Jon & Joan started a new business taking the elderly to Europe and charging a fortune to take them around and feed them horrible food. We’re their 1st employees. My job was to take pictures to make them feel like they got what they paid for.
Home for the 1st four days was Hotel De La Porte Dorée. The drive from the airport to the hotel via shuttle bus was nerve racking. I have never seen so many aggressive, rude drivers in my life. None of the other drivers seem to mind so this must be the way they do it in Paris. We dropped off our bags and had a couple of hours to kill so we went across the street to a local brasserie. I had my 1st of what I hoped to be many omelette du fromage.
After a quick nap we went to a private lunch off the shore of Lake Bercy in the Bois de Vincennes area, at Le Chalet Des iles Daumensnil hosted by our new friends George & Marilyn.
The walk along the lake was nice. It provided a glimpse of familiar waterfowl we have in Alameda. For some reason, the coot and ducks look healthier in France. This was also our first exposure to the Paris dog crap piles. I’ve read that the crap here is so bad the government has launched an effort to address that. For now we can now say this is shitsville. I wish I would have taken that photo of the public service announcement on cleaning up after your dog.
After dropping off the council of elders, a small group of us took the Metro into the city to get acquainted with the public transport system. I have to say the Metro is impressive, not that you couldn’t get lost but once you get the feel of how it works, you can get anywhere without a car. On top of that, the Metro entrance is right outside our hotel. That night is when I had my 1st of many Canard (duck) meals.
Breakfast was at the hotel for me while Sandy slept in. Then we all took the Metro to Notre Dame & Sainte Chapelle.
Lunch was on the grounds outside Notre Dame. Our visit coincided with a celebration of bread so there was a huge tent set up with wonderful bread and pastries.
This was followed by a boat ride along the Seine river. We had planned on a guided tour around Paris’ chief attractions but this was more of a water bus. That was fine as everyone feel asleep. It was a nice change from all the walking and the cold. On the way to the boat, we saw the love locks. We counted 968,754 locks.
After a quick nap at the hotel we enjoyed a private dinner hosted once again by George & Marilyn at Au Vieux Paris.
Breakfast was a short hop around the corner. We have found the French breakfast menu to be very limited. Basically, a croissant and espresso. By the way the hotel elevator is the smallest I’ve ever seen. Barely wide enough for one person to fit.
We took the Metro to the Champs-Elysees. We walked to the Arc De Triomphe and Place De La Concorde. We were thrilled to catch sight of the famed Hunchback of Notre Dame… no wait, that was Auntie Karen. It rained on us this day so I didn’t take a whole lot of photos.
For lunch, we happen onto Cafe De La Paix for an outstanding meal. Duck & Rabbit, how can you go wrong. The Opera Garnier was next on our list.
After our now routine commute to the hotel we skipped dinner in favor of a short nap before we went to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Unfortunately I didn’t have a wide enough lens to shoot the tower at close proximity so all I could do was shoot from the top.
Today we spent all day at the Palace of Versailles. While it was beautiful I hesitate to post a lot of photos as they all start to look the same.
Pretty French Police Officer & graffiti is universal I’m afraid.
We had lunch on the grounds at La Flottille. France is not safe if you’re a duck.
For our last dinner in Paris we strolled down our street and ate at the Metro Brasserie.
Quick pack up all your stuff and jump on the train to Marseille. We are moving to Provence. We converged at the Gare De Lyon station quite early so we thought to sit in the waiting room. We were happy to find that there was barely anyone else in the waiting room which meant we could all relax until departure time. Well, the room smelled of shit, literally. I made it for about 15 seconds before I had to leave. The winner was the couple who could stay in there the longest. The prize was they would get 1st pick of the room at the chateau.
As our train approached Marseille, the clouds got darker & darker. By the time we arrived it was raining. We rented 3 large vans and in a comedy movie fashion of the blind leading the blind, we trekked to Fontblanche. The place is just outside of Gordes. The 10 bedroom house was incredible. My photos could not capture the impressive architecture. Next on the agenda room selection. This was a harsh vicious session in which age, loyalty & family ties were put to the test. Not to forget, ability to climb, carry, bend and remember how to get to your room.
After the blood & bruises healed we ventured into Gordes for dinner. Now in these small towns a group of 18 can overwhelm the very small restaurants.
1st on our agenda Isle Sur La Sorgue for the farmers market. Our mission was to purchase food items to share for lunch.
We brought all our finds back to the house for a buffet lunch.
Avignon – Palace of the Popes was quite a sight.
We made a quick side trip to Pont Du Gard.
Dinner was in the quaint town of Goult. The restaurants were so small we had to split up.
An early rise to make our way to Cassis, not without incident though. We made a wrong turn (GPS next time) & got lost we ended up at a Peugeot dealership. Aunty Janet asked the salesman if she could use the restroom. He graciously said yes, and she asked if it was alright if her friends came too. She omitted the fact that she had 15 friends who needed to use the restroom. With good directions in hand we set out to continue our drive. On the 1st roundabout the lead van got confused and we ended up going around a few times which confused the rest of the traffic. What is the centrifugal force when 3 huge identical white vans, traveling at 40kph around a circle that is 20m in radius?
Some took the boat tour to view the caves. The faint of heart or those who forgot to take Dramamine strolled and ate until the tour was over.
It was such a long day we decided to stop at Isle La Sorgue for dinner. It was Tuesday and most of the restaurants were closed. We spotted one that was open and in an attempt to facilitate seating we separated into small groups. We ended up taking all remaining tables. The waitress spoke limited English but Jon was gracious to jump in to carry the menu board and explain the specials for each of our tables (8 I think).
Breakfast at Fontblanche.
Aunty Karen reported a nighttime visitor in her room.
We decided to visit Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.
Next on our roadmap was Roussillon. Jon got a free poster autographed by the artist just for being…Jon. Anybody else who wanted a poster had to pay 20euros.
We stumbled into Restaurant David which was a highly recommended pick. I have to say it was one of our best meals.
Dinner at Fontblanche. I took the grill and was meatman. Duck, lamb & chicken.
I had to sneak out to get a night shot of Gordes.
A very small town Joucas was our first stop.
We next visited an Abbey in Gordes.
Our final group Lunch at L’ Estellan was incredible.
One last group shot before the trip back home….
We arrived at the Marseille airport early only to find that our flight to London was delayed 1.5 hours. This in turn caused us to miss our flight out of London, while everyone else made theirs. We had to stand in line for 1.5 hours, then the process of rebooking took another hour. We had to try the fish & chips while at the Heathrow airport. I’m sure the airport dish was not the best but still, it was a welcome meal. We made our NJ flight and in a very convoluted route found our hotel. We caught an 8am flight back to SFO, vacation done.
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