Wednesday, October 5, 2011

England/France - Day 6 and 7 - Paris Arrival, La Cressonniere and Surrounding Area

I will not be using any accents on French words.  I know it is technically incorrect but I still have a week's worth of travel to blog and I don't have time to figure it out! Sorry.

Our arrival to the Gare du Nord was a shock to us in more ways than one. First, the station was busy, dirty and smelly. Second, we were surrounded by people speaking French and all of the signs were in French. Our days of hearing English were over for the time being! And third, once again we were having trouble using our phone. So we just stood there for a few minutes in a daze trying to figure out what to do. We knew we needed to find the car rental office but didn't know exactly where it was. We finally found the car rental information desk and a nice man who gave us directions on how to walk to the place where we could pick up the car.  It was a few blocks away from the station.

So we hit the streets of Paris, dragging our suitcases behind us - feeling a bit like fools.  Even though tourists most likely frequent this neighborhood often - you wouldn't think so from the looks we were getting from the locals.  And the looks weren't too friendly!
After a few wrong turns we finally found the car rental office and picked up our diesel, stick-shift minivan.  We were on our own at this point - James and Becca stayed in England for an extra day. We loaded up and braved the crazy streets of Paris.  Thank goodness for GPS!  What did people do without a nice, patient woman with a British accent telling them where to go?  Especially in the city!  It was a little stressful right at the beginning.  There were tons of cars, very aggressive drivers and oblivious pedestrians.  After a few close calls and a few wrong turns we eventually ended up on the Peripherique - the highway that encircles the city.  From there we headed West.  Our destination?  La Cressonniere.
The cloudy day and drizzly rain could not ruin the beauty of the French countryside.
We passed through several small villages.
It was evening by the time we arrived at La Cressonniere.  The Blairs were expecting us and were ready with a yummy French pizza dinner.
As we drove up the lane, Gabby and Olive were picking blackberries off the side of the road.  Here are Ralph and Maude with the fresh blackberries.  We had them on our crepes the next morning.
La Cressonniere.  I could not take enough pictures of this lovely home/farmhouse/cottage.  The older portion of the home (the Right side) dates back to the 1600s.  The other side was added later.  But being in this home, in this setting - it was like going back in time.

Two artists restored and decorated this home.  It is full of interesting details and charm.
This is the artist's studio.  Everywhere I turned - there was something clever and creative! Hence - the many, many photos.
This mural is a miniature copy of one the artist painted on the side of a building in the neighboring town.
Used palattes were displayed throughout the room.

This screen was covered in sketches - each one a work of art.

The kitchen - very rustic yet functional.  You can see the drying lavender hanging from a beam.
These floors are original to the 1600s home.  And there is interesting and beautiful artwork covering the walls.
The upstairs hallway leading to the room where we slept.

Opening the shutters in the morning and closing the shutters at night became part of our routine.
The view from our window.  I loved this roof - the moss growing on the stone shingles.
The artists paid attention to every detail.  This is the inside of the door of our room.
And this was a sculpture that seemed to emerge from the wall.
There was a rug painted on the small hallway to our room.
There were many interesting door knockers and latches.
And the yard around the home wasn't any less interesting!  I loved this willow bench.
And the tree house is about the most charming thing I have ever seen!

You can read more about La Cressonniere and the Blairs experience at

The next day was Sunday.  After a breakfast of crepes, Nutella, blackberries, and local honey, we took advantage of the day to let the Blairs show us around the area.  There are several chateaux and lovely cathedrals within minutes of their home.  So we did some touring.
We ran across these very cool dogs.
Unfortunately it was raining.
We stopped to see the Sees cathedral.
We also visited the Argentan cathedral.  This town was in the thick of WWII fighting.  They had pictures of the damage done to this cathedral that took 300 years to build.  You can see the tank in the picture.

It took them just 40 years to restore the cathedral after the war.

And of course we stopped for some pastries! Pan au chocolat - yummmm.
We also stopped to tour the chateau Medavy.  Pretty amazing!

That night Ben cooked us a Greek dinner of chicken and potatoes, tzatziki sauce, Greek salad and of course, yummy bread.  We were starting to notice a trend with the meals at the Blairs - everything we ate was absolutely and deliciously amazing!!
We enjoyed an evening by the crackling fire, eating blackberries and fresh walnuts from their tree, reminiscing and catching up on the years past.

(Sadly, James and Becca were actually having an adventure of their own.  They had traveled to Paris on Sunday and had missed their train to Argentan.  After hours of navigating metro stations and train stations with 2 huge suitcases and a tired toddler in a stroller - they finally decided to spend the night in Pairs.  We were so worried about them!  We planned to meet them in Caen the next day.  Thank goodness for James being able to speak French!  We all benefited greatly from this skill he learned on his mission.  In a big way!)

No comments: