Pre-Provence

After just coming off the three month Northern Tier bicycle trip of 4,282 miles and 127,000 feet of climbing, it seems like there might be time for one more trip to wind down the 2017 biking year . . .

How about something EASIER????

Lets see  . . . the check list should include:

  • No hauling 60 pounds of gear
  • No sleeping in tents
  • No cooking one pot meals for 15 riders
  • No cooking AT ALL
  • Always knowing where you will be sleeping at night
  • Having a bathroom closer than 2 blocks away
  • Having nice towels to use after a hot shower
  • Not having to worry about logging trucks running you over

If you read my Northern Tier journal, you get the idea.

Sound sort of dull . . . maybe, but after three months of crossing some of the some desolate areas known to man (eastern Montana and North Dakota) a nice trip to the south of France might just be in order!!!!

We are heading off to the Provence area of France and staying near Avignon and Luberon Regional Park. It’s supposed to be BEAUTIFUL biking . . . so we will see.

We’ll be staying in this cozy four bedroom, 17th century, stone farmhouse with three other couples also from MSN . . .

so . . . we have the whole place to ourselves. We’ll ride loops from the house each day. NO PACKING AND MOVING every day . . . Nice!!!

The first step of course it getting across the pond. Hope the plane is more comfortable than the one I returned on from Portland, ME after the Northern Tier . . .

. . . once on the ground, it is the TGV from Paris to Avignon and them a chauffeured ride, provided by John and Diana, to our little house in the country.

The day before we left, Connie arrived home. The poor girl had gone to pieces after the end of the Northern Tier!! She has gotten herself back together and is ready for the next adventure (although it won’t be in FR. Bikes are being supplied!!!)

Can’t wait . . .

Lets Go France!

On the road for another adventure . . .

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Things went fine with our flight. No delays or bad weather. Food was even half good. Only bad part was the seating. There is a Consumer Advocate group in the US that is filing a lawsuit against the airlines because the seats are too close together causing a safety hazard if an EVACUATION IS Warranted. I guess American Airlines must be part of that suit. My seat was so close to the one in front of me my knees were in direct contact the whole flight. Trying to sleep in a comfortable position was IMPOSSIBLE. The next move to save space will have you in a standing position!!!! Like in a cattle pen!! Well . ..  I guess there is always first class with the little ‘pods’. . . . emJay has already moved into her European ‘ooh-la-la’ hairstyle. . . FUN!!!

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Once everyone settled in and the lights were dimmed it looks like a spaceship on board . . .

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One interesting note is as I was loading up a movie I saw we were traveling 4,165 miles from Chicago to Paris. Almost exactly the mileage I has just ridden on the Northern Tier across the U.S.. . .

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. . . but instead of taking three months, it would only take 7 hours!!!!

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Things were in chaos at the train station at Charles De Gaulle because, naturally this is France and part of the SNFC was on strike . . . the ticket offices were closed and all tickets were being purchased from machines only. Not too big a deal but of the three available there was only one working. One of the staff still working was constantly trying to get the two broken ones going.  I must say though the staff have ‘snappy’ uniforms!!!!

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We would take the TGV high speed train from Paris to Avignon, our home for the night. Travels between 150-200 mph and the ride is as smooth as silk!!!

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We are staying the night at the Cloitre de St Louis which is situated in an old Jesuit monastery. NICE!!!!!

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. . . a GREAT setting right in the middle of town.

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. . . with a VERY nicely appointed room.

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Time to eat . . . we considered the kitty restaurant, where there are resident cats that walk around and rub up against your legs while you are eating. But . . . it ended up being a tea room and had closed for the day.

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So we went to L’Epicerie, a restaurant the locals frequent that is located right next to one of the best examples of gothic architecture left in Europe. Eglise St Pierre.

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The French know how to make salads . . . a meal in itself . . .

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. . . but that didn’t stop me from having a nice steak and emJay having a YUMMY lamb shank . . .

