We have spent a full week in France, and it has been a sensational experience. On the one hand each day is long, non-stop and packed with activities, including miles of walking - I should have taken a pedometer and measured the distance - strolling around town, wandering through museums, trudging up stairs in hotels and museums, and climbing steps outside, where it always seems we are walking uphill.
On the other hand time has flown. Only two more days of touring and we fly home Friday.
A few things gained, lost, and learned in this beautiful country -
I am sure I gained a few pounds. The food is too good. Breads of all varieties are fresh, placed on the table in front of you, and irresistible. There was ice cream from the local glacé stand, chocolates from the chocolatier, a cookie or two from a patisserie, and a special dessert shared by all.
One evening we splurged and ordered dessert, even though we had consumed more than a healthy share of calories that day. I ordered the chocolate mousse, a waitress recommendation. A few minutes later she placed a large bowl half full of chocolate mousse in the center of the table along with a serving spoon encouraging us to dig in and indulge. Which we did. We could have seconds and thirds if desired, but a few spoonfuls of the rich concoction was more than enough. Apparently there are no restrictions on serving the same dish of food to different tables.
We have been tempted by French onion soup, fresh farm cheeses, croissants, local dishes such as fish soup, pot roast, lamb, pommes frites (fabulous French fries), and octopus (not me, octopus was NOT a temptation for me!).
And You cannot complete a discussion of French food without mentioning wine.
What is France without wine?
Lunch and dinner at a cafe, brasserie, restaurant or hotel room demand wine. Not a regular wine drinker, I sometimes order a Coca Cola Light. Of course there is always water served in a large carafe - if you ask for it.
Our trip would not have been complete without a visit to what we were told was one of the best wineries in Provence. I am far from a connoisseur, but the place displayed several award-winning medals won over the years for their wines. At Chateau Sainte Roseline we tasted whites, reds and roses. It was only 10:00 a.m. in the morning, but as a favorite American singer immortalized, "it is five o'clock somewhere!"
We are electronically-connected travelers, but confine communications to free low-speed service offered at our hotels. Cellular and data service was turned off following wheels up when leaving Philadelphia. The charges are high and no one wants to be interrupted with phone calls or other extraneous noise from the states when our French guides are weaving wonderful tales.
While on the subject of gadgets, I must report a lost item. My electric outlet converter remained behind when I left the hotel in Paris.
One more note on electronic gadgets. You do not see people walking down the street appearing to talk to themselves. Everyone has phones, but it is not common practice to talk loudly with earphones or a phone in your ear.
What is common are people smoking everywhere outdoors. We were told the number of smokers has fallen dramatically over the past few years, but sitting at an outdoor cafe table enjoying a coffee, we were too often assaulted as the table next to or behind us lighted up, and/or passers by strolled slowly along, leaving behind a trail of nicotine smoke.
I have not lost anything aside from my converter - at least I do not think so. But I have shed a few things. Small bottles of shampoo and other toiletries used and discarded, and some underwear, bras, and other clothing. In an attempt to minimize washing, I packed worn items ready for replacements. I wear them and toss them, leaving space in the suitcase for items purchased.
Shopping, or more accurately viewing, has been an on-going activity. This morning we spent time browsing an outdoor market in the town of Aix-en-Provence. Main Street, closed to traffic on market day, displayed dozens of booths selling clothing and textiles. The church square was full of vendors offering antiques and knick knacks. There was another large area for food vendors and a flower market.
pictures will have to wait until I am home...
there is lots more to write about and the trip is not yet over...
And a personal note to our hubs at home. We are having a great time. We will have to come back with you guys and show you some highlights of the trip you would enjoy. We will do that for you. We Love you and miss you, see you soon.