Pleased with Provence!

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We are almost done our touring of Provence. One word to explain it is, simply Beautiful! The people are lovely, and we continue to get many compliments on the kids french. They are amazed that they have the opportunity to be in french school. It has really confirmed my decision to put my children in french immersion. What an amazing gift they have that I am watching them use. To hear a France, French person say that they speak really well makes me feel proud, as I had heard that they can be critical of Canadian french.

What a tour we have done so far.  I will first list all of the places we have visited so far, not listing places visited more than once due to getting lost and having to retrace our steps multiple times. May I say that round a bouts….love them and @#@&%&*&%&% them.
Pont du Gard, Remoulins, L’Isle Sur la Sorgue ( pronounced, Lees sir la Sorg), Les Baux,  St.Remy, Gordes, Rousillon, Joucas, Coustellet, Fontaine-de-Vaclause.  Phew!!!
It is nothing that I thought it would be, yet much, much more. What a gift we are living!

Day 6: We left Carcassone, and managed to find our way to Pont du Gard uneventfully.  I was expecting to see a big Roman bridge but I had no idea the immensity of it, and the swimming, canoeing, and kayaking activities on the river in every direction.  I also did not understand its history, which is also equally impressive. We spent time there walking around and Noah and Kalyna swam. I welcomed being splashed while I waded in the river- the temperature was only 39`c. After checking out the museum to learn more about what aqueducts are, and why and how it was built, we hit the road in our lovely air conditioned car.
I now have to explain to you my comment about round a bouts. You see, they are great if you missed your turn/exit because you can just keep going around until you find the right one. But if you do not know which one you need to take, you are hooped. We were looking for the hwy # or the
Rd name, which was on our Google directions. What we needed to be looking for is the name of the closest town you are driving towards-not to be confused with your final destination. After our 3rd try, we stopped to ask for help, and this is when we caught onto needing to know this important piece of information for EVERY round a bout, to which there were 100’s, which also broke up the speed Kim could get to in our speedy diesel.  Long story, short, we made it convinced once again that we could not play the Amazing race together and stay married…

Day 7: After some much needed sleep, we got up and found a Pattiserie right around the corner from our hotel- croissants, pain au chocolate, espresso…mmmm…We were already off to a late start when the keys got locked in our rental car, the mechanic came to our rescue, but charged us €145 to be our hero,and after deciding where we should go with the rest of our hot day, we headed off to St. Remy to find what the big deal was about with Joel Durand and his chocolate. I would like to say that I bought presents for some of you from Joel’s store, but I must be honest that they will most likely not make it home to Canada by August 12th….
I also lucked out that there was a small market happening in St. Remy that day, so we got a glimpse of some of the local produce and products.
Next stop was Les Baux, which is a medieval town up on a hill, surrounded by stone hills, which reminded us of being in Drumheller, AB, and Righting on Stone Park, AB, minus the castles… It was Amazing, and we were lucky to have gotten there later in the afternoon as the crowds had dispersed,  so that we could negotiate the narrow streets  with all of the dog caca everywhere. May I say right now, that the French need  lesson in picking up dog poo.  We stayed long enough to have a nice dinner overlooking the most impressive view available in Les Baux. One of the reasons we chose that restaurant, and also that there was a chef hamburger on the daily specials and the kids were having a craving.  I giggle as I type hamburger, because when the server brought one of them to our table, she announced, “Your Hamburger.” with such a thick french accent it made it sound exotic (and also how Steve Martin said hamburger in the Pink Panther).

Day 8: We attempted to get up early so that we could beat the heat and the crowds. We drove towards Gordes (Kim calls it Gordos). Another town that I was thankful to being able to see. A town also up on a hill, which a narrow, and windy road leads to. The highlight for Jordan was that we saw red Ferrrari.
Once again, more Amazing views of this town from above and below, and also of the Provencal countryside.
Next town, Rousillon and its red buildings from the Ochre. It was baffling to us, how close each town was, yet with such differences, and in this case, the color of the dirt, which was the color of shale.  This made the buildings here distinct compared to the other towns we visited.
The highlight for the kids was that I sat in some orange Ochre while we were eating our lunch on a ledge watching traffic. The back of my dress of course turned orange and even Kim’s hand when we tried to wipe it off….
Joucas, was a very small artsy town that loves its sculptures with stone and wood. We tried and tried unsuccessfully to find its fountain, which turned out to be nothing fancy, but a place to fill up your watering can. Still the journey up the windy cobblestone paths was adventuresome.
Last stop, Coustellet to visit the Lavender Museum.  We are in Provence for lavender harvest, so we have not yet seen it all in bloom in the fields but in every market, store, and many restaurants. The smell is everywhere….mmmmm… I LOVE lavender! The museum was a quick visit for Kalyna and I while the boys waited for us outside in the shade. We saw how it is harvested, and the differences in the different lavender plants.
Because we left the hotel by 8:40 in the morning, we were back at the hotel by 3pm so that there  was lots of time to hit the pool. Yeah!

Day 9: Our last full day in Provence was one to be a relaxing one. At dinner the night before we decided as a family that we didn’t want to travel very far the next day as planned. Basically we were burning out, and we were all sound asleep shortly after 10pm on day 8.
After gently trying to wake the kids up at 8:30 am, we decided to head off to explore on our own, and let the kids sleep. It was Sunday, and it was market day in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue- music to my ears! There was miles of vendors selling a variety of goods from produce and meat to jewellery, clothing and antiques, and everything in between. You will never guess what I bought- my 1st pair of shoes!!! I had to break the seal sometime.
We walked up and down the many streets and main canal browsing the many vendors, and purchased some yummy things for a nice picnic lunch with the kids. The produce is not cheap, but it is soooo good and fresh!
Finally tonight, we went for supper, and found a great creperie, to which we all tried something new, and ended our meal with some extravagant ice cream desserts.
Tomorrow will take us to Ville France sur Mer, which is right next to Nice- on the Mediterranean.
Enjoy the many pictures!
Love to all!
Trina, Kim, Jordan, Kalyna, and Noah

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Our time in the 11th Century- Carcassonne, France

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Off to Carcassonne!
It was time to leave our short 3 night stay in Paris, for the Medieval town of Carcassonne. If you have watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner, then you have seen Carcassonne, as it was filmed there. We had before hand, as I am coachable, and Corinne told me to.
The kids were OK with leaving Paris, as they were not used to the hustle and bustle of a big city, and all the walking (sometimes in a jet lagged comatose state) we did. It was also noisy- something they are also not used to living in a small Canadian city.
Our final tally of sights seen were:
The Eiffel Tower, L’Arc de Triumphe, walked the Champs Elysée, we saw the girl known as Mona Lisa at the Louvre (from a distance because of the crazy crowd around this famous girl. I actually felt sorry for the rest of the paintings in the room- did the people even know they were there???),  Notre Dame, The Bastille Monument, The Palace of Versailles, and it gardens, as well as The Trianon (total time spent there was 11am- 7:20 pm).  In addition we ate at many places, and rode many metros. It was a whirlwind tour for sure.
So off we went to the metro with our bags in tow- up stairs, down stairs, down a corridor, up more stairs, down more stairs, down another corridor, and then yes more stairs… Was I glad that we packed light, and YES it was admitted by others as well how smart I was too- can you believe it???
The train took us to Montpellier, then we had to figure out which train was the right one to get onto for Carcassonne as they were not marked. We were misdirected a bit and got on the wrong car, but thank goodness the right train. We only had to maneuver our suitcases through 10 cars while it was moving. Je m’excuse to all those that we stumbled into as the car took a bump and turn.
We arrived in Carcassonne, the start of our Corrine built itinerary (my good and long time friend who is my go to girl for all things France.)  in the afternoon
sun, and as soon as the bus took a turn around the corner by the river, we could see the Old Medieval Cite on the hill. What a spectacular scene it was; just like the movie.
We stayed at Auberge Jeunesse,  a youth hostel- a first time experience for the kids and Kim. It is a hostel that also caters to families. We had a room with 3 sets of bunk beds, and luckily our own shower too. No private toilet, but one was just down the hallway.
Our only complaint was that there was no a.c. and the days reached over 35 Celsius, so we laid in our beds still so as not to make any more body heat. And the sheets- at least that is what they called them. LOL. They were disposable…Need I say more.  Sorry this girl is used to 400  thread counts bed sheets…
It was a Great experience for us all in the end. The other people staying there were very nice, and quick to start up a conversation with you, which is part of the fun of travelling. No travel snobs on site.
2 nights in Carcassonne and we were off to the airport to rent a car to drive in France; yes I was nervous. And can you believe that LMFAO was playing in the castle the night we left? And I had missed Madonna the night before in Paris. I sure hope my kids know the sacrifices I make for them…. LOL

