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Travelers First Trip Report:: Normandy and Paris, May 4 - May 16

Travelers First Trip Report:: Normandy and Paris, May 4 - May 16

Oct 13th, 2006, 02:29 PM
  #1  
DiG
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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Travelers First Trip Report:: Normandy and Paris, May 4 - May 16

Travelers First Trip Report: Normandy and Paris, May 4- May 16

If you do not like to read lengthy trip reports then you may not enjoy reading this. When I travel, I try to take notes especially if I’m prone to forget the details. Each day I also write something in a small journal. Afterwards, when I put it altogether to write, sometimes it becomes less of a journal and more of a writing piece. Because I only write it once, I don’t have time to edit it for a forum, as much as I wish I could do so for those who prefer the shorter version.

Most importantly, it is my journey. When I grow older, I look forward to reliving my travels by reading my trip reports. As a traveler, I also want to share my experiences with other fellow travelers. Lastly, I want to give something back to those who gave me their advice and suggestions, and shared their passions with me about a place I had yet to discover.

So to all you wonderful Fodorites and others, thank you.

Di


May 4 Thursday: Logan International Airport, Check-In, and the TSA
(written June 2006)

Our limo picked us up at our Westford home promptly at 4:00pm for the forty-five minute drive to Logan International Airport. American Airlines (AA) checked us in, issued our tickets and boarding passes to us by 5:00pm. We only stood in the international check-in line less than ten minutes.

Next was the security screening which is either a plus or a minus timing experience in Boston. Because of my total knee replacement (TKR) I always plan on an additional fifteen minutes.

As I waited for a female agent in the security corral, I watched the TSA give two men a thorough inspection. Then at the end of the screening table, their suitcases were completely emptied out and their laptops received a complete check. Then both were redirected through the metal detector and were fully patted down a second time. Whatever their private thoughts were in regards to this undignified experience, the thoughts didn’t appear anywhere on their facial expression or in their body language. Both men handled the process with respect.

Since 9/11 and my (TKR) in 2004, I’ve witnessed as much and have been subjected to this same procedure several times. Because of my TKR, I have always given the TSA a head’s up that the detector will be activated. Often it saves time, as the agent must now be the same gender as the passenger for the individual body search. But during some of these experiences with the TSA, I have become emotional enough that at times I have shed a tear or two.

I have felt very violable. With passengers staring at me I have felt like I was being treated like a criminal. Having a family member serving overseas while I am being treated in this manner, infuriates me sometimes, but I have to bite my tongue.

Whenever I felt I was treated rudely or unprofessionally, I politely shared this feeling to the agent and afterwards felt better. In turn they would apologize to me.
Sometimes my husband was a witness, so his impute assisted me in assessing my screening process and my emotional state of being.

Diverting to the present writing tense, I realize the TSA has a very difficult job to perform and believe they have made progress in the manner by which they conduct the individual screenings. Their professional performances over this past year in regards to me have been very respectful.

Apart from random screenings, it’s unfortunate that most passengers being singled out are profiled from Indian, Middle Eastern or African descent. Both of the two men on May 4 were of this profile.

I understand and accept why this is the nature of the conditions in which we now live. It appears to be silently acceptable here in Boston when one recalls the origination of two of the 9/11 flights.

I am a Caucasian female born and raised in the USA. My family and friends believe I have strong patience, and great understanding and acceptance of things which are not changeable in our world. In my heart there is no room for bias or prejudice. I need to improve how I handle my TSA experiences with more dignity, like these two men. The fact that I do have family members who are active duty, career military personnel, makes me more vulnerable to my sensitive nature.

By 5:30pm, Cosmo and I were settled into our gate area for the AA 6:45pm flight to Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport. We found ourselves feeling hungry so most of our homemade meal for our flight disappeared into our stomachs. We enjoyed cold fresh turkey sandwiches with fresh fruit cups and ice tea. Leftovers for the trip were celery sticks, cookies, and a snack mix with water.


Overnight (ON) flight to Paris

Upon boarding the airplane all the flight attendants (FA) were cheerful, helpful, and assisted people with their luggage and belongings. There was more overhead bin storage than I could recall from our previous AA flight in 1998 to Kansas. In the fall of 2005 it was listed as a B777. When we booked our tickets in January 2006, it’d changed much to our dismay to a B767.

