Friday, June 28, 2013


We are in Pareeeee, I shall write a post on a summary of our week in La Croix Valmer when I'm on the plane or something. we didn't have weefee in the south so I only checked social things when i had the chance. Today we walked around Bastille and had lunch at a great spot, angels cafe I think. Bastille is a fantastic area, i saw some awesome hairstyles and outfits. inspiration. I'll def be back.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Tuesday morning we were off to Bordeaux. It's a good 6 hour drive from Argentan, and we decided we would stop at a the seaside town La Rochelle on the west coast for lunch, via a recommendation from one of Jamies friends. It would add a few hours to the trip, considering it was a bit more west, plus eating time, but figured why not, since we're here. It was cloudy and rainy in Argentan, and continued to be so in La Rochelle.

Of course I forgot that lunch time in France is within certain hours, and if you want to get lunch at say, 2pm, you're SOL. Lunch time is lunch time, dinner time is dinner time. Probably why they are thinner than us North Americans. You eat att meal times, drink coffee , or booze in between, perhaps a little trreat, but no real food between meals. I might try living by French rules when I get home, see how that works out. Although I may need to pick up smoking to get the full effect.

We arrived at La Rochelle, the weather was shyte and the restaurant we wanted was closed. We eventually found another spot to eat, a divey pub in town. No one was really in there aside from a student writing something on her laptop. We got some toast things covered in meat with a side of fries and salad. No booze for me, it was my turn to drive. The food was good though. The town was nothing special, a typical old French town, narrow streets, touristy shops. I was paranoid about leaving our stuff in the car in a parking lot. I trust no one.

After La Rochelle we were headed straight to our vineyard spot just outside Bordeaux. We got lost along the way, the GPS lead me a bit off path. We arrived at La Corne, a little wine vineyard and were greeted by our friendly hosts. The apartment was attached to their house, it was private and rustic. It smelle like a cottage, it w3as clean but cold. Willy showed us a map and told us what to do with our single day in Bordeaux, he said we have to see St Emilion if anything, and perhaps Bordeaux. But, no offence, we didn't feel like seeing another big French city. Honestly, they all look the same, and not going saved us the hassle of inner city traffic stress. We decided to grab dinner at the nearest town, ended up at a Moroccan resto due to slim pickins. It was meh and the waiter was creepy. But we did decide to go to St Emilion the following day. It's super old, is surrounded by posh wine vineyards and has a little train thing that takes you around town. We did that and stopped to get a tour of an underground wine cellar. It was neat and not as scary as the catacombs. But super old. Also, St. Emilion the town is mega old, typical with teeny streets and overpriced tourist goods. YES I bought some cool pants so what.

View from our place

Fresh bread from Willy

Palm tree outside


On the mantel 

Annoying cat tried climbing Jamie's knee

Wine cellar 


After that we decided to head back and grab pizza for dinner. Eating out all the time gets tiresome. Pizza was good, pesky vineyard cat was annoying, I drank a bottle of cider for old times sake and had a shitty sleep. We had to wake up early on Thurs to head to the south due to the almost 8 hour drive ahead. Ugh who planned this!!???

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Family day pt deux

Woke up to the smell of toast again, but this time we didn't have any old baller friends or old French friends. it was just us, and we were served chocolate croissants, crepes and breads. Bread city I tells ya. Patrick rough hands forgot the nutella spread, I forgave him.

We were to meet back at Nicole and Andre's for lunch but at a bistro around the corner, then return to theirs for some art viewing and discussion. Andre and Nicole drove, Jamie, Giselle and I walked. Giselle and I have the same perfume, Gerulain Shalimar. Perfume buds.

A bistro is different from a restaurant, apparently, although you wouldn't know it. A bistro is less "snob", but to me the food and service was just the same. It was a busy little lunchtime spot, too. We had some wine, I had a white fish with cream sauce (omg) and Jamie had a pork filet mignon (also omg) followed by incred dessert: creme brulee for me and who knows what everyone else got because I went into a trance as I ate it.

