Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chatel-Guyon: Oct 14-17

Sean had a conference in the middle of France, a 4-hour drive from Bordeaux, in a town called Chatel-Guyon, close to Clermont-Ferrand. Not to miss out on the fun, Owen and I tagged along (besides, not knowing how to drive a stick shift, Owen and I would have been stuck at the observatory for 4 days if we hadn’t gone). Sadly, going to Chatel-Guyon meant that we could not go to Zurich to see the Block family but we promise to visit them stateside in 2009!!

Chatel-Guyon is one of the many towns (or so we’ve been told) in central France that center their tourism around the local thermal baths. Unfortunately, we did not partake in the baths. Sean was in meetings from 9am-1pm and then 3pm-7pm, so Owen and I had a lot of fun walking around town.

We walked to the top of the town (not sure of elevation) and had a great view of the whole village:

Owen stopped to walk the last stretch:

In Colorado, we don’t get to see leaves in their fall splendor. I enjoyed looking at that while Owen slept:

It wasn’t all work for Sean and his colleagues. Owen gave Morby a lesson in crawling:

And Sean took Owen for a walk in one of the town’s many parks:

On the last night, we went to St. Nectaire, a town famous for its cheese about 1 hour away from Chatel-Guyon on twisting roads. At the ferme (farm) Owen was introduced to a 2-day old calf:

And we watched them make the cheese:

Then, we had a fabulous dinner at the farm’s restaurant, that included some delicious steak with cepes (porcinis), which have become Sean's favorite food. Owen was more interested in playing than eating…

Owen was a champ, playfully staying up late. Though, we had a hard time getting up in the morning for our long drive back to Floirac:

over & out

Silly French Rules

It turns out that the French have lots of rules. Not that there aren't a lot of dumb rules in the US -- I (Sean) make a point to break as many as I can without incurring a significant risk of ending up in prison. After 7 weeks of being here, we have experienced a few really silly ones. For example:

1) In the Bordeaux region, the only grapes that are allowed to be grown are merlot, cabernet and cabernet franc. Growing other types of grapes, at least for use in wine, is illegal!

2) You cannot take photos at a public pool. I guess they are trying to protect all the pretty women who come to the pool to do water aerobic from all the sketchy men who want to take their picture. Of course, in order to get into the public pool, men have to wear a Speedo suit so, I guess the lifeguards wouldn’t be able to tell the sketchy men from the ones who are their to swim. So maybe it isn’t a silly rule afterall. In any case, we managed to capture a few pictures of Owen enjoying the pool before we were scolded:

ps - Email me if you want a photo of me in the speedo. Meow!

3) The shopping carts are locked and you have to pay (though it’s refundable) to get one. But, if you ask nicely, or if you are standing near the piled-up carts digging through your change purse, the nice man who watches to make sure no one steals the carts will give you a plastic euro piece to use and keep. We don’t have a picture of the token but here is a cute one of Owen hanging out in the cart:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paris, October 4-6, 2008

Because we still don’t have internet and phone in our house, we have not been updating our blog often and we apologize to Owen’s loyal fans for this. Wow! It’s almost Halloween, which means October has flown by! We have just under a month left in France. We can’t believe it! We have very mixed feelings about going home but that’s another post (one that may or may not ever be written).

The purpose of this post is to catch you up to date on the travels of the Raymond family over the past month.

First, there was Paris. Really, this trip HAD to happen because 1) the scrapbook that Marisa’s friends made at her baby shower last December has a page for a Paris visit and 2) how could we be in France and not have a picture of Owen at La Tour Eiffel?! So, we headed up for a long weekend on the TGV.

In Paris, we stayed with the Basile family: Paul, Finnoula, and “the cubs” at their beautiful apartment in the 3rd Arrondisement. Sadly, we took very few pictures of the Basile clan. Here’s a cute one of Owen and Zach:

And, Owen really liked the large mirror that the Basile’s have in their hallway.

Thank you Basiles for your hospitality!!! And, Zach and Omadine, keep us posted on any more visits from the Giant Tooth Mouse!

Coincidentally, Joe and Sarah Slater were in Paris the same weekend and we happily met up with them for a tour of Le Louvre.

We had lots of fun imitating the statues in the Antiquities section and the painted ceilings:

…and, of course, we took Owen to check out the Mona Lisa:

For the most part, Owen was in awe of the beautiful art

After the Louvre, we had lunch with Joe and Sarah at a Parisian cafĂ© (it was raining so we ate inside). Then, Joe and Sarah left to explore more museums and the Raymonds headed off for La Tour Eiffel! We walked all the way there – about 3 miles or so – in the drizzle. But it was worth it.

As you can see from the pictures, Owen was ridiculously cute:

The wind was too strong to go up to the top

…but we still had a great time hanging out at the bottom.

It was an awesome weekend in Paris! The only thing we were unlucky with was the trains -- our train to Paris was delayed by more than an hour and we missed the return train when the Metro was delayed.

over & out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recent adventures

We have been having a lot of fun doing a lot of things but haven't had much time to write about them since we have no internet in the house. So, here is a little recap of some of our adventures....

We went to a harvest festival in nearby Latresne and ended up having some wine, playing with new toys, and eating tuna and salmon sashimi with bread. On the way home we passed a farmstand with a pretty hilarious name, which has become my new motto:

Owen gave himself a prune goatee:

We also went to the Dune de Pyla, the biggest pile of sand in Europe. From the top you separate the Atlantic ocean from a big pine forest that was planted by Napoleon. Owen cralwed around on the sand like a locoman. We went with Franck and Valentine and also had a tasty picnic on a nearby beach.

Another time we went to Saint Emilion, one of the famous wine towns in the area. A very pretty place full of grapes, people selling fancy wine for a lot of cash (the most expensive bottle we saw advertised was a 1945 Petrus for 8300 Euros), and castles. Owen got to see his first dungeon (untiil he turns 18 and isn't a minor anymore, at least)!

We checked out a wine cave that had some impressive slime growth since the 1995 harvest was bottled. This was the Clos des Menuts

Afterwards, we bought some really good cheese, a baguette, and some foie gras and has a little picnic in a vineyard right next to town. Diagnosis: delicious!

Then we went for a little walk and then drove home to Floirac via the scenic route. That's all for now -- more stories to come. I'll leave you with this super cute photo of Owen and Mommy among the grapes: