July 5, 2014 – No 4th of July Fireworks in France….
Today is our 63rd day in France. Having a great time. Yesterday was July 4th in the U.S. with hotdogs, barbeques, and fireworks. In St. Leon, well actually Thursday, was the first night market of the season, which starts in July. There was lots of beer, French music, vendors of foie gras, fresh legumes, French creole food and other food and drinks. The population of St. Leon probably had an additional 200 visitors for the night market. The “tourist season” is in high swing here right now. Tourists are starting to flock to St. Leon. We get new campers every night. This Sunday, there is a festival in our little town and it is rumored to have a lot of activity that day. We were warned to move our car to the entrance of the city if we want to drive it that day, as the streets are blocked off and no cars can get in or out.
Of course, France has a 4th of July also. It is called Bastille Day and will be held on Monday, July 14th. Everything closes down. There is dancing in the streets, lots of food music and fireworks. We are looking for to celebrating Bastille Day in France.
We are also looking forward to new visitors. My daughter, Angela, and Rita’s sister-in-law, Mary Adams Thompson, will be coming in the week of July 10th and staying until July 18th. We are soooo excited to see them.
The past week has been busy. No new births to report this week. But, we did take a road trip. We left on Monday to avoid some rainy weather and drove 4 hours south to the coastal city of Biarritz, which is on the Atlantic Ocean about a half hour from Spain. The weather on the coast was lovely the first day. But, the second day it turned on us and became rainy and foggy. Nevertheless, it was a good visit. Biarritz has a wonderful sand beach that is rare as far as we can tell for France. The entire beach stretches out before a beautiful lighthouse. It also has the Hotel du Palais that was built by Napoleon for his wife Eugenie around 1854. We did not stay there. It was a little rich for my blood. But, we did stay next door to it. The sunset the first night was beautiful.
But by the next morning, there was roaring surf pounding the rocks in front of our hotel. The first night we got a chance to catch up on Cosmopolitans at the hotel bar. Then, we dressed up and went out to dinner. After dinner we watched the world cup football matches in a bar full of French and German spectators. They are really rabid fans. I guess similar to our Colts’ fans.
Biaritz reminded us of an old beach town in Florida or California. It was rather small, with nice neighborhoods, beautiful churches, narrow streets, markets and lots of outdoor dining choices.
From Biarritz, we headed toward home and away from the rain and stormy weather in Biarritz. But, when we arrived in Bordeaux, two hours later, the sun was shining so we decided to head north to the Margaux, Pauillac, and the St. Estephe wine region of Bordeaux. We took the La Route des Chateaux and photographed all of the best Vineyards along the Route. We saw Chateau Margaux, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau LaTour and Chateau Haut-Brion. All of these Chateaux are known for producing the best red wines since 1855. Of course, the prices of these wines are astronomical and beyond the reach of most mortals. We saw many of bottles of wines priced at $1,500.00 to $18,000.00! We are pleased with our photos as our souvenirs instead of bottles of wine.
From Bordeaux, we turned east and headed toward St. Leon, but, not without stopping for the night at St. Emilion. We went to St. Emilion last year and loved it. Like Bordeaux, St. Emilion is another wine producing area of France. It is a lovely village of 2000 people and dates back to pre-historic times. It is much smaller than the vineyards we visited in Bordeaux. But, it does have some fantastic red wines. Some of them are also priced above the reach of mere mortals, but there are some that are quite reasonable. For example, the Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc, which sell for an average price of $837 and $689 respectively per bottle, fall into the best of the best. But, good everyday St. Emilion red wines can be had for under $10 per bottle although good ones go for $30 to $50 a bottle.
While walking around St. Emilion taking photographs, we saw lots of people touring the wine country by bicycle. They average about 80 kilometers a day and ride in groups of 10 to 20. We also take photos by accident whenever we travel. A perfect example is the photo of my leg accidently taken while removing my iPhone from my pocket.
On the final leg of our return trip to St. Leon, we stumbled upon Chateau Monbazillac, just south of Bergerac in the Dordogne, near to where we are staying. It produces all “sweet” dessert wines. So, we have to stop, taste, take photos and buy some wine to take home.
In closing, the final photograph on our website should come as no surprise to those of you who know us well. We have decided to stay in France and have started a meal on wheels business. It will be called “Norm’s Cuisine”. Our first delivery truck has been purchased and our logo placed on it. We are checking out French law to see if our truck needs any operating authority. If it does, I will be calling Andy Light for authority advice and Greg Feary for insurance advice. International transportation law is really exciting!
Have a safe week. Next week, we will report on our two visitors Angela and Mary, Bastille Day, Rita’s “first” trip to Paris for her visa interview and my second “trip” to Paris for my interview. Stay tuned. (She’s not going to like the weighing in and eye exam either!!! How do you explain (a/ka/a translate) mono-vision lasik surgery to the French!!)
And, we see a crucifix on every road, no matter where we are, as you enter or leave a city, in a vineyard, out on an old road that is only one lane, and in cemeteries, as you see here.