A Full Day!

It’s approaching midnight in Nantes as I write this, midnight each day being my self-imposed deadline for saying I post every day. And I’m late because it’s been a full day, with none too few things to write about!

As I mentioned, we moved in to the house we will be in for the rest of our stay late yesterday. It’s a lovely older home near the center of town, very “French” in feel. In fact, it’s quite different than the house we stayed in last year, something that I think is good for us. The family whose house it is are extraordinarily kind and thoughtful. We arrived to find the table set and a chocolate cake made for us, courtesy of 14 year-old Olga (Thanks, Olga!).

Chloe, Ella & I ventured out in the rain to the Beaulieu shopping center (the one I called “Bellevue Square” last year). It’s huge and full of shops the girls love. In the nearly 3 hours we were there, the girls only went in to 4 or 5 stores (and came out with 4 or 5 bags – each!)

Then for dinner tonight we met up at Christine’s & Bernard’s to have dinner with the Bertails, as well as John and two of his kids, Celine and Benoit. Veteran blog readers will remember that John & I hit off last year, playing snooker and otherwise enjoying conversation. His family was very, very nice to us on multiple occasions. They are moving from Nantes (tomorrow, in fact!) so this was our only chance to see them.

Vacation Wednesday

I took this picture just a minute ago, at 7pm in Nantes. That’s Frédérique on the right, in case you don’t recognize her. And, of course, Chloe on the left and Melinda in the center. Ella is sitting outside reading. Laurent is not yet home from work (he’ll be home in about an hour, per usual – he gets home from work every night at 8pm!). Manon has left for a week in Pornichet with her best girlfriend. And, as you may recall, Romain is in Nice on a little vacation of his own. He’ll be back next week.

Pretty exciting, eh?

What IS exciting is that tonight we are moving in to the house in which we’ll be living for the rest of the month. What is ALSO exciting is that I’m on dinner duty tonight. If you’re interested, I’m making Lemon-Walnut Chicken, a recipe from the Flat Abs Diet (we’ll all have flat abs by bedtime, I’m sure).

How’s that for a vacation Wednesday in France?

My Afternoon With Chloe

Chloe & I took a 25 minute walk this afternoon from the Boudeaus to the Paridis shopping mall in Nantes. She had a hankering to do some shopping and Paridis provided her the opportunity. You see, the month of July is the time of one of the big sales in France. Even I took advantage of it, picking up a couple of T-shirts for myself. Chloe, if cost is the scorekeeping measurement, won (lost?). She spent more than I did.

Near the end of our shopping excursion we stopped at a little pâtisserie called Paul. Truth be told, you can find a Paul all over the world. Chloe commented that the last thing we ate in France before leaving last summer was a jambon beurre sandwich from a Paul inside the Paris airport. Today Chloe had a café and we shared a macaron that was about the size of a small cheeseburger.

After walking back to the Boudeaus, Chloe & I went for a jog before hopping into the pool. The weather is a bit chilly for a swim but it certainly felt great after a jog. It’s about 8pm as I write and we are awaiting Laurent’s return from work to have dinner.

In Which I Am Reunited With “Ligne 2”

Ella and I went for a LONG walk today, one that started at the Boudeaus, crossed the Erdre, went passed our old house, along the trail next to the racetrack, before finally ending at the tram stop for Line 2 (Ligne 2 in French) not far from her old school. By that point, our feet were worn out. I bought a 24 hour tram pass and then for the next 90 minutes, Ella and I sat on Line 2 of the tram and rode it to its end and back (Ella snapped this picture of me for posterity).

I know I can’t make this make sense, but sitting on Line 2 and knowing all the turns, being so familiar with its squeaks and hums, and, most significantly, hearing the stops announced was wildly nostalgic for me. Doing so, I could easily believe that we never left Nantes.

For a little refresher on what Line 2 means to me, I direct you to this entry from March 15, 2011.

A Very Good Day

This was an exceptionally good day for us in Nantes. It began, as all good Sundays should, with a 60 minute run. Laurent took me from the Boudeau house, down to the Erdre, and then up the river, and back. It continued with a long-planned pool party at the Boudeaus, one that brought both the Bertail and Boudeau families together on our behalf. The weather cooperated, allowing all the kids ample time to play in the Boudeau pool. I caught them in the midst of a game involving two teams, a volleyball-like ball, and two nets, with rules resembling soccer. Chloe and Ella, nearest to us, were on opposite teams but don’t seem to be concentrating so much on the direction of the ball. Manon is about to catch the ball and is going to turn and perhaps score. The four Bertail children are all to the right. Noticeably absent is Romain who is in Paris right now.

