Adventures in France-Land, the wrap-up

Au Revoir Paris.  Au Revoir France.

You’ve seen the towns, you’ve seen the walks, you’ve seen the eats and sleeps.  Now here’s what we’d change and what we’d keep the same.

1.  The backpacks – A+

The Go Ruck packs were invaluable, we were a little nervous since these packs are not specific for hiking but rest assured they did everything we needed to and more.  Also, we feel they have a longer life and additional uses beyond the typical hikers pack.  My husband was carrying one the entire time we were in the city and we’ve both used them as overnighters since our return.  My “Echo” size was perfect, I could not have carried the larger (and therefore) heavier one.  The smaller size forced me to take less and that was critical to walking with ease.

2.  The Blundstones – A+

Two adults, two children, 100 or so miles, not one blister among the four of us, enough said.  But I want to say more, these boots were in rain, mud, pavement, tall grass, rocky inclines, slipp-y descents….I can’t imagine another shoe out performing or out styling this one!

3.  The Patagonia undershirts – A

These things feel better than silk on your skin.  I also think they reduced chaffing from backpacks and repetitious movements.  They washed and dried easily.  The only mark against this awesome shirt is my white one turned an unappealing color after a few days of major sweat.  In the future I’d probably just get black so this isn’t an issue.

4.  The ExOfficio undies – A, B

My girl/boy shorts get an A, they were supremely comfy, washed, dried easily, no wedgies.  If only they could also be cute, but perhaps I’m dreaming.

The men’s boxer short get a B, they ended up stretching a little and feeling bulky under my clothes.  They’ve been great under skirts and things since our return but I wouldn’t pack them again for this kind of trip.

5.  The clothes – A

I wouldn’t change a thing for this particular trip.  That said, if we took another walking trip, we would figure out a way to do “walking clothes” and “city clothes” but not try to mix and match again.  This is tough to articulate because while it was nice to arrive in a town after walking all day and not look like we just left a campsite, it would be easier/lighter if we were wearing light camping-esque attire.  No room for vanity on the walking trip and honestly it’d be nice to get a break from it anyhow!

6.  Air b’n’n – A+

What a perfect way to stay in a city.  We had a fabulous experience with Air b’n’b.  The only thing I’d do differently is ask a few more questions upfront about noise levels during the night!

7.  The toiletries – A+

It’s great how little you need in this category: sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, comb.  However I also had 2 “morale boosters” tucked away and they gave me a little lift when neccessary. Tata Harper makes a small “jet-set” pack and I packed the nutrient complex and aromatic therapy “perfume”.  These things together were smaller than my pinkie finger and did wonders for my mental game.

8.  The Book – A+

I should say – I love my Kindle, but on a trip like this I loved the comfort of a real book.  No waiting for the “electronics OK” when on the airplane, no worrying about a conversion power cord.  I ended up reading “Maurice” by E.M Forester.  Perfectly intriguing and interesting but I could put it down whenever needed, meaning I didn’t get obsessed like I do with all things “Twilight-y”.  I didn’t want another story taking me out of my own adventure.

OVERALL – A+

I sort of want to make a crack about packing your sense of humor and sense of adventure and that’s all you truly need.  But honestly this trip far exceed our expectations.  Most of the greatness came from the challenges of the trip, my kids learned how to wait patiently instead of begrudgingly, they learned how to be a bit uncomfortable, they learned to be grateful for things like water.  I learned to embrace the peace of the journey instead of the excitement of the destination – it wasn’t about getting there, it was about walking, together.  Yup, the whole trip was like a huge glob of glue connecting us, making us stronger.  Will we do it again?  Absolutely.

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Adventures in France-Land, Paris round 2

We wake up to an eerily quiet Paris and head to Cafe de Flore for caffeine.

We wake up to an eerily quiet Paris and head to Cafe de Flore for caffeine.

Notice the lack of people, cars, etc.  Turns out our designated day to shop in Paris was a National Holiday, all stores and most other things - CLOSED!