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. . . all in a picture perfect evening setting . . . right next to the 14th century St. Pierre’s.

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. . . and the place was filled, on a Thursday evening!!!!!

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. . . as we returned to our hotel,  we found it had turned into an enchanted looking forest . . .

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. . . the best thing about this trip already though is spending precious time with my Smoochie after not seeing her for 3 months. Never again will I be gone that long . . . I missed her too much!!!!

Day 2, Avignon – Coustellet

We had a quiet night at the monastery and woke at 9:30am to a sunny sky  . . . and breakfast ended at 10:00am . . . we rushed downstairs and had a delightful time . .

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Avignon is the former home of several  popes and is a walled  city. The six kilometer wall is still in place around the walled city and if one has the time you can walk the whole thing . . .we did not,. It was time to meet Diana and John . . .

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. . . .we decided to go to the Les Halles,indoor market to shop and eat lunch . . . narrow streets along the way. . . fr0203

. . .with bicycle riding police on the large avenues!!!!

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Of course the market was a gastronomic paradise with lots of sights and smells .. .

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. . .fish of every variety out on ice for easy inspection . . .

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. . . all kinds of fresh produce. . . .

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. . . and of course every kind and cut of meat . . ./some of which I didn’t want to know what they were !!!!!

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. . . .so of course we needed to eat again and enjoy a little vino . . . two bottles and it was only 11:45am  . . .  but hey, we are on holiday!!!!

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. . .and we were not the only one tasting a little of the grape. One of the local chefs stopped by, several, times to enjoy . . . .coffee!!!!

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. . . we walked along the streets to the car taking in the sights including a mailman on a bike  . . .

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. . .  lots of motorcycles parked along the way . . .the good kind (the kind that are not running)/ Including this new Gold Wing that reminded me of my old one. . . .

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. . . and of course the ever present Harley Davidson, even over here n the Continent riders love their Harley’s . . .

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Dianna and emJay did a little shopping along the way as we headed to the  … .

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Popes Palace. Centuries ago Rome was a war torn city and the Catholic Church decided to move the Papacy round Europe. Constantly moving it around was not working out so when a Frenchman was elected Pope, he and the King of France decided to build the Papal Palace in Avignon . . .

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. . .  a HUGE affair that was a very interesting tour . . .

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. . . and it went through many remodel’s during  the years, Makes out remodel at home look like child’s play!!!!!

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The grand dining hall.. . .

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. . . interesting the building now also hosts traveling art exhibits and there was one gong on while we visited . . .

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. . .  interesting mix of the old with the new . . . .

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When the Pope finally moved back to Rome. In the early 1800’s the military took over the palace and  where there until 1907 when the building was handed over to the city.

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Soon we were in the car and on our way to our B&B. . . .

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. . . . we met our host Neil, a Brit who has lived in France with is French wife Nat, for 13 years. He immediately broke out the vino . . .

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. . .  as we sat under their grape covered arbor . . .

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. .. .oh and the vino flowed and flowed . . . lots of Rose during the day . . .

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Yippeee . . .  we are al finally back together!!!!

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Next in order was a tour of the place . . . including a sitting area downstairs . . .

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John and Diana’s room . . .

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Bobby and Gary’s room . . .

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Pam and Terry’s room . . .

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. . . emJay and my room . . .

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. . . with a nice seating area . . .

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. . . and HUGE bathroom

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We reassembled for more wine and an explanation of the  GREAT touring system of maps and supplied GPS units Neil has developed through the years.

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. . . each bike has their own GPS. You pick one of 40 routes he has load on the GPS and just follow the purple line on the screen Just like I did on the Northern Tier. In fact  they are the Garmin 1000.!!!!

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He also ;led us through the greet selection of restaurants available along the way each day. Something for everyone, even mbbt  members. The VFM designation stand for Value For Money!!!!!

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It soon was time for dinner and the eight of us walked into town and had a lovely meal . . .

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. . . emJay had the grilled ravioli with grill goat cheese rounds . . .

