Doors Close and Doors Open - 2015We were preparing to leave France. Our last night was in Avignon where we visited the Ancient Roman Aqueduct Pont du Gard. Our train was scheduled for 8:42 AM and we were 40 minutes early. Standing on the platform, we were surrounded by all our luggage. When the train arrived, the doors opened and I hefted the first two large bags aboard, I then returned to get Jeannie and the other bags, and just as we reached the door, it closed and there went our train. “Oh crap! Now what?” hoping that they don’t blow-up unattended luggage.
As the TGV (France's intercity high-speed rail service) high-speed train leaves Strasbourg behind, the realization that we are leaving France is really beginning to sink in. In total, we have been in-country more than 9 months, and we are now heading to Spain with a two-night stop in Avignon. Had we taken the train straight through to Madrid, it would have been a 12+ hour journey, so we opted to break it into two parts, and stop at Avignon to visit the famous Roman aqueduct not far outside of town.
Strasbourg was a great location from which to explore this part of Europe. At the eastern edge of France, we were close to the Alsatian wine villages, Germany and the Black Forest, Switzerland and the Alps, but Strasbourg was a gem in itself. But as we roamed the back streets and along the canals, especially when we could get away from the holiday-makers, we found a beautiful city that we share here without further ado. We hope you enjoy Strasbourg, through our eyes.
Ribeauvillé de Nouveau - 2015
We slept soundly in this little medieval town, Riquewihr. We had no big plans for the day except to walk back to Hunawihr and then to Ribeauvillé, maybe get some lunch, take the bus back to Sélestat, then catch the train back to Strasbourg, and then walk back to our apartment. But first, breakfast. We headed downstairs to the basement where the breakfast room was and were warmly greeted again by Brigitte. She showed us to a large table filled with breads, jams, cheeses, hams, yogurt and fruit, and after exchanging greetings, we sat in between a couple from Belgium…
Our return to Ribeauvillé had several goals, all of which had to do with being outside. The weather forecast was calling for clear skies and comfortable temperatures. So, we packed our backpacks for an overnight away. After the relatively short train ride to Sélestat, we boarded a bus for Ribeauvillé. We had travelled this route before, so we were in somewhat familiar territory. The first order of business was to drop some of our gear at our hotel, Le Ménestrel, about a 10-15 minute walk outside of town. It was still early, so we expected that we would not be…
Two Hikes Around Turckheim - 2015
A few days after our visit to Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg and Ribeauvillé (previous post) we took the train south and west to Turckheim, famous for its surrounding medieval wall and Gewürztraminer wines. In the morning after gathering some information from the tourist information center, we went out on a walk, first through the forest and then off through the vineyards high above the town and overlooking vineyards covering the hillsides, the Rhine valley and the Black Forest Mountains in the distance. The morning washed the hillsides with a blanket of light and the green color of the vines provided a…
We have really enjoyed living in the urban apartments throughout France. Partially because it is so vastly different from our life experiences prior to this adventure; the dynamics of living in cities that are centuries or even millennia old is something that is difficult to comprehend. Certainly these are modern cultures that exist in ancient settings, but it is quite interesting to view a date over a door that was carved into stone in the 14th to 16th century. On the other hand, there are many places that were destroyed during the World Wars. Most were rebuilt using many of…
Oompah, Dance, and a Saint - 2015
Sunday morning woke to rather cool temperatures. Today was a day for long-sleeves. The event today was a performance of musique et danses traditionnelle Alsacienne at the Place Guttenberg, just around the corner from the Cathedral. We arrived a little early for the morning’s performance, but a crowd was already building. The band began playing polkas, waltzes, and marches before the dancers appeared. Jeannie was able to grab a seat, while I roamed about making photographs.
A Night Away in Alsace - 2015
Colmar, Alsace's most beautiful city, is a town founded in the 9th century, and still retains stunning medieval architecture and even its own “Little Venice”. Though it was the last town in France to be liberated in WWII, it is now the capital of Alsatian wine. The French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, (1834-1904) was born in Colmar. Of course he is best known as creator of La Liberté éclairant le monde (Liberty Enlightening the World), or as we know it, the Statue of Liberty, as well as many other monumental sculptures in both France and the US. The train to Colmar…
A Tale of Two Expectations - 2015
During the summer months in Europe there are always cultural events to experience. We are continually on the lookout for concerts, dance, street performers, or other such events that help make this adventure special. This is one of those events.