After lunch Giselle invited us back for coffee but snuck in a hard drink for us too. It was a white raspberry liquer, but strong as hell like sipping vodka. She has a cute little Westie named Ginou who thought she was people. Giselles appt looks like A&N's but a bit smaller and decorated uber french-like. Giselle was kind enough to give us a bottle of Bessin wine as a little gift, what a sweetie. We had our bevvies, a little piece of chocolate and were on our way to another spot - a friend named Henri who spoke fluent english and backed onto a castle. He lives in the country about nine kilometres away. Andre drove us, Giselle drove Nicole.

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Henri's home is hidden behind trees, its and 18th century building which used to be a bnb at one point. It had a nice big private backyard with stone walls and a little river beside it. You could see the top of the neighbouring castle peaking up above the trees. Henri spoke English well and looked like a writer. His home full of things, in no particular order and no decor theme, and he was wearing a vest and glasses with a groomed moustache. Pure writer. But I don't think he was a writer, he was a doctor or professor or something. We were there to see the chest he had, which used to belong to Andre, and had a rabbit and some flowers painted on it by Andres father. It was beautifully painted of course. After that we walked and looked at the castle. 

Find Henri.

Walking to bistro

We headed back to Argentan, back to A&N's to look at Aimee's art. We sat around the table drinking water and talked for a few hours. At around 6 or 7pm Andre "proposed to us" that we would eat crepes with an egg. Obv we said heck yes we'll eat crepes with an egg not knowing exactly what that meant. Nicole and Giselle popped out and cameback with something else because the g-store was out of those things. We ended up having some pastrries filled with ham and cheese, salad, bread and potted duck and cheese afterwards (to cleanse the palette before dessert) - which was macarons and strawberries/bananas. All good. The macarons were awesome and were purchased from Carrefour (France's Sobeys) but you'd think they were from a fancy bakery they were so fresh and good. And I had port and wine throughout the evening, quelle surprise. 

I was dreading the goodbye and was thinking of ways to postpone it - like by coming back Tuesday morning after breakfast and on our way to Bordeaux, that way I could have time to absorb things and talk myself out of being annoying and emotional. But when the sun was finally setting, around or close to ten pm, I figured we should get back to the bnb. I offered to come back the next morning but Nicole said no it is out of our way. I wasn't going to argue so I mentally prepped my thank yous a bye byes. It was all good, I kissed Nicole, kissed Andre and Giselle, it was when Andre said to "send love back to Canada, especially...." {michelle cries and cuts him off} what was he gonna say?! I won't know because I couldn't hold it in. Uggghh I was so mad at myself for cracking, but it's not easy saying "until next time" to my older family members who live half way across the world. Especially since they were so good to us, so sweet and kind having just met us for the first time the year prior. Its interesting the connection you can have, they know all of us, and there are a lot of us. Andre has so many stories, a lifetime of memories and knowledge and I could listen for days to what he has to say. I learned more about my family, his, and about life in general just being in their presence for two days. 

So there you have it, I bawled again when I had to say goodbye. Don't feel bad that I don't bawl everytime I say bye to you, it's probably not the same feeling. We left feeling sad about saying goodbye again, but happy that we were even able to return so soon since last September. And of course happy that we are fortunate enough to have such a connection with these people at this time.

Tuesyday morning we were off to Bordeaux with a lunch stop at La Rochelle on the west coast - which was foiled by the whole "lunch time at lunch time" thing in France and added a good 3 hours to our trip. Oh well. When we were leaving the Normandy area I was thinking how much I still love it there. I don't know what it is about that place, the food, the seaside, the cider or my family roots there, but I will be returning again. Mind you I haven't yet been to the south, this could change things.

Jamie took some good photos with his SLR. I'll post them when we return, sorry I don't have many photos from my iPhone which is all i brought-- also for some reason they aren't all up in my cloud. I don't like snapping photos constantly when I am with people. I won't wanna miss out on the real experiences. But if you follow along on Instagram or are friend with me on Facebook you can see some of the photos that aren't here.

