. I was curious to know if the men’s only had one because it looked a little boobish. What I love the most is the doors go from floor to ceiling with no crack down the side. Total privacy. Gender doesn’t matter because nobody can see. This is not particular to the French but all over Europe. Why do most Americans have a big gap in the bathroom door?

People do not pick up after their dogs here so there is dog poop everywhere. Paris has street cleaners that come out every morning but smaller towns do not have that. That is a negative.

People don’t smoke like they used to. It may be due to Covid and masking, but we rarely smell cigarette smoke. The perfume isn’t as strong as it used to be either.

The sun rises later here. I’m attaching a photo of one from almost 9 o’clock this morning. It was the end of our good weather but now it is absolutely pouring. It is in the 50s so we are still very comfortable. 

Yesterday we took an 18 mile bike ride along the Loire to Chateau Villandry to see the magnificent gardens. We still managed to walk 6 miles! 

It was 68° yesterday. The French must be immune to heat. The picture of the ladies in the puffy coats and scarves show the typical dress. Everyone wears puffy coats and scarves. John and I were in short sleeves and jeans and dying. I don’t know how people can wear this much clothing when it is almost 70°. Places tend to be kept very warm as well. Maybe it’s because the French are so thin?

The final observation is that Well we have seen very few berets, it is very common to see baguettes under their arms at the end of the day! Now, that is a custom we can follow!

One additional photo I had to include was the quick reads dispenser at the train station. To promote literacy, you could get a child’s story or a grown-up story printed out on receipt style paper. How cool is that!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Tours, France

Tours! Our hours of tours in Tours...or as the French would say, “To! Ou urs to da To.” or something that only involves pronouncing a few of the letters. Why use them at all?

Our hostess, Michéle, has spoiled us. She provided enough (farm-sourced) produce, honey, goat cheese, etc. to have breakfast for a week. Our gîte is a stone house in her garden and is one block from the train station, but dead quiet. 

We are in the Loire Valley, or Valley of the Kings...which looks much like the Kings Valley in Oregon, but with Chateaux. No wonder the French revolted. Many of these 100-room second homes were never used or only used once. Insane.

Today, we visited Chateau du Clos Luce, Leonardo da Vinci’s final home. It was a humble chateau with beautiful gardens located in Amboise. John was in heaven studying the many scale models built from LdV’s designs. What a genius! 

All has been great except for some issues with technology which seem to have been fixed, and credit card fraud, that turned out to only be on John’s card so mine will still be paying bills while we are gone. Whew!

Now, if I could only sleep between 1:30 and 5:00 am. Any tips for beating jet lag? We are walking 6-8 miles a day and no caffeine. Still awake.

OK, blogger absolutely sucks on a mobile device. I can’t modify photos or see what I am posting beyond two paragraphs, so if everything is funky, I apologize. I will let you figure out which pictures go with which commentary.

Tours’ City Hall (Hotel de Ville)

Baguette vending machine at the train station. Hot and fresh anytime!

DaVinci’s bike and spring-powered car)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Looks Like We Made It!


We arrived in Paris with enough time and energy to play tourist for half a day!

The flight from PDX to ATL was stuffed. We were the last 2 passengers allowed to carry on bags. The remainder had to check them in. It paid off once again to travel light! ATL to Paris was only 10% full. Spencer, the wonderful flight attendant advised us to grab two center rows before anyone else grabbed them. We were able to stretch out across 4 seats and sleep! 

We checked in at 1, got a day pass for travel and by 3pm we were touring the Palais Garnier, Paris’s opera house. Afterwards we grabbed a sandwich and pastries and watched the sunset over the Eiffel Tour.

The only hitch in the day was on the return to the hotel. There was a suspicious package at Gare du Nord that shut down all trains headed north. Thousands of our new best friends were scrambling to find alternate transportation. We managed to grab an airport shuttle bus and made it back to the room a little after 9. So thankful for transit options, a shower and a bed.

Off to Tours today. We learned it is pronounced “to”. More on our bad French to come.

Sorry for the upside down and sideways images. Loading on mobile has been a challenge. I will work on this!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Well, we're off!

Off? As in mentally? Physically? Metaphorically? 


Follow along as we explore the next chapter of our life. We are so glad to have you along for the journey.

BTW - This is a Citroen Ami - check it out here. It may be our only option for driving if we can't get a FR license! But more on that later.