Munster - 2015
The heat wave here in Europe continues. The temperatures have soared back into the 35-38° C (upper 90s F), and we needed to get out. Where to go? We are near the Vosges Mountains so maybe we can find a walk in the woods. Since we don’t have a car, we are limited to places within train or bus transport. So after a bit of searching on the internet, we found walking options from Munster (cheese, not Herman), France. The train from Strasbourg first took us to Colmar where we changed to a little local train and after seven stops…
Voyage Temporel* - 2015
Strasbourg is vastly different from any other place we have lived, on so many levels. This city lies on the Eastern border of France, on the Ill River where it flows into the Rhine on the border with Germany. It is deeply permeated with Franco-German culture. The city has been disputably French or German off-and-on for centuries, and yet today is a bridge of unity between France and Germany. There is a blend here; the language, food, products, architecture, and most everything is an interesting of being ... both cultures. As Jeannie described, this apartment, too, is different.
Some Assembly Required - 2015
As we settle into our new apartment in Strasbourg we realize that it is very different from our flat in Lyon. It’s nice, but smaller, and with not as much of a view ... from the inside. As soon as we walk out onto the pedestrian-only street we are in the bustling Petite-France old quarter. Medieval buildings of black and white timber-framed buildings line the streets and canals. Small alleys and side-streets lead to new places (plazas) filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants.
We were invited to spend the night at the home of Michel and Francoise (Lucie’s parents) in the Beaujolais area. So, one morning, we took a short train ride and arrived at their beautiful home in the country. Around the countryside it was cherry season and everyone was harvesting cherries. We picked cherries from the trees on Michel and Francoise’s property, as well as raspberries, and their garden was the source of the salads we enjoyed over the 2 days, as well as potatoes - cooked in duck fat, yum!
Nos Amis Lyonnaise - 2015
Leaving friends and family last year, we hoped life would not be lonely. When you don’t speak the language where you are living, how do you make friends? We discovered it is not so difficult, if you are open to encounters and accept invitations even if you are a little unsure. Early in our travels, as we relaxed in a café in Saint Malo, a brief conversation with a friendly, young French couple. That exchange inspired us to visit Lyon last year for three weeks, and then choosing it to be our home base for three months.
Lavender in bloom - 2015
This an audio blog post, there are play-back controls beneath the image. Be sure to turn up the volume!
Wine – a Tale of Three Tours - 2015
Wine is a state of mind here in France. To not have wine with lunch or dinner is almost tantamount to not breathing. It doesn’t hurt (help?) that Lyon is pretty much at the one of the centers of the wine universe. People enjoy wine with lunch and later in the afternoon, as well as for dinner. It’s what they do.
Montchat en Fête - 2015
Although we were living in Montchat for only a short time, we came to love notre beau village de au coeur de Lyon. Every excursion down the shopping street or to the market was a delightful adventure. We were admiring some items in a shop window when a grandmotherly woman stopped next to us and laughingly commented on something that we were looking at. After a few more words, I had to gently interrupt her and apologize that we didn’t speak very much French.
Notre Vie en Roses - 2015
Three hundred thousand visitors were expected for the 17th World Convention of Rose Societies. There was floral art, paintings, gardening workshops, a fashion show about roses, information stands of French rose growers, and exhibitions all over the city. The fragrance that wafted about on the breezes was intoxicating, and the colors were unbelievable. These are photos of just a few of the venues and a lot of the flowers from around Lyon. Of course Lyon is filled with flowers everywhere even if there is no Rose Festival, but this was a special event.
Medieval Festival Musings - 2015
We don’t ever have to go far to find truly medieval things. The middle ages spanned the 5th through the 15th centuries, beginning with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, then later morphed into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. There is much here that survives from that era or was rebuilt after the wars that speaks to us across the ages. We enjoyed two medieval festivals while in Lyon.
Cascades Chambéry - 2015
At the crossroads of ancient routes through the Dauphiné, Burgundy, Switzerland, and Italy, Chambéry lies in a wide valley between the Bauges and the Chartreuse Mountains on the Leysse River. We wanted to get out for a hike in the forests again, and our research indicated that there were some nice green areas near Chambéry that were accessible by public transport.
With the mountains all around, Grenoble is known as "Capital of the Alps". Its history goes back 2000 years to when it was a small Gallic village. Later, in the 11th century, Grenoble became significant as capital of the Dauphiné, though for the most part it remained a minor outpost on the edge of the French kingdom. Though in WWII, the German invasion was decisively stopped in the south at the Battle of The Alps early in the war, it was eventually occupied by the Italian army.