Our seats were 23H and 23J over the right wing. On them were packaged blankets, pillows that smelled fresh and clean, and those mini earphones. Because I become cold once the plane reaches its cruising altitude, I’d inquired on the forum as to what to expect from AA. Due to your good advice, I didn’t pack my blanket and gratefully it became one less item to carry or remember. We use our own headphones but it was nice to know we didn’t have to buy them if we needed them.

The plane’s odor was pleasant, not musty or overly hygienic. Our small boarding totes were stowed above in the overhead with our carry on suitcases. Here AA had made an impressive improvement. I counted my blessings as we took our seats.

We settled into our space for the six and a half hour flight. In our seat pockets we put a bottle of water, reading materials and glasses, and I placed my clear plastic 4” x 6” pouch.

My pouch holds a collapsible travel brush/mirror combo, lip balm, sugar free gum, 4 pieces of sugar free hard candy, tic-tacs, a pen, a mini bottle of hand sanitizer, a mini bottle of gentle body lotion, a mini plastic pill container with one day’s prescription meds for both of us and my daily vitamins, a travel vial filled with 3 Tylenol, 3 Motrin, 4 Tylenol PM, a band aide, day liners, travel Kleenex, No jet-lag tablets, earplanes, travel nasal spray and travel Kleenex. My inner ear tubes need alot of love.

I love my 4” x 6” pouch because I don’t have to continuously retrieve items from my bag under the seat, plus by stocking the seat back with my stuff, my boarding tote goes in the overhead and frees up leg space.

From beverage service, we each consumed a diet soda and club soda water which was unusual for us. I also found myself often sipping on my bottled water.

The travel planning norm of our marriage continued, as I sat back and relaxed with a gardening magazine, while Cosmo caught up and read about our travel destination.

How familiar is this scenario? Darling wife researches and plans trip. She asks dear hubby particulars she knows are important to him. Do you want a double bed or singles? Manual or automatic car transmission? What kind of sandwich to make for the plane ride? The wife is so happy that hubby contributes to the planning by giving her answers to these very important questions. LOL!

In almost 23 years of marriage I didn’t expect a change in this regard. In all fairness he did read some of the guides I had left in the bathroom. Whoever invented reading in the bathroom was a genius and a saint in my mind. I wondered how many other couples or people planned their traveled in this same manner. If I could use a laptop at that moment, I knew my fellow Fodorites could chime in with responses.

Cosmo opted to try the meal when it was served. He ate some of the chicken and tried the vegetable and pronounced it reasonably good. Considering he ate supper before boarding, I had to accept the fact that his meal was good. If he’d been hungry then I would naturally have doubts in this regard.

Because he doesn’t handle chocolate well, his dessert of chocolate mousse cake became my treat. I salivated for coffee to go with the dessert. But I was avoiding caffeine so I passed when the FA offered it to me. The service was very good.

We both took a walk and a restroom break. When we returned to our seats the couple behind us appeared to be done as their trays were gone. We asked them if they were finished eating as we wanted to recline. They thanked us for asking and replied, “Please do”.

Now the big shocker. Our seats reclined barely two inches. Again it wasn’t the AA we had flown in 1994. What happened to the width of the seat? Where do our legs go? This was an unacceptable change made by AA that was out of our control.

I took my usual dose of one Tylenol PM and slept for three hours. Cosmo declined his one usual pill. His thought process was that he was tired enough and he’d nap naturally. In return he couldn’t. As I slept, he tried to watch the movie and read. Neither helped and unfortunately he’d a restless flight.

Friday May 5: Arrival, Charles De Gaulle Airport, Europcar rental, driving.

Our arrival time into CDG was 7:20am, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. With only carry on luggage, we breezed through immigration and customs. After using the restrooms we exited into the craziness of the CDG terminal. Thanks to Fodor’s forum, we knew the rental car was at the opposite end of our arrival terminal.

It was a challenge to look ahead for the car sign, avoid bumping into people, and keeping an eye forward to see where we were walking. We stayed as close together as possible and worked our way patiently through. At the end of the terminal there was a sign pointing to go down. Also, there were two flights of stairs. Lifting our bags up by their handles, we walked downstairs keeping one hand on the right rail. At the bottom of the stairs was the Europcar desk.

Cosmo bought fresh cold water while I guarded our bags. Within an hour since our arrival time, we were at the Europcar rental desk. Thinking back, I realized the distance is not that far from the arrival gate and the rental desk. It’s just all that congestion you have to weave through upstairs that made CDG appear to be a poorly planned architectural project.

