Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm in France having an enchanting time.

There is so much to see, do, and eat!

This is the first internet connection I have had since arriving and it is terribly expensive so I won't be able to write all that I wanted to. I have been keeping a log in my computer notebook that I will try to download.

Here are some photo's, enjoy!

France Day 2

I am in France! I am in a brassiere in Chignon called Café Des Artes early in the evening writing without an internet connection. The rest of the world isn’t quite as connected as we are in the States yet. There are special places you can go to purchase some on-line time but not in this little town. I will just have to transfer all the data latThis very moment I am sitting at the foot of a large hill in a small medieval town, looming above me is a beautiful fortress where Joan of Arc came to ask king Charles for armies in 1429. I actually stood in the same tower where she lived and prayed while she was here. I climbed the same steps that kings and knights took everyday , I stood over the Loire and gazed out at the forest and the river and tried to imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago…it was breathtaking.

I also made a visit to the chapel of St.Michel at the Abby Fonteveroux where I lit a candle for Stevie under a beautiful statue of Mary. France is interesting but a little sleepy off-season. It is cold and windy but the sun breaks through every now and then and you can get a peak at how beautiful it must be in full spring and summer. The Loire is green and the Chignon sits right in front of it where people must have washed clothes and passed through in small boat.
It's almost dinner time but I had such a late and heavy lunch I can’t imagine eating again, in real life you would never hear me say such a thing. I love to eat and I love food but France has taken me to a whole new gastronomic level; I can’t imagine going back home and eating the same way again. I feel like I have not stopped eating since I boarded the plane and the food has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. What should be fresh is very fresh, the bread is light and crunchy, the soups are hot and creamy, even my little sandwich was simple but divine; a baguette filled with butter and Swiss cheese. Everything I have eaten has been delicious.

I arrived yesterday in the afternoon. I had to take a train to Tours to rent a car. It was a little confusing and the “Fast train” was a little disappointing, it seems they are trying to modernize the rail system so the train is going at regular speed at the moment. So far I have been able to cruise without any French, I am understanding a little more than I thought I would especially if it is in writing . Finding the Hertz rental car was a little difficult, it was hiding on a crooked street about a half mile from the train station.

I spent the night in a small hotel Le Moulin Fleuri in Veigne - Mont Bazon where dinner came with the room. I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a feast of many courses each even more wonderful than the next. The first thing that arrived at the table was a creamy carrot soup topped with light whipped butter and chives. Then there was a larger soup that was dark and hearty loaded with sweet onions, a thick slice of toast and cheese. Because I am a vegetatarian the chef made me a special plate that was a work of art; roasted parsnips, broccoli, tomato, carrots and arugula. I was about to burst at this point but they kept bringing more courses. Next was a salad with a cheese assortment. The cheese tray was wheeled to the table where you chose five of your favorites of goat or milk cheese. They were pungent and tasted like heaven mixed with the salad greens. After all of that wonderful dinner came desert which started with a plate full of tiny tarts, cookies, and chocolates and ended with a tall beautiful mint green pistachio soufflé.

I went to bed bursting and blissful. The room was basic, no frills a little stinky because smoking still happens in public places here. Outside my window was a very large pond with a crumbling stone bridge that crossed over to a small forest. The park in front of the property was littered with tiny stone benches and bulbs that were beginning to open.

I can’t seem to call home on my cell even though the phone company promised it wouldn’t be a problem, texting seems to work and receiving calls isn’t a problem which leads me to believe it is operator error, the operator being me. I’ll figure it out.

Noah sent me off with a tearful good--bye and his oldest toy “Max” who happens to be a pretty hunky action figure who has lost his shoes and pants over the years but has kept his muscles and thick hair. I have been taking photos of max in silly locations and sending them to Steve’s Palm for Noah. I miss my little guy already, I am too far away from him.

Tomorrow I will rise early and find a nice breakfast and hopefully have a little more time to write then off to explore more of the Loire Valley and maybe head south to Provance before heading back to Paris for the rest of my stay here.

Oh I almost forgot I met a lovely shop owner who has her own version of Tangerine. She sells art supplies and loves paper from the States. She knows who Tim Holts is! She said that mixed media collage is just making it’s way here and she is very excited. I showed her some photo’s of my shop that were saved on my camera and she loved them. I bought a paint brush and small bottles of ink from her.

