Eating our way through France . . .

Trip Start Jun 20, 2003
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Trip End Mar 01, 2004


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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

France was a gastronomical delight! We started our eating tour in Chamonix, which is in the French Alps in the valley underneath Mt. Blanc, right on the border of Switzerland and Italy. The hiking was fantastic as expected, and seeing the glaciers stretching down in the valley from the tops of the mountains was beautiful. We did an above the tree line hike, which made for some amazing views of Mt. Blanc, and an along the valley hike through the forest and pastureland, which reminded us of Switzerland. The hikes were made all the better by our delightful picnics of fresh French breads, stinky cheeses, creamy yogurts, divine pates, smoked meats and incredibly fresh fruit -- the likes of which you simply cannot get back in the States.

The next stop on our gastronomical tour was a beautiful french farmhouse in the heart of Provence. Since we arrived without a car we were essentially stranded at our B&B. This horrible fate meant that we had to hike in the vineyards all day and at night be subjected to brilliant 8 course dinners prepared by our very hospitable and able hosts who spoke little English, but definitely knew the language of food.

Paris, our final stop in France, was a delight on the senses. This city is nothing short of beautiful. It being our first time, we did the typical touristy things - the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, a walk down the river Seine - and loved it! Our favorite was the Musee de Orsey, which has some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. But of course, the Louvre was spectacular and overwhelming, and we got to see many of our favorite French revolutionary paintings as well. Of course, we also managed to sneak in several excellent restaurants where we dined to our hearts' content.

Alas, France was not all perfect. While we did met some exceptionally nice people, who went out of their way to be helpful in all sorts of ways, the rumor that the French aren't fond of tourists was confirmed in the train station attendants. Susan knows a bit of French from school, but its all mixed up with Spanish from work, which makes for a confusing combo. So everytime we sidled up to a train attendant, we would say bon jour and, rather than subjecting them to our dreadful language skills, ask in French if they speak English. Invariably we would get a very curt "non" accompanied by a bored or hostile look, and we would delve into our French. After five minutes of confusion, the now angry train attendant would begin to speak perfect English. Time and again. It got pretty frustrating for us, and made train travel not so fun. But at least the food and wine made up for it and more, and we definitely want to return to France in the future!

But the trip moves forward, and now we're off to Italy for pasta and renaissance art! Au' revoir!
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