Monday, August 30, 2010

Bonjour! (better late and with photos from the internet than never)

The pressure of describing an entire week in France.  Where to begin.  How about by noting that I (Amy) have no ability to transfer photos from our camera to this computer, so I will be populating the blog with photos of others (strangers) because some photos are better than no photos.

We arrived in Paris a week ago today and headed immediately for the Gare de Lyon train station (above), where thankfully both croissants and english-speakers abounded.  A highlight from the hour or so we spent there was my attempt to translate for a man who spoke only spanish.  As he told me in spanish, his problem was that he didn't have enough money to buy a train ticket to Barcelona.  Specifically, he had one-half the price of a train ticket.  I dutifully explained this in english to the information clerk (who, like just about everyone here, claimed to speak little english but spoke fluently), and together she and I tried to come up with a way to explain "you're SOL" in spanish.  Hopefully he made his way to an autobus.  Moments later, we were on the TGV to Le Cruesot, which is sort of like the maglev in Shanghai but slower and frencher.

Upon arrival in Le Cruesot (a little town in Burgundy) our friends (the bride and groom) picked us up, and we were off to the Chateau, where we stayed until yesterday.  What's that?  You'd like a photo of the Chateau?  Ok:

Yes, it's as awesome as it looks, and yes, it's haunted.  We were met by a fantastic spread of vin and fromage at le chateau, and later went to a nearby town for a truly incredible welcome dinner: foie gras (3 ways, who knew), boeuf (Matt), fish (me, and no my french hasn't substantially improved), chocolat (as if I'd fail to learn that one) and of course, again, fromage.  They're really onto something here.  And by "onto something" I mean my pants no longer fit.  Literally.  I hope there's such a thing as a "welcome cleanse" in Los Angeles, which, now that I think about it, is a pretty good business idea.  Employment may be in my future yet.  Anyway.  Following the great dinner, we all went back to le chateau, where I woke in the middle of the night to a thunder and lightening storm that could not have been more cinematic or terrifying: doors and windows opened and slammed shut, our room lit up and then plunged into darkness, ghosts appeared, etc.  The week included innumerable references to the forthcoming horror movie "The Chateau" (and of course, since we were there for a wedding: "Chateau Deux: Le Marriage").

Aside from the initial terror, the french countryside was (surprise) absolutely spectacular.  The wedding took place on Tuesday at the Chateau (gorgeous), with a fabulous dinner at an 11th century restaurant in nearby Couches (cleanse me).  A real highlight (among many) was a sort of newlywed game played at french weddings: the bride is blindfolded and then must select, based on feeling a single body part (here, knee), which of five men is her groom.  The game is then reversed, and the groom must do the same based on the noses of five women (or, here, four women and one hilarious friend of the groom's).  Luckily the newlyweds were able to identify one another, hooray!  And no, I wasn't one of the four mystery women, at the specific direction of my adoring husband, who said "you're not playing."  Funny.

The remainder of the week was a combination of chateau-ing and touring around, with day trips to Autun and Geneva.  One piece of advice for those of you visiting Geneva: going under the Jet d'Eau is fun and worth doing, but keep an eye on the way the wind is blowing -- we found ourselves under a wall of water when the wind turned.  Oops.

The final day at the Chateau we went on a wine tour in Burgundy, on which I learned lots of things about Burgundy wines.  Interesting tidbit: they use no irrigation or additives of any kind, so the wine can change dramatically year to year, whereas in California many (if not all) of the vineyards manipulate the wine by irrigating and adding acid (or something).  When asked what she thought of California wine, our host said "I think California wine is not just wine."  Zing.  

Overall, the week could not have been better -- we were thrilled to be there for the beautiful wedding, and it was such a privilege to be at the chateau.  Merci boucoup to our hosts!

And now, we're in Paris.  We spent yesterday walking to, um, everything in the city: started in the Marais (where we're staying, love it) to the Louvre, then on to the Arc d'Triomphe (and up its 287 stairs to the top), over to the Tour d'Eiffel (no idea how my spelling is working out here), a stop at a neighborhood brasserie over there somewhere, back along the river by the Musee d'Orsay, over by Notre Dame, and back.  My legs hurt this morning.  As does my head, as a result of a vin-filled dinner with some of our chateau friends last night.   So I'll leave it at that for the moment.  No, I'll paste a picture from the internet of the Arc (just pretend it's me instead of her in the photo) and then leave it at that.   Au revoir!



Ron H. said...

You are not suppose to get headaches from French guess then, in Paris, you were drinking some of that California "not just wine." I love the wedding game idea, we should incorporate it into our culture. Bless the French!

fishwatch said...

Remember that time four of our friends lived in one apt in Paris for a summer and KR and B(G)B worked on a dinner cruise? Or was it dinner theater?