It has been a long day but a good one.

France Day 3

Not sure where to go but I think we are going to explore. Sarah would like to go to Burgundy…this is wine country. We will be traveling all day by car but it should be worth it. Our idea was to travel to the southern most part of France but it is over 980 more miles by car and the weather is cold and rainy. The coast will be even colder so we are going to check out the country where wine is made. Sarah loves wine, I love small villages so it should be fine.

I still haven’t made any purchases for the store but I am hoping to stop at shops and maybe find some outdoor markets on the way back to Paris.

am tired this morning, I think my body is still adjusting to the time difference. In real life it would be about three in the morning, here now it is ten am and I have just stuffed myself full of bread and hot chocolate. Sarah went for an early morning run and is in the process of showering and getting pretty.

I am downstairs in the Brassiere, our tiny hotel room is upstairs, it is sherbet colored with low beds covered in brown blankets. The coolest part of the room is the big windows that open up over the shops downstairs. We can see the boucherie and the Arts de la Table. The woman who owns the shop is very cute with cropped salt and pepper hair, and thick black framed glasses. She wears dark blue jeans and sweaters, she is very French, adorable.

There are teenagers in the bar this morning, they got up early to drink beer, smoke and be loud and silly. The girls are dressed in short, short skirts and black tights. They are wearing high shoes, sorry but I think they look silly, a little post 80’s mixed up. The boys have messy vampire hair (twilight). They seem happy, and they are having a good time, ahhhh to be that young and in France.

I have all kinds of wonderful idea’s for the shop. The wonderful thing is that my shop is very close to what is going on here, eclectic and colorful. I think I could use less clutter, the ribbon wall must come down I may wrap all the ribbon on tag shaped chip board and hang them in bunches on the mannequin. I think I need more stationary and a few more art supplies that are a bit unusual. My gut instinct is to phase out some of the children’s art supplies and gift packs to make room for a bit more ephemera and hand made gifts.

Ingrid taught me how to say “Butter, Butter, and more Butter “ before I left to France. I figured I had to find a way to connect, I was so sure they would kick me out for not eating meat, drinking wine or liking goat cheese. So far they seem to appreciate my love of butter, bread, milk cheese and chocolate, not a bad way to live.


Sarah and I drove to Veselay in Burgundy. It was a four hour drive but beautiful all the way. This is farm country, specifically grapes. It was green for as far as the eye can see, neat planted stands of trees, where ever a tree was cut down a new one was planted and the most organized wood piles stood next to houses waiting to be burned for heat. There are some modern houses but for the most part the houses are old and made from stone. Every house is shuttered no matter what age it is. There are no window or door screens and every window has a box full of flowers, mostly pansies and rosemary this time of year.

The roads are long and winding and when you least expect it a hamlet or small village will pop up on both sides of the road, each has an old church, a patisserie, and the prerequisite old men with red noses who walk slow carrying a bag (with what else?)a baguette poking out from it. I was told that men in France love older women and I have figured out the reason , it is because they are almost hundred themselves. I haven’t seem many young men nor many attractive men. It is off season so only the locals are around and they are pretty friendly but they are mostly older.
We have had to stop many people to ask for directions and so far they have all been helpful. Almost everyone speaks at least a little English which is great because I still don’t speak any French accept for the occasional Bon Jour and Pardon….sigh I am a lousy American oops I mean Canadian...

I am wondering what it ‘s going to be like in Paris away from all these farm houses and ruins…Will it be overwhelming? Oh I hope I love it.. Tonight I feel a little home-sick. I miss Noah so much. I know Aly is glad to have me out of her hair but I miss her too. I miss Stevie the most. I know she is always with me but I am far away from her bed, her clothes, the house that I spent so much of her life with her at. This is probably good for me but it doesn’t feel good, it feels sad.
I am going into a great big cathedral at sunrise tomorrow morning. I’ll bring my journal and some art supplies. I want to sit and be alone with all that history and all my history. I feel a connection to this place, it feels very familiar. I look like many people here even though my heritage is not French. I could live here easily, I bet everyone who visits thinks that…It doesn’t feel foreign to me it feels like I have lived here before, it isn’t an overwhelming feeling just an easy comfort.

