Category: France

Nuts For Grenoble

By , October 18, 2010 5:00 am
Lac De Laffrey

Lac De Laffrey

For the first couple of days in Grenoble, we hung out with Boris’ friends, Audrey, Eric, and Guillemette. They took us to a delicious pasta restaurant where we had ravioli stuffed with frog legs! Afterwards, we walked around downtown. There was a great night vibe with lots of people hanging out at the bars, watching an outdoor movie in the plaza, and just catching up with friends at the park.

Ravioli With Frog Legs

Ravioli With Frog Legs

Café Liégeois

Café Liégeois

My favorite was when we visited the local farmers market under the bridge. It was a very active market with lots of locals shopping for fruits, vegetables, and cheese. It was great to be able to sample everything before purchasing it. I had soft brebis cheese for the first time and it was amazing. Don’t forget to try the small walnut cakes which Grenoble is well known for.

We filled up our rolling cart for our picnic by the lake. It was a perfect day as we were sipping on grapefruit wine while eating charcuterie, cheese, and watermelon. When it got too hot, we would dip in the fresh cool lake and then nap in the sun.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Awesome Clouds

Awesome Clouds

Right outside of Grenoble, we visited Boris’ childhood friend, Benjamin, and his family. Boris and Benjamin have known each other since they were 3! We were happy to spend time with them and especially, celebrate baby Mathieu’s first birthday. He is such a cutie!

Thank you Audrey, Eric, Guillemette, Benjamin, Christelle, and Mathieu for an enjoyable time in Grenoble.

Mathieu Almost Walking

Mathieu Almost Walking

Benjamin And Baby Mathieu

Benjamin And Baby Mathieu

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French Alps Via Land and Air

By , October 15, 2010 5:00 am
Alps

Alps

We spent two exciting days exploring the French Alps with Boris’ mother, Marie-Helene, and her boyfriend, Gerard. The first day was a nice drive along the highest road in Europe, Col de la Bonette. The road eventually loops around a summit and since it is the highest point reached by the Tour de France, it is not a surprise to find many bicyclists there. With the high altitude and mountainous landscape, it is also a great place to find groundhogs. I have never seen one in the wild before so I was ecstatic when we were able to sight at least 4 of them. When the animals heard us nearby, it was so cute how they would run back inside their burrows.

View From The Summit

View From The Summit

Groundhog Sighting!

Groundhog Sighting!

The next morning, from a small airport in Cannes, we boarded a 4-passenger plane with Gerard as our pilot. Our tour began over the French Riviera, which was easy to identify from the massive cluster of homes next to the seafront. Soon enough, we were flying over the Alps. Everywhere I looked, there were green mountains and small white clouds above. In the next few minutes, they transformed to snow capped mountains and it was so bizarre find skiers below at a ski resort.

French Alps

French Alps

Snow Capped French Alps

Snow Capped French Alps

We were in the air for about 2 hours before we landed for a lunch break in the small city of Gap. Right after landing, we walked across the field and crossed the street to a nearby restaurant. How VIP is that. :)

Break In The City Of Gap

Break In The City Of Gap

After a lunch, coffee, and finally an ice cream break, we were ready to fly back. For the most part, the ride was smooth. When we got closer to the mountains, there was some turbulence that freaked me out.

View From Above

View From Above

Amazing Chateau From Above

Amazing Chateau From Above

When we finally landed for good, I was relieved. We had an awesome time and France is absolutely stunning from above. Before parking the plane, we drove up to a gas pump in the middle of the airport landing zone. It was quite comical because I’m usually in a car when I pull up for gas, not a plane!

Thanks Gerard and Marie-Helene for a wonderful experience of the French Alps by land and air.

Road Trip In Style

Road Trip In Style

French Alps

French Alps

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Sweet Lavender In Provence

By , October 13, 2010 5:00 am
Lavender Field And Senanque Abbey

Lavender Field And Senanque Abbey

For Bastille Day, celebrations called for fireworks during our visit to Aix-en-Provence to see Boris’ graduate buddies, Damien and Coralie. They recently purchased a very cute home inside a small village, which we love, especially the water fountain right outside.

