Minneapolis to France: Always a Good Idea
Written By: Kay George
Having traveled from Minneapolis to Europe, it seems odd to have never stepped into France. When the opportunity presented itself, I signed up for the journey.
This tale is of my motor coach tour through France that begins and ends in Paris.
I arrived in Paris on a chilly, wet November morning and met up with my group; a group of 28 mostly women from all over the United States. That evening our #csmyway tour had arranged a fabulous welcome dinner for us just off the Champs Elysees at Le Sud. I can tell this week will be about baguettes, croissants, wine, and more wine.
We woke up early to board the bus and head to Rouen, this day being November 11th is a holiday in France and locals are out enjoying themselves with their families instead of working. The town of Rouen is lovely with a fabulous cathedral where the sound of the bells draw you towards its entry. This town is also where Patron Saint Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and the new church that occupies the land pays homage to Joan with beautiful gardens and stained-glass windows. Our motor coach tour is a highlights tour, so our visits are short, and we head back to the bus to travel to Honfleur. Honfluer is a small fishing town where the Seine meets the English Channel, we stop for crepes and wine, a walk around town and of course visit the storefronts for a little shopping. It’s rainy cats and dogs and sleeting as we head to Deauville, another seaside resort on the Cote Fleurie of the Normandy region. Deauville is known for its horse racing and film festival and has the closest beaches to Paris making this a holiday destination.
The sun is peaking through the clouds on the Normandy Beaches, this seems so fitting to warm the sands for our fallen soldiers. The museum and graveyards are a must for anyone visiting this country and everyone on our tour wishes our visit here would be much longer. Our guide Patricia, who has a lovely British accent reminds us we are on a highlights tour visiting the “Gems of France” and we did get to stay longer than the other tourists. This spot will be forever engraved in my mind, not only for the sorrow and beauty, but also its peacefulness. A visit to Le Mont-St. Michel, before we leave for the walled city of St. Malo in the Brittany region, and once again quickly after we arrive it is hailing! Thank goodness it is always a good time for wine and French fries. France is all about the wine and food!
As we head toward the Loire Valley, we make a stop in Angers. Three of us decided we needed to do a quick run through the Chateau d’Angers and headed across the mote, through the drawbridge and up the many, many, steps to the top. Here, we can see across the land and down the river Maine, thankfully we have no enemies in site.
As the sun continues to shine, we make our way down the Loire River. Note to self: Comeback with my husband, rent a convertible, wear a scarf and sunglasses.
I watch too many Hallmark movies. We have a lunch break in Saumur, where I will forever remember our cafe had a bathtub for the bathroom sink and back across the Loire River to Tours. This town of Tours rocks, lots of nightlife, people out walking, many shops and cafes. I love how everyone still sits outside even when it is 40 degrees, or should I say 4.444 Celsius.?
This morning we are off to Amboise to visit the Chateau de Chenonceau spanning the river Cher. A gift from Henry ii for his mistress Diane de Poitiers, she lived here until his death, when the wife of Henry II, Catherine de’ Medici, kicked her out. I love history.
We have a surprise treasure on our journey and stop at a vineyard for wine tasting. Many cheers from the motor coach as we head to the Plou and Gils family winemaking since 1504. Very fruitful stop since the wine tasting turned into many purchased bottles of wine and shared by us all later in the evening.
Free day in Paris!
Morning tour of Paris, with the afternoon spent shopping in Galeries Lafayette next to the Opera. An evening dinner on the Champs Elysees (talk about best Creme Brûlée EVER) followed by a cruise down the river Seine. The fact the city is filled with riots and the police are out in full force carrying teargas and other massive weapons, somehow disappears as our boat floats down the river Seine and the full moon shines upon the Eiffel Towers twinkling lights in triumphant beauty.
Yes, indeed. France will always be a good idea.