Next, Bordeaux.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Family time v.2013

Sunday was spent visiting my family here in Argentan.


We arrived at Andre and Nicole's at 1pm. To reiderate, Andre is my great great uncle (my gr. grandfathers brother) and Nicole is his wife. We were greeted by Nicole in their new flat, last year they were in a house, they've since moved to a more accessible living spoace. When we got inside, Andre was there as well as Nicole's long time friend , Giselle- who also lives in the building, (They have lots of peeps in the building, or will soontime.) Of bourse we were greeted withh big smiles and welcoming kisses. We proceeded to the living room where we had champagne and ors d'ouvres. Delicious things, naturally. Crostinis with guacoamole/potted goose (tastes like turkley) and olive tapenade. stuffed red peppers with tuna, cheese puff things from burgundy which Giselle made - I forgot to get the recipe from her damn!!... and i forgot to mention we walked from the bnb to their place, about 3km. I was really smart and decided to wear my new sandals which gave me terrible bloody blisters after about 15 minutes of walking. I had to stuff some tissue behind my heel and walk like a ballerina most of the way - toe heel toe heel...

Anyway, after chatting we went to the dining room table for lunch. Starting with melons and proscuitto, baguettes and wine. Bomb. Then we had quail, mushroom things and gravy, and of course more baguettes. Ended with nummy cheese and then a-friggin mazing chocolate moose kinda cake. Why is all the food heere so good?! It was a wonderful lunch, Andre shared some photos with us, and we visited for a good 7 hours before going home. i managed to keep kmyself together this time, but it wasnt the final goodbye of the trip, mind you.

mmm cake with wafer bottom.

view from the flat.

nice new kitch. Its a bright and spacious apartment.

Andre and Nicole's wedding day, almost 60 years ago.

Andre, drawn by his father. My gr gr grandfather.

Canadian family photos.

I only sorta wanted to cry when these came out. Held it back.

Sunday was great, we spent a nice long time together, shared delicous food and wine. What more could one ask for?

We walked home again, I hoped that the bandaids i put on my heels would help the wounds. Didn't. Took us a bit longer to get home because of it and I almost walked bare foot... Never wear new shoes on your first day of vacation. Got back to the room, showereds - which felt like acid on my heels and hit the hay. Even sleeping with those bloody heels was aeful, I imagined the sores went to the bone.

a bottle of wine to sit in the back garden with. 

I didn't know how to use this.

Rummy with giant cards and giant bees in the garden.

Sleeping at this bnb isn.t creepy, I wear a sleeping mask so even if I wake up in the night I refuse to take it off and look around. I will not give the ghosts the satisfaction of scaring me. No way. They can hover all they want.

Also, I'm already over bread, no more please. PLEASE. Guess what's for breakfast tomorrow morning? FRESH HOME MADE BREAD - COMPLAIN WHY DON'T YOU, MICHELLE. Guess what I had today? BREAD. Among other things, like another friggin chocolate croissant. 3 days in a row now. I swear I'm coming back looking like honey booboos mom for sure - like a giant melting pear. You won't recognize me. "you'll be doing a lot of walking" really? with the car we rented? Ok I like the baguettes with meals and stuff and obv croissants rule (although I prefer savoury ones), but I'm coming from never eating it really, to eating it with every meal. I guess this is a good experiment to see if I have been wasting my time avoiding bread and cheese. We'll see if I have to continue living in leggins and moomoos. I'll be the rat for you all. Lets see what two weeks in France does to the health-obsessed Canadian. Do French people actually eat like this dailoy? Or am I going vacation-food crazy??

