Our last day – a tapestry of rain and music

Today’s our last day overseas – heading home tomorrow morning our time from Heathrow. While the weather has been typically a London summer, plenty of rain and very little sun, we still managed to fit in some last minute shopping, a lovely light lunch at a German/Austrian influence restaurant The Delaunay, followed by a matinee session on the West End of Beautiful – the Carole King Story  and what a fabulous show it was.   We thought Sunny Afternoon the story of the Kinks last year was the one to beat but the talented young musician/actress who plays the lead role as Carole King, was brilliant. We closed our eyes and it could easily have been Carole King herself on stage. A brilliant way to finish off a terrific time in Europe and the UK.  Till our next blog.

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Scenes from the Seine

Little needs to be written about the beauty of the architecture of Paris but in all our years of coming to France, we have never actually done a boat trip on the Seine. Well perhaps maybe 4o+ years ago when we first came here on our honeymoon. We’re both struggling to remember if that was the case in the 70s. Anyway, here are some images taken by both of us and capturing what is arguably the most beautiful city in the world from the batobus on the Seine.

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Shopping … because we may never pass this way again

One of Tony’s former bosses, ex-Tasmanian premier Doug Lowe had a great philosophy travelling and checking everything out. “We must go in because we may never pass this way again.” Well it didn’t actually relate to shopping, it was more about visiting all of the churches of the world. However have taken his words on board literally since that moment, many years ago. We make sure that saying relates to everything, particularly shopping.

So today was the day. What took particular fancy was the Lego store in the Les Halles, which is a massive shopping