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. .. .while I had three kinds of smoked salmon.

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. . .we all ate heartily including crocks of tiramisu for dessert . . . .

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oh. . . and three bottles of vino too.This is going to be a great trip!!!!!

Day 3, Coustellet

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The day started with breakfast and a map meeting with Neil. Tasty muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit and pastries!! And a review of the highlights of our upcoming ride.

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Johnny is always ready to go with his tool!

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This is the family kitchen at the B and B. We try to help out but sometimes maybe we are in the way! Neil  and Nat are gracious and make us feel at home.

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Here we are, in front of the fountain at the house, ready for our first riding adventure!

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Our ride took us through the Luberon region which is filled with lovely villages and nature…

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…and some homes literally built into caves in the hillside.

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Funny…self-advertising as a charming hotel! Wonder if it lives up to its promise?

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Mystical morning fog…scenic vineyards…and the ever-present graffiti!

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Traditional architectural style is used even on new buildings today: thick stone walls, little wood used, small windows –or none—on the north side, to guard against the strong mistral winds of winter.

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emJay finds her favorite lawn ornament!

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Some grape harvesting is done by hand, and big machines like this one are also used.

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Nice garden café in a front yard!

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One couple traveled with their puppy. Nice!

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Great viewing along the old railway grade trail we started on this morning.

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Our Garmin GPS  guides us precisely along the route, including under roads through tunnels.

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Our first major stop was Apt on the big market day.

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Wonderful soaps of Provence!

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Bustling street scene. 9:00 to 1:00 then done!

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Bobbie, Gary enjoy some vin et poulet!

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Happy wife, happy life!

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Flowers are everywhere . . . even lining the bridges!!!

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Leaving Apt, we enjoy a long gradual climb up to Bonnieux. Beautiful views across the valley.

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Bonnieux beckons. Neil says the Protestant churches are below like this, and the Catholic churches are on the highest perch of the town.

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The pretty ride into town…

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All stopped at the old Roman bridge

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Pont Julien, a Roman bridge dating from 3 BC.

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Some of us discovered the eco-toilet near the Roman bridge….

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..complete with detailed educational charts on what happens you can read as you are seated! Good to know I guess?!!

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L’Escargot de Provence. Wild snails adorn the plants along the bike trail.

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For your security – the submarines are helping out too?!

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A typical scene as you enter a village. Kodak moment around every corner!!!

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The B and B kitty Rocket is not so sure about today’s activities….

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At the end of the day, some of us dipped into the chilly pool. after 3 or 4 laps it felt fine, sure!

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The yard has a pomegranate tree!

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mmmmm juicy little seeds exposed….

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The day ended with a lovely dinner under the pergola, prepared by chef Neil. Delicious regional wines, locally grown tomatoes, chorizo loaf, spaghetti and meat balls, molten chocolate cake.  Perfect end to a great day.

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Rick has been quite taken by the “man scarves” we see around Provence. So he tries one out and looks quite fetching….

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Tomatoes, chorizo, sundried tomatoes and eggs baked together into a loaf….

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Diana gets emotional when the electric bike Neil arranged for her is delivered….

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And RIck and Neil are best buds by the time the evening is over! I guess Neil likes the man scarf look too?!

Day 4, Menerbes, OppEde le Vieux

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Neil shows emJay—again—how to start up the GPS. Very important to get this right!

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Off we go on our beautiful day of small roads, medieval towns, lovely vistas….

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Agriculture includes vineyards, squash, pumpkins, lavender, millet and fruit trees—most are irrigated in one way or another.

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Here is one interesting way—drip irrigation around every tree!

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Winding and yes, sometimes steep route today!

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Menerbes lies ahead on the top of a hill….

Pammy turns the corner and gets ready to climb  up to the top . . .

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Friends Tom and Pierre told us not to miss the most beautiful villages of France! Thanks to you both for your great advice. Pierre grew up in Provence, and is now in Wisconsin. Tom spent a semester abroad nearby in Avignon just a few years back.

