Last day in Paris

I love Paris – as the song goes ….. I love Paris in the rain! Luckily as it has rained almost everyday. Not really heavy just a little bit. 

Still we are getting out and seeing lots .

Some of the highlights:

Having lunch with Monique a young 26 year old friend of Peter and Carmel. She has a great job in Paris and had lots of stories to tell us about life in Paris – oh to be young! 
Tuesday night we went to dinner at Annie and Serge’s flat, with their children Fabian 27 and Camille 23. Camille did an exchange and lived at the Harrison’s for 10 weeks. They are a lovely couple and we had lots of champagne and a beautiful dinner with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We started with a black skinned faddish and page. A pork cheek dish and five cheeses and then a strawberry tart! We walked a lot today. 
Wednesday we met Annie for lunch at Madeleine and after she took me to her hairdresser to make an appointment for next week . Yes readers, I’m to have the French stylist and colourist! Just a little worried about the cost but it’s not every day I have my hair done in Paris.
Went to a Vivaldi concert at St Chappell. What a wonderful experience. Heavenly . 
Thursday we met Jill and Chris again after their Croatia trip . Lovely treat to spend the day together. We went shopping for gifts for their daughters at a gorgeous little shop in the Marais, walked to the left bank and had lunch, then explored the area I’ll be returning to the week after next.
Thursday night we had dinner at Montmartre and then went to Moulin Rouge. What an experience ! We had to queue with everyone despite booking tickets . In we went to a huge theatre restaurant style place got our good table, ice bucket with 3 bottles of champagne, and then the show started . It was colourful, fast, fun and an eyeful! Spotted Morgan Kenny – daughter of Lisa and Grant. Such a pretty girl with big …… blue eyes. 
Got home at 2.30 am so had to sleep in the next day . Took the number 69 bus all around the streets of Paris. What value for the price of a bus ticket. 
Last dinner was at the same place as the first night. Very good food and waiters really friendly.
So now it’s goodbye to Paris for a week. Carmel and I are off to the Loire to a little place called Sancerre well known for its goats cheese and its white wine. Picking up a car tomorrow and off we go! 

Peter and Carmel on Pont Neuf with our really nice driver and Chef-des-baggages!

                                          A very nice little food shop in Paris ….

                                                With a great idea for my birthday cake…………

                          A “Knees-up” at the Moulin Rouge with the Harrisons and the Wilsons

                                                     And a little culture at La Chapelle

Paris is beautiful

We have settled into our lovely apartment in Rue de Trensor in the Marais area. It’s is a lively part of the Marais but in a small pedestrian street which makes it quiet. It’s on the 4th floor – with a lift and is in an old building . It has a lovely sitting room with comfortable seating  a tiny kitchen , good sized bedrooms and the smallest bathroom and separate toilet I have ever seen . Peter, Carmel and I are getting along in this lovely place very well.
We can walk to lots of things. Shops, restaurants, the metro , museums etc so we are very happy with our choice. Steve had the day with us on Saturday and we walked around the area and had an early dinner . He gave me the most beautiful roses – so every time I look at them I am reminded of him.

On Sunday it rained and we decided to walk and walk and walk. We were keen to visit the St Martins canal area so went up there – but the rain had everyone indoors and lots of things closed so it wasn’t very lively. We headed  back to Bastille and then across to Place des Voges where it got quite lively with Parisians having lunch.  We tried one of the famous falafals from the institution in Rue de Rositers, the Jewish street . The line was long but moved quickly so we took them home and enjoyed it in th warmth of the apartment. Yum.

Sunday night we went out late for a light bite and had great stir fried veggies !

Monday fined up so we headed off to the Haussmann area and did a little shopping and sight-seeing and bought some tickets for a concert at Saint Chapelle for Wednesday night. Walked a lot and bought new black boots. Pete and Carmel headed off to Montmarte and to the Moulin Rouge to get tickets to the show on Thursday. I’ve never been so we are quite excited! We could only get the 11 pm show so will have to have a nonna nap.

Enjoyed a late dinner at the restaurant opposite the Jeanne de Arc hotel where I stayed with Jan, Marg, Liz, Barb, and Catherine several years ago. I’m thinking of you girls and the fun we had.



The great hall Chenonceau

Garden at Villandry Chateau

The amazing Chambord Chateau

The view from Chambord

Steve and his mates at Cheverny Castle

The beautiful Cheverny Chateau which is used in the Tin-Tin cartoon books

The beautiful sign outside our “house ” in Amboise
Leonardo relaxing by the river near our house at Amboise

Leaving Amboise

Our last day and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Steve as he leaves tomorrow.

Today we went to the BIG one – Chambord – a giant of a Chateau. Rather too large and certainly too cold. Even the owners – over the years a few kings and assorted relatives – decided to only spend a minimum of nights there. One said there were too many mozzies in summer and it was too cold in winter. Despite its beautiful grounds and imposing size I tend to agree.
We also visited Boise – a rather nice town on the river Loire further upstream from Amboise.
Then in the afternoon went to Cheverny – a modest , by comparison , chateau still owned by the same family. It’s rather beautiful and practical and I could imagine living there. Apparently the family still live on the upper level, but I think that’s a bit of a story as the place is open 365 days a year and they would never be able to escape the tourists or let their 3 children run around on the lawn. Again the gardens are lovely but with tourists all over it would be a little difficult to ride your bike around if you were a kid!

Our last evening, we visited Chantal, the owner of our little house, known as ” the little blue door”  anyone coming to this area I recommend you stay here. The views across the river to the castle are magic.

Tomorrow we are up early – for us , as we have been sleeping in till around 9 each day. I hope the Harrison’s are not going to rush out each day from our Paris flat before at least 10!

