Streetwise Professor

September 17, 2010

La Bonne Vie*

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 3:09 pm

I am in France for a few days.  This time–no battlefields.  I’d thought about going to Lille to see the Vauban designed citadel, and some other remaining Vauban fortifications in Normandy, but decided instead to visit the Loire valley, which I’ve not visited before.  Right now, I’m in Saumur, in a hotel room looking directly up at the chateau; the hotel  lobby that overlooks the river.  (Ironically, my dad was based here during his glorious service as a draftee in 1955.  I’m guessing that the tarpaper shacks he and the other GIs inhabited here and in Chinon up the river are long gone.  As are the Polish WWII veterans who served at guards at those bases.  My dad said they were the toughest, meanest SOBs he ever met.  They were men without a country who had fought against the Germans from 1939 until 1945.  If that doesn’t make you tough, nothing will.)

I spent the morning at Le Mont St. Michel.  Truly spectacular.  It is the second biggest tourist attraction in France, and I can see why.  Thanks to the suggestion of FB friend Stephanie, a Normandy native, I stayed on the Mont itself; given that the place was booked for the weekend, I rejiggered my plans and drove directly from Paris after my flight so I could stay there on Thursday, when I could get a room.  Definitely worth it.  The crowds are insane before 5 (at this time of year–can’t say what it’s like at the peak season), but then the busses leave and you can have the place pretty much to yourself.  I was up early, and again–the place was mine.  Watching the sunrise over the bay was truly remarkable.  (Another advantage of a September visit: you can watch the sunrise without getting up before the crack of dawn.  Or something like that:))

The interior of the abbey itself is beautiful, but the views of the exterior, and of the surroundings, are what make it spectacular.

Then a drive to the Loire.  It’s hard to beat rolling through the rolling French countryside, listening to good music, under a high blue sky with cotton-white Simpson’s clouds.  Most of the fields were in stubble, with the exception of some cornfields, and a few fields of sunflowers, their bright yellow faded, with huge seed-laden heads looking like big black eyes.  The trees haven’t turned yet.  But still a pleasant aspect, wherever I cast my eye.

Tomorrow, some more Loire sights–chateaux, abbeys, etc., before a night in Tours.  Sunday?  Who knows, but I doubt I can go wrong.

And the best thing about this trip: no tropical storms.  Seriously.  September 15, 2009–Ike (not to mention Lehman!)  September 15, 2010, a typhoon in Hong Kong.  This year, placid, cool, crisp.

* F is for French–and my grade in French.  I originally titled this “Le Bon Vie.”  D’oh!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment »

  1. There is an easy way to memorize that “life” is feminine in Russian, Italian and French:

    Life’s a bitch!

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 23, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress