11 August 2014 : Travel Day / Back Home

24 hours ago, it was 5:30am in Nantes and Christine was driving us to the airport. imageSince then, Melinda, Ella, Chloe* & I have flown to Amsterdam from Nantes, and experienced the thrill of a nearly 10 hour flight from Amsterdam to Seattle. Chloe (no asterisk) picked up Melinda, Ella and me, and Amy, Chloe’s* mom, picked up Chloe*.

After unpacking our bags, Melinda, Chloe, Ella and I drove to a nearby rehabilitation center where Dwight, Melinda’s dad, is recuperating from knee replacement surgery. Michele, Melinda’s mom, took this picture of us gathered around his bed. I said I wanted to post a photo here for the Boudeaus to see.

For those of you interested, I intend to keep posting on a daily basis for at least the rest of August. You see, as much as OUR trip to France this summer is over, Théophile Bertail arrives tomorrow and will be spending a couple of weeks with us. This is how we extend the vacation, getting a Bertail or Boudeau to stay with us.

10 August 2014 : Our Last Night

imageIt’s our last night in Nantes (and France) for the summer. In fact, we leave for the airport in about 7 hours, then face a day of travel. It’s different, you know, leaving at the end of a vacation than traveling at the beginning. I’m a little bit excited to be back home in all my familiar places and things. But I’m a lot more sad to be leaving the place and the friends that have come to mean so much to me.

So let’s not talk about that, okay?

Instead, let me mention the incredible French lunch that Frédérique and Laurent prepared for us. And the dinner of favorite foods (including crack brownies) that Christine and Bernard made for us. Then the topper was when a group of us walked to the Hippodrome nearing sunset to throw a Frisbee and say a proper goodbye to Nantes.

Next posting – from Seattle…

09 August 2014 : Trifecta!

imageThis photo represents just a small number of people who attended the FC Nantes match tonight, most of whom left happy following the home team’s 1-0 victory over visiting Lens (among those not shown are Frédérique and Laurent).

What a fun time we had! Part of the thrill is the stadium being within walking distance of the Boudeau’s. As we wandered over, I explained to Manon and Frédérique the concept of a trifecta*. You see, we had confit de canard for dinner (1), we were in the company of the Boudeaus (2), and we went to a football (soccer) game (3).

A winning trifecta! Get it?

imageAmong the entertaining things at tonight’s match was this little boy who spent the entire game sitting on his dad’s lap in the row in front of us. When Nantes scored in the 65th minute and the stadium erupted in cheers, I think the boy was frightened (or was secretly rooting for Lens despite wearing an FC Nantes jersey). He burst into tears and it took his father several minutes to calm him.

I do see a long future for him as a football fan.

*trifecta (traɪˈfɛktə)
1. a form of betting in which the punter selects the first three place-winners in a horse race in the correct order
2. any achievement involving three successful outcomes

08 August 2014 : La Cigale

imageIn all the time we’ve spent in Nantes, Melinda and I have never been to La Cigale, one of the finer restaurants in town. We corrected this oversight tonight by treating our Nantes hosts, the Boudeaus and Bertails, to dinner there.

This was one of those nights that gets me a bit emotional. Melinda thinks that I’m getting more emotional because I’m getting older and my testosterone level is dropping or something (she read about this somewhere, maybe here). Apparently, older men are more prone to tear up at sad movies, that sort of thing.

Whatever. For me, you see, I think a scene in which I’m having dinner in Nantes with Melinda and my best friends would choke me up at any age.

Here’s to you Laurent and Frédérique, and Bernard and Christine! Thank you for once again being such kind, thoughtful and gracious hosts!

07 August 2014 : Burgers Français

image

That’s the sign above the restaurant where Laurent, Frédérique & Manon took me tonight. With Melinda, Ella & Chloe* all in Paris today, Laurent had the brilliant idea to go out to a burger joint for dinner. imageManon had heard of this new place serving “French Burgers” so it was pretty much all settled. Off we went at about at 8pm (having heard that Dwight, Melinda’s dad, was doing well following knee replacement surgery today).

Arriving at the place, I was surprised to see that the interior somewhat mimicked an American fast food hamburger restaurant. The menu did, too, to a certain extent, other than you could get either wine or beer with your meal. I ordered what I thought was a pepper burger with fries and a beer (an organic beer, no less).

When the meal arrived, I was once again surprised, this time to discover that I wasn’t having a hamburger at all but a roast beef sandwich! It was delicious and the company was stellar. As an incredible added bonus, the restaurant sits right along Line 2 of the Nantes tramway. As a tribute to the fine meal and company, I took this picture of Manon as Line 2 approached going in the direction of the racetrack (and our old house).

Priceless.

05 August 2014 : Today in French Class

IMG_1863“Class, class, can I have your attention please!”

Today in French class, Ella and Chloe* travelled to the city of Saint-Émilion for a lesson in red wine (vin rouge) at the Château Grand Corbin-Despagne. As you can tell from this photo, they were very attentive students. This was especially important because the lessons were mainly in French (although we must give the instructor credit for translating everything into English).

For their final, they must now correctly add comments to the following photos:

IMG_1849 IMG_1874 IMG_1852

04 August 2014 : Royan is Correct!

So, yes, we are in the city of Royan, 3 hours by car from Nantes. IMG_1744We will be here until Wednesday, when we return to Nantes for the last few days of our 2014 French vacation. Well, the last few days other than Melinda, Ella, Chloe* & Christine going to Paris on Thursday.

We are staying in Royan with Laurent and Frédérique, who just so happen to be our gracious hosts (again). Laurent’s paternal grandfather (Michel’s father) bought the place at which we are staying in 1970, if I understand correctly. From a sabbatical point of view, this place is famous (infamous?) for Chloe (no asterisk) coming with Romain and a group of friends in July, 2010. A popular part of the story from that time is Chloe (no asterisk) awakening the morning their train was to bring the gang to Nantes and patiently waiting for the others to awake, so patiently that they nearly missed their train!

Today’s photo is from when we all went out last night for ice cream. Nice expressions all around, yes??