Bastille Day Celebration

Bastille Day Celebration

I was very excited in the drive to Lubéron to see the lavender fields at Senanque Abbey. I’m not sure what it is about lavender, but I had been waiting to see the rows and rows of purple. It was very tempting to pick some of the flowers but with the many bees guarding it, I refrained. When the fields were semi clear of people, I felt the need to skip along do my impression of the Estee Lauder advertisements. I probably didn’t look as good as Gwyneth Paltrow but whatever.

Mui Skipping In A Lavender Field

Mui Skipping In A Lavender Field

About 30 minutes away, we arrived at the French Colorado of Provence. After a short enjoyable hike, we were on top of the cliffs and got a spectacular view of the area. It was random to find this kind of bright yellow and deep orange landscape in the middle of a green mountainous region.

The Colorado Of Provence

The Colorado Of Provence

Back at the house, I got my first crepe party experience. The crepes were made on a special grill and then we added various toppings to it. While you can add what you like, I was advised to go from sour to sweet toppings. I am not sure if it is tradition or for taste, but we drank apple cider along with our crepes. I thought it was a very fun and interactive meal. However, the highlight was when Boris tried to get whip cream from the automatic whip cream maker and it basically exploded all over. It’s usually me that would do something like that but it’s much more humorous when someone else does it.

As always, we had a great time with Damien and Coralie. Thank you both of you and congrats again on the new home. We can’t wait to see you both soon!

Village Of Gordes

Village Of Gordes

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise

Lavender Field At Senanque Abbey

Lavender Field At Senanque Abbey

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Lorraine and Alsace: The Northeast

By , October 11, 2010 5:00 am
German Influence In Alsace

German Influence In Alsace

Every visit to France is guaranteed a drive to the northeast to visit Boris’ grandparents. Once a busy region, Lorraine had many job opportunities in mining and manufacturing. Today, things are much quieter and the unemployment rate is high and increasing. The traces of the fortunate past are revealed in the old lavish homes that are still standing.

Château de Marbeaumont in Bar-Le-Duc

Château de Marbeaumont in Bar-Le-Duc

The drive through farmlands to the tiny village of Abainville is very peaceful and scenic. After a knock on Boris’ Papi’s door (grandfather on Dad’s side), we are first greeted by a very happy black dog. Following is the dog’s master, an even more cheerful man that has a little resemblance to Santa Claus, but without the beard. At first sight, Boris is waiting and hoping for an acknowledgement that his grandfather still remembers him. Soon enough, he receives a big old hug from his Papi. I am always in awe when we visit him. At his old age, he stills lives by himself (with his dog), does normal every day things, and still knows how to tell an elaborate story (we never know if it is true or not).

Along with Boris’ Papi, we drive over to Boris’ aunt’s home that is 15 km away. They have the cutest giant rabbit in their garden. It is amusing to watch the bunny eat the vegetables out of their lovely garden and Boris’ uncle trying to stop it. One of my first meals here was surprise meat. While eating it, I didn’t realize it was horse meat until after. It was not bad.

Dad's side: Aunt, Grandfather, Boris, Cousin, Uncle

Dad's side: Aunt, Grandfather, Boris, Cousin, Uncle

Our next visit is to Boris’ Mamie’s (grandmother on Mother’s side) who lives about 60 km away in Loisey-Culey. She lives there with her boyfriend. When I heard about their story, I was in love once again: At the age of 16, Boris’ grandmother was madly in love with her boyfriend. Soon enough, her family had to move so they departed. They wrote letters to each other until sometime after he went to war. Years later, they were out of touch, married different people, and had their own families. Several years after Boris’ grandfather had past away, Boris’ Mamie received a letter from her old boyfriend. They met and it turned out that his wife had also past away several years before. They fell in love again and have been together for 8 years.

