Touring Normandie and Touring Tours

We had two nights at the farm.

Our day in between was spent getting up late!
But by 11am we were on the road to the war cemetery nearby and the landing sites of D Day from many years ago.

These are informative, moving places, opening up what had been stories and turning them into events we can now imagine and picture much more clearly.

This trip so far has been a really great lesson in European history, what was going on before the wars started, why they happened, what they might have been like for the people living here, and puts a whole lot of stuff into perspective.

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I touched the English Channel water. The others said it was too cold. It was!

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We found a lovely little sea side village to have a late lunch. Port-en-Bessin-Huppain

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Later we found the German embattlements that withstood ongoing attacks for days.

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Wednesday saw us heading off on our own in the Touren, down the coast to the quaint Mont St Michel, then through rain and hail to our accommodation at Tours. 130kmh motorways were nice. 18€ for the privilege was a surprise.

I’d booked a hotel the night before on the farm computer, and had accurate information, just not enough of it. We arrived at 6 Rue Raymond Poincare, Tours to find it was a garage door. It was raining, 5:30pm, in the middle of a bustling city and near the strip joints. And our accommodation was a garage door. Hmmm. Phone call to the hotel. Yes, correct address but try 151 Chentepie too. HMM, address not in GPS….. a little worried by now, the rain was heavier, Kerry was going pale, Cassidy and I found a lovely hotel, 400€ at night with marble entrance hall, lovely furniture, suited guests, on a nearby hill and asked the bemused reception guy – we’d walked in looking rather worse for wear than their normal clients. Naturally he’d been to Australia lots of times and spoke excellent English.! True. He explained that the were four such named streets in the area of Tours, and our hotel was actually at Joue-les-tours which everyone knows is a different town to Tours. Of course, how easy!!!

Still raining, low fuel light flashing in the diesel, we headed back into peak hour traffic to drive the 20 km extra. With 25km left in the tank, this could become a problem! Staring grimly ahead managing the traffic, whilst truly helpful guidance was coming from the back seat for impending collisions, and pallid Kerry with the GPS, I spied a fuel station, veered off our route and found a nice little path directly to it. Seems like it was a bike path from the markings I noticed later, and the stares of the locals, who clearly were not very appreciative of my creativity. However, diesel we needed, and diesel we found. We also found our accommodation, and a great wood fired pizza place for dinner.

What a day!!!

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We’ve escaped to the country

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Yes, we liked it here. Lot’s!

Away from the crush of Paris, we found the fresh air and warm hospitality invigorating. Thanks to a translation app on the iPad, we enjoyed conversing with Fabienne, Olivier and their delightful children, who slowly got their head around the idea that these strangers were okay, although really dumb and not knowing how to speak properly.

Olivier had fallen through a roof a week before we arrived and was laid up with broken wrist, and a broken pelvis, nasty. Fabienne, who is related to Virginie as a distant cousin, was a whirl of energy, with early starts for the children and her own work five days a week.

We also visited Olivier’s parents farm where they milk 60 cows twice each day. It was interesting to see the intensive style of farming, the big barns for winter houses for the animals, and the trouble they go to to manage water (too much). Pretty much the opposite of Perth.

Kerry wants to buy the empty farm house across the road!

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Paris to La Cour de Rougeval

We had bought our train tickets from the girl with the brown eyes a few days ago, and booked on the train to leave Paris St Lazare at 10:10. This was a different station to the one we arrived into Paris a few days ago, seems like a week.

It’s always good to get to the station half an hour early – 9:30.
Best route was two Metro trains, changing at the big Republique station, and we needed to allow for the crush of passengers, us with packs, and the chance we would get separated by carriage or train.
To reduce the complexity, we walked the 1.9km from the apartment to Republique Metro. This was a good move, as although we got onto the train via separate doors and separate carriages, could we get OFF again? We all stood in the doorway area to give us the best chance. The first few stations had a few more people get on, then the next a lot got off. All was going to be okay!
Maybe not. The next station was packed and ten more squeezed onto my section, how I don’t know. I wasn’t far from the door, 1.5m maybe. Let’s hope a few people wanted to get off at the next stop at st Augustin with me and my packs and me would get carried along. Nope. St Augustin was packed too, I was the only one leaving. I had lost sight of Cass at one end of the carriage, Chris and Jacob were at the other. Kerry was I. Another carriage.