Part 2 of Corinne’s itinerary is Provence, where we will be staying for 4 nights in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue in an air conditioned room at Hotel Les Nevons. Yeah, considering we stopped at Pont du Gard on the way to see an original aquaduct from the Roman era and the thermostat said 39 celcius!

The next post will tell you all about our Provence travels, starting with why you don’t want to lock your keys to your rental car in the rental car. It costs E145!!!!! Poor Noah felt so bad!

Love to you all as we travel this small world of ours as a crazy family of 5!

Trina, Kim, Jordan, Kalyna and Noah
xoxoxo

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Yummy candy and goody store

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Lobby of the hostel

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Auberge Jeunesse courtyard

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Noah the wrecking ball with his peeps...

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outdoor ampitheater where band play like Alice Cooper, LMFAO, Alan Parsons Project

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Food at the hostel

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Our room

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Model of the old Cite that we stayed in

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Traditional dish

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Calamare- YUM

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Climbing the walls

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You know you are in Paris when you have done…

You know you are in Paris when…
Today is day 3 of our 23 day adventure. Day 1 we left Calgary at 3:20 (woke up at 6:30am) . Day 2 we arrived in Paris at 10:45 am (8 hrs ahead). I had arranged a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, which saved significant travel time, so we arrived at our apartment in the 11th district/ Bastille area by 12:05. Our apartment was not ready, so we went for our first Parisian lunch- my first mmmmm… french coffee, Jordan’s first restaurant legal beer, and some YUMMY food with of course OMG good bread!
We got all settled into our apnt, and it was time to go to see the Eiffel Tower. BUT, how do you explain to a 17, 13, and 10 year old (that already know everything) that even though they feel like a pile of #2, that they must perservere, and find the energy to not only find the Eiffel Tower, but take the metro there, wait in line to climb 720 stairs to the second level, so that we can stand in line again to take the elevator the top, so that we can feel the inevitable exhileration you feel once you reach the top of the EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS!
So after I allowed my family to nap for just over 1 hr while I went for some groceries, woke everyone up, then we did the previous explained steps.
It was a killer- almost (Noah was especially emotional due to the lack of sleep…)
We then had a crepe from a street vendor, and it was exclaimed that we were officially declared to be in PARIS!
We found the energy to go for a nice italian meal not far from our apartment- 2 pizzas, 1 lasagna, 1 tortillini, 2 salads, 1 bottle of wine, 2 beers later it only came to E53!
As well as we had intended on going to bed early that evening so that we could wake up fresh the next morning so that we could be on the train by 8am to go see the Palace of Versailles, we did not set our alarm until 7:20- 33 hours from when I had last slept!
We were up and on the train day #2 to Versailles with our tummies full of wonderful Parisian pastries, and cafe, only 2 hours late. We did not leave Versailles until just after 7pm, our feet aching from all of the walking (especially gaming boy, Noah).
After exhausting the possibility of finding one of Rick Steves recommended restaurants, we sat down in a french restaurant where we had some wonderful things. Kalyna had escargot, Noah had lamb, Jordan and I had killer mashed cheese potatoes with sausage, we all shared pate and creme brule, and swiss ice cream. Of course with beer (Kim and Jordan) and wine for me.
Another late evening with the promise of sleeping in- thank goodness!
Another day of exploring- The Louvre, Champs Elysee, Arc d’Triumphe, Notre Damne, and an attempt at the military museum (a whole other story).
Off to bed so that we can get up to take the train to Carcassonne.
Enjoy the pictures of our first few days! Once they are sent.  I am having tablet issues… with my blog. Love and Blessings to you all!
Trina, Kim, Jordan, Kalyna and Noah

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