Friday, April 23, 2010

Le Mans

I promised that I would blog about my trip to France, so here goes!

I will have to do it in more than one post because truthfully, we took over 1,300 photos on this trip.  No, I won't bore you by posting all of them! ;)

My stomach was in knots before this trip because I would be 4,000 miles away from my children and I was soooo worried about Ava. I wouldn't be close enough to just come home if she needed me. It was killing me inside knowing I couldn't calm her or comfort her when she needed me.  But...everything went fine! Sure, there were times when she was a bit sad and the older girls had a hard time getting her to calm down and go to sleep at night. But all in all, she was fine.

And I can't let the post go by without *THANKING* my family and friends for taking over for me.  I appreciate their willingness to help and the love they showed my children in our absence.  My mind was actually more at ease knowing my children we being cared for to the full extent. You know who you are.....THANK YOU!

Ok, our trip to Le Mans was beautiful! I actually enjoyed being in this small town MORE than I enjoyed Paris. Le Mans is full of history and rich architecture. So beautiful. It made the nauseating plane trip well worth it (That's right, I felt sick during the whole 8 hour flight).

We were picked up at the airport in Paris by a nice man from the company Rick was doing a presentation for. Jean Luc was funny, helpful and a good driver ;)  And noooo...we didn't drink the wine pictured. Wine is served with pretty much every meal in France though.  A glass of wine is cheaper than a glass of soda.  No one was offended that we didn't drink alcohol. They just expected that we would drink the soda instead and were always prepared for us at meal time. How gracious of them!

The first night we were on our own for dinner. Instead of taking a taxi to a restaurant we decided to eat at the hotel.

There is no Diet Coke over there. It's Coca Cola Light.  I wish it were caffeine free, but it was not. They don't drink soda out of the bottle either. Glasses are always served. Even at the mall food court, we were given plastic cups to drink our soda.

Jillian told her high school french teacher that she would try pate'. It was poultry pate', but the menu didn't say which kind. Duck? Goose? Who knows. Needless to say, she didn't like it. We all tasted it and no one really liked it.  We did, however, have some the next night at a different restaurant and it tasted much better. Speaking of Jillian, having her along was a big bonus! She can understand french better than any of us, so she was able to decipher the menu's and also speak to people on our behalf. She isn't fluent, but it was a much easier trip having her along! Thanks Jillian!

Rick had duck filet and it was tender and tasty. He did complain that there wasn't enough food to fill him up though. He complained about this during the whole trip! No wonder french people are so skinny. There are no super-size meals over there!

I had filet de boeuf saisi au sautior with creme au bleu.  Basically, it's a beef filet with bleu cheese dressing.   The steak was chewy, but the rest was good. (blurry...sorry about the photo)

A close up of my bleu cheese dressing. There was some dark chocolate served with it under the little ceramic cup. Mixed together, it as pretty awesome!

This bread was delicious!

On the first full day in Le Mans, Rick left to do business, so Jillian and I here on our own. We had a taxi drop us off at the Saint Julien's Cathedral.  It was been built in sections starting in about the 1100's. It has such beauty. It is in the old town part of the village. 

Here are some of my favorite photos inside the cathedral.

This is the Menhir right outside the cathedral. Some called it the "bellybutton" of the city.  It's 5000-7000 years old!  Some say it is a rock of fertility.  Needless to say, I stayed far far away from it.

In the same square as the cathedral was a cute recycle shop with beautiful European clothing, handbags and goods that are made from old leathers etc.

Here is Jillian enjoying the cute shop. You can see the cathedral steps in the background.

I bought this cute little pouch made from an old belt and some soft leather. I couldn't speak french, so I didn't ask the lady what the leather was from.
Isn't it sweet? I love it. And only $7 euros.

The lady was nice and was sweet enough to even call us a taxi so we could head back to our hotel later. But before we went back, we walked around the cobblestone streets snapping shots. Between all the museums and stores were homes. I bet it would be super expensive to live in one.

Overlooking a river, you can barely see a wall. The Roman's built this wall by re purposing stone from Roman baths.  Lots of history in this town!  We didn't venture down to the water because we were a bit worried 
about getting lost since it was our first day.
Also in the above photo are stone arches with beautiful flowers and grassy areas in them on both sides of the road.

Here is a closer look at a couple of the arches. At night they are lit up and so gorgeous. I'm sure there is some significance to them, but I'm not sure what the story is behind them.

Flowers growing right out of the stone wall. I didn't see any planter.  How cute!
Cutest flower shop EVER!

We found a museum garden. Too bad it's so early in spring that not much was going on. I bet it's fabulous in the late spring/summer. I'm not sure if we were supposed to be in here or not, but we did it anyway.

Later that night, we were picked up at our hotel and taken to a business dinner at this place. Earlier in the day, Jillian and I walked by it and I mentioned that it looked expensive and I wouldn't be taking her there for lunch!

We ate a business dinner with people from *6* different countries. We all spoke at least some English, so I was in awe to be smack in the middle of all kinds of interesting conversations!  There were people there from Spain, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark and of course France and the USA.  Earlier in the day, Rick did presentations for other countries that mostly spoke french. There were even more than 6 countries represented!  Awesome. All the people were there for the lawn care industry.

I really wanted to take photos during this dinner, but it didn't seem to be the right thing to do. We ate raw salmon, prawns, steak etc. We were treated like royalty throughout this whole trip by the company that invited Rick.

Well, that's it for the first 2 days in Le Mans! I'll post again, because there is SO much more including our visit to Paris and the Louvre!

2 Whaddaya have to say about this post?:

Nancy said...

Sounds like a very memorable trip. I'm so glad Jillian got to go along. What would have done all by yourself?? But now, you've got trips to plan with each of your other kids all by themselves, right? ;) That's the way MY kids think, anyway.

Glad you had such a good time!

Caity said...

What an amazing experience for all of you, but especially Jillian! She will love this trip for the rest of her life. It looks so beautiful and sounds simply delightful!