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Chateaux, castles…

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A Paris Journey… / My Paris / Chateaux, castles…

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Filed Under: My Paris February 27, 2015, 10:39

Bonjour!

 

Can you believe you haven’t heard from me since the last time I blogged? Mon dieu, what was I thinking, I have so much to tell you!

 

January, 2015!

Alors… as you know this is going to be “my-find-a-man” year…but it seems I haven’t quite managed to start my search in earnest just yet as I have been a tad ‘bizzy’ (spoken in true Kiwi style!) ! I’ll recap the highlights in point form below because I really do want to tell you about my month of February, toute de suite!

 

  • I attended a New Year’s Eve masquerade party at my gorgeous friend Gail’s place in Montmartre and had so much fun!! Initially, I was concerned about getting myself home and set a time to leave by public transport at the latest of 22h00… mais, tom pee… I didn’t leave until 02h00 and took the metro with lots of other people and arrived perfectly safe to the 15eme where I was staying at the time!
  • imageMy darling friend and Maurice, Joe, from South Carolina was in town for the month of December and half of January and it was an absolute pleasure to connect with him over long lunches, vino, laughter, tears and more vino, oh, and we made a great pair at checking out the ‘talent’… one for you darling, one for me…. He is now in the process of returning to live here on a permanent basis… how happy am I!!
  • I had the pleasure of welcoming back my darling Muriel Denise and Maurice, Michael from Bolton UK! It was so good to see them again and we enjoyed a wonderful evening together and some laughter, always laughter with these two!
  • Also, at the same time as Denise and Michael’s visit, I got to meet up again with the lovely Janet from Manchester! Always lovely to connect with her, she has such a gentle and kind soul.
  • One of my favourite CEO’s Rodd from Sydney was visiting Paris with his lovely wife Linda and their gorgeous daughter, Anna and I was most happy and pleased to visit with them and recap on some wonderful memories over coffee, lunch and breakfast of our working days together!
  • I had the pleasure of meeting not one but two of my newest Muriels! The lovely Maria from Darwin, Australia was in Paris on a mission to find work and set up a base for her and her husband. We met a couple of times and I learned that she loves to dance and loves to write and is such a creative young soul… she is now based in Frankfurt and I believe has found a job teaching… I wish her much happiness and love!
  • My other newest Muriel I had the pleasure of reconnecting with was the lovely Viktoria from Russia! Yes, my very first Russian Muriel! And did you know I’m now represented in 17 countries by my Muriels?
  • The middle part of January, I celebrated my 1yr anniversary of being a Divorcee in Paris! Ok, ok, it was low key but I was with friends and so we clinked our glasses to my happiness… it is what it is right…
  • IMG_31021462083065Also, on that same day, I participated in the World Free Hugs event and met up with a group from Face Book to give out Free Hugs at Notre Dame from 18h00. Almost immediately, I was picked up by this gorgeous, easy on the eye French guy, twirled around the square, replanted firmly on the ground and wished a ‘bonsoir, madame’! which left me giddy and laughing out loud at the same time! It was absolutely freezing but we stayed hugging until around 22h00! “Always good to give something back Mom” are the words that ring in my ears constantly gifted to me by my darling son Marc.
  • My gorgeous friend (and of course a Muriel), the lovely Margarita from Sydney who I used to work with, made her annual visit to Paris for an Expo and took time to schedule some serious chardy hours with me into her agenda. She also got to meet my darling friends, the infamous MD and Ghazi along with the locals from LPC, all of whom adored her on the spot!
  • IMG_20150127_192329_249We even managed to arrange a day trip out of Paris thanks to my MD and Ghazi who insisted we take the train to Deauville/Trouville and explore for the day, which we did, no questions asked! We had a fabulous time together, much laughter, a great lunch of moules et frites, wine, yes, of course there was wine! Oh and a little thing of getting stuck in the toilet on the train (which I have blogged about previously here…A Day Trip… ) Trust me, whenever I’m with this Muriel, fun times are guaranteed!
  • Finally, at the end of the month I celebrated again… as it was 2 years since I have been living in Paris!