Europcar became the slowest and longest part of our trip that day. Only one agent was staffed at the desk. We took our place in line behind a gentleman who was speaking to the female agent in German. Another man who appeared to be with him was also speaking German. Twice, the agent called for someone to assist her as there was definitely a communication problem.

Next, the agent handed him paperwork.
After reading it, he started to hand it back to her. At the same moment, she started to point out with her pen where she wanted his signature. Perhaps it was the pointed pen gesture but the man became very upset with her. His friend joined in and the assistant came back. By this time another agent came in from the outside entrance with a set of keys.

After much discussion between all five of them, the outside agent left, their rental papers were being redone, and there was now a line of nine people behind us.

When our turn came I handed her the reservation. She didn’t look at it but asked our name. When she explained the insurance to us, she couldn’t understand why we only wanted CDW. She was pushy about wanting us to have additional insurance.

In my best manners, I continued to decline each time she offered it. I further explained that we had all the necessary insurance we needed from our company at home. Finally, she just gave in and printed out our papers.

Pulling out of the car lot at 9:00am, we were satisfied that we had only been at CDG for ninety minutes. Half of that time was due to the inadequate and understaffed management at Europcar. With our printed out directions in hand, Cosmo drove and I navigated. Even though I was more alert to drive, we are at our best as a driving team with this system.

Traffic was what anyone would expect around a city during morning commuter time. We crawled along with the traffic. The only negative part of it was the whizzing by of the scooters between our car and the vehicle in the next lane. The first time a scooter whizzed by Cosmo jumped up out of his seat. It happened so quickly it took him by surprise. The drivers weaved in and out of lanes like it was a race course. We found this experience to be very annoying. Driving a scooter here appeared not to be for the faint of the heart.

GIVERNY

The dividends of researching the driving directions, and printing them out before the trip was large. By 11:00am we pulled into the parking lot at Giverny. Cosmo was in desperate need of a power nap. The morning rain had stopped and there was just a light drizzle, with darken clouds and a light breeze. However, the temperature had increased enough that he napped with the window opened.

Off I ventured to find a WC. Inside the café I followed the signs to WC. To my dismay I needed coin and had neglected this fact. I went to the cash register and asked for change. The clerk informed me that it was free for café customers and to use the next door down. Happily, I accepted this courtesy.

Afterwards, I stepped down into the little gift shop located as an annex to the restaurant café. This was my first introduction to everything French.

Browsing, I inhaled the lovely scent of lavender. There were lavender sachets, lavender wreaths, lavender bouquets, lavender soap, and anything and everything lavender. I scoured for a Provencal style bowl and drooled over the beautiful linens for a table setting. My brain screamed “You’ve got to be kidding me” when I examined the prices. I told myself to wait until I’d visited Bayeaux.

Shopping mistake number one. I left this small touristy gift shop without buying anything. But my timing couldn’t have been better as a bus load of people stormed the shop as I exited. I asked a woman if they had been to the gardens yet. She said the tour just finished eating their brown bag lunches and after their shopping visit they’d be going into the gardens. I assumed they’d have to pay for the WC.

I walked over to the entrance area to check things out. We’d miss a free guided walk of Monet’s house and an overview of the gardens which was starting at 1:00pm. It was wonderful to be there. I walked around the narrow roads of the town of Giverny, enjoying the floral beds and boxes of the houses and the small businesses.

When I returned to the car at 12:15pm, Cosmo was awake and ready to go. It seems a gentleman thought Cosmo wasn’t well or perhaps died. The man apparently shook his shoulder which abruptly woke up Cosmo. Even though it was all in French and broken English, it was apparent to Cosmo that the gentleman was startled and then very apologetic that he had disturbed him.

We took an outdoor table at the same café where I had used the WC. I can’t remember the name but it was the restaurant located directly off the parking lot, and across the street from the Garden entrance. It was still overcast but pleasant enough to sit outside. We each had a green salad, frites, and hot tea.

Other diners were a British group of four, a French bus driver who was very acquainted with the waiter, and a German couple. All of us were having tea except the bus driver who was enjoying a cold beer. I’m glad I wasn’t going to be on his bus the rest of the day.

It was around 1:30pm when we entered the Gardens. We passed through the Giverny gift shop which was once Monet’s studio, and out onto the garden walkway that led to his former house. Our main purpose was to see the gardens so we only purchased these tickets and admired the house from outside.