Me & Frenchie With The Lovebirds

Me & Frenchie With The Lovebirds

Boris' Grandmother With Her New Grandchild

Boris' Grandmother With Her New Grandchild

Boris With Mom's Side Of The Family

Boris With Mom's Side Of The Family

After many kisses from Boris’ Mamie, it was time to say goodbye and head east to Alsace. The strong German influence was apparent in the style of homes. At the door to greet us is Boris’ aunt, which he has not seen for at least 7 years. Hiding behind her are her two grand daughters who are on school break. They were both so shy in the beginning but after lunch, they became young active children, but still so precious. Boris’ aunt is another talented cook. And best of all, she loves cheese.

MuiMui With Boris' Cousins' Kids

MuiMui With Boris' Cousins' Kids

Traditional House In Alsace

Traditional House In Alsace

This trip overall was wonderful as I got to meet many more of Boris’ family. No matter who it is, I am always surprised by the amount of love they automatically show me. There is never too many kisses and hugs in this family.

Strasbourg Church

Strasbourg Church

Inside Strasbourg Church

Inside Strasbourg Church

City Of Strasbourg

City Of Strasbourg

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Road Trip Along The French Riviera

By , October 7, 2010 5:00 am
Cassis

Cassis

Our travel along the coast began with our first stop in Marseilles to visit Boris’ dear friend, Marc. The city is known for its strong pride among its residents especially for its local football team. There is no doubt what a beautiful city it is, especially around the old harbor. Unfortunately, as you enter the city, you will soon learn how chaotic it is. As always, I enjoyed listening to Marc’s enthusiasm about the city of Marseilles and trying to get me to like Pastis, a favorite drink among locals. Thank you Marc and Alexiane for hosting us!

Marc And Alexiane

Marc And Alexiane

Callelongue, A Fisherman Village

Callelongue, A Fisherman Village

A visit to Marseilles could not be complete without seeing Cassis, which is about 20 km east. We chose the scenic route on La Gineste where you get a sweeping view of Marseilles from the mountaintop. As you continue further along the road, where the houses start to get grander, you know you have arrived in Cassis.

View Of Cassis From The Cap Canaille

View Of Cassis From The Cap Canaille

Even road tripping in France is different from in the states. I got accustomed to making frequent mandatory breaks for coffee and rest versus stopping only when needed. Our next mandatory break brought us to the village of Bormes les Mimosas, which is known for its flowers used to make perfume. We had a pleasant stroll through the village and to the church on top of the hill.

Bormes-Les-Mimosas

Bormes-Les-Mimosas

By this time, I have passed out in the car for a few hours and have awoken to the sounds of the popular French Riviera. As I opened my eyes and try to gaze out the window, I was instantly swept away by the Cap Esterel. On the right side were just beaches and the blue sea. The entire left side was orange rock and it reminded me of Arizona. This had to be one of my favorite scenic parts and now I understand why people would give up the sandy beaches and settle for rocks.

Landscape Near The Cap Esterel

Landscape Near The Cap Esterel

Famous for holding an annual film festival, we wanted to see Cannes. While the old town was nice, the main avenue was heavily commercialized. Before visiting Cannes, it is probably useful to know that it costs about 50-80 euros to rent a beach chair for the day.

Beach In Cannes Along The Croisette

Beach In Cannes Along The Croisette

With less expensive beach chairs (not by much), Nice is a better option to stay overnight. Our generous friend, Megan, shared with us her grand hotel room with waterfront views. It’s been a while since we have experienced something that luxurious so I couldn’t help but admire the details of the room, especially the free chocolates. At night we went to a nearby restaurant and because our food took a little longer than it should, we got free drinks and appetizers. We love the service in Nice!

Merci Megan for visiting us and for a great trip. Let’s do it again soon!

MuiMui And Megan

MuiMui And Megan

Gourdon, A Cute Village On A Rock

Gourdon, A Cute Village On A Rock

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow