Ira Does France

Old Sep 12th, 2005, 10:36 PM
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ira
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Ira Does France

Hi All,

I am at the Hotel Montmorency in Carcassone, just beneath the outer walls, and am being driven mqd by q Europeqn keyboqrd:

We arrived CDG from ATL on Thursday - about 10 min early - on AF. Plane was a 777. Flight was uneventful. We had 100 min to make the connection to Bordeaux.

We were offloaded onto shuttle buses and taken to Terminal 2E. We had been assured by AF that there were shuttle buses between 2E and 2F so that we would not have to go through Immigration.

The reality was that we were herded up stairs and along windowless corridors until we were lined up at Immigration. Upon being summoned to the booth, we were then given a yellow form to fill out.

About 1 in 5 of us had pens.

One person who tried to get a form and then go back in line to fill it out was never seen again.

After being admitted onto French soil, we headed for 2F. Here is where we entered the Security Zone. Ten min later, a nice security person told us that there was no line at the entrance around the corner.

Off we ran - because we now had 10 min to make our connection - to find a somewhat longer line. (I'll bet the kids at Security had a real chuckle.)

With 3 min to go, I ran to the exit gate hoping that if I got there in time they would hold the plqne for my wife.

Thirty five min later, we boarded the plane to BOD.

We picked up a car, ordered through AutoEurope-UK, from Europcar. It is a Peugeot 307 1.6 L Diesel 4 dr with 5 speeds forward.

All of the gears are clearly marked. There are no hidden buttons, rings, switches, etc to get into reverse.

Car is very peppy. You can go as slow as 50 kph in fifth on flat road and still accelerate. We are getting about 17 k/l.

Despite all of my preplanning and maps and directions from Europcar, we got lost trying to find the "rocade" from the airport.

We did eventuqlly find the road and got to the Chateau de Roques.

This is a 16th Cent building (+/- 100 yrs for different parts) restored and operated by Joseph and Geraldine.

(See http://www.chateau-de-roques.com/)

Our room (no 16, in the back of the central part) faced the vineyards. We had a very pleasant stay.

There is no AC, but it was cool at night. Also the stone walls are over 2 ft thick, and that helps to keep out the heat.

We visited Arcachon, by the Atlantic Ocean, St Emilion, and Bordeaux.

Dinner at the Hotel was quite good.
Dinner at L'Envers du Decor was even better.
Dinner at Le Belvedere was superb.
(see http://www.cuisinerie-gourmande.com/page00010070.html)

Drove down from Bordeaux to Narbonne Plage to see the Mediterranean - perfect weather -about 32C, sunny and breezy - had lunch and drove to Carcassonne.

It was hot, dry and windy. Stayed in the hotel until about 7:15 before walking around the town. Had a glass of wine at several different places and dinner at L'Arbre de Vie.

My Lady Wife thinks that Carcassonne is very touristy. I keep telling her that it has been that way for over 800 years and that that means that it is a true, not a touristy, experience.

She does accept that it is not as tacky as Narbonne Plage.

Have a good day, all.

I shall check in when I can.

ira is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2005, 10:55 PM
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Lovely to hear from you, ira.
I will watch for more signs of you in France..going md over those keyboqrds
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 11:07 PM
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LOL Ira!

Enjoy the rest of your trip & keep us posted.

Jim
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Old Sep 12th, 2005, 11:11 PM
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I,ve always wanted to see Carcassonne.
Maybe next trip, so I am following your reports as you travel along.
Happy Trails!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 12:18 AM
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Hi Ira. How fortunate for me that you are there. We are just begining to plan our trip for March to Provence (actually probably Barcelona to Nice) and Carcassone is definitly on the "maybe" list. So convince me one way or the other. Can't wait to see where else you are going. Have a good trip.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 12:21 AM
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Hi Ira,

Any damage from the recent floods? Are the vinyards OK?

Thanks for your wonderful "on the road" trip report.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:42 AM
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I never realised American keyboards are different - are the keys laid out in A-Z order or what ?

Some good recommendations here, thanks !
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:47 AM
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Hi ira. You're off to a great start. I think this report is destined to be a classic.

Safe travels, and do let us know whether you encounter any of those funny lane markings you saw watching the Tour de France.

Anselm
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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Ira,

It's a pleasure to hear from you - please check back in when you not absorbed in having the time of your life.

<<AF...had 100 min to make the connection>>

You must know someone that works for AF!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:57 AM
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Caroline:

Keyboards are generally language-specific, not country-specific. American ones differ from ours only in some minor irritants like the location (or absence) of signs like #, £ and €.

But French ones have the letters laid out in a completely different way. Italian ones in yet another way and so on. Sending messages from them is a nightmare unless you want them to look as if a million monkeys had been trying to write proper English and not quite succeeded

One of the many reasons why relying on internet cafes, rather than taking your own laptop, is always a lousy idea.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:57 AM
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Ira, Have a great time. Aren't those keyboards annoying?!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 04:06 AM
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Ira: great to hear from you and that you are enjoying your trip

Flanner: being flexible and developing the ability to ADAPT is even better than dragging a laptop around when you are "proceeding" through the former colonies!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 04:36 AM
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Thanks, flanner - I didn't know that.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 04:57 AM
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Ira's wife suspected C. was touristy...because it is filled with tourists. Logical lady.

However, lots of C. is not as old as it might appear. Why? Because a famous architect, M. Viollet-le-Duc was assigned by Napoleon III to restore and repair it during the mid-1800s. Lots and lots of C. is just that, rebuilt.

When he was finished, M. Viollet-le-Duc spent the rest of his life restoring the Basilica of St. Denis, on the north side of Paris and the burial place of most of the kings of France. We owe him a lot.

And we owe thanks to Ira -- he is such a good chronicler of the offbeat, the annoying, and the fascinating. Keep it up, Ira!
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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USNR, I don't want to divert ira's thread, but just a note on the remarkable Viollet-le-Duc: he was also responsible for the completion of the 13th-century Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption in Clermont-Ferrand. Interesting work for a military architect.

Back to Carcassonne, purists object to some of Viollet-le-Duc's decisions, such as putting slate tiles on the roofs of the towers. This is apparently a northern building material which would not have been used in medieval Languedoc.

Anselm



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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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Bon jour Ira,

Thanks for checking in with us. Happy to hear you and your LW made your connection and are enjoying your trip.

Safe journey, Tiff
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 06:39 AM
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We spent two weeks exchanging houses with a family in Carcassonne and even the many French people acknowledged that it is touristy! Our house, fortunately, was on the outskirts and offered a lovely view of the ramparts of the old village in the distance.

My favorite part of spending time in that area was learning about the Cathar religion and it's intriguing and tragic history. Apparently, the Cathars were much looser in their views and thus became a kind of threat to the Church that had to be eliminated. There are a number of Cathar installations in the region including Minervois, which is set atop an incredible gorge, with ancient buildings arising out of stone outcroppings.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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Hello Ira, Thanks for the update. Very interesting. I will be waiting for more.

Hope you and LW have many interesting and fun days on the rest of your journey.

Great to hear from you. Keep it coming when you can.

gg
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Thank you, Ira. Actually we fared pretty well at CDG this time. Glad to hear you made it out.
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Old Sep 13th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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Good to hear from you Ira, you sound relatively normal considering the jet lag and misbehaving keyboard.

Will watch for more posts, things seem to be shaping up well already.
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