Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pastry shops of Lyon

What do you expect of the gastronomy capital of France? The book stores are chocked full of cookbooks. It's a great place to buy cookbooks. I regret I didn't buy any. A lot are in English though the rest are in French. I have tried to decipher a recipe in French before using my little French-English dictionary, it worked, I made the dish. It's full of Ateliers, shops that sell one of a kind things- paintings, fabric, hats, scarves, etc. It's a great place to eat and to shop.
If you're ever in Lyon, bring lots of money. It's small enough to cover in a day and do great damage to your wallet!

Today's my birthday

Let me drink some tea while I prepare dinner.

What do I do with leftover cake?
What am I doing today? I'm waiting for the plumber. There is a sewage back up problem in my house, I should really have them send a camera down to see what's wrong, fix it once and for all, instead of scheduling a plumber's visit every 6 months.
I had compnay over last saturday for all our birthdays, mine, my niece's and her mother's (my sister in law). We had 2 birthday cakes, Sophie took one home, thank God! I still have cake in my fridge.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's this?

I swear I didn't staged this. We returned to our Paris hotel room one day after a day of sightseeing and came back to this. The maid left us 5 rolls of partly used toilet paper, presumably from other rooms, rolls used up partially by other guests. Usually most hotels would give you a new roll and leave behind the partly used up roll so you can use it up. But to give us other people's partially used up rolls, Well, this is the first time it has happened to me. We went to complain at the front desk, the sweet guy said that management is encouraging them to use up every roll and they were to take the partly used up rolls also. Yeah, I can understand getting to staff to use them up but getting your guests to do it...? I couldn't pass up the photo op.

Paris, arrival in Paris

It was an uneventful train ride from Avignon on the TGV. The TGV train is too long and wouldn't fit in the old train station at Avignon centre so they built a TGV station outside of town. There's a navette (shuttle bus) that runs between Avignon and the TGV station. There are TGV trains that take you to all corners of France, to Paris, to Marseilles and Nice, to Lille where you can connect with trains from the rest of Europe. It's amazing, I love the TGV, they're so fast and efficient. It makes Europe so much smaller.
We arrived in Gare de Lyon, one of the six train stations in Paris. This trip I decided to stay in a different part of Paris. My first 2 trips I've stayed in the posh 1st arrondisement, my subsequent trips in the Marais. This, my fifth I chose the Rue Cler, Rick Steves' touts this area. I was curious, not wanting to miss anything. It has its advantages, it's quiet but after staying here, I wouldn't do it again, it's too far from the 'action'. I still prefer the lively Marais district.
The Rue Cler area is too out of the way, having to take a long metro ride and with making a change halfway. Whereas in the Marais, I hardly need to get into the metro at all. The other thing, we keep bumping into Rick Steves' people. We saw this Oregon couple there; we sat next to them at a restaurant in Lyon the week before. We said, 'hi', again. They're nice but to bump into people twice in France is odd!
The same thing happened in the Cinque Terre 2 years ago. Rick Steves loves Vernazza and every where in Vernazza, it was all 'his people'. Good thing, we didn't stay in Vernazza but in Manarola. It happened also on another Italian trip. We were in the company of Rick Steves' people throughout the trip - Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. Then we were 'Rick Steves' people'. I'm glad he doesn't write anything about Southern Italy or Sicily. These places are Rick Steves' people free. I like the guy, I started Europe using his guides. Now I use 'Let's Go' and/or Lonely Planet. They go to more places.
This was Sophie's second trip to Paris. She was just there for 1 day the first time. So I had to play tour guide again.
After working hard to reorient ourselves to Paris again, we finally secured some metro tickets and found our way to Rue Cler and to our hotel.
It's nice is you want to be away from the livelier areas of Paris, a pedestrian friendly street, lots of eateries, grocery stores, cheese store, a regular self-contained neighborhood.
There's even a branch 'Lenotre' bakery that's spoken of highly by blog, Parisbreakfasts. We peered into the window, it's OK, mind you, we've seen enough pastry shops in Lyon, that's the topic for another posting.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Last night in Provence

There's a little shop called 'Pylones Paris' which sells kitschy plastic things. We rushed over there after our tour was finished and bought a plastic bird that chirps when it is rocked. They call it, 'Piu Piu'. If you read the blog 'parisbreakfasts', he's featured in it and that's how I found out about it. We thought we'll get one each to bring home. He wasn't cheap, at 9 euros each.
Then we rushed over to a bookstore to get some art books specific for Provence and Sophie wanted some scarves.
Then it was back to the hotel, settled our bill, pack and went to dinner and to sleep.
Tomorrow we take the TGV to go to Paris.....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

St Remy en Provence

Nostra Provincia was the term applied by Caesar to Southern Gaul (Southern France), the Roman's first conquest outside Italy. Provence is the French term referring to the areas of Southern France where her Roman conquerors settled after the conquest. They (the ancient Romans) built circuses, arenas, aqueducts, arches, temples, baths and all kinds of things to simulate life in Rome. Much of these remains, some in ruins, others still intact and still being used like the arena in Arles which I had the opportunity to visit seven years ago.
Our third village of the day (after Le Pont du Gard and Les Baux) was St Remy. As we drove into the village we passed Glanum, an ancient Roman settlement of which what remains are Roman ruins.
Then we were dropped off outside the cloisters and church which was the sanitorium where Van Gogh spent some time in. It was very peaceful and beautiful. I don't mind spending time there. Then we walked a narrow path to the village proper, there was displayed paintings (copies) all along the path, those he painted while in Provence. One can truly see how Provence inspired the man.
St Remy is the birth place of Nostradamus.
It is less touristy and we walked the quiet streets, had hot chocolate at a cafe before we went to the rendezvous point where our mini van picked us up to take us back to Avignon.
This was our last night in Avignon and in Provence. Tomorrow we take the TGV and head for Paris. I'd love to come back and soon, I know I will.......

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More pretty pictures of Les Baux

I have so many pictures and no outlet to show them except here. I used to haul all of my pictures to friends and family so that they can view them. These days there is just too many. I've always been impressed about how pretty French cemeteries are. I have a lot of pictures of French cemeteries also. Whatever the French does, they do it well. I have learnt a lot from the French. It still is my most favorite European country.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Les Baux, a picture gallery

As I wait for the photos to upload, I'm reading Thoreau's Walden... ' I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner and to reduce it to its lowest terms and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.'
I need to read this, the news is all bad.....
There's never a time like this when we should live like Thoreau in "Walden'.