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Heading UP into Menerbes past the beautiful sycamore trees….

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Past lovely flowers including hibiscus….

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New business for emJay, a classy shop for ladies!

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Funny graffiti, good artist! S/he’s got talent!

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Groovy folk art mailbox that emJay has asked Rick to build a replica of when we are back in Wisconsin.

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Yes, I would take this house!

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As we stood at a scenic overlook, one of us noticed that it is coming apart from the rest of the structure.  Yikes!

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Nature mystery of the day: what is this tiny, three inch long, snake that we encountered in Menerbes?!

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Sigh…what a view! Overlooking farms and villages, including our community of Coustellet, about 10 km away.

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And a good view of Mount Ventoux. You can see the white monument on the top.

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Next stop was Oppede le Vieux, an interesting small town that was half destroyed by an earthquake 300 years ago. We headed to the village square …

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…where the good shoppers John and Terry laid out the goods they had picked up at the morning market in Coustellet village.

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We noshed on the goodies, filled our water bottles and picked up a few bieres….

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…and what a yummy spread it was! Fresh pears. Incredible cheese. Tasty sausage made of wild boar. Hummus and pesto to spread on rustic bread. And oh, did I tell you about the pastries?! Oh my gosh. Apple, berry, almond gallettes.

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. . . and of course fresh bread!!!

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After a quick hike around the ruins, we are off to our next town.

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Gary passes a stone wall, many of which frame our rides.

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Here comes Bobbie, not far behind!

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Typical home along the way, with interesting turret for detail….

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A brief stop in Maubec to pose for that elusive holiday photo….

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…is the close up better!?

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Here is the view from that spot as we head down the hill and onward.

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At Les Taillades, we pass this water mill and canal. Note the grove of plane trees to the left.

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Bobbie coasts down the hill after yet another scenic town.

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As we head back to our B and B, we passed these apple trees protected from varmints by this netting.

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…or maybe this one for our Christmas card? By the mill and the sycamore trees.

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The end of our ride passed by more scenic water engineering projects. Hot and sweaty, next on the list is a splash in the pool followed by dinner out tonight. A wonderful day!

Day 5, Roussillon & GorDes

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Morning is a good time to trim up the peach trees, getting ready for next year,

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Typical Provencal morning, riding past an olive grove next to a 16th Century farm. We read that the fields in this region were laid out in Roman times. Landowners respected boundaries, as well as the Roman law, so no fences were built between fields. Same way today, for the most part.

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Forestry is practiced here in Provence!

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We get water from fountains like this, as long as there is not a sign saying “non potable””.

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Watch out for dangerous pups! The French are known for loving their dogs, and we see all different breeds, everywhere!

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This is a more modern version of ancient storage buildings called bories, dry stone construction made of limestone slabs.

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Yummy French potatoes today for the donkey and goats!

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Gordes is a beautiful hill town. Spectacular views.

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It is butternut squash and pumpkin time!

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Beautiful fall harvest of gourds in Gordes.

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EmJay admires the post-harvest field of lavender. You can still smell it a little bit. In mid summer, it is all purple here. With happy bees.

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Here is a new planting of lavender, getting ready for 2018.

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Roussillon is one of the VERY most beautiful villages in France!

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In Roussillon, ochre colors the hills and was mined for many years. These tiles are the color of the local ochre.

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Fatties are popular over here too!

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The red ochre outcrops

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Everything is better with bier!!

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We had a yummy sandwich “de Berger” which had thin sliced jambon, three kinds of cheese, herbs, tomatoes, greens. Totally delicious and nicely presented!

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Haute couture in Roussillon!

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Who could resist chocolate cake?  We could not!

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Typical doorway and flowers….

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The red colors of Roussillon….

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Topiary olive trees, some even sporting little olives! We wanted to bring one home but  they wouldn’t get through customs!

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The Mayor of Roussillon lives here!

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First trashy site we have seen in France.