Notice the lack of people, cars, etc. Turns out our designated day to shop in Paris was a National Holiday, all stores and most other things – CLOSED!

So we window shop.

So we window shop.

We hoped the museums might be open.  Nope, sorry Musee d'Orsay.

We hoped the museums might be open. Nope, sorry Musee d’Orsay.

We tried our hands at performance art.

We tried our hands at performance art.

We checked out the locks on the bridge - again notice the lack of people, the city felt empty.

We checked out the locks on the bridge – again notice the lack of people, the city felt empty.

We took a really long walk to try our hand at traditional "sight seeing".  We got really bored.

We took a really long walk to try our hand at traditional “sight seeing”. We got really bored.

That's when we saw these.  Empty Paris + family bike ride = perfection!

That’s when we saw these. Empty Paris + family bike ride = perfection!

Popped the kids in the baskets and off we went.

Popped the kids in the baskets and off we went.

After days of walking we felt like we were flying!

After days of walking we felt like we were flying!

Paris is surprisingly flat so the riding is truly a breeze.  I highly recommend this experience.

Paris is surprisingly flat so the riding is truly a breeze. I highly recommend this experience.

Unfortunately the baskets were less then comfy for the kids.

Unfortunately the baskets were less then comfy for the kids.

And all good things must come to an end.  The bike depots are all over the city, this one is 1/2 block from our apartment.

And all good things must come to an end. The bike depots are all over the city, this one is 1/2 block from our apartment.

Now it's the kids' turn so we head back to Jardin du Luxembourg, which  turns out to be where all the people are.

Now it’s the kids’ turn so we head back to Jardin du Luxembourg, which turns out to be where all the people are.  Another perfect day, a person could get really used to this!


Adventures in France-Land, Paris final day

Good morning.

Good morning.

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Our last full day in France.

Amazing how at home we've all come to feel here.

Amazing how at home we’ve all come to feel here.

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We ventured out and ate things like this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

We walked by this guy a bunch.

We walked by this guy a bunch.

We did some of this.

We did some of this.

The sky looked like this.

The sky looked like this.

I got my hair cut.

I got my hair cut.

We people watched and played another family favorite, "spot the tourist (and guess what country they are from)"

We people watched and played another family favorite, “spot the tourist (and guess what country they are from)”

At this point we are extremely sad about the thought of leaving France the next day.  We put the camera away and savor the last hours in the City of Light.  We went out for a spectacular Thai meal and hit the second of only two “lost in translation moments” during the whole trip.  Our lovely server spoke Thai and French but no English, even so she helped us choose a magnificent meal with the universal sign of “tummy rub” signifying “yummy” – we returned in kind with our own sign language of a huge smile and a “thumbs up”.

Goodnight Paris, thanks for a perfect final day.

 


Adventures in France-Land, Walking (and trains) VII

We wake up on market day in Puy L'eveque and have time for just a bit of shopping.

We wake up on market day in Puy L’eveque and have time for just a bit of shopping.

The taxi arrives just when the rain gets heavy and off we go to Cahors to jump on a train.

The taxi arrives just when the rain gets heavy and off we go to Cahors to jump on a train.

Just something we passed along the way, gotta love France.

Just something we passed along the way, gotta love France.

Cahors is a big busy town and this is there lovely train station were the high speed train will take us to Paris.

Cahors is a big busy town and this is the lovely train station were the high speed train will take us to Paris.

One of our favorite waiting games, the "stand on one foot", other favorites include "I'm thinking of a number" and "all the words you can think of that start with 'a'".

One of our favorite waiting games, the “stand on one foot”, other favorites include “I’m thinking of a number” and “all the words you can think of that start with ‘a'”.

A little slice of home that totally earned it's place in the backpack even though it was only used half the time.

A little slice of home that totally earned it’s place in the backpack even though it was only used half the time.

One of the many advantages of being 5 and 7.

One of the many advantages of being 5 and 7.

Back in Paris we navigate to our second air b'n'b apartment.  I really felt the loss of our red and white GR trail symbols as we wove through cars and people instead of trees and mud.