It’s a Big Small World? - 2015
Located in a 16th century, arcaded pink building, the Maison des Avocats (House of lawyers) is a beautiful Renaissance building in Vieux Lyon, and home of the Musée International de la Miniature et Décors de Cinéma. This museum contains an amazing array of exhibits, movie sets, props, costumes, latex masks and prosthetics, monsters, robots, models, matte paintings, and dozens of miniature interior scenes from many famous movies and TV series.
Annecy – The Venice of Savoy - 2015
Day trips out to new places are always multi-faceted adventures. Not only are we going to a place we have never been before, but simply the act of getting there is often an experience in itself. Such was our visit to Annecy. We had heard that there was some damage to the railroad tracks near there due to recent heavy rains, and rail passengers were being rerouted via bus. At the station in Lyon, we were ready to exchange our tickets and pick another destination, but …
Dijon - 2015
Yes, the Dijon of mustard fame. We had spent the night in Beaune, and our plan was to take the train the short distance further for a brief visit to the capital of the Côte-d’Or département and of the Burgundy region. It was a beautiful spring day with vineyards all along the route through one of the most famous wine producing regions in the world. From the early 11th until the late 15th centuries, Dijon was the seat of extreme wealth and power, earning respect as one of Europe’s great centers of art and science.
Yay! A Holiday - 2015
Our days are interesting here, nothing ever goes exactly as planned but that is part of the adventure. So we are flexible and enjoy the surprises along the way.
Beaune is the center of the Burgundy wine region and the primary wine auction in France is held there. It is all about the wine, it is a town dedicated first to the wine industry (i.e. tractors, harvesting equipment, vats etc.), and tourism is secondary. Even so, there are many things to see and do.
Joan and Mel - 2015
"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it." ~ John Irving
How do we decide on an apartment in another country ? What do we look for? It’s not easy when you need to balance comfort, location and budget. It can be pretty easy to find a place that meets two of these but adding the third can really reduce the options. So, here are a few observations on what we look for.
Back to Venice? - 2015
The Medieval village of Perouges had been on our list of must-see places near Lyon for a while. And as we began to do some more research, this weekend (19 April) popped up on the community calendar as the weekend of the Parade Vénitienne de Pérouges or Venetian Parade of Perugia.
A Waltz Through Vienne - 2015
We were in need of a day-trip. So we closed our eyes and stuck a pin in the map. Well not really. Our excursions are pretty much dictated by the train routes that are available, and we generally look for locations that are no more than 2-hours away. Of course, there truly are lots of options in any direction, which is an additional reason we chose to be in Lyon for a longer stay. This particular day we chose to go to Vienne, located on the Rhône River in southeastern France.
We had a couple of beautiful days wandering about Lyon, clear skies, great temperatures, and spring flowers everywhere. It is truly a grand city. Not much text in this post, just a visual smörgåsbord to delight the eyes ... enjoy.
Back when we first began this adventure we went to St Malo where we happened to meet Nicolas, Lucie, and their 2-year old daughter Noémie. Later we went to live in Lyon for three months, we were invited a birthday party for Noémie. Grandparents would be there, as would their families, and some other friends and children. We felt honored to be asked. We were honored to be included in such a cheerful celebration. The opportunity to be with family and to make new friends is what makes travel and life in any nation or culture worthwhile.
My Terrace Afternoon - 2015
Sitting outside on the terrace of our apartment, I am in awe that we are living in Lyon France. For all the traveling we have done, even the 6-8 week stays in other French cities last year, this time it really does feel like we live here, and we only arrived a week ago. Chris has gone for a wander out into the city. While I am spending my afternoon, by myself on the terrace in our little village of Montchat in Lyon, reading a book set in France during another era.
Home Sweet Monchat - 2015
In the 3rd arrondisemont of Lyon is a small neighborhood known as Montchat. It is here we found an apartment where we feel at home. Primarily a residential area, our flat is less than two blocks from the small, tree-lined commercial street Cours du Docteur Long. Montchat is far from the bustling center of Lyon; it’s basically an urban village. The Cours du Docteur Long is filled with shops and businesses of all kinds all within walking distance of our apartment.
We were only in Lyon three weeks. Didn’t know how much we’d like the place and we hadn’t even expected the Fête des Lumières. What an incredible four day event THAT was. Then it got really cold, and rainy. Shortly after that we both came down with colds that slowed us down for about a week. But I digress. Back at the beginning of this adventure, my brother and his wife were sitting with us outside at a little cafe in St. Malo on the northern coast. There were lots of others there, all speaking French of course, when one…