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Oh boy…we are going to ride to the top of this hill!

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Art in front of a B and B near the top of the hill.

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It is a classy place!!

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Friend Terry is trying to figure out what kind of tree this odd one is….

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Perhaps Cellphonius antennaeatus?!

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Biking couple happy to be up the hill at Gordes.

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Pammy was just getting started, though! She is always ready for more.

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Gordes just spills down in terraces from the top.

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Bobbie and Gary’s holiday photo.

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Kitty artwork adorns a building.

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The Church of St. Firmin near the top of the hill….lovely painting and paintings.

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Restaurant menu framed with vines. Wanted to eat here too but we had just had lunch in Roussillon!

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Rick’s shoes blew out on the third wearing! Luckily Neil had the tools and super-glue. See if it works!

Day 6, East and West Routes

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Last night was one of the the three meals Neil and Nat prepared for us during the trip. We teased Neil what a manly Weber Grill he had!!

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emJay pinched in and helped with the bread . . .

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. . . delicious  marinated chicken shish ka bobs . . .

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. . . as we sat down the food just kept coming . . .

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. . . . fresh fruit salad. shish ka bobs, potatoes with crème freshe, LOTS of wine. . .

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. . . and  for dessert . . . a Paiova  meringue with LOTS of chocolate and poached pears.

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Nat, Jamie, Lucy and Neil. A GREAT family and it has really been fun hanging out with them!!!

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Soon it was morning and time to ride. Neil has developed a great ride system with many alternatives.  Besides the GPS routes there are also laminated cards to take along telling you everything about the route . . .

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. . .including recommendations on where to stop, what to see and most importantly . . . where to eat lunch!!!!!

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Today the herd would break into two groups. A shorter ride and a long one.  Local artists . . .

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. . .  adding local color. LOTS of it!!!!

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We rode by the apple trees that had been covered yesterday  . . . today they were opened . . .

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. . . and being mechanically picked.

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The first part of the ride was through a large orchard area with lots if irrigation . . .

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Love the signage in the rural areas, especially the  train crossings . . . Choo-Choo!

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Many of the trees were sprayed with some kind of blue sulphate to prevent insect and disease damage.

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There were also lots of these hot houses along the way that are used to start  tomatoes early in the  season . . .

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oh , , , and the French are into kale too!!!!

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there was either a reroute of this irrigation ditch or someone forgot to pay their water bill!!!!

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Those of us on the longer route went around  the mountain today and had several climbs. . . we soon left the valley floor and started climbing . . .

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. . . . fun to watch the sheep along the way. The lambs are very busy . . .

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. . . and there were horses along the way too out for a morning walk.

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. . .we rolled though several small villages and this one had a salon where you could get the nationally recognized ‘French Girl Cut’.

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. . . Greg, its cheap here . . . no $50 haircuts!!!!

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around the mountain . . . .

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, , , ,circuses may he passé in the US, with the Ringling Brother’s recently shutting down, but they still seem to be popular in FR.

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We stay primarily on small farm lanes during the day but once in a while need to pop out onto busier roads used as connectors . . .

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. . . this one leading us to Lorimarc, another one of the most beautiful villages in southern France!!!

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. . . beautiful!!!!!

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. . . with a great chateau . . .

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. . . and fun fountains. Talk about morning breath!!!

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We stopped for a nice lunch where there was great people watching . . . including ‘’’man scarves.!!!!

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. . . the local kitty stopped by to say hi and to get a handout.

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Johnny had a salad . . .

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Pam had the pasta . . .

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Terry had the blood sausage and I had an omelet . . . all on a perfect day, in a perfect setting!!!!

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nice sights as we walked around town and back to our bike for the climb up to Menarbes . . .

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, , , on the ay  to our bikes I saw these two rigs. Déjà vu. Would have like to have talked to them but couldn’t figure out who the riders were.

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lets head up the mountain. . . .

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oh yeah . . .

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there were several switchbacks , , ,

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but after a hearty lunch, it was not a problem!!!

