It seemed like we had been on the road for weeks – oh wait we had been! Tours, Caen, Dinan, Saint-Martin-de-Re, Bordeaux, Carcosonne… And now off again?? Bien sûr! Friends emailed us to say they were visiting Paris and would love to meet up. So I came up with the brilliant plan (or so I thought a month ago) to meet them in Dijon for the day, and then Neal and I would travel over the see the French Alps.

See, here’s my rationale – in case you are thinking I really am a little fou (crazy). We are in France for a one-year visitor visa. At that point we re-evaluate whether we want to stay another year, and if so apply to have our visa renewed. In my mind, I have to see as much as possible before we potentially leave. Right? Are you on board now?

So off to Dijon we go. We spent about 6 hours on the train and then had a most delightful day with Beth Lawrence and Jerry Nashban. Dijon is yet another charming, medieval town in France. But I particularly enjoyed this one. It’s interesting how one connects with certain places, and Dijon was truly delightful. We wandered around on the self-guided walking tour, following the small brass pavement markers with an owl design. The markers designated the path, and larger owl markers corresponded to different stops on the tour.

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The Owl Trail brought us to all the major highlights like Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne, Musée des Beaux Arts, and several different churches of Dijon. We also bought some mustard (of course), and had a lovely lunch. Beth’s French skills got us a recommendation and directions to the restaurant, where we had an entrée (which in France is the appetizer) of roasted leeks, smoked fish, and pureed squash that was particularly delicious. Beth spent some time in Paris when she was younger and got the chance to brush up on her French language skills. It was like she had never left! OK, it made me a little irritated, since she had only lived in France for a year, and now has lived in New York for…well several years since then. And she can still understand and speak it?? I need to study more.

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We got Beth and Jerry to the train station, and after a few mishaps on time, days, and Paris train station locations, sent them off safely back to Paris.

From Dijon we headed out to Annecy over on the eastern side of France in the Alps. Wow. I might use that word a lot in describing Annecy. It was truly a gorgeous town on Lake Annecy, snuggled into the mountains. We wandered down charming narrow cobblestone streets, past medieval buildings, and walked around the lake so clear that we could see right through it. In the morning a light mist hovered on top of the lake and snuck around the mountains. There was also a clear canal making its way through Annecy, with buildings lining it, and bridges crossing it. Again, I go back to the perfect descriptor…wow.

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One day we ventured out and found a market, which I can never resist. It stretched throughout the town offering fresh produce, olives, wood boxes full of spices, roasted chickens spinning on racks, cheese, fresh bread, pastries, sausages, more cheese…I could go on. It added to the charm of one of the most beautiful towns I had ever seen.

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One thing we have missed in France, is our Sunday ritual of eating out for breakfast. Now our French friends insist they do have breakfast, and they do. It consists of croissants (not downplaying the deliciousness of these morsels from heaven), bread with beurre and confiture (butter and jam), orange juice, and coffee. THAT is what you get for a French breakfast, and only that. You don’t walk into a café and ask “what do you have for breakfast” or “can I see your breakfast menu”? If you want breakfast, you have one choice. Well, since Annecy is quite a tourist destination, apparently they cater to other cultures, even those that eat eggs for breakfast! So with a little research, I found a restaurant where we had scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. It tasted so good, that we went back the next morning.

As much as we enjoyed our visit to Annecy, we were both really ready to get home and settle in for a while. Travel is something I crave and love, but something that is also rather exhausting. So at last we headed to the train station in Annecy, took a train to Lyon, then eventually back to Toulouse. It was a long day and the weary travelers vowed to stay put for a while. Of course, that was mostly Neal – I’ll start getting antsy in a couple of weeks I suspect.

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