 

Zut!! I told you I had been bizzy!! Now, let’s get on with this month!

 

IMG_3131February 2015!

Another ‘bizzy’ month to date… and I’m not sure my upcoming months will be any quieter!!

  • I’m so proud to be a ‘Kiwi” and on the 6th of this month I got to celebrate our National Holiday here in Paris with expats… Waitangi Day for me was spent with like minded, kiwi loving friends in the 15eme. I had such a nice evening and enjoyed hearing the strong Kiwi and Aussie accents again.
  • The following day found me ‘giving back’ again at The American Church in Paris located in the 15eme. I had managed to coerce my lovely friend and Muriel, Mary who lives practically just 2mins from me in the 5eme to come with me. We were going to write out “Valentine’s Day” cards to injured US soldiers who were recouperating in a German hospital. Apparently, this tradition has been going a long time. We were both delighted and happy to participate and off we went on the bus. When we turned up there were a lot of people who wanted to do the same thing which was very nice! We found our spot at one of the tables and started writing and decorating some cards for the soldiers and their carers. My friend Mary is such a talented and creative soul and her little touches added to the most beautiful cards, mine on the other hand….meh… maybe not so much talent but hey, I was able to draw some hearts, oh, I may have added my email address…
  • The night before “Valentine’s Day” my gorgeous friend Gail from the 18eme had arranged a ‘girl’s night out’ with some of her besties and I was honoured and happy to be invited! So, the night out included a viewing of the film “50 Shades of Grey” which was screened at one of the large theatres on the Champs Elysees and included a welcome glass of bubbles!! It was such a fun night all round, including the hijinks of the lovely Lily and I attempting and failing at scoring another glass of bubbles from the boys at the bar…. hey, on the upside, they did remember our faces from the first time right?? Oh la laaa.. is all I have to say about the movie! I think I need to read the books now!
  • And then… Valentine’s Day came and went un-noticed…. or did it??
  • On the 18th of February, my darling and dear friend Antonio from New York, lost his fight with cancer. My heart is grieving, it will for a long time, but the words I write him are helping me heal. His laughter could light up a room, and his smile could keep you fixated on the spot. I loved him from the first day I met him. I think of him as dancing with the angels now…. x
  • IMG_20150221_211946My lovely friend Gail from the 18eme asked me if I would like to look after her cat “Papou” for a few days as she had business out of Paris and so with much joy in my heart I gladly said yes as I knew that her “Papou” would be able to gift me some much needed cheering up! And he did! I had such a nice time looking after him and I think he liked me too as he was always following me around or coming out from the bedroom to check on me periodically in the salon… I can’t wait to be asked back again.. wait, maybe we need to get a testimonial from “Papou” on that first….
  • My darling surrogate nephew Xavier, took time out of his busy work schedule in London to come visit his Tante in Paris for two days and to meet my gorgeous niece and sister in law from Sydney before flying off to Hong Kong and Australia with his partner.. this boy, I love to bits!!

Alors…. See, I told you a ‘bizzy’ month already and I’m sure you would agree I’ve had no time for the commencement of my new project !

 

Family time!

Yay, now I get to tell you about the last few days of my February month here in Paris!

 

My gorgeous niece Dawn and her mom, Suzanne (technically, my ex sister-in-law, but hey, there is no way I’m going to use ‘ex’ when it comes to her, her new French title is simply ‘belle soeur’, and I’m sticking with that ok!) have been in Paris for the last week and yesterday and today we took day trips out of Paris and I want to tell you about them now!

 

Day 1: Paris to Reims!

Thanks to my gorgeous niece (ok, I’m just going to refer to them both as GN et BS) got it?? (GN: gorgeous niece et BS: belle soeur) who had arranged everything prior to their travel to Paris, we were booked on the train to Reims yesterday morning for a full day of sightseeing! GN had booked us First Class (as you do Muriel, as you do) and we were comfortably seated for the 1hr journey to Reims sans any hassle (or broken locks on toilet doors) and arrived at 11h30. From there, we took a taxi to the Domaine Vranken Pommery where we had a personal guided tour booked for 12noon.

