Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out of This World Move


I'm just loving this campaign from Europcar rentals, which partners with National...

It says, "Transport the Impossible."





tags: French car rental, aliens, OVNI, UFOs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tranquility....


How I'd love to be sitting here with the big thick Marian Keyes novel I just bought... But it's just a rêve (dream) because school starts next Monday, September 5th, and it's time to kick it in gear...

This is from a backyard garden in Banyuls sur Mer, located in France near the Spanish border on the Mediterranean side. A postcardy kind of place...

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Donkey's Back


In France, a speed bump is sometimes called a dos d’âne, a donkey's back... or a policeman lying in the road...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fontainebleau Postes et Telegraphies


Fontaintebleau's got some fabulous architecture... If we could just dig out of the moving boxes, I'd have more time to explore... This is the post office...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Favorite French Expression


When I sing around the house (which is quite frequently) my kids complain by telling me, "Tu chante comme une casserole." You sing like a sauce pan.

Secretly, I am sure they love it. ;-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Paris Brest Patisserie


If I were going to undertake a 745-mile (1200-km) race, I'd probably be able to afford the calories in one of these... Otherwise, probably not. So it's good that I split it with Ellie.

The "Paris Brest" is named for the race that made it popular... Every four years since 1881, cyclists have competed along the trek from Paris to Brest and back... It's the oldest cycling event still being conducted...  It was last held as an actual race in 1951...

It's shaped in the form of a wheel, and includes a puff pastry sliced in half, filled with praline creme and topped with powdered sugar. This variety, from our new bakery down the street, includes toasted almond slices...

This was gone faster than you can say ParisBrestParistwelvehundredkilometerbikeride. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Split Decision


Been awhile since I posted a culinary creation. Plus, we've moved and are exploring new bakeries in our midst, soooooo....

This was a crowd pleaser... Chocolate cream covered in chocolate, paired with coffee cream and covered in chocolate... Somehow, I managed to slice this into six bits so the kids and I could each try both sides...

Loved every bit, except the name... It's called, Le Divorcé....

The bakery down the street is reopening today under new management, so we will be among their first customers tomorrow... I'll be sure to report back...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Odd Town Name...


Adjacent towns are called Sugar and Eggs...

Just kidding.

St. Flour is a thousand-plus year old city that got its name from a visiting Bishop, Florus in the sixth century....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My New "Rue"


Like many French towns and cities (including Paris) ours has a street named for the 4th of September...  The name is in honor of September 4, 1870, when France established its third republic, ending the reign of Napoleon the Third.

The Second French Empire was overthrown when Napoleon surrendered on September 1, 1870 to the Prussians during the Battle of Sedan. This led to the cession of Alsace-Lorraine territory to the German Empire. Three days later France's new republic was proclaimed by statesman Léon Gambetta, thus the Fourth of September is a noted date in French history. There is also a metro (subway) stop in Paris named Le Quatre Septembre.

The Third Republic endured through to 1940 when the German occupation of France took hold during World War Two...

Monday, August 22, 2011

When You Wish...


We're finally moved into our new house... No, this isn't quite it. Photos soon...

One of the upsides of moving toward the Paris area is that we are now just 45 minutes to Disney, so I guess I will be making many repeated trips here instead of Chambord Castle when guests come... We'll be back again in about a week for visit #5....

I may be <ahem> 40-something, but I still love all the rides... I can live without seeing every inch of the castle though, and luckily, at age eight, Ellie is not so enthused anymore. She prefers to discuss the fast rides she hopes to grow tall enough soon to be admitted to go on...

On my last trip, an observant friend who used to live near Anaheim noted that the Cinderella castles in the US are blue, not pink... But the design is pretty close...

Sometime soon, I will do a "know before you go" post for Disney... We've learned plenty so far... I'm not yet even close to sick of it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quelle heure est-il?


I'd say it's about ten past two... Naptime after lunch at a good restaurant...

