NOVEMBER 9, 2014—We Have Returned!!

We have arrived safely in Indianapolis. We would like to thank all of you who have followed our blog and emailed us while we were traveling. The trip was amazing, but it is good to be back. We are a bit tired after traveling for most of two years. We hope to rest and recuperate and then catch-up with family and friends.

We last posted on October 10th. In the last month, we covered a lot of ground and have many things to share with you. From Geneva, we drove to Beaune, France the wine capital of Burgundy. We spent two days exploring the city and the vineyards around Beaune, which produce some of the world’s best and most expensive, red and white wines. One of the outstanding sights in Beaune is the Hospices de Beaune, which was founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor. The Northern Renaissance architecture was amazing. It was also one of the first hospitals to admit men and women in the same facility. Today the Hospices de Beaune holds a charity auction of wine that is one of the largest and financially successful wine auctions in the world.

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One of the vineyards we visited near Beaune was the Chateau Meursalt. The Chateau dates to the 11th century and was owned by a lawyer. We toured the tasting rooms and the “caves”, underground tunnels where the wine is aged. The Chateau produces both red and white wines. The Chateau produces grand cru and premier cru red and white wines. As you may recall, grand cru in Burgundy is top of the chart while premier cru is the second best on the chart.

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From Beaune, we drove to Epernay, France, which is the center for the production of Champagne. In Epernay, you will find Moet & Chandom, the maker of Dom Perignon, as well as Pol Roger, Winston Churchill’s favorite Champagne, Perrier-Jouet, Mercier and many others. Some of the houses are located in Reims, which is not far away.

Just a little something we saw along the way to Epernay.

Just a little something we saw along the way to Epernay.

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We did a tour of Veuve Cliquots house and cellars in Reims. The name means the “Widow Cliquot”. She was the only woman to run a Champagne house. We learned a lot about the production of Champagne, which is substantially different from our lessons on Bordeaux and Burgundy wine production.

 

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Most of the bottles are still turned by hand.

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Think Norm will find a wine he likes in the “Wine List”??? Pretty Thick Book, for sure!

After Epernay, we drove to Chantilly France to visit the Chateau Chantilly, which was built in 1560 and is the center of France’s equestrian training. It was also featured in the movie A View to a Kill.

 

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This is how they keep the grounds mowed!

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After Epernay, we drove to Fontainebleau to see the Palace of Fontanbleau, which is one of the largest royal chateaus of France. This Palace was used as a Palace by Louis VII through Napolean I. It is kind of a miniature Versailles, although miniature could not be used to describe anything in the Palace. It is incredibly large, beautiful and full of original antiques including the desk that Napolean used to abdicate his throne.

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The bed Napoleon slept in as a small child.

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From Fontanbleau, we drove to our final destination Paris, France. In Paris, we rented a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for the final two weeks of our trip. The apartment was located on Rue de Cherche du Midi and Boulevard Montparnasse. This was a great location near shops, restaurants, cafes and nightlife. The apartment had a very modern kitchen, living room, dining room, two bedrooms and two baths. We must have said to each other at least 100 times that we could not believe the apartment had two bathrooms but only one toilet. Which would mean that all your guests would have to walk through your master bedroom to use the toilet. Weird, we thought.

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Every window in our apartment had a balcony, very unusual for Paris. We loved the views!

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We did not find the second water closet or toilet for a whole week! We were having toilet issues, (since the only toilet, or so we thought, had a motor in it) and the motor quit working when you pushed the button. Yes, most Europeans push a button to flush. LOL! So we called for a repair and lo and behold, they wanted to know which toilet it was???? Well, behind door number 3 in the foyer….. another water closet!! Yeah!!

Lining up outside to get their daily "French Bread"!

Lining up outside to get their daily “French Bread”!

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Most famous hot chocolate in Paris, Rita had white chocolate, and Norm had Dark Chocolate!

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Watching Roger Federer was awesome!

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Stuffed Chicken breasts wrapped in goat intestines. We about “S@*T”, but it actually melts away, like a casing on a sausage or hot dog.

To start off the final 14 days properly, we took a bateau mouche riverboat cruise on the Seine at night and got to see all the Paris monuments from the river. Of course, the monuments were illuminated since it was evening and the lights were beautiful, especially Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Our days in Paris went very quickly. We took two more French cooking classes. We learned to de-bone an entire chicken, but the French way, which is different than the American way.   We also learned to cook a contemporary French meal. Besides walking a lot and eating a lot, we did manage to visit the re-opening of the Picasso Museum, which had been closed for 5 years for refurbishing.

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We also visited the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum on its opening day. It was designed by the great contemporary architect, Frank Gehry.

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We tried to get tickets to the BNP Paribis Masters tennis matches, but they were all sold out, so we tried our French language skills at a local ticket broker, and luckily, we were able to snag the last two tickets to the Wednesday matinee tennis matches, which included Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

Of course, we revisited the Desmadryl family for a going away dinner. And, finally, we had our final meal in Paris on the Eiffel Tower. That was a very full two weeks of Paris at its best! Now you know why we need time to rest and recuperate.

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The Smokin’ Dog, at the corner of our street!

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Ceiling in the Galeries Lafayette, the shopping mall.

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The other floors in the Galleries Lafayette Mall.

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Wow, I ordered a sprite and got a bottle of shit!! LOL!

Wow, I ordered a sprite and got a bottle of shit!! LOL!

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This will be our final blog on our three months in France and Italy. It was well worth the time, money, effort and sacrifices, which made it all possible. It has also been rewarding to us to share our trips with you, our followers. Many of you have expressed how much you have enjoyed our blog and its photos. We thank you for following us and if we decide to create future breathtaking moments in our lives, we will certainly share them with you again.

 

 

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