April 29, 2008

3 days in France

We saw the Eiffel tower, the Louvre and a number of famous buildings in Paris... Unfortunately we only saw these buildings from the car navigating our way back to the train station at Gare du Nord in our hired car.

We went to France for a 3 day visit by train from London to Paris. We picked up a car in Paris. Navigating and driving is in Paris is a nightmare. Driving on the left  or to me the wrong side of the road in a country where all the road signs are in a foreign language is certainly not easy. I was never sure if the roads signs refer to upcoming towns or rest stops, or rivers for that matter. And after I have looked at the name of a place, I forget what it was the next minute. It did not help that we arrived just in time to join peak hour traffic. There were lots of highways crisscrossing each other and navigating out of Paris in peak hour traffic on the wrong side of the road was not an easy task.

IMG_1658 IMG_1647IMG_1626 IMG_1660 

We headed to Normandy and the Loire Valley, and we made it there safely and back. On the first night, we found ourselves in a little place called Moulin de Béchet, a B&B in an beautiful surrounding (pictured above), in the lovely village of Croisy-sur-Eure. It has a river running though its grounds with tall trees and lots of flowers, including tulips, which I love. They were larger that the ones that we see in Australia.

IMG_1646 Veronic from the B&B spoke English and recommended this wonderful restaurant called La Ferme de Cocherel for dinner. There was only one waiter and only 2 tables were occupied. We had the most beautiful french dinner. The waiter spoke only French - thank goodness Jeremy recognised some words :) and we had a guide book with some useful food words. We had loads to drink and to eat. The most memorable dish for me was the lamb (3 different parts of lamb cooked in 3 different ways). The waiter guessed that we love food and gave us a book on French restaurants. It was from this book that we found the place for our next culinary experience.

IMG_1679tempIMG_1689 copytempIMG_ L'Orangerie du Château is situated in the heart of Blois and is a posh place with a number of young waiters. The food was great, but not as stand-out as the first restaurant. It was cute that when the young waiters bought our food, they went on to explain to us the dish that was served in French. I wonder if they knew that we had no idea what they were saying but went thru the motions anyway. As before we had too much to drink and to eat and found it rather difficult to get through dessert which as a colourful array of little stuff, beautifully presented (bottom left). We also could not fit in the cheese but they have a rather impressive selection (see bottom right)

We had a scary experience thinking that our car was locked in the underground carpark when we left the restaurant. It was dark and there were gates across all the entrances. We checked all the entrances and exits but did not come across any that were not locked. We thought that we would have to take a taxi back to the hotel (that is if we could find one) and come back for the car the next morning. We went to the restaurant to seek help and the staff at the restaurant explained to us that we could get into the carpark using the ticket to open the gate. Love the differences that different countries present but it would have been awfully inconvenient to be locked out.

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