Back in Paris we navigate to our second air b’n’b apartment. I really felt the loss of our red and white GR trail symbols as we wove through cars and people instead of trees and mud.

Welcome to my new home in Paris! I hope this place stays on air b'n'b forever, I love, love, loved it!

Welcome to my new home in Paris! I hope this place stays on air b’n’b forever, I love, love, loved it!

We treated ourselves to a very non-French lovely Italian meal mere steps from the apartment.

We treated ourselves to a very non-French lovely Italian meal mere steps from the apartment.

And topped it off with gelato that the guy somehow made look like a flower, pffffff as if gelato needs to be even more appealing.

And topped it off with gelato that the guy somehow made look like a flower, pffffff as if gelato needs to be even more appealing.


Adventures in France-Land, Walking VI (part 2)

Where were we.....oh yes, walking (mainly uphill) from Duravel to Puy L'eveque

Where were we…..oh yes, walking (mainly uphill) from Duravel to Puy L’eveque.

Then I saw this - if you remember there was a sign in Duravel assuring me Puy L'eveque was only 5km away.  Well here we are 3 KM into our walk and now we've got double the distance we were expecting still to go.

Then I saw this – if you remember there was a sign in Duravel assuring me Puy L’eveque was only 5km away. Well here we are 3 KM into our walk and now we’ve got double the distance we were expecting still to go.  I know 2 more km might not seem like a lot but at that point, on that day, IT WAS!

Oh well, at least we met these guys (turns out to be the highlight of my daughter's day)

Oh well, at least we met these guys (turns out to be the highlight of my daughter’s day)

Then we walked up more hills.

Then we walked up more hills.

We began walking uphill backwards because when you are 7 and you've been walking uphill for 2 hours this is a good idea.

We began walking uphill backwards because when you are 7 and you’ve been walking uphill for 2 hours this is a good idea.

Almost there.

Almost there.

Sweet reward for their efforts.

Sweet reward for their efforts.

I'm not kidding, more inclines.  Sigh....more like HEAVE.

I’m not kidding, more inclines. Sigh….more like HEAVE.

It's a mirage - but not, cause it was actually there.  This "bathroom in the hills", promised a much needed water refill and porcelain potty break.  Alas, there was no water and all those doors were LOCKED!  &%$#!!!!

It’s a mirage – but not, cause it was actually there. This “bathroom in the hills”, promised a much needed water refill and porcelain potty break. Alas, there was no water and all those doors were LOCKED! &%$#!!!! (A special thanks to “The photographer” who broke in and tried his damnedest to hydrate his family)

 

For a second I think I'm hallucinating when I see pancakes growing out of a tree.

For a second I think I’m hallucinating when I see pancakes growing out of a tree.

There's no water on this portion of the trail, but there is this handy bench in the middle of nowhere which is odd but fantastic.

There’s no water on this portion of the trail, but there is this handy bench in the middle of nowhere which is odd but fantastic.

 

Despite my hangover from lunch and the 90 degree inclines we walked that afternoon, this was quickly becoming one of my most favorite days ever.

Despite my hangover from lunch and the 90 degree inclines we walked that afternoon, this was quickly becoming one of my most favorite days ever.

One of my favorite views.

One of my favorite views.

 

Just WOW.

Just WOW.

I spy something yellow.  But who cares, the yellow is in the town of Puy L'eveque!  We made it.

I spy something yellow. But who cares, the yellow is in the town of Puy L’eveque! We made it.

 

Turns out Puy L'eveque is gorgeous, weird (like you feel the mafia is watching you) but gorgeous.

Turns out Puy L’eveque is gorgeous, weird (like you feel the mafia is watching you) but gorgeous.

And after waiting two hours for the hotel to open their doors (see previous mafia note) we got all settled in just as the rain started to pour.

And after waiting two hours for the hotel to open their doors (see previous mafia note) we got all settled in just as the rain started to pour.