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. . . and of course more Kodak moments!!!!

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mmmm . . . . wonder if they have any dessert ??????

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We stopped  at a restaurant overlooking the lower part of the town . . .

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. . . where I had to poke my nose into the kitchen . . .

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. . . admiring their wood fired pizza oven . . . which  sounded good . . .

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. . .  but I settled for a nice little tiramisu. . . .YUMM!!!

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. . . on the way own we  looked across the hillside and the was LaCoste, an ancient village now mostly owned by Pierre Cardin, the clothes designer. A former owner was  . . . the Marquis de Sade!!!!!

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There was construction on the way back to Coustelett and this one is for Charlie. Not a Caterpillar, in fact I  have never heard of this brand!!!!

Day 7, L’Isle sur la Sogure & Fontaine de Vaucluse

A little rain must fall in every parade, and we had a light enough sprinkle this evening that we moved inside for dinner. . . .

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. . . at 7:00pm the vino stared flowing and the appetizers magically appeared. Very cozy!!!!

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Pumpkin soup was quite yummy with a giant crouton floating on top. The main course was a salad with peppers and fried potatoes and a baguette grilled and topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, sausage and a basil sauce . . . YUM!!!!!

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. . . and of course there was dessert . . . homemade cheesecake this berry topping . . . and more vino!!!

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This morning it was another bluebird sky day. emJay had her gift along from Quinn. Chinese New Year money that also had good luck attacked to it.

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The bikes supplied by Neil were GREAT!!! No junky hybrids like we rented on so many prior trips. Several of us had 2017 model TREK FX 7.3. A great bike for the type of riding we were doing . . .

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. . .and of course ‘Designed in Waterioo, WI’ . . . just east of Madison. (but of course the bikes, like most others in the US, are all manufactured in China).

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Great buildings in France. Even those that are closed have developed lots of character and a nice patina!!!!

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People in France use bikes for lawn ornaments too, just like in rural WI . . .

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Away we went to L’Isle sur la Sogure riding along typical roads and pathways we have followed all week.

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. . . another old Roman bridge . . . no a modern highway, but lots of the bridges here have real panache!!!!

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L’Isle sur la Sogure is built on an old swap that has been drained. The water table is still very high and a series of canals exist to to drain it . . . thus it is know as the ‘Venice of Provence’.

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. . . nice views around every corner!!!

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. . . some had boats right outside their door!!!

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. . . and some of the canals were about as wide as a sidewalk . . . easy to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor.

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The locals where big on feeding the ducks. In fact this had three loaves she tore and threw out to the birds. Most of the pieces she broke off were too big though and the ducks would pick them up and give them a Shake-Shake trying to break them apart before going to the next morsel.

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The French are BIG on dogs. Both in popularity and in sizes. Many small bison freesia types but much more noticeable are the LARGE ones. This couple had three Newfoundlands and a lab. The lab looked like a pup next to them!!

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. . . we arrived just about at lunch time and after a little shopping decided to eat . . . this was our restaurant of choice . . . located right on the main canal.

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. . . plat du jour for most of us . . .

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. . . but Bobbie had the BIG salad with cute little bacon rounds . . .

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. . . four of us had the fish of the day as our plat along, preceded by a salad . . .

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. . . I had the fish too but chose the post meal dessert rather than the salad. A little crème brulee, even at lunch, won’t hurt anyone!!!!

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. . . after all the calories a little more walking and shopping was in order. Neil told us this was the town to shop in and the report back from the shoppers . . .  it was a hit!!!

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. . . lots of cute little shops . . .

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. . . including a shop named Gary . . . where you can see their motto is ‘All you need is Gary’ . . . .

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. . . and of course Bobbie couldn’t agree more!!!!!

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This was a very unique way of advertising kids boot . . . a parade of puppys, made of their boots, leading right to their door . . .

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. . . made from just stretching boots together . . .

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. . . available in a variety of colors . . . FUN!!!