Looking at the patio off the back steps, I could visualize Monet’s wife and family enjoying their time here together. People were poking their heads out the rear windows of his former home and a small line began to gather at the door step.

Happily we took a path less traveled and lazily meandered our way through the formal gardens closest to the house. Along the way if you looked back, you’d begin to notice the garden patterns forming. It was definitely spring time in Giverny.

I thought about our yard back home and wondered what had bloomed in Massachusetts since our rainy departure on Thursday. We continued down the hill and decided to see the other side of the formal gardens on our way back from the water gardens.

Noticeably, there were less people as it was still lunch time and the groups started their tour at the house. Our decision to pass on seeing the house had been a wise one.

Cosmo and I inhaled the sights, sounds and smells as we followed the path along the water. Arriving at the Japanese bridge was grand.

Impressively laid out before us was a landscape of natural art that is now eternally planted in my memory forever. We had the bridge all to ourselves. Lingering, we counted our blessings.

Then we began our walk along the pond’s path under the weeping willows. Now the shadows of the clouds gave most of the plants a darker hue. When the sun attempted to make its way through the clouds, small bursts of light seemed to pop out from the brighter colored flowers. We sat on a bench immersed in our own little world of beauty and took it all in.

Continuing down the same side of the lily pond, we veered off onto a path that took us twenty yards or more into a more wooded area. This was refreshingly cool and served as a brief natural stimulant to keep us going.

Halfway around the lily pond we came to a set of benches which we had all to ourselves. Sitting here, we could look directly across the pond to the bridge. Now the shadows of light and dark played upon the lily pond displaying varying colors and images.

If you looked long enough you clearly could begin to see what Monet once did. Before us was his inspiration that developed his famous lily pond paintings. Another couple came along and sat on the next bench. Luckily for us, they were definitely into the beauty and mystique of Giverny like we were. Silently, everyone sat appreciative of this gift of time and natural wonderment.

Cosmo and I got up and walked off to the side to take a picture of the pond and bridge. Then the other couple got up and did the same. In turn, we took photos for each other. We continued around the pond and arrived back at the bridge. Here someone else took a picture of us.

The sun had won its way through and the clouds were disappearing. More people were arriving. Cosmo and I retraced our way back to the formal gardens. From the back vantage point you could definitely see the structured clarity of the gardens. Here we parted ways.

Cos went ahead to rest in the shade and I went back to the lily pond to take a few photographs with the sun. Afterwards, we browsed the gift shop. I purchased postcards for mailing, some for mementos and to frame at home.

On our way back to our car we stopped and enjoyed our first ice cream cone. Yummy! It was deliciously creamy and flavorful. When we returned to the parking lot it was overflowing with people and vehicles. We were fortunate travelers who had missed the crowds, and who were able to enjoy one of the most delightful tourist destinations outside of Paris.

Giverny is a place for everyone. I don’t believe you have to like gardens or enjoy art to enjoy its charm and gracefulness. I recommend visiting Giverny when it first opens before the bus tours arrive or walking around during the lunch hours as we did.

With our directions in hand we now drove an easily twenty-five minutes to Les Andelys. It should have been around fifteen minutes but we missed some turns at the roundabouts.

The roads are well marked but driving from one roundabout to another, we found no sign for our town and had to back track twice. At which point we stopped and I asked a man for directions. We did our best but we couldn’t understand one another. On my mini pad I wrote down the name of the town and then the man drew us a diagram.

Following the Seine River into and out of Giverny, and then back into Les Andelys made a lovely drive for us that afternoon. My recommendation would be to know what type of air traveler you are, and then plan your arrival day accordingly.

Cosmo was very tired. He should’ve taken his normal pill to nap on the plane. Les Andelys is a ninety minute ride from CDG. It’s easily managed if you’re rested or with someone. Giverny is a wonderful place to walk off jetlag before you undertake further travel into the Normandy region.

Make sure you know your limits as driving takes a further toll on your system. He said he would’ve had to nap at the airport before driving if he’d been alone that day.