Disclaimer: about 60 seconds prior to walking into the place my GN checked the print outs and asked the following question “um… what date is it today?” .. to which BS and I replied with different dates.. LOL!.. tom pee.. moving on… but it appears, apparently, evidently that the date on the confirmed booking was a day out…. ! Tom pee…. thru the doors we went and proudly announced ‘we’ had come all the way from Australia but unfortunately, the ticket day may be wrong and if possible could we still visit anyway?? I need to say at this point my GN et BS should really be in acting school….as I know for a fact, they were both capable and prepared to ‘put on the tears’!!!  and what do you know….. it worked!! Voila, we had our new tickets for entering past the barriers and waited for tour guide with much anticipation … you see, our tickets included not one but TWO glasses of their finest champagne! Little did we know we would have to work for our bubbles!!

We were greeted by the lovely Katherina who conducted the tour in English (thank god!) and was informative with the history and background of the Pommery Estate. One minor detail which she omitted was the fact that Madame Pommery not only had a daughter, named Louise, she also had a son, Louis. We only found this out from the lady in the gift shop after my GN had purchased some bubbles to take home with her to Australia… odd that you wouldn’t mention both children right? Tom pee.. I need to let this go…

IMG_20150225_125228D’accord… after some initial chit-chat, Katherina took us thru the big door and to our absolute horror both BS and I realised we would have to descend down into the caves by way of the stairs………. Oh, you know, ONLY 1 6 9 stairs to be precise!!!  Having got over the initial shock of that, we made our way down, both, tentatively holding onto the rails!! The caves were however, fascinating and Katherina shared much information with us, all of which I have totally forgotten apart from viewing one of the caves where all the years were represented for having given the estate their finest vintage…. And lo and behold, 1959 was up there with the best of them.. top shelf, middle aisle! Just saying like….

Our tour of the caves was coming to an end and it was with much reluctance BS and I found ourselves back at the bottom of the 1 6 9 stairs looking up with much angst and dread!! Meanwhile, the lovely Katherina and my GN had already started their ascent! So, I told my BS, we just had to ‘put on our big girl panties’ and do it! Which we did and were rewarded with two glasses (filled to the top!) from a selection of not just one but four of their finest Pommery Champagnes for our tasting!

All in all, a great visit! We thanked them profusely and went on our merry way!

 

Dejeuner SVP!

D’accord.. from here, after the two glasses of bubbles we needed to eat so we crossed the road and went into the next ‘tasting place’ for want of a better word in hope it was a restaurant.. mais non… just a tasting place it was but the young man was most helpful in suggesting just the ‘right place’ for us to lunch at! He told us that if we walk a mere 500mtrs (hey, that’s nothing right after the 169 stairs we did TWICE over!!) we would end up at the very reputable “Les Crayeres” where they had a Michelin 2 Stars restaurant….!! Oh really????? ok then, so we thanked him, again, profusely and walked in the rain to our next destination! Little did we know we would all fall in love with this beautiful place!

In thru the doors we waltzed.. hey, my GN et BS are from Australia (ok, ok, initially Kiwis’ and always Kiwis at heart!) and proudly announced ‘we are from Australia’ and is it possible to eat here? To which the young man replied… ‘yes, of course, madame, just give us a moment to prepare’. Bless the French for their politeness right!   And within minutes we were escorted into their fine dining room and showed to our table right in the middle of everyone.. nothing like making an entrance right!  From there, the rest of the afternoon was spent in complete and utter decadence and delight!! Our meal was sensational and then some and after the meal, they enquired if we would like to take our coffee in the bar area which we did and spent another couple of hours just indulging in coffee and chocolate chaud which they gave us free of charge! If they were looking to ‘wow’ us they most certainly did and we all agreed that we enjoyed the experience so very much!

From there it was a taxi back to Le Gare and back to Paris!

 

Day 2: Paris to Tours!