I,ll talk about Monday's visit tomorow, right now I am writing from the winery we are at in Bordeaux. We made it here after a good, what,  9 hours? We took a detour to a seaside town to have lunch at a recommended restaurant. IT WAS CLOSED. AND IT RAINED ALL DAY so I couldn't even smell the ocean when we were there. And my diamond shoes were too tight!!! Waah waaaah.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

YYZ–CDG 2013

We met some friends at the airport who were on the same flight as us, had some dranks and got on the plane. The plane itself was shiny and new, with plenty of mood lighting. The seats werent as  crammed as crappy Sunquest planes but it wasn't as fancy as British Airways. No special treatment on cheap flights but it def wasn't ghetto.

The flight itself was great. Smooth, quick, but I can't sleep on planes. How do you seel upright? Impossible. Plus they just keep on feeding you gross airline food and the armrest was digging into me. I ate a nasty serving of microwave pasta beause i thought the starchy carbs would help me sleep. I dozed in and out of sleep but definitely didn't rest enough. Tried watching "This is 40" but turned that garbage off after 10 minutes.

Arrival at CDG airport was fine, quick lines/baggage. We thought we left the GPS at home so there was slight panic but it was found. Thankfully, for all parties involved.

Pre flight pints, so yum.

Bag people. Cudos to Chelito for packing a carryon size bag for 2 weeks. Teach me your ways, grasshopper.

After expensive coffee and water, we made our way to pick up the car we reserved at Enterprise (shuttle to another terminal styles), waited in line for about half an hour only to find out we didn't actually reserve an automatic car and there were none available unless we wanted to wait another 2 hours for one to be returned. Yeah, lets do that. No. Thankfully I am paranoid and reserved a backup car through Avis, so we got our Vee Dub golf and friggin got on the road after a million years of doing things. The GPS was up and running and I decided to choose "shortest distance" as the setting to take us to Argentan. It was awesome and took us through terrible traffic in Paris. You can imagine my face as we drove through these hellish busy streets. It even took us through a lovely scenic part of town which had nature trails and joggers and lots of hookers.

Eventually I changed the setting back to "fastest time" and we got back on the highway after losing over an hour, backtracking and sitting in nightmare traffic. I was starving. And tired. I was a delight to be around, really.

Look, France has highway rest stops just like home. Pee and food time before I eat the maps and/or cry. Whose idea was it to not bring snacks?! I was mad.

Road trip gas station sandwich - Ham, lettuce and brie. Good shit. Also...

...chaps! These were good, like cracked pepper chips but with a hint of sour cream for the win. Blood sugar levels back to normal, which in turn change my face and mood. Good. I didn't eat breakfast on the plane so I hadn't eaten for a solid 8 hours at least. Feel bad for me.

So, SEVEN HOURS after we landed, we arrived at Manoir de Coulandon in Argentan. Our home for the next three days. 

When you get to the drive there is a cute sign and a little grass driveway that leads to a large 16th century stone house with an adjoining guest house and separate barn thing.

Look, there's the barn thing, our golf and behind it an old carriage. We were greeted by a young baby mama cat. She was cute.

The manor itself is among other farm type properties and about a kilometre from Argentan jail. Cool. Hopefully one of the inmates escapes and takes refuge in the barn or our room.

We met Patrick, one of the owners, he's a slim, polite Frenchman, with a bushy beard and a farmer's look to his face. He's a hard worker, I could tell by the roughness of his hands. Calm down ladies. He's taken buy Annie his sweet wife.

He took us up the winding concrete stairs to our room. Chambre Rose.

It's not creepy at all and definitely not haunted. 

Very "French country". I love it and it smells cottagey.

We were invited to join them for dinner with another two guests, but declined. We wanted to just grab food in town. I went down to get ze weefee password and met the other two guests having an aperitif and some blood sausage at the dining room table. I was offered an aperitif, obv I accepted. We chatted, the other couple was English and owned the Range Rover out front. Ballerrs. Old ballers. Friendly though, that Pat and John. I wasn't crazy about the blood sausage, it was mushy, also it was blood sausage.

Dinner was at a local pizzeria, I had the seafood salad, Jamie had pizza. Plus dessert because why not. Salted caramel ice cream, you're goddam right I will. And it was good.