Next: La Chaine d'Or Hotel and dining.
DiG is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 03:34 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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DiG, Thank you for all the details - I can really visualize visiting Giverny with you, and have decided that my next European trip has to include Giverny. Am looking forward to the next instalment.
Sara
sara_qc is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I'm enjoying your report and looking forward to the rest, as I'm planning a trip to Normandy in May. And I'll appreciate all the details!
Sue4 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 06:37 PM
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I'm enjoying your trip report and look forward to the next installment.
mv_rd is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 06:49 PM
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DiG, more.
Sue4 for lunch try the Anciente Hotel Baudy, a short walk from Monet's house or for finer dining, Les Jardims of Giverny. Be sure to visit the American Museum, another short walk and a very good café.
cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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The think I don't enjoy about long trip reports is having to wait for the end to be posted!
Travelnut is offline  
Oct 27th, 2006, 09:17 AM
  #7  
DiG
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Posts: 243
Thanks for your replies.

As you can see I wasn't able to upload
my photos of Giverny to the report.

What process and steps do I need to do to post my photos to my travel report?

I'm a computer novice. I've downloaded them to 'My pictures'.
DiG is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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I can't help you with the issue of the photos - I'm also a novice with that sort of thing! But I'm looking forward to the rest of your report, especially the Normandy part. I have flight booked for next April 24- May 10, and hope it'll be OK weatherwise. I had wanted to go a week or so later, but couldn't manage that (FF miles!)so be sure to mention what the weather was like when you were there.
Sue4 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 04:32 PM
  #9  
 
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Posts: 182
Hi Di!

Great trip report, looking forward to more........

Travel photo's cannot be imbedded in your trip report, rather they should be posted to a web site that specializes in this - you then POST A REPLY on your trip report thread and include the web site link to your pictures.

Here's a link to a previous thread that includes the web site addresses of a couple of photo posting sites.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2

Snapfish is another popular photo site:

http://www.snapfish.com/

Good luck!

lindall is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 03:04 PM
  #10  
DiG
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Okay, now you can see the photos of Giverny.

Thanks for your help Lindall.

http://www.snapfish.com/
DiG is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 09:52 AM
  #11  
DiG
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(Cost of Admission to Giverny Gardens 8E for 2pp).

Drive to Les Andelys:
With our directions in hand we drove an easily twenty-five minutes to Les Andelys. It should have been around fifteen minutes but we missed some turns at the roundabouts. The roads are well marked but driving from one roundabout to another, we found no sign for our town and had to back track twice. At which point we stopped and I asked a man for directions. We did our best but we couldn’t understand one another. On my mini pad I wrote down the name of the town and then the man drew us a diagram. He was very courteous and pleasant to us.

Following the Seine River into and out of Giverny, and then back into Les Andelys made a lovely drive for us that afternoon. My recommendation would be to know what type of air traveler you are, and then plan your arrival day accordingly. Cosmo was very tired. Les Andelys is a ninety minute ride from CDG. It’s easily managed if you’re rested or with someone. Make sure you know your limits as driving takes a further toll on your system. He said he would’ve had to nap at the airport before driving if he’d been alone that day.

Hotel de la Chaine d’Or, Les Andelys.
Thanks to the praising recommendation from Grandmere and St.Cirq, we booked with this country hotel that sits onto the Seine River. Check in begins at 2:00pm, so if you’re arriving earlier you need to prearrange this accommodation. You enter the grounds through a very narrow archway into the car lot. As we walked to the entry way you could see the kitchen cooks and chef preparing tonight’s menu. They waved to us and we waved back.

Entering the foyer we were greeted by the owner, Gerard Millet, who had quickly stepped out of the kitchen to meet us. After introductions he inquired about our day and how we were feeling. He must have reread our reservation as he asked us about our flight from Boston to CDG, and if we stopped at Giverny as planned. Gerard then asked if we’d like to see the dining room and we said yes.

The restaurant had an intimate feeling with warm wooded beams on the ceiling and soft cream colored walls. The sun was shining through onto the beautiful crystal and china settings that were set for dinner. The windows opened up to sparkling water views of the Seine, a walkway below, and across the river was a lovely view of the woods.

We then followed him up the spiral staircase to the top landing. Here, Gerard explained the outline of the building, what to do in an emergency, and then took us to our room. At the top of the landing you could see into the car lot and out into the old town of Les Andelys. Les Andelys was very old looking but captivating in a way yet undiscovered.

