Where do I start? We've been in France for ten days now, and this is the first chance I've had to blog properly. I think I'll stick to dot points:
- French drivers are insane. One-way streets? Pedestrian crossings? Parking restrictions? Pfft. "They're more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules, Missy..."
- French people are 99% friendly and helpful and appreciate your clumsy attempts to speak their language. But just quietly, THANK GOD so many speak at least a little English. "Le chat noir" is (surprisingly) not a very helpful phrase when travelling. We have negotiated restaurants, pharmacies, boulangeries, supermarkets and all sorts of places with my appalling French and the patience and kindness of the French staff.
- French tourism is a bit hit and miss. Signage is frankly dreadful. And I don't mean because it's in French - I mean because it's non-existent. You get to a railway station or parking area for a major, world-renowned (and probably UNESCO world-heritage classified) tourist attraction and there is ZERO SIGNAGE to guide you in the appropriate direction. Cue much frustration as you set off in the wrong direction, backtrack and finally figure out by sheer good luck where the hell you're supposed to be.
- French scenery is breathtaking. Yes, just like on the telly when you're watching the Tour de France.
- French roads are great. At least the major ones, although the toll booths are a bit mystifying and -again - not always signed appropriately. Stressful? Hmm. Oui.
- French food has been mostly fabulous. Pastries and coffee for breakfast suits me perfectly. A baguette stuffed with ham and salad for lunch? Bon! And we've had a huge variety of dinners, from traditional French home-style to Parisian haute cuisine to a picnic of cheese, meat, bread and wine in our accommodation.
We adored Paris and wished we'd had longer there, but we managed to cram in a fair bit of sightseeing in five days. We visited art galleries, M. Monet's garden and Versailles and sampled some of the local food and drink. Paris is expensive, but it's less so if you can avoid the tourist traps. Luckily the neighbourhood we stayed in featured plenty of local cafés and restaurants with local prices.
The highlight for me was the Musee Rodin. Yes, the Louvre was fabulous, but the quiet and peaceful grounds of M. Rodin's former home were so restful and uncrowded and cool on a hot Parisian day, and the sculptures were like old friends.
Lyon and Bourg d'Oisans should have been enjoyable, but I was far too sick to appreciate them and spent more time in than out of bed. Cue sad face. :(
I'm still pretty sick, but improving. Bike Boy recovered enough from the lurgy to pedal his rented bike through the twenty-one hairpin bends of l'Alpe d'Huez, so that was mission: accomplished for him. I'm very impressed by his determination - but still think he's a little crazy.
We're now in Saint Gervasy, which is a small village near Uzes, in the south of France. We have the most perfect accommodation via AirBNB - a picturesque 18th century stone cottage in the centre of the village, with off-street parking,air conditioning and a pool.what more could you want?
Tomorrow we move onto our final French destination: Carcassonne. After that, its hola! to Spain!