Sunday, September 2, 2007

THE FRENCH CONNECTION


In my post of August 20th, I left you all in Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Now, hop back into our car and we’ll go on to Honfleur

On the day we left Paris to drive to Normandy, we picked up a rental car at the Louvre. Instead of the subcompact “automatique” car we reserved, we were given the only automatique available, a big roomy Mercedes with an amazing GPS system. This was the second time this has happened to us in France. Sometimes, it pays to not be able to drive a stick.

About an hour after leaving Giverny, we arrived in Honfleur. Our B & B, La Coeur Sainte Catherine (www.giaglis.com) was originally a convent for Augustine nuns.

Located on an ancient street, the guest quarters were in a number of small buildings clustered around a flower and fruit-filled courtyard. It was a lovely place to sit and knit.

Since I know someone will ask… our travel companions Karen and Chris found the B&B through Rick Steves’ PBS travel show.

Our delightful hosts, Madame and Monsieur Giaglis, served breakfast each morning which featured locally baked bread, homemade cake, jam and Normandy butter.

They also served local hard cider, wine and cheese in the evenings for a couple of Euros extra. We met a family from Chicago who were also staying at the B&B. They owned a yarn shop (www.knitche.com) in Chicago! How's that for coincidences? They had two musically talented children. One evening, their son gave an impromptu violin recital. Bravo!

My British cousin Suzanne (far left) and her significant other Richard (far right) met us in Honfleur. Together, the six of us explored the town.

The harbor is picture perfect.

Saint Catherine’s church is an architectural novelty – constructed by boat builders in the 15th century, its roof resembles a series of upside down ship hulls.
The Erik Satie museum is odd and interesting. It's like walking into a surrealistic Salvador Dali painting where nothing is what it appears to be. You walk around with a tape machine and headphones and as you go to different parts of each room the music and dialog changes. There's an all white room with a player piano that I could have sat in for days. Ev liked the Art Deco living room-like theater where we watched a filmed performance piece by Satie and his friends.

The carousel is a cotton candy-colored confection.

The portside restaurants are famous for an astonishing array of seafood.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the towering constructions known as “Seafood Assortment Plates.” These plates can be ordered in various sizes – all tall – and often come topped with whimsically positioned crabs or shrimp. Use your imagination!

On our second day in Normandy, the three men took off at dawn for a tour of the D-Day Beaches and the American Cemetery.

Karen, Suzanne and I got a later start. We hiked up a steep hill that overlooks the town, admired the hollyhocks in frontyard gardens, and visited the Chapelle de Notre Dame-de-Grâce, a tiny church unusually adorned with model wooden boats.

Before heading back down, we stumbled on a charming Farm Hotel and restaurant called La Ferme Du Cour. Despite the threat of rain we had lunch in the garden. In my opinion, this was the best meal of the trip—and the guys missed it!

The rain held off until it was time to walk back down the steep hill.

The next day, we drove back to Paris and checked back into Hotel Claude Bernard.

For our last evening in France, Ev and I did something typically Old World French and attended a chamber music concert at Eglise Saint Julien Le Pauvre. Dating from the 13th century, St Julien is one of the oldest sanctuaries in Paris.

After the concert, we did something typically New World French and had dinner at a Tibetan restaurant. At about 10pm, we met up with Karen and Chris and went cafe hopping.

We also stopped in at Shakespeare & Company. More than a book store, this Paris institution was THE place to see and be seen during the 20s-40s when Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce hung out there.

Speaking of landmarks... we ended the evening at Cafe Panis on Quai Montebello directly across from Notre Dame. As Edith Piaf warbled so beautifully, Je reviens!

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***


Here's a blog with a British accent. Have you ever felt chuffed? Put lashings of butter on your toast? Or woke up to a peek of sunshine? Clare of www.vintage-home.blogspot.com has!

10 comments:

Clare said...

Hi! Thank you very much for making me Blog du Jour!

Looks like you had a smashing time in France - we haven't been for a few years, but love the culture and relaxed lifestyle!

A la prochaine!

Clare x

Barbara said...

My first visit to your blog. Iloved the French tour. You have some wonderful photos and the cottages are adorable. I could just drop down right now in those plump cushions.

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Barbara,

A wonderful post, almost as good as being there! I love the concerts in the old cathedrals, they are quite special, aren't they?

So glad you are featuring Clare, she lives in the most adorable home, and has a gorgeous online shop. I adore the things I have bought from her!
Lidy

carol pink cottage said...

hi Barbara, I am chuffed (^_^) I just found your blog.
I will be back to visit often
all the best
carol

Vintage Rose Collection said...

Barbara, What a tranquil post, thank you for taking us to France with you once again...
Fabulous photo's!
Jo

Penny Carlson said...

I feel as though I am traveling through France myself! How wonderful this is!
Penny

Lori @ Katies Rose Cottage said...

Wow !!! What an amazing trip ! I just love Europe ~ Did you hit any flea markets while you were there ~ I have never been to Paris but I have heard that they have some amazing ones !
Thank you for the wonderful pictures !!!

Raised In Cotton said...

Per the fab Ms. FiFi I found your beautiful blog~sigh, love your French photo's and what a lovely tour. Thank You!

I look forward to visiting you again!

Carol
http://raisedincotton.typepad.com/

Jackie Von Tobel said...

Great Post,
I can't believe you found time for knitting?
Jackie

Mélanie said...

After visiting Normandy , I hope one day you will come to the south of France and I will be pleased to show you the best spots !!