Our room was number 6 on the riverside which we had requested and confirmed in January. There are only ten rooms so you need to book well in advance. He showed us how to open and close the windows and where everything was. Gerard asked us what time we’d like to dine, we answered 730pm. Then he asked us where we wanted our breakfast, in our room or in the dining room, and what time to serve it. We replied “in our room for 830am”. He said if we changed our breakfast plans, to just let him before turning in that night. Gerard said goodbye for now and looked forward to seeing us that evening.

We opened the two grand windows and took in a good view of the castle ruins across the river and the barges making their way lazily down the Seine. The birds were chirping, the swans and geese were gracefully swimming along the edge of the river, and there was an older fisherman standing on the walkway below, making the most of a beautiful Spring afternoon.

Cosmo and I laid out our evening and morning clothes, and then showered. We sunk ourselves into two comfy chairs by the opened windows, enjoyed cold drinks and watched life on the Seine River pass by. We then rested for about an hour.

After dressing, we walked outside the archway and into the town. The streets were all cobblestones and the buildings were a rustic brown color. We window shopped and worked our way around the center of the town.

Shopping mistake number two, we looked but didn’t buy anything. There were some bowls and linens that I liked. If anything I’d hope to buy at least one lovely French serving bowl. I can’t recall how many times I’ve regretted not buying something when I saw it or the numerous reminders from other’s trip reports, when you see it, buy it.

From rue Grande, you had a clear view up the mountain where you could see the top of Chateau Gillard. Chateau Gillard was the first fortification built by Richard the Lion Hearted when he settled in France. We planned on visiting it the next morning.

We stopped in at a local bar for a cold beer. Cosmo tried to find news about the Kentucky Derby. The bar owner understood him but didn’t know anything. The place had at least four plasmas going with live soccer matches and France thoroughbred race tracks. With Cosmo being a horseman, he was in heaven. We tried our luck by purchasing six of their local scratch ticket games but came up short. This bar was the busiest place in town and everyone was very friendly and polite to us. They were disappointed when we said it was time for us to leave.

From the bar we walked to a local shop and bought water and snacks, and then returned to the hotel to drop it off. Back outside we walked down the pathway that is located off the car lot. We lazily walked along the walkway that is built all along the river side. The fisherman was packing up, and he hadn’t caught anything, but I felt that didn’t seem to be very important to him. We passed moms pushing their babies in these grand strollers, and the older kids were enjoying their skateboards and bicycles, and the teens were just teens, hanging out and chilling. It was so sunny and light out that we almost lost track of the time. We walked back quickly as it was now 730pm.

Dinner at La Chaine d’Or.
Dinner, where do I begin? This was our first sit down meal in France. St.Cirq and Grandmere gave such high praise for this restaurant that we knew we’d be in for a special dining experience. Tonight, we both dressed up as we often like to do for each other, and because we wanted to really celebrate our first evening in France! Gerard greeted us warmly and showed us to a table beside one of the windows.

The weather was warm and sitting by the window was absolutely lovely. For dinner we started with
a celebratory drink of champagne with Calvados brandy. It took a few sips before I started to enjoy it. The chef presented us with a complimentary plate of mushroom pastry puffs and warm crudités. It was so good and helped absorb our strong cocktails which we weren’t use to having before dinner.

We had Gerard suggest a bottle of house red wine. The bottle’s label had a word spelled like ‘Chemannoie’. It was velvety smooth with a brief lingering taste of crisp berries. My meal was escargots and St.Jacques Coquille. Cosmo had salmon soup and the lobster legs. His dish was displayed as a tepee with the legs standing up and wrapped with asparagus. Our dinner came with a vegetable and a starch but I can’t remember them. We both sampled the cheese course. It had Camembert, Livarot, Pont-l’Eveque which was a sguare cheese with an orangery crust, and a Pave d’Auge which was stronger with a darker rind and 3 others I can’t remember. For dessert, I had a soufflé. It had islands of meringue floating in a custard sauce. Cosmo had a ‘tarte tatin’, something like an upside down slice of apple pie. I cheated and had some coffee with mine. At the end we both had a glass of Calvados brandy. It was about 1000pm so we went for a nice stroll along the river side. There is enough local activity that you feel safe. Our weather was just perfect, something you wish for everyone who travels.

I forgot about the May flies and had left the windows opened. Upon our return the bed and sitting room areas were fine so we left those open for sleeping. But the bath area ceiling and the window wall was just covered. I sprayed them with a bath cleaner I found in the closest and kept this door closed until morning. We could’ve ringed Gerard but it wasn’t a big deal to us. In the morning most flies were dead.