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. . . still on the lookout for a ‘man scarf’ . . . I found a special section of ‘escharge de hommes’ . . . and bought one in my color family!!!!

Soon we were back on the road, heading upstream on the Sourge River to Fontaine de Vaucluse . . .

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. . .a picturesque little town along the river, one of the min attractions is the Museum of the  WWII French Resistance movement.

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. . . of course it was all in French but we sort of got the idea. There were lots of interesting displays of life in rural France during WWII . . .

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. . . including gas masks that were provided to citizens . . .

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. . . with displays on how to properly wear one!!!

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Oh  . . . we’ve seen motorcycles on this trip, my nemesis from the Northern Tier ride, but BMW as been the brand of choice on the road. They are VEEEEERY quiet. No roaring Harleys . . . in fact, hopefully this is the next generation of cycles . . .

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. . .no Co2 or noise because they are electric!!!!

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It had been quite a day, and we had a very peaceful ride from Fontaine de Vaucluse back to Coustellet . . .

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. . . along roads barely wide enough for a car . . .

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. . . or tractor.

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. . . and before you knew it, we were back on the cycleway to our villa and the riding part of our trip was over!!!!

Stay tuned for Paris!!!

Day 8, Coustellet–Paris

We woke to another fine day of weather (Provence averages 300 days of sun a year) and another lovey breakfast on the veranda. A little packing and soon it was 9:30am our ETD . . .

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We bid our goodbyes to Neil. Nat had driven the kids to school so we missed them  . . .

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. . . after a round of hugs and kisses  . . .

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. . . . there was time for one more group shot.

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The whole group headed to the TGV station in Avignon, 20 miles away.Pam and Terry are heading to Lyon for two days and will fly home from there. Diana and John are staying in the area for several more day sand will fly home from Marseilles . . . while Gary, Bobbie, emJay and I are heading to Paris for several more days of FUN!!!!

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Time for one more shot at the station before we went our separate way . . . Safe travel to all!!!

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The trains in France run like a Swiss watch. You buy your ticket and stand on the platform where the train is going to stop and at the location of where your car will be . . . easy!!!  We bought lunches to eat on the train . . .

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. . . and even the bread was made locally at the TGV station!!!! The French may have ‘free’ nationalized medicine but they should extend that ‘free’ luxury to using the bathroom. At most major transport hubs you need to PAY  . . . usually about .7 Euro. FUNNYY!!!!!

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It was time to develop some plans for Paris . . .

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. . .and three hours of direct, non-stop travel at 200 mph brought us there!!!!

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Two levels below the train station was the metro station. On we jumped, made one transfer and  surfaced two blocks from hotel . . . easy peasy!!!!

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. . . . lots of scooters in Paris. Especially ones with three wheels. Two in the front and one in the back.

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We are staying at the three star New Orient Hotel located in the 8th arrondissement, not far from the Arc e Triumph/

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Cozy room. Not sure why the French have not gravitated to all queen or king  size rooms  . . . . but we have twins!!!!

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clean and airy . . .

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. . . soon t was time to head out for drinks and dinner. We went to a little bistro down the street ranked very high on Trip Advisor. A reservation at 7:30 made on the  site got  us a 20%discount. Yippeee!!! Our first toast in Paris was dedicated to my little sister Roxanne, who is celebrating her  birthday today. Have a great day and wish you were here with us!!!!

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. . . starters included a yummy tomato anchovy salad . . .

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. . . pomme de terre with fromage . . .

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Steak au poivre for an entrée , , ,

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. . . and crème caramel for dessert . . . .all washed down with  two bottles of wine!!!!

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. . . on the walk back to the hotel I could see the French are trying to do the right thing. . . . there were  six choice parking spots for charging electric cars!!!! I wonder if the battery in mine at home is still charged??????

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We are looking forward to our time in Paris too!!!!

Day 9, Paris

 

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Still life in our hotel’s front window. There seem to be a lot of stringed music shops in this neighborhood.