After lots of loud Pardon, Excuse Me, and a bit of pushing, the family all spilled out from their crushes, complete with packs and dignity, through the mass on the platform and to the back wall, which had become our custom so we could gather our bearings before heading off. This was a more joyful and relieved reunion than ever before, and the decision to only do this once was well and truly justified. Fortunately the walk from Marie’s apartment was all down hill, so made it a lot easier. Jacob’s not well so too much strain could have made it a lot worse.

A short walk on the surface brought us to the St Lazare station with it’s 27 platforms 50 minutes after leaving. Before we left Marie’s 1 person apartment, we’d got the sheets washed and dried at the Lavarie across the road, fed and watered the cat whose life consisted of living within the apartment, perhaps 30sqm.

Our train was listed on the board, but with no platform. With about 15 min to go it came up on the display and a couple from Melbourne explained we had to validate the ticket prior to entry. This was written in French on the the ticket, but not obvious anywhere for us. Saved by the Melbourniers, and by the girl with the brown eyes who had booked us allocated seats (not what we were used to with the Eurail pass) we found our way to our nice seats on the train and are currently traveling backwards to Caen where we will pick up the hire car for our next big adventure.

Tour de Eiffel

Sunday 16th October

Christopher’s 18th Birthday

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After a late start we made our way on the Metro to the station near the Eiffel Tower and walked up through the park towards the big tall world icon

So did thousands of other people.

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One plan is to go back later tonight to see it at night. I’ll let you know if it happens.

Instead we caught the metro up to the Montmartre. This is up on a hill and overlooks the whole city. There is also a cathedral of course but the area is the arty area of Paris so the markets are full of artworks, and the home of the famous Moulin Rouge revue.

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We found an old cemetery that gave us a break from the busy crowds and low sun that always requires a hand up to shield the eyes.

Entertainment is everywhere, including buskers on the Metro.

buskers on the Metro

>>>>>

Did we go back at night?
Yes we did.
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will do them later. Packing to head to Normandy now.
Rushing through getting the sheets washed.
Jacobs not well. Flu, high temp. Not good.

🙁

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and here is a video of the sparkles

Touring Cadel’s Route to Victory

Today we toured Paris again. Sun was shining, it was warm in the sun, no wind to speak of. A nice day.

Two metro journeys and we popped up right at the foot of the Arc de Triumphe, that famous arc that Cadel Evans rode towards on his victory in the TDF.

We also wanted to see the famous roundabout where there are six entry roads, six exit roads and reputedly a crash each thirty minutes. We were there on a peaceful Saturday morning, but peaceful and Paris traffic are not to be used in one sentence.

crazy roundabout movie

And some foolish souls try to walk across when there are plenty of tunnels. I even saw a couple carrying a baby across.

risky pedestrians

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After the Arc, we descended into the world below the city that is the Metro, and headed out to the experience that is La Defence. This is were all the skyscrapers have been allowed, and the density, design and popularity is outstanding. This was the first time we had seen such a collection of modern buildings in our whole tour.

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After La Defence it seemed like a nice day for a walk down the Champs Élysées, that famous road that Cadel Evans rode along several times on his way to winning the TDF this year. It’s actually quite a rough cobbled road, and not at all flat with a long climb up to the Arc.

It seemed like there were very many others with the same idea. We didn’t do any shopping!

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Slowly we made our way back towards the Louvre, and to the less known second entrance where there are no queues. Chris and Cass got in for free because of their age. Chris has one day to go before he is 18 and would have had to pay. I paid 10€, and off we trotted to see the Louvre in twenty minutes.!!!

Instead, we came across a famous painting.

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These are some street scenes from where we are living. It could be called a vibrant inner city area.

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In This last shot, under the sign that says laverie, that’s the laundromat where Kerry AND I were doing the laundry. It’s just outside our apartment.