France – 2013

In October of 2013 Holly and I went to France with her sister Wendy and husband James.  We started in Paris, then went to Normandy, and then back to Paris before heading home.

Here is Holly and Wendy at the site of the Bastille.  I was unaware that the building was long gone.  The French celebrate Bastille Day all over the world and this is the only physical representation!

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We hit all the usual tourist attractions.  Here is the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

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We took a very fun Segway tour.  Our tour guide was a spunky Aussie lass.

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The Arc du Triomphe.

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The food in France is incomparable.  Why does food always taste better when you’re in the country of origin?  I’ve had lots of good French food in the U.S., but nothing like the food in France.  I was blown away.

Side Note: In my experience the French aren’t fond of California wine and Californians aren’t fond of French wine.  This is a huge oversimplification but I believe it to be directionally correct.  On this trip I think I figured out why.  At a nice restaurant in Normandy I asked our waiter to bring me a bottle of wine he considered to be fine.  (I trusted this guy not to bring me a bottle of overpriced tourist cellar dregs.)  For my palate the wine he brought was good, but not great.  It really only had one note.  It was a really good note but I’m almost ashamed to say I found the wine a tad boring.  California wines have lots of notes and complexity.  I think the French prefer a wine that plays only one note, but plays it exquisitely.  I’ll give the French the nod on their food but I prefer California wine over French wine.

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We left Paris and went to Giverny and Claude Monet’s house.  Here are his famous Water Lilies.

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The Alabaster Coast of Normandy and my beautiful wife.

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A beach picnic lunch – French style.  Simple and elegant.

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We went to the Benedictine Distillery in Fecamp. (Benedictine is a famous digestif – and quite good).  The distillery is an old Benedictine Monastery and has a great museum tour. You don’t find out til the end of the tour in the gift shop that the company in now owned by Bacardi!

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Had an a lot of awesome seafood on the Normandy Coast.  They provided a little steel needle to get the meat out of the sea snails.  Fun!

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More beautiful coastline.  I was amazed at how green and fertile Normandy is.  No wonder the English and French fought over it for centuries.

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The Peace Museam in Caen.  Lots of great history on the invasion of Normandy.  I drive Holly crazy because I like to read and study every plaque and exhibit.  Luckily most museums have good coffee shops with wifi to solve the geeky husband problem.

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Huge German guns on the Normandy coast.

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The war memorial at Omaha Beach.  Like Gallipoli you could almost feel the ghosts of the men who gave their lives during this invasion.

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Sadly, we couldn’t go into the the cemetery.  It was closed due to the American government shutdown (this cemetery is owned and operated by the American Government).  Argghhh.  Idiots!

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On our way back to Paris we stopped in Versaille to see the Sun King’s famous palace.

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Back in Paris visiting the world’s most famous museum.

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Inside: My favorite French historical figure.

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In 3-D.

Side Note: I love the game where you can pick seven people, alive or dead, to have to a dinner party.  Napoleon would certainly have a seat at my table.

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Wendy and James showing love American style.  Lovers put a lock on this bridge with their names inscribed.  Supposedly their love will last as long as the lock holds.

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The Montmartre neighborhood in Paris.  This restaurant struck me as quintessentially French.

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This one needs some marketing help.

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We also went to the one-of-a-kind Pompidou Museum.  Fascinating.

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Art in Paris abounds – the old and the new.

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This picture pretty much sums up the trip.  Parisiens know how to live!

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Can’t wait to go back to France.  Lots more of this amazing country to see.

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