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Unique approach to a mobile food cart: double-decker bus outfitted with a kitchen.

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Is “Aioliwood” a play on Hollywood?!

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Here is where we camped out for a big and yummy breakfast. Omelets,croissants, and café aulait!

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Hmmmm…wonder how many pregnancies have been prevented  by a late night purchase of condoms in the subway on the way back to a love nest!!!!!

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Hmmmm…Rick is still split on whether or not he should buy at “man purse”!!

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But if it looked this good on him he’ d be all over it!

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Be careful biking in Paris , , , ,

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. . .  ouch!

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Like Madison’s e-cycles, bikes to rent. They are very popular. Many of the stations were empty of bikes!

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Here is the French version of Billy B returning to the station in his ambulance from a morning donut run!

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The fresh morning bread smells heavenly . . . we picked up several yummies for our walking tour.

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We went on a walking tour with “Paris Walks” for two hours around the Latin Quarter neighborhood. Chris, a Brit, was our informative guide.

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This woman was all suited up with walking sticks and big hiking boots. Stay out of her way!!

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This is the quiet apartment on a courtyard where James Joyce penned his classic book Ulysses. It was quite controversial at the time.

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Part of the old Roman wall, dating back to 1210 AD Paris.

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Children on a field trip in their reflective vests walk along a busy street.

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The Pantheon was initially going to be an abbey. But it was built during the French revolution, where church and wealth had fallen out of fashion. So it became a mausoleum for French heroes. A hero can be “de-Panthoniezed” if people discover very  bad things about him or her, posthumously. Then they go to a common grave!  The windows had been blocked in with stone to make it look less beautiful and more austere.

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We went inside this beautiful and ornate church. It had a “”Rood screen” – the ornate stone carvings which also had wooden panels — which visually hid the priests from the common people. That separation went away after the Reformation.

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Ornate pulpit

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Reliquary holding a finger-bone from Paris’ patron saint Genevieve.

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Here is the apartment where Ernest Hemingway and his first wife lived, during their 20’’s, in the Latin Quarter.

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Here is the building where writer George Orwell lived,

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Notice stone carved street sign. After the French Revolution, all references to religious and political leaders were scrubbed from the city. “Saint” was chiseled off before St. Genevieve’s name!

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Bustling street scene. This was a youthful neighborhood with many students.

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We hung out on this corner for hours, enjoying beer and lunch! We were tired and thirsty after 2+ hours of walking, stopping and, standing.

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Very happy to sit down and drink beer!

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Yummy croute complete with fried egg!!

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By the time we were done the place had cleared out!

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Restaurant worker in man-scarf. But does it match his pants and apron!?

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After lunch we need to walk aagain and headed north through the Latin Quarter to the Seine and several shopping areas . . . . many choices of great French wines.

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. . . fresh seafood everywhere!!!!

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. . . if only we had a kitchen.

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Funny name!

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Interesting art on these peoples patio , , ,

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. . .  clever French.

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Soon we arrived at the river and there was Notre Dame!

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Beggar next to tourists in line to tour the cathedral.

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Japanese bride getting her makeup touched up for wedding photos. The groom seemed a wee bit bored by it all….

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Good musicians everywhere. These guys were on a bridge over the Seine, playing cool jazz.

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A fun way to tour the river and the city.

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It turns out these are community cars, like Madison’s “Zip Cars”!

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After all the walking today soon we were hungry again . . imagine that!!! We checked with our hotel owner for a suggestion and soon we were on the way to her favorite  neighborhood dinner spot . . .

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. . . where we settled into a nice corner booth for an evening of culinary adventure . . . three waiters did a fine job serving us . . .

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. . . Bobbie felt adventurous and had the steak tartare . . .

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emJay had the roasted duck legs. . . .  while Gary had the roasted sea bream . . .

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. . . and I had the braised beef cheeks. We ate and drank our way through the night while it rained outside. By the time we walked back to the New Orient Hotel the rain had just about stopped . . .