 

Goodnight Puy L'eveque (I hope there aren't any horse heads in the bed tonight)

Goodnight Puy L’eveque (I hope there aren’t any horse heads in the bed tonight)


Adventures in France-Land, Walking VII (part 1)

Our final walking day, Saint-Front-sur-Lemance to Puy-l'Eveque.  Our gracious host Mme. Finnegan from Le Seguinet offers to take us to the most famous castle in the region, Bonaguil Castle.

Our final walking day, Saint-Front-sur-Lemance to Puy-l’Eveque. Our gracious host Mme. Finnegan from Le Seguinet offers to take us to the most famous castle in the region, Bonaguil Castle.

Those cutouts you see at the top were for pouring boiling water on would-be intruders.

Those cutouts you see at the top were for pouring boiling water on would-be intruders.

My daughter opts to completely skip the castle in favor of making friends with le chat.

My daughter opts to completely skip the castle in favor of making friends with le chat.

Now back to the glorious business of walking.

Now back to the glorious business of walking.

We saw this double circle, triangle mark a few times.  Haven't cracked the code yet.

We saw this double circle, triangle mark a few times. Haven’t cracked the code yet.

Meet the photographer.

Meet the photographer.

Any guesses to what's going on here?  Since we did not pass another soul while walking, the trail became a never ending porta potty.

Any guesses to what’s going on here? Since we did not pass another soul while walking, the trail became a never ending porta potty.

Welcome to the bustling metropolis of Duravel where we plan to have our first ever "lunch in a restaurant" since we started walking!

Welcome to the bustling metropolis of Duravel where we plan to have our first ever “lunch in a restaurant” since we started walking!

One of the many benefits of walking is smelling everything along the way.

One of the many benefits of walking is smelling everything along the way.

I'm not really sure what was going on here.

I’m not really sure what was going on here.

But then I saw this picture and realized he was praying for the powers to make the juice jump into his mouth without the aid of a straw.

But then I saw this picture and realized he was praying for the powers to make the juice jump into his mouth without the aid of a straw.

Here we go, our first French country cafe lunch.  It's a five course affair.  Soup, antipasta, pasta with meat, cheese and dessert.  All the while the wine is FLOWING.  Fixed price $13 Euro.

Here we go, our first French country cafe lunch. It’s a five course affair. Soup, antipasta, pasta with meat, cheese and dessert. All the while the wine is FLOWING. Fixed price $13 Euro.

Here's who eats it.  Everyone.  It's not a formal deal, on the contrary, it's very casual and friendly.

Here’s who eats it. Everyone. It’s not a formal deal, on the contrary, it’s very casual and friendly.

More "would be illegal in the US activity" - this cheese board gets passed around table to table.  No sneeze guard, No gloves, help yourself and pass it along.

More “would be illegal in the US activity” – this cheese board gets passed around table to table. No sneeze guard, No gloves, help yourself and pass it along.

Here we are leaving Duravel, I won't speak for my husband, but I am far from sober at this point.  I've calculated we only have about a 5 km walk to our end destination, no problem under tipsy conditions.

Here we are leaving Duravel, I won’t speak for my husband, but I am far from sober at this point. I’ve calculated we only have about a 5 km walk to our end destination,should be  no problem under tipsy conditions.

This is a town sign confirming my calculation, Puy-L'eveque, our end destination is about 5 km away.

This is a town sign confirming my calculation, Puy-L’eveque, our end destination, is about 5 km away.

Here's what the sign didn't say, it's up hill almost the ENTIRE way.  That may not look steep, but trust me, it is.

Here’s what the sign didn’t say, it’s up hill almost the ENTIRE way. That may not super look steep, but trust me, it is.

More inclines. I'm kind of regretting the table wine at this point.

More inclines. I’m kind of regretting the table wine at this point.

Notice the elevated vantage point and pretty view.

Notice the elevated vantage point and pretty view.

 

Dancing as I climb seems to be a better option than crying.

Dancing as I climb seems to be a better option than crying.

Notice the elevated vantage point and pretty view.  Will we reach Puy-L'eveque?Find out next time.

Notice the elevated vantage point and pretty view. Will we reach Puy-l’Eveque? Find out next time.