This evening, Melinda and I, accompanied by Christine and Bérnard, went to the house where our family will be staying for the rest of the month beginning on Thursday. It’s a classic Nantes house in the center of town, next to the Jardin de Plantes. Our host family, who happen to be very nice (go figure), will be vacationing in Spain. The dad is a co-worker of Christine’s, which is how we found the house.

Now, at about 11pm, we are back at the Boudeaus, enjoying a cool drink with Frédérique and Laurent before getting ready for bed.

In Which We Transport the Rain to Nantes

Today we transferred our things from Pornichet to Nantes. And despite a message I received yesterday from Frédérique asking us to leave the rain in Pornichet, apparently we packed it in one of our bags because it arrived in full force this afternoon in Nantes. If only we could have had it transported by Icelandair. If so, it would undoubtedly be wandering around Iceland, being put up in a cheap hotel, and being made to eat prison quality food. But, no, we rented a car and carefully filled it today with all of the things we picked up in Pornichet, including the rain.

Manon told us that today has been the worst weather of the week in Nantes.

Melinda, Chloe, Ella & I decided to brave the weather and drove our rental car into the main part of Nantes, our first time in “centre ville” in almost a year. We even stopped for crêpes at our favorite crêperie, where I snapped today’s photo. Ella blames her curly hair on it being wet from, yes, you guessed it, the rain.

Guest Blogger – Claire Bertail, Age 10

For the first time in 2 years I have a guest blogger, 10 year-old Claire who, along with her parents and sister, came to visit us in windy, rainy and cool Pornichet today. I hereby turn the blog over to Claire (note, she first wrote this in French and then laboriously translated her written French into English).

Today , we are going to the beach. Christine, Ella, Celeste and Claire are swim in the cold water. All of her are in biquinis (except Christine). Christine and her daughters are already in the water, they are talking, and Ella goes with them. How did they do swim if someone is walking on the beach with a coat, jeans, and sneakers? Or, this person must be allergic to the cold! And yet, she puts on her hood. Which means that perhaps it’s raining. Why did we say “cold water”? Just look at the way Ella is entering into the water, you can guess that it’s cold.

On the far left, the woman in the raincoat, to her right is Claire, next is Christine, and then Celeste, and on the far right Ella who’s arriving.

Ella Under Siege

Well, it’s been another gray, windy, wet day in Pornichet. That being the case, we drove to the nearby town of Guérnande for a little sight-seeing. In the center of town is a château partially surrounded by a moat, and inside the château is a whole small town of shops. We wandered around, going in and out of several stores.

Near the end of our self-directed tour, we stopped at a cute café that specializes in tea. Of course, Ella order a chocolat chaud, one that came with a foot of whipped cream on top. Her loving older sister, only concerned for Ella’s well-being I’m sure, commented about the number of calories in a foot-high pile of whipped cream. Spoon in hand, poised to pounce, the concerned older sister then demanded tastes of said whipped cream and sips of hot chocolate.

In response, Ella wrapped her arms around her mug, reminding me of the moat surrounding the château. I hope the moat was more successful at repelling attackers than Ella.

All is Right

I was telling the truth yesterday. Because of the crummy weather, Melinda rented a car so we could get out and about, given we aren’t able to just lounge on the beach (our original plan for this week). So where do we get out and about to?

Nantes.

That’s right. We drove our rental car to Nantes. Christine had called this morning and happened to mention she had the day off. This prompted Melinda to announce she was driving to Christine’s house and did the rest of us want to come. I’m not sure whether or not she was disappointed when we said yes, we did.

So we spent the day in Nantes and did the following things: Went to Decathlon, Leclerc, and Picard.

I ran around the Hippodrome, just like I did when I started running 18 months ago. We had dinner at the Bertail’s. And I took this picture of their kids (L-R: Max, Celeste, Théo, Claire).

All is right in our world.

“We” (Oui)

With the weather being under itself (that makes sense, right?), we decided to rent a car today. And by “we,” I mean Melinda. It’s the same “we” that remodeled our house, put in a 5 zone sprinkler system, did the research that led to the purchase of our new used car, and planned this vacation. It may very well be the same “we” that had children. You’ll have to ask Melinda on that one.

Anyway, with it being gray and windy (the rain held off today), cabin fever took control of Melinda and “we” rented a car. Now “we” can drive places! Yup, write that down. You have a car. You can drive places.

But to get to the car rental place, we, as in all 4 of us, walked for about 2 hours, from Pornichet to La Baule. “We” got us lost along the way, prolonging the walk. Deep into the walk, Ella spotted the car in today’s photo. I looked around for either Starsky or Hutch to see if we could use this car, but I couldn’t find them.

Instead, “we” got an Alpha Romeo. Me, I just say, “Oui!”