This was from Banyuls sur Mer, a bustling seaside village on the French side of the border with Spain...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ingenious Marketing


I thought this was really clever... That's the menu in white in the middle. When you approach to read, you're sprayed with a soothing fine water mist. So naturally, you want to stay, and read more, and more, until you've overstayed your welcome and it's time to go in and be seated... The sprays went off at random about every two minutes.

Beneath the menu it says, "Sunny and sheltered. It doesn't commit you to anything."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Roadside Café



Above was Bernard's platter at a little café outside Montpelier. A great find... La Réserve in Le Bosc...

♫♪♫ Bernard had a little lamb♪♫♪...

Pricey... but as we were starving and the grill we were hunting down didn't simply appear before our eyes as the very kind stranger in the shopping center made me believe it would if I headed in the direction he described... Sooooo...

This was what I ordered, in honor of the fact that we were headed to the sea... I divvied up the snails to the Frenchies at the table...

 
Kids meals were 8€ to 11.50€ (including appetizer and dessert). They went for the steak haché maison avec son écrasé de pomme de terre... A hamburger with mashed potatoes...


Somehow it's gonna be hard to go back to our usual overcooked spaghetti with burned meat sauce or over-fried chicken nuggets with veggies that have been simmering since ten a.m.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blue Skies


We had a picture perfect drive on the way to Spain two weeks back... For us it's about a nine-hour trek to where we've been going... Or twelve, depending on how antsy the passengers in the back become....


We often stop here because said passengers have gone gaga over one of those candy claw machines. Ugh. After they discovered that machine they wanted to halt at every rest stop from then on in search of another. Sorry, photo of this non-event not available. However, we did have some awesome eats that did not include candy on the drive...

More on those tomorrow... 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How the French Love their Dogs...


It says bar à chiens. Doggie bar. As seen outside a café near Fontainebleau on a hot summer day....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mouse Memories


In France, the Tooth Fairy has no jurisdiction. It's The Mouse. He follows the same guidelines: sneaks in at night only when you're asleep, takes the tooth and leaves behind a sum of money based on the tooth's condition, etc... The going rate here is about 2€....

This photo is from about four years back when Alex was a bit antsy about how the mouse was going to climb all the way up to his pillow. So he thought he'd help him out...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, General...


Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, France...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Located Where?


While this may look like a typical American amusement park, it's actually in Cuges les Pins, in southern France. You've got a Las Vegas saloon, The Tombstone Theater, and even a camping area where you can rent a really expensive teepee for the night.

Welcome to the OK Corral where things were totally NOT okay for us about seven years ago on our first trip to this place. We lost Alex, then age 4, for about three or four minutes. The longest three or four minutes of my life.

We stayed calm and remembered something we'd heard that proved true in our case: lost children often walk away from the sun. That's the direction we found him. After what felt like a few days later.

Otherwise, the park has always been a great experience for us. Well, except the all-too-real gunfight that scared the living daylights out of the kids on that first visit. (Ellie was two.)

 
They totally believed all the actors around them were dying. We had to stay long enough to show them that they were all going to get up off the ground and hop away...


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Name That Bird


These, of course, would be carrier pigeons...

Spotted on their perch in southern France...


Friday, August 12, 2011

ET in Narbonne?


Several years ago, France began publishing its investigative reports on UFO sightings on the Internet... I can't pass by Narbonne on our annual trip south without thinking about a report made of a sighting here on December 12, 1987...

According to the (one adult) witness, he saw six beings, from one meter to a meter and a half tall. The case rated a D in a ranking of A-D, with D being a case that could not be explained, despite information in the agency's possession. A cases are usually dismissed as other aircraft, known lighting, etc...

I am sure the locals appreciated the publicity that went along with this... You can read the report here, in French...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Millau Viaduct


This is the Millau Viaduct, which crosses the Tarn River along the A75 highway in south central France. It's about two and a half kilometers long, and it's quite a sight on a clear day.

It's the tallest bridge in the world with a height at one point of 343 meters. Designed by French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, the project took a little over three years to build and cost about 400€ million.