Keep the emails coming , as I like to get the news. 

From Amboise to Villandry

Wednesday and Thursday

We woke to rain but crossed our fingers and set off for Villandry. I was very keen to see it after hearing all about it from ADFAS and Margaret. The sun came out and we arrived at this beautiful chateau in a pretty little town. Most of the tourists have gone for the season so parking and entrance is easy. 

We started in the garden and walked and walked . The woods, formal gardens, herb and vegetable gardens and the maze all beautifully laid out. The plans for the veggies is at each garden square so you can easily identify what is growing . The colours and types are carefully set out making it so inviting to see. The veggies are used in the cafe at the side of the chateau which is a nice touch and the usual shop is also a treat as it’s a garden shop. 
Inside the chateau the story of the owners unfolded and as is usually the case an American inheritance helped set up the recovery of the chateau. It’s a good story and the family films of their family weddings etc give it a really personal touch. There were even family photos around which make it more a home. Wonderful experience
After our baguette we headed off to Chinon for another experience  this time a fortress. Very well done with a lot of short dramatisations which for me brought the history alive. These places area amazing in their history – the stories of kings queens, mistresses, illegitimate children all make great reading. Even a re-enactment of Joan of Arc’s visit to Chinon. 
We climbed all the towers and the veiws over the grey and white houses of the town and the green vineyards were the reward! I’d like a euro for all the steps climbed this holiday! Starting back in Lerici where we had 90 steps up to our apartment! (are you reading this Pat?). The steps are doing their bit to make sure I don’t completely turn to mush. And the knee is holding up! 
We got back to our little “blue door” house and prepared for dinner. Another coup de la champagne? 
More rain but we know it will clear so off we go to the chateau where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last 3 years.  It is a small  chateau with the most beautiful garden. His bedroom looks towards Amboise castle which is opposite our little house. 
Chenonceaux. Oh. What a fairy tale place. Long tree-lined walk towards the chateaux  which is perched over the water – looking like a hand or piano keys across the river. The gardens are magnificent and Francois 1 who had it built had fine taste. His 2 wives and mistress all had wonderful bedrooms and the kitchen staff must have loved their part of the house. 
What I have noticed in all the chateau are the flowers. They have the most wonderful  flower arrangements in all the rooms. I have found myself taking photos of the flowers more than the furnishings! They are all colours to suit the colours in the room. Catherine de Medici his second wife had a huge display of red roses in her rather red bedroom. Ginetta , you would love it. 


Picnic along the way! driving to France

Last Aperol and Prosecco apertif in Aosta

The boys and Carmel in the cutsie main street of Aosta looking for a restaurant .

Markets and guys just don’t mix! Macon in France

First French red Vespa.Thinking thinking . Is it me!

Carmel, the ex Ursuline convent girl at the Ursuline Museum

Our view from the little house in Amboise. Truly this is the view.

Me sitting in the window looking at the view. 

From Italy to France

Time to leave Italy for a while and sample the delights of France.
Now I know there are two camps  – those who love Italy best ( I know who you are) and those who favour France.
What is the difference? Let’s see!
Well we set off from San Gimignano at around 9 and drive Steve style along the coast of Liguria before heading north near Genoa. The drivers were crazy but fine. The Autogrills predictable and serving lots of coffee, panini, pastries and selling crap  like pink pigs and old CD’s. We had a little picnic by the   side of the road at an Autogrill. We jumped back into the car and continued on to Aosta. A nice ski town with lots of people out to have fun in the piazza on a Saturday night. Picked  a trattoria for dinner. Good dinner, friendly people .
Next morning had breakfast in the hotel dining room to the accompaniment of the owner playing the piano accordion. Those Italians, you have to love them. He apologised for his playing due to his arthritis.
Then the drive to France via the Mount Blanc tunnel – an engineering feat – and arrived in Macon (where the Tour de France went through this year). We stopped not at an Autogrill but at a lovely French restaurant by a lake eating smoked salmon and trying not to drink wine.
Arrived in Macon and had a walk around the quiet town. It’s rather nice in a restrained French way with lots of white buildings and lace work verandas . Sat for a drinks and waited 1/2 hour for the waiter to decide to visit our table. In Italy we would have already had 2 drinks and known the waiter by name! We walked across the river to a restaurant and after a really lovely dinner where we all had something with a beautiful sauce we spent  the night in a smart hotel where the rooms were very co-ordinated. No kitsch flowers on display.

Next day Steve and I left Peter and Carmel – they headed north and we head across to Amboise in the Loire Valley – to “do chateaux not shops’ quote by Steve. I’ll miss them so much (both the Harrisons and the shops!). We had lots of laughs and survived the two days in the car together.

We arrived to meet Chantal the owner of our little house. It’s gorgeous- located on the river looking towards the huge chateau on the hill. We can walk across the bridge or even ride the bikes left for us.

Had a good nights sleep- medication for my cold kicked in and I was able to breath. Only complaint – the beautiful pink cover – doona was too hot! Small concern really but I love a top sheet not just a doona!
Next morning Stefan headed across the bridge to the best patisserie in Amboise and returned with 2 crossiants and 2 choc filled pastries. I had a corner of 1 and he ate the rest . I kid you not. But as he reminded me he’s only here for 2 weeks I’m here for 3 or is it 4 months so I can’t eat like that every day. He will whilst he is here!

Off to meet Geoff and Lindy Shaw for lunch in Loches. What a lovely thing to do. 


Family shield painted above the fireplace 

Our Lady of the Wine. The statue not me!

Carmel and I prepared a beautiful Tuscan stew. Now I am our Lady of the Wine!

Checking the olive tree

Breakfast or dinner on the farm.

Carmel and the model at the vintage shop in Siena

Our house almost disappearing behind the vines.