Wednesday, October 7, 2009

France 2007 & 2008

I have put these two trips together.
The first trip in 2007 was for the Rugby World Cup. We went with our good friends Cate & Fred Dawson. The four of us arrived in London, went to Cardiff for the match between Australia and Wales which Australia won in their best display of the tournament and which was a great day starting in the pubs at 10am and finishing with curry for dinner. We then flew the next day to Paris and collected our leased Renault Espace which we proceeded to drive around France and only knocking off the wing mirrors twice.

France 2007 consisted of 6 sections.
• We spend the first week in the Loire valley staying at a cottage at Abbaye de Fontevraud. They are called Gites in France and the three we stayed at were exceptional value. In the Loire valley you go to chateaux. Chenonceau is top of the list but I think we ended up going to around 14 until we were chateuxed out. One place not to miss is Samur. The French calvary known as the Cadre Noire have their equestrian centre just outside of the town with around 400 beautiful horses. Take the tour. I will never forget an American woman asking with a straight face, “How much manure is produced a year?” “About 6,000 tonnes, madam.” “What do you do with it?” “We put in on top of the mushrooms, madam.”
• The second week was spent in Beynac in the Dordogne. Our cottage was located next to the castle on the top of the hill. Again a spectacular place. You have to go to the market at Sarlat and Domme is well worth a visit along with Rocamadour.
• The third week was spent in Provence in a small village called Meridol, in the foothills of the Luberon. Again what can one say about Provence. Avignon, Arles, Aix, Lourmarin...A week in Provence is like a week in heaven.
• We then got back into rugby by going to the quarter-finals in Marseille. Australia lost to England who played well. The atmosphere in Marseille was terrific and it was a great weekend. It was particularly so because the Saturday night France was playing New Zealand in Cardiff after having lost to Argentina in the opening game. 20,000 people were in the town square watching the game on huge TV screens, expecting the French team to be massacred. The French won and Marseilles went absolutely bananas.
• Then we drove up through Burgundy staying 2 nights in Lyon and 2 nights in Dijon. The four days whetted my appetite to return.
• Finally we ended up in Paris. Le Grand Colbert is still going strong. Again we had a great time with terrific lunches followed by the semi-finals in the evening. Paris was filled with NZ supporters walking around wondering what they were doing there.

We returned in 2008, this time meeting up with my sister. We again spend several days in Paris and then spent a week cruising the Burgundy canals on the Luciole.
What can I say? This is a gourmet trip. We had 28 different cheeses, tasted some great food and some really beautiful wines. This is one trip you have to do in your life. Also the one week trip from Auxerre to Clamecy on Nivernais canal is off the beaten track and through some of the most beautiful country side in France. I have heard of people being disappointed with the Canal du Midi.

We were very lucky and had great weather. It only rained when we were driving from one region to the next. France is fantastic with great wine, history, culture and food but we did find the andouillettes a challenge.

Chris Golis
Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence
mobile: +61-418-222219

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