Alors… today, today, today… wait.. mon dieu! Non!! At the time of starting this blog it was today, mais non, maintenant, it’s now demain or today.. whichever or whenever you read this! Clearly, I’m over tired right!

An early start for us all today and I had set my alarm for a 05h00 wake up call, only to snooze for an extra 15 minutes.. as you do right! After I was ready I booked an Uber cab to take me to my destination of Gare Montparnasse (mon dieu!, how good are UBER in Paris!) for all of E4,50!!

As agreed, I met my GN and BS at the designated platform and changed trains at St Pierre for an easy, sans any hassle to Tours. We made our way to the Avis desk and proceeded to hire a car for the day. My GN was the designated driver (thank god!) and she promptly nominated me to be her navigator! Ok, ok, I’ve got this, I can be your navigator my darling GN, but don’t you think your darling Momma (my BS) should be given a chance?? LOL… clearly, not going to happen! LOL .. ok, ok, I’ve got this Muriel!!

So, “sitting up like Jackie” in the front seat of a small, quite small, ok, really small French car, we all assumed our positions of driver, navigator and…. curb watcher…. trust me, it will become clear in time!

On our way out of the car park!

Well, almost! I’m very proud of the fact that my GN offered to be our designated driver because clearly, evidently, this ‘driving tour’ out of Tours wouldn’t have happened without her!! Initially, we may have encountered some problems with finding the ‘reverse’ gear, of our small, car, but once that was mastered then we were on our way out of that car park and headed south west! (Ok, stick with me, I only said south west because, I really had no freaking idea which direction we were headed in at that point!).

The first obstacle that my GN may have encountered was her very first roundabout.. (who knew once out of Paris, the Parisians embrace roundabouts!) … which meant we may have stopped completely in the middle of the roundabout and hesitated for but a moment (only a moment!) as to the direction we should take! But hey…. from there, it was plain sailing and we were on our way to nowhere in particular (thanks to my navigation skills!), just follow the river Muriel (as you do, as you do!). …. I may have had to gently remind my GN that the ‘curb’ side was getting alarmingly close at some points of our journey and she was able to rectify this ‘toute de suite’ which sent us all in complete fits of laughter! From my vantage point of ‘sitting up like Jackie’ in the front seat I was able to keep her on track and away from the curb for the remainder of our day……..:-)

Chateaux Villandry!

Wow! We made it to our very first Chateaux sans any curb incidents or wet pants from laughing in hysterics! Ok, too much information there right? Sorry!

We purchased our tickets for the Chateaux which included ‘Le Jardins’ but seriously, in the rain, who is going to walk in the rain in “Le Jardins’ right?? Funny moment number ??? ok.. work with me on this.. funny moment number ‘one’ for the Chateaux Villandry!

After purchasing our tickets our first stop was to ascend the stairs to the Belevedere and look out over the beautiful Jardins (did I mention at this point it may have been p**sing down with rain?) …anyhow, my BS was the last to exit the door on the top level and I thought I heard a rather loud noise of the door closing behind her to which I said ‘um, Muriel, did that door just lock behind you’ to which she gave her infamous ‘raise the eyebrow and just deny look back’ LOL!!!! Moving on… when we had finished our viewing of the magnificent jardins we ‘attempted’ to open the door of which we had exited from and lo and behold……… it wouldn’t open……… !!!!!!!!! We could have died from hypothermia!! Luckily, our darling GN came to our rescue and pushed it open for us…. let’s just leave it here shall we!

Ok.. now, we are inside the Chateaux and we may be up to funny moment number ‘two’! One of the first rooms we walked into there was an open fire which was very much welcomed and not only that but there were chairs positioned all around the fire place… now, don’t you think that would be a welcoming thing for guests to the Chateaux to sit on the chairs in front of the gorgeous fire?? Um no, apparently, evidently, no!! I won’t point the finger as to who committed this faux pas but let’s just say … funny moment number one and funny moment number two may well be connected!

Just like that we had completed our tour of the Chateaux Villandry and bid our farewells to the staff… and were on our way to our next destination being LUNCH!!