The next morning around 830am we were served a lovely breakfast in our room. It was fresh fruits, cheeses, croissants, sweet breads, yogurts, juices, coffee, and teas. We enjoyed additional coffee as we watched the river life one last time. Packing up was difficult as we easily could’ve spent another day at this hotel and in this beautiful area of Normandy. Before we said our final ‘Au revoir”, we chatted with Gerard and exchanged business cards in the small sitting area downstairs. The time just flowed by, and we found it too late of a start, around 1130am, to visit the Chateau Gillard.
Price for our dinner, alcohol, lodging, and breakfast was 299E.
DiG is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 10:06 AM
  #12  
DiG
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Sylvia and Gerard MILLET.
Hotel de la Chaine d’Or,27 rue Grande, 277000 Andelys, France.
Tel: 0232540031 Fax: 0232540568
Reservations: [email protected] Website: www.hotel-lachainedor.com
DiG is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 01:56 PM
  #13  
DiG
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Posts: 243
Saturday May 6 Caen Peace Museum.
We were now headed to the The Caen Peace Museum. Somewhere before we got to A13, we made a wrong turn on a round about. We lost thirty minutes. Along the way we needed a toilet, so we just got off the highway at the next town. It was about ten minutes from the highway. Neither of us can remember the little town but it was charming. There was a shop with yummy looking sweets in the window so we popped in there. The lady let me use the WC in the back. Meanwhile, Cosmo was buying some pastry for the road. From the oven, another girl took out this flat like looking pizza bread. It had small, crinkled pepperoni pieces with red sauce on it. We bought one of those and two orangeria drinks. Today, it was my turn to drive so I had a bite in the car before we left. It was all so good. By the time we reached the museum, we had consumed the pizza bread, éclairs, water and orangeria drinks.

At the museum the line was minimal and it was almost 300pm. We toured the WWII section. There was a lot to see so we took our time. We read letters from both the Allies and the German soldiers and their loved ones, viewed many of the authentic military artifacts, read the original newspaper’s headlines from D-Day and the days to follow, and saw exhibits illustrating the military’s battle plans. There was a large section devoted to the Holocaust and Hitler’s propaganda campaign. We viewed a short film titled “Hope”. This film uses strong imagery and musical effects to trace the outbreaks of war that have since followed. It was very strong and led my mind to reflect deeper on our world and its stability.

This museum was our second most favorite. It provided an overwhelming overview of WWII. I highly suggest this museum to those who only have a little background of WWII and the D-Day events before they visit the D-Day areas. For history and military buffs you can easily spend a full day here.

We then took a break upstairs in the cafeteria and had cold drinks and fruit. Then we went to the small auditorium and watched a thirty-five minute film called, “D-Day, The Battle of Normandy”. It was a well documented film seen simultaneously from the Allied and the German standpoints. The film depicts the events leading up to WWII, the holocaust, the battle of Normandy, and the liberation of Europe, ending with a message of hope for the future.

After the film we browsed some of the interactive exhibits inside the large lobby. We wanted to go outside to the park. Here there is the “Wall of Freedom”. This pays tribute to the hundreds and thousands of American soldiers who fought for freedom in Europe. We also wanted to visit the gift-book shop but we didn’t have time to both so we opted for the book shop.

It was around 5:30pm and we were due at our hotel in Bayeux for 600pm else we’d lose our reservation. I asked a book clerk where I could find a phone. He politely asked me where I was calling and then allowed me to use the shop’s phone. I tried my best but couldn’t understand the receptionist in Bayeux. The clerk saw my frustration and asked if he could assist me. I explained to him who I was and what I was trying to do. He stepped in and I gladly handed the phone over to him. In a few brief minutes it was resolved. Now we could enjoy the shop without concern about our arrival time into Bayeux.

