“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


European Vacation – Traveling Through France

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We left Versailles in the early afternoon with a goal to reach a little town on the French side of the France/Germany border by that evening.  The Geek has a co-worker who lives there and we had been invited to visit them for a real French home-cooked meal that evening.
As we drove through France, I was surprised by how much it looked like the American Midwest.  If I hadn't known any better, I would have believed we were driving up I-35 through northern Minnesota.  At least until we saw a sign saying the speed limit was 120.  That was a dead giveaway.

When you drive through the countryside where I live, you see one of two things in the farmers' fields: corn or beans.  I rarely ever see anything else, and whatever is growing in those fields is always green.  So it was a delight to see so many colors growing in the fields of France (and Germany too).  We saw fields and fields of sunflowers like this one.  There were fields at least as big as this one that were completely purple with lavender.  (I'm assuming it was lavender.  It could have been some other purple flowering crop.)  And then there were the vineyards, stretching as far as the eye can see.  They were so beautiful.

Villages like this were everywhere.  They dotted the hillsides one after another.  Some we drove through, and some we saw sitting up on the side of the mountain looking down on life in the valley below.  In Bavaria especially (which I'll post about later) there were farms with fields of crops growing on mountainsides so steep that you would think the rain would wash them right away, and yet they looked healthy.

Here we are entering Niederbronn les Bains, France.  Right on the border of Germany.  Our hosts told us that, in fact, it was once a part of Germany, and a lot of people there speak both languages or even a sort of mix of the two.  The village was quaint and pretty, as were so many similar villages we passed through while we drove.  Believe it or not, this was one of the wider streets we drove on.  There are places where, even though it is technically a two-way street, there is not enough room for two cars to pass through together.

We had a lovely dinner with our hosts that night.  They were so kind and welcoming and prepared a wonderful authentic French meal for us: foie gras to start, followed by the most tender, yummy roast pork in a delicious sauce (They really know how to cook pork there.  It's fantastic.) french fries (They did this as a joke since french fries are more American than French.) and a couple of great desserts from a local bakery.

They spoke English impressively well which was great since the extent of my French is "oui".  They had two children, one a baby and the other the cutest little blond boy, about two or three who chattered away to us in French, clearly telling us the most interesting things, which we, alas, could not understand a word of.

That night we had planned to drive to Germany after dinner, but we ended up staying late, chatting with these wonderful people.  And then it started raining, pouring, gushing, crazy kind of rain.  So with their help, we found a hotel with an available room right in town and stayed there instead.  In the morning, this (above) was the view from our hotel window.  Such a pretty town.

We decided to walk around town a bit that morning to see what we could find for breakfast.  This pretty little church was just down the street from our hotel.

We had found that while the hotels served pretty good breakfasts (usually a buffet of small baguettes, croissants, boiled eggs, cold cuts, cheese, yogurt and fruit), we really enjoyed finding a local pâtisserie and buying a baguette to share for breakfast.  We did that on this particular morning and wandered the village, enjoying the sights while picking bites off the wonderful, crispy, chewy baguette.  Europeans know how to make bread like no bread I have ever tasted in the U.S.

We left France that morning and made our way down to Bavaria.  Next stop: castles!

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At 11/11/2011 6:43 AM, Blogger Blond Girl wrote:

Ahhhh yes... fields of corn and beans. I know that well! I miss the fields of waving wheat that you used to see so much more of in Minnesota. Now it's all corn and beans. I understand they are much more profitable for the farmers.

The countryside of France looked charming. I wonder how I would feel driving 120 MPH?

Great picture of The Geek, by the way. He looked so calm - different than the normal huge cheesy Geek grin.

At 11/11/2011 7:40 AM, Blogger Geekwif wrote:

Yes, corn and beans are more profitable for the farmers, because the government pays them to grow them. But that is a dangerous topic for me to get started on.

We were actually only going 120 kph, which is only about 75 mph. In France, that is. In Germany, on the autobahn, there is no speed limit (except where there is construction, and their construction could seriously rival Minnesota's). I think our top speed there was 192 kph, which comes out to almost 120 mph. Funny enough, as a passenger you almost don't notice you're going that fast since everyone around you is going fast too. In fact, there were sportier cars passing us like we were standing still. Can't even imagine how fast they were going. Yikes.

I think The Geek was pretty calm that morning. I actually thought he looked kind of stoned in that photo. Makes me wonder what they might put in that baguette to make it so darn tasty. ;)

At 11/13/2011 4:53 PM, Anonymous HolyMama! wrote:

heh heh... kinda stoned?

your night with the French couple sounds so lovely!

(gorgeous flowers!)

At 11/13/2011 4:58 PM, Blogger Geekwif wrote:

I know, Kelsey. They are gorgeous, aren't they? I saw so many nic little gardens there. The ones around Notre Dame were so pretty but I didn't get any good photos.


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