Hmmmm…I found, being a navigator, you are constantly looking at maps and to my utter bewilderment I can’t for the life of me tell you which town we ended up in for lunch! Needless to say, it was meters from a BIG Castle which was perched on a hill.. there, isn’t that a great description? We chose to have our lunch at the large Hotel like place in the town and walked into the Reception area to be greeted by people in the kitchen and a gorgeous little boy sitting on the bottom stair waving a whisk at us smiling! Ok, the restaurant was not open yet and so we made a reservation for 12noon. From there we had 30 minutes to kill so we crossed the road to this little ‘bar’ for want of a better word (it really looked like a ‘container’ on the inside!) but nonetheless, we sat down with the locals and drank wine and chocolate chaud and passed the time until lunch!

Back we trotted to the restaurant where this time the lights were on and the tables were laid… (some fancy, some not) and we were greeted by a young man wearing a suit and tie and very kindly showed us to the ‘fancy round table’ closest to the windows (at this point we were impressed!).

On enquiring which menu we wanted and confirming we would like the Dejeuner Formule which was displayed on the outside blackboard, the ambience and customer service immediately changed! At lightning speed he removed the glassware, linen napkins, platewear, salt and pepper, and cutlery from our table setting and replaced it to our absolute horror with inferior glassware, cutlery, and paper serviettes!! Mon Dieu!! We were being downgraded before our eyes!!!

Still, we stuck with them……. and my BS and I had the same choice of meal which was very nice…but that was with wine.. actually two glasses of wine as we both had to recover from being downgraded! For my GN, her favorite dish of the day was the chocolate mousse with orange and she didn’t have any wine as she was our fabulous curb hugging driver as you know!

On the road again!

Alors… we left that town after lunch and followed the river to Saumur … on the way we saw a lot of vines…… well, we thought they were grape vines.. tom pee, you live and learn right? So, I might have navigated our way to a ‘vineyard’ and was instructed to get out of the car and ask if this was a vineyard where we could taste some wines… turns out… it wasn’t.. it was simply an ‘apple juice’ vineyard type of yard… sans alcohol! But bless the gorgeous owner who I failed to get his name but hey, I can remember the pictures of his beautiful daughters which adorned his office walls and he drew me a ‘mud map’ of how to get to the nearest ‘vineyard’ that did wine tasting even, calling me back to write down the guy’s phone number!

IMG_20150226_210625_576I can happily report, I followed that Apple guy’s mud map to the letter and ended us up at the Vineyard… no, no, sorry, not good on names …. But Thibault??? rings a bell! Anyway, moving on…. I rang the number on the paper and this young man answered and immediately opened the door to us and invited us in to sample his wines… we tasted a rose and a rouge and my GN purchased a couple of bottles and it’s here that I purchased some white clover honey!!!!!! Mon Dieu……… I’m in white clover honey heaven as I type!!

From there, we continued on our way to the town of Saumur… but may have had a diversion with a large Castle on the left side of the river to us which we gravitated to toute de suite!…. How magnificent was this! We got some up close personal time with it from the safety of our small car and then we decided it was time to head back to Tours for our way back to Paris!

May have been another funny moment getting ourselves back to the safety of the Avis carpark at Tours but overall, I think we all thoroughly enjoyed our two days of ‘family time’ together…. Well, ok, I did at least!!

Oooooh wait…. did you know……. tomorrow, ok, ok, it’s today already here.. but my BS and I are going to be giving back with “FREE HUGS” at Notre Dame in the afternoon! Come find us at your peril!

D’accord, in accordance with accuracy for my blog, let it be stated that my said BS and I didn’t quite make the Free Hugs Day at Notre Dame today, due to some wine logistical technicality …. ie: chardy hour came upon us earlier than expected… tom pee… always another time!

a bientot!

 

Bisous de Paris

Murielle!

 

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One of my passions is to travel. However for more than a few years now I seem to have found myself visiting Paris for extended periods of time.. well, make that weeks at least! i know it won't last forever but while it does... I'm going to enjoy every moment!

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