Thursday, September 6, 2007

France Highlights & Observations

I think it would be impossible for me to document each and every day of the 16 days that I was in France without totally boring you to death. Instead I found 13 different things that can give you a little bit of an insight of what we were able to do, and the things that we observed while there.

1. Dining: When we first arrived in France we had a hard time adjusting to their eating schedule. We never could figure out when they actually ate! Everything seemed to be closed when we were hungry. It turns out that most places didn’t really serve breakfast; they ate lunch around noon, had a “snack” at 4 and then didn’t eat dinner until 8 pm! We had the hardest time with dinner because that is usually when the kids go to bed! Eating out was also hard because they don’t really cater much to kids. Only 2 or 3 of the places that we ate at the whole 16 days that we were there had high chairs! They had glass EVERYTHING, but luckily Sydney only managed to break one glass throughout our trip. It also would take at least 2 to 2 ½ hours to eat! It would have been nice with just Shawn and me, but it was torture for the kids!
2. Bathrooms: When we went to the Lake we encountered the weirdest bathroom that I had ever seen! I so wish that I would have taken a picture. There was a sign on it that explained how you had to wait to enter after the last patron. It supposedly “sanitized” the place after each use. What it really did was just spray a lot of crap all over. I could barely walk in there, and I didn’t want to touch anything because it was all wet! It took me twice as long to change into my swimsuit because I couldn’t let anything touch the floor, and I couldn’t set anything down otherwise it would get soaked.
3. Smoking: The nice thing about the Phoenix metro area is that a lot of the cities have a No Smoking in public places law. I have to say that it is so nice to go out and not have to have smoke around. In France…it is the opposite. It seemed everyone and their dog smoked! Everywhere we went there were people smoking even when we ate! Yuck!
4. Ducks, Swans, & Doggie’s: Being by the Lake which is also surrounded by a park, we encountered many ducks & swans and “DOGGIES”. I would buy bread through out our stay and part of our day was spent feeding the ducks and swans. Sydney was especially fascinated with the numerous dogs that were out and about. As we walked through town, she was like a broken record, pointing and saying “Doggie!” over and over again. I actually thought it was so cute.
5. Lost items: During the first part of our trip, Shawn actually lost his wallet. He took the bus everyday into work, and made the mistake of trying to figure something out on his laptop while riding the bus. When Shawn sits down…he takes out his wallet. Well…he was so wrapped up in his work that he forgot it when he got off. Luckily the contents (minus the cash that he had in his wallet) actually got mailed to the police station! Shawn was pretty sad he lost his wallet. He had that “baby” for about 16 years! Also, On our flight home...they lost our STROLLER! That was a nightmare that I will have to tell in another post. (Don't worry - it does have a good ending...we did get it back)
6. Fete du Lac: This was a big light/firework show that Annecy puts on every year on the lake. Instead of spending over $500 to travel to Paris we decided to stay in town and see this show. We ended up scoring a great view by the local hospital. The show was pretty good, and the kids even made a new friend while we were there.
7. Clothing: When I actually started looking for a cute outfit for the kids to take home from France I was shocked. The first few stores that I walked into didn’t have an outfit that was less than 40 euros! Right now the US Dollar is not strong, so it would have cost me almost 50 bucks for a little outfit. I had pretty much given up getting them something because I wasn’t about to spend that much! On a whim one day I stopped in a store, and found a cute dress for Sydney that was only about 18 euros. That is still a little bit more than I would pay for something in the US, but now she has an outfit from France!
8. Ice: I don’t think they believe in Ice. There were a few places that actually had ice in their drinks, but not many. This is not really a bad thing, but so different from what we are used to. We have ice in everything!
9. Swimsuits: While at the beach it was interesting to watch the different people. I was a little surprised that a lot of the little girls had nothing but little bikini bottoms on. Not that they had anything really to show, but it was a little strange to see so many little girls without tops on.
10. Monoprix: This is what I would call the equivalent to a small Wal-mart. They had food, and clothes, and all the little necessities. I spent a lot of time there getting fresh fruit for breakfast and snacks for the kids.
11. Rain: The first week of our trip was wonderful! We had great weather…then the second week it rained for 3 DAYS STRAIGHT! That wouldn’t have been too bad if I was alone, but with the kids it got kind of tiresome. To top it off…we only had one laptop, which Shawn had to bring to work. That left me with only French television (not that they would be watching movies ALL day, but it would have been nice to have a break some time!) . So we spent a lot of time building forts, playing hide the duck, and other imaginative games within our small hotel room. Caden even started making up his own words to the French cartoons! The hotel had a little play area in the lobby that we spent a little time at too. Caden liked building things with the wooden blocks.
12. Laundromat: While we were there I had to do laundry so we spent a couple of hours at Laundromat. The kids actually had a lot more fun that I thought they would. They liked watching the machines fill up with soap and spin round and round. I did encounter a really smelly person there (mega b.o.) I about died when he sat down next to me. I don’t know why people don’t use deodorant!
13. Attractions: There are a lot of beautiful chapels in Annecy that we were able to visit. They also have the Palais de l'Isle (it is situated in the middle of one of the canals), which used to be a prison. They now have turned it into a historic museum of the city. You can self guide your way through and learn all about Annecy. They also have a beautiful Chateau that is located at the top of a hill. We made the trek up there only to realize that they only take cash…and we didn’t have any! So Shawn took a few pictures from the gate, and we headed back down. The town is just full of history, and beautiful things to see!

You can see more about our trip here, here, here, and here.

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10 people know I LOVE comments!:

Gail Martin said...

Happy TT! It sounds like all in all the family had a great time.

Kathy said...

I was looking for the amazing food and wine comments. France has it's challenges on service but the food and wine are to die for! Having kids in tow may have limited your ability to enjoy every bite/sip but didn't you love it?

Nancy J. Bond said...

Sounds like you had a lovely trip. :)

Mitchypoo said...

Very interesting about France!
Happy TT!

Overwhelmed! said...

What a great recap of your trip to France!

I toured parts of France back in 1995 and I loved it! Your recap reminded me of some of the funnier parts. :)

It's nice to hear that you took your kids with you. We're planning a trip to Ireland next May (for our 5 year anniversary) and we fully intend to take our son (and hopefully a daughter too) with us. We're amazed at how many of our extended family members think this is a bad idea but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Thanks for sharing!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Sounds like a neat trip, despite the foibles. Next time, bring the second laptop!!

Happy TT!

April Bethea said...

Oh my gosh, I forgot how long it takes to eat in France - it's like eating is a hobbie & they want to enjoy every second of it or something! (& then they cram you all together like sardines next to your stinky smoking neighbors!) Hehe, the ice thing was funny, and the fizzy water thing - can't they just drink regular water with ice in it?! I love reading about your trip - it sounds like you had an amazing time despite some of the quirky things French people do.

btw... do you want to know my strangest French memory?? Walking down a major street next to the Lourve we saw a well dressed old man "whip it out" and pee on the road next to his expensive car!! Ewww!

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi crystal: fun post.
and you made me giggle when i read your description of the bathroom. and i think i have met that mega b.o. person! :) that is so nasty when you have to HOLD YOUR BREATH when someone walks by. glad to know that means you shower regularly :) hee hee

chow baby, kathleen

Doctors in India said...

This is such a helpful reading material for me, I’ve learned a lot of new things. Thanks for the great post!

Doctors in India said...

This is such a helpful reading material for me, I’ve learned a lot of new things. Thanks for the great post!

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