It first opened to traffic December 16, 2004, making the trek for tourists from Paris to Spain a bit shorter. But it's not cheap: tolls are 6.40€ for light vehicles... Each way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This is the Geoscope, a rock display at the La Lozère rest stop in south central France. Some have called this arrangement a geological museum. There are 45 stones, and each weighs several tons. There are panels with detailed explanations about each type of rock.



Honestly, this place doesn't rock my world, but after driving through mountainous terrain for a few hours, this is often the rest stop we choose. It's a smack-you-awake kind of place because the cold mountain air always slaps us back to reality when we open the car door. 

So, I suppose it is nice to walk around a bit and continue the reveille process...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Parc Floral


It's a beautiful time of year for Parc Floral, in Orléans...

Then again, any time of year is beautiful there...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Innovative Doggie Carrier


Whatever floats your boat... or your dog...

His feet barely touched the ground, but perhaps that was the point. This contraption looked like it was fashioned from a tea towel that had straps sewn above...

For when your pooch is "dog tired"...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just Ducky


I look at this photo and think, "Ah, the serenity of the Cosson River on a peaceful summer day...."

Some members of my immediate family would take a look, however, and be thinking more along the lines of, "Grilled with a nice cream sauce, some green beans wrapped in bacon on the side..."

Oh well, we all dance to the beat of a different drumstick... <Sigh.>

Saturday, August 6, 2011

La Mangeoire


This was my lunch the other day at La Mangeoire in the historic district of Orléans. If you go, go hungry, and be sure to reserve in advance. It's a small place and we were squeezed in like sardines, but well worth it.

This was a four-cheese tartine... It was a thick bread covered in green beans, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions, with grated cheese and a generous salad.

I arrived famished and still was unable to finish it!

BTW, the name mangeoire sounds so chic, until you learn that it means trough or feeding tray!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pretty in Pink


It says, "The new colors of cider."

Sorry, not a fan of cider, so I am not sure that the pink twist would convert me... And yes, cider does have alcohol in it here. A very small percentage... On the very bottom of the ad there is a warning about over-consumption.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

No Use Crying...


...but these boxes do make me want to scream... When they run out of bottles at the store or if someone else buys, I end up with these boxes. I've hated them from my first encounters with them in Switzerland. They are simply not practical. When you squeeze them, the milk goes in the wrong direction. Then it drips down the front. And sometimes gets under the glass.

Okay, that's enough. I promised not to cry.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Decorator's Dream...


I won't miss the trendy green pipes, nor the lovely cream colored toilet paper holder (non-removable) of my current downstairs bathroom... My lame attempt to hide the pipes with some plastic ivy was pretty much fruitless.

Another special feature of this bathroom: if someone in the toilet above you flushes, it sounds like you're in the Amazon rainforest....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eau à La Bouche


Among the many things I didn't get to do while still living in La Ferté Saint Aubin was to visit this restaurant, either before or after it changed hands several months back. It's been renamed Eau à la Bouche (mouth water) and I noted each time I passed by at lunch hour after work that it was always packed, and notably with cars from Department 45. Our department. So, it was not just tourists from the Chateau de La Ferté Saint Aubin, which is just up the street. Friends confirmed it's qute good.

Oh, well, this just gives me another reason to come back for a visit!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ahhhh, Picard!


I'm going to let you in on an ancient French secret: Picard Surgelés. This store is awesome. Nearly 100% frozen food, and I've yet to have a meal there I didn't like or found "too industrialized."

Okay, so it's not perfectly my mother-in-law's tartes, but when I can't make homemade, I know I'm homefree with something from my freezer. And recently, when we had a family of four visit, it came in handy to have something stowed away in the congélateur, since we did Paris, Orléans, Chambord Castle, the Tour de France and Disney all in a week.

It's times like those that call for frozen foods.  And during the previous weeks while we've been in the process of moving. Thank you, Picard.

I've already checked out www.pagesjaunes.fr to see that there are at least four in my new area!