In the gift shop we were careful about what we bought so we stayed away from the souvenirs. The selection of history and military choices was so grand that we browsed for anything unusual to us. Wanting to find something that would give us personal perspectives of the war, we decided on three non-fiction novels. One was “The mystery of Olga Chekhova” by Antony Beevor. Olga was Russian and a member of a traveling theatrical drama show. She also became a spy for Soviet intelligence and was one of Hitler’s favorite aspiring actresses. The second was a short novel about LTC Bob Piper, an 82nd AB commander. LTC Piper met and married a woman, who had traveled with the 82nd throughout their European campaign as a canteen worker. They married in France. This book we would give to our oldest son. Cosmo bought “Sainte Mere Eglise” authored by Alexandre Renaud, the war time mayor of St Mere-Eglise.
(Admission to Caen Peace Museum was 17.50E pp, Guidebook/Map of Museum 4.50E)

Bayeux and Hotel d’Argouges
We pulled into Bayeux around 715pm. To enter Hotel d’ Argouges you need to pass under and through the old narrow wall. As directed on our reservation, we parked in the lot and left our baggage in the car. The immediate foyer entrance to the hotel is a very small area with a chair and small desk for
a guest and the receptionist. Across from the desk is a guest book for you to sign if you chose to do so.
After registration I handed a short list of places where we would like to dine. She secured us an
845pm rez at “Le Pommier”.

As requested we received a room with two double beds that were put together. It was located on the ground level of the garden annex. The closest, built in shelves and draws were generous in space. Along the side wall was a bench to place your luggage. Also there were hooks behind the bathroom and room doors which gave us places for coats, etc. In front of the beds was a long table with a chair, a telephone, and a small minifridge underneath the television area. The lighting was adequate yet dim. I carry many gadgets when I travel but light bulbs aren’t one of them. Because we were here for a few nights we unpacked everything and made the room comfortable. We checked our fire/emergency routes, showered and dressed, and went out.

We walked slowly to take in the little town. The streets were bustling with locals and tourists. Along the way we tried to make mental notes of where things were located, like the ATM. Most of the shops and stores were still open for business. Tonight the weather was chillier so we wore our blazers over our clothes as a coat and took our umbrellas. The forecast was overcast with rain so we knew we’d be wearing our jackets soon enough.

“Le Pommier” was recommended from the forum and again we sat by a window. Many people were being turned away and others chose to wait it out. Then we remembered it was Saturday night. By having a reservation we had our choice of tables. Again we sat by a window, with this one mostly closed and looking onto the brightly lighted street.

There is a large bar area with a place for a few diners there. After the bar we noticed a room up the stairs and to the right. Passing through the arched wall we entered a well light dining room that had a fireplace. On the wall we saw all kinds of local antiques, paintings on soft cream walls, and dark wood overtones on the bottom half of the walls. The table had a large votive candle and fresh Spring flowers.

Because we are not wine connoisseurs we just asked the maitre d’ to make a local selection for us.
It was a nice “Beaujolais Village”, smooth, warm and hearty. The menu was in French. We made some progress with it as I’d slipped my pocket dictionary into my blazer pocket. Our waiter gladly helped us understand what we didn’t know.

Cosmo and I selected the three course menu. We both had a salad of mixed greens. He had roasted chicken baked inside a pastry puff shell and I tried the leg of lamb. Cosmo salivated over his meal and couldn’t say enough about it. My lamb melted in my mouth along with the local sauce that came with it. We followed this up with a dessert of baked, poached pears. I had an espresso and Cosmo had a light coke. Also we shared a bottle of water. It was all delicious. Our bill with the tip included was 67.15E.

Le Pommier, 38/40 rue des Cuisiniers, 14400 Bayeux, France
Tel: 0231215210 Fax: 0231210601
www.restaurantlepommier.com

After dinner we walked further down the street to see the cathedral light up against the back drop of the evening sky. From the outside it was an amazing sight. We hoped to see the interior before we left town. After lingering there, we turned around and lazily strolled back to our hotel. The streets were still busy with people out walking or sitting at sidewalk cafes for drinks. Tomorrow we had an early wake up and a full day so we turned in around 1130pm.
DiG is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 03:44 PM
  #14  
blh
 
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I am enjoying your trip report very much as we are planning the same trip next May. I am bookmarking for future reference. Am anxious to read the rest!
blh is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Also bookmarking in anticipation!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:32 PM
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I'm enjoying all your details - very useful for future planning. Thanks!
Sue4 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2006, 12:00 PM
  #17  
 
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Just realized that we were still waiting for more of this comprehensive report!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 08:15 PM
  #18  
DiG
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sorry for the dealy but I haven't forgotten and hope to finish next week.
I was away on business and now back at home I have been very busy with community service after work.

Can anyone tell me if they were able to get into Snapfish to view the photos?
DiG is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Bookmarking to read later!
lucy_d is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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I am bookmarking too, very interesting!
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