Tonight I had dinner in a small restraunt owned by a husband and wife. It was a tiny place nestled in a big stone building. It had cream colored walls, windows with big fat wooden sashes that opened out to the street. The lamps that hung from the ceiling looked like tiffany and gave off the prettiest amber glow. The floors were tile and all the tables were simple and made from dark wood. It was elegant but comfortable.

The meal for me was vegetarian I started with bread and butter, then had the official Onion Soup. They brought me a plate of steamed vegetables that sat on a puddle of sauce that was made with cream and herbs. My cheese selection was milk cheese as usual, just the smell of the goat cheese trolley was sending me over the edge. I nibbled the cheese and felt guilty for wasting artisan cheese but I just can’t seem to appreciate aromatic cheese on it’s own. My desert was the yummiest slice of cake, it was bitter chocolate, dense, and warm. It was topped with a small scoop of freshly made pistachio ice-cream and a delicate chocolate lace. Sprinkled all around the plate was cardamom and candied pistachio. I ate every last itty bitty crumb to make up for the cheese.

Now I am back in my room which is on the very top floor of an old château. This place is hundreds of years old and made of stone and huge wooden beams that must weigh thousands of pounds. My room has one tiny shuttered window that has a view of the village below and the cathedral. The cielings are vaulted and uplit, there is a small loft over the beds where beams intersect. The floors are made of thick wood planks that smell like linseed oil. The wall by the window has been plastered and is painted a pretty aqua. The rest of the walls are exposed stone.

This room feels like a writer once lived here, I can’t explain it but I can see him sitting at an old desk by the window. He has long thin hair tied back, he is wearing a thick white shirt that is hand-sewn. His hands are ink stained and he has his meals up here. He has lived in France his whole life so the beautiful scene outside the window is too familiar to him , he has dreams of other places that he has never seen but can imagine clearly. Maybe he is writing about a woman who sits in a bed in this very room, who comes from far away and is writing about this place.

This trip is almost perfect but I am missing my best person.

Well it is very late and I am getting sleepy, I had a nice hot bath tonight in a great big tub in our room, I am sure that tub wasn’t here a hundred years ago but I am sure glad it is here now. The wind is blowing outside and I can hear the rain coming down…tomorrow another new adventure, we will visit a small town and abbey where they filmed Chocolat.

Bon nuit

Another day in France...

I got up early and spoke to Paul or Host and asked him about our chambre. He told me that a famouse french writer once lived there a very long time ago. Cool.

I spent the morning in the Bascillica in Verasay. I was there until my toes and bottom got cold and numb. The place is an architectual wonder. I wrote in my journal, prayed and lit a candle for Stevie.

Sarah and I headed out to explore more of Burgundy. The green country side, and the winding road are dreamy. We did all the site seeing our book told us to do and we also took some back roads to explore, feed ponies and see things many people don't.

We ended the day in Semur an ancient town. Our room is very modern and very different from the other places we have stayed at so far. There are big fat douvets on the beds, a giant bathtub, class tiles and Ikea-esque reading lamps, very strange because I can see an ancient crumbling keep from my window.

Dinner tonight was a salad made with lettuce, tomato, smoked salmon, and a dijon dressing. we had a huge basket of bread and Crepes with chocolate sauce. We stayed late talking and drinking fruity wine. Our bill was shocking...everything is yummy here but the price tag can be shocking.

Still no goodies for Tangerine, we keep missing the open air market days. I am not leaving here without old paper, trim, and trinkets!


Iva Wilcox of Iva's Creations said...

I am thinking about you!! What an enchanting adventure!! I can't believe you're there!! I look forward to more of your installments and photos. It goes without saying...enjoy!

Colleen said...

Oh all sounds so magical...I love reading all about it...I can close my eyes and imagine being there with you (wish wish). Looking forward to your next post. Enjoy....

HeArt Collective said...

what a FANTASTIC description, mademoiselle! sounds like a wonderful trip... thanks for sharing in such detail so we can all smell the goat cheeses and taste the cakes!

happy travels!