By the time we got back it was about 9.30 or so and we passed out. And a good sleep it was. I set my alarm for 8am so we could have 9am breakfast with the English ballers, then go to Andre and Nicole's for 1pm. I woke up and felt like we slept long an checked the clock. 1:20. I almost cried. I panicked, omagad we slept in we are so rude we missed breakfast and are super late for lunch. After some processing and brain computing I realized it said 1:20am and was still Toronto time. Thank gaaaaaaaaaad. It was only 7:20am. Jet lag is weird and time change just effs with your mind, Quaid. My ipad is still at Toronto time, annoying.

Easy with the cuteness there, Annie and rough man-hands Patrick.

Sure I will have a bowl full of coffee, merci.

Pat and John ballers joined us, then another older French couple appeared out of nowhere. Jean-Paul and Sylvie. Jean-a-Paul is a retired Parisian cop, Sylvie is a sweet lady who understood English. We chatted and had a jolly good time. Breakfast was chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat), some fresh homemade jams, crepes, "nutella" and breads. Numnums. The ballers had to leave because John has to work tomorrow unexpectedly. How lucky are the Brits that they can drive to the French countryside for the weekend. Sigh. 

I feel comfortable full and ready for the day. It was a long and tiresome journey, stressful for a few moments but all worth it in the end. I hope these next few weeks drag by, of course I don't wanna leave.

Just a note: I can't help but notice the sky here, I catch myself looking at it and getting lost in it. I was staring up at it yesterday, in the car and later during dinner, there's just something different about it. It may sound silly, but I've decided that it's bigger here. The sky is larger out here in Normandy, even from the bedroom window I see it. It really does go on forever and makes me feel like I can breathe easier and even think more clearly.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I'm waaaay too tired to fully update right now. Will write a proper post tomorrow. In a nutshell:

Good flight, no sleep
Car rental issues
Bad route to Normandy--driving in Paris is an actual nightmare
Beautiful weather
Nice BnB
But we made it

Sooooo tired though. And that salted caramel ice cream (ya thats right) I just had is gurgling.

Good night.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Making Things Happen. Again.

After the last trip to Europe I couldn't stop thinking about my visit and connection with the family we have there. I absolutely needed to go back and see them again and it needed to be sooner rather than later. But not too soon of course... money needed to be saved, anticipation needed building and other certain preparations for the luxury of being able to hop on a plane and fly across the ocean. So here we are, nine months later and in less than 24 hours we will be back in Paris. Then straight back to Normandy. Then other places but I'll keep that a surprise and talk about it as it comes.

Having visions, wanting to do things, wanting to travel and take time off.. all of these things require "doings" in order to get there. You can't want/have without the "do". And doing I did. It's incredible having daydreams, fantasies about going places and actually bringing it all to reality. Picturing yourself in a different place, experiencing the culture, picking up smoking and drinking wine until you forget about your entire vacation.. ha just kidding.. It feels great, and I am aware of how fortunate I am to be able to do these things at such a prime time in my life. Some people say I am lucky to be visiting France again, but it's not luck, I wasn't given this trip and everything has it's price. I am fortunate for the opportunities that present themselves and I'm very grateful for who I am and where I come from, but luck doesn't take me places. Hard work, sacrifice, determination (and neurotic obsession) takes me places. :) And I don't regret a minute of it or a penny spent on it, but none of this is luck. Making things happen is a great feeling. You should try it if you haven't already, and it doesn't have to be just with travel. er yes it does. Although making your travel dreams happen is quite nice.

Now where's my wine? Let's get this show on the road shall we? How many times do you think I looked through my suitcase today? Guess how long it took me to decide my plane outfit? I will not land in Paris looking like a slob.

I also might note I am not "the best" to travel with sometimes -SOMETIMES, I literally have nightmares about missing flights (oh the horror!) so being on time is a "thing" and getting a bit drunk before flying is also mandatory. Watch out. Omagad we need to get going our flight leaves in 8 hours. Bye!