Tuesday, 18 June 2013

"Drinking in" the Dordogne

What could be better than driving down the pastoral counryside of the Dordogne?  If the whole scene could be slowed down and savored, kayaking one of its beautiful rivers is the way to do it. The canoe company we used, Canoë Safaraid, was located in the charming tiny town of St. Léon-sur-Vézère.  The friendly 'responsables' had just received an electronic guide in English that describes the beautiful chateaux and bridges we were passing.  The 'guide' would geo-locate our position, and automatically begin a description when we neared an interesting spot.  So we'd float (my preferred method) or paddle (my son's preference) down the Vézère listening to  tales of century-old landmarks in a British accent.  Being American, it really does feel more magical to be listening to these counts this way.  It somehow ups the pleasure factor.   Just when the Dordogne region couldn't get any better, it did.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Un villa in the Sud?

We arrived to find a crisp, clean outdoor pool, a heated indoor pool with a sauna and a pair of tennis courts.  We must be staying in a pricey villa with such nicely appointed features, non?  Well, not exactly.  In searching for a place in the Dordogne, with activities for kids, that is not in the middle of some beautiful field of wildflowers, I kept coming across 'les campings'.  I saw past the pictures of mobile homes with their oversized structures, and noticed the quaint little tents that come fully furnished with beds (!), a frigo, a grill, a dining table and all the dishes one could use in such an accomodation.  Perfect, I thought.  We can 'camp' without dragging half of a carload with us.  En plus, we'll be saving money (in theory only,  just yesterday we managed to spend 23 Euros on nougat.  My husband has been asking for YEARS, what is nougat anyway?  Well now we know the taste, but still could not explain it.)

Anyway, our little tente en toile et bois is charming for a short stay.  There are board games (which can become a little serious under our roof), raquettes for tennis, ping pong paddles and table, un petit dejeuner if ordered in advance.  We made s'mores over the indoor grill, even.  

 Showers and toilets didn't even occur to me until my neighbor back home asked about them.  Oh, I don't know, I said smugly, I'm sure there'll be something.  And to be fair, they're not bad, what you might find at a kids summer camp.  The only problem is, just now I have a bit of the stomach cramps and queasiness, which has me posted outside of the front office (location of the nicest loos).  I dread heading back to the tent for fear that I'll  need to turn right back around.  Minutes ago, my husband and I used the shower intended for rinsing oneself off after the sauna.  We, however, snuck in shampoo, conditioner and soap for a quick shower in a nicer environment.  I'm afraid my children are learning a few naughty things on this trip- bending the rules, and des gros mots are just a couple.   I am now surrounded by retirees, the only other people staying at the site, and I am uncertain of how my body will behave in public.  So it's off to la tente.  Bon soir.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Shades of Chagall

A cobalt blue background with a bride and groom hovering near the Eiffel Tower is my immediate image of a Chagall painting. But catch the Marc Chagall exposition at the Musee de Luxembourg until July 21st to see a broader selection of his work. You can almost tell which are his Russian paintings due to the more serious themes and harder,darker lines. It's as if his pictures mimic the effect that moving to Paris and finding his wife had on him, becoming light and dreamy.  Can anyone relate?

What a girl wants! No trip to Paris is complete for my girl without a trip to Angelina's. Indeed, it was a marvelous sensory experience. The patisseries were beautifully arranged, and incredibly tasty, enjoyed in a beautiful environment. For those looking for a substantial meal, Angelina's offers lunch and sandwiches as well. We enjoyed a perfectly cooked omelette à la 'Angelina' with ham, cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms. The prices have certainly increased in three years, and they have made an unfortunate (in my mind) addition to the tarts- mini marshmallows. The Mont Blanc is still as bizarre as ever. Angelina's is nicely located for those traveling to or from the Orangerie, the Louvre or Musée d'Orsay. Thank goodness for our little girl who "forces" us to this spot!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

This young man in the photo, Clément Méric was killed last night from individuals that were part of a far-right leaning group. There were three demonstrations today in response that were attended by an assortment of sympathetic groups: feminists, unions, anti-capitalists, and green party members, among others. Here at Place Saint Michel, there looked to be hundreds of people gathered to speak out against this violence. It is purported that the man who beat Méric to death was a skinhead. I appreciate that the French take to the streets to voice their discontent not only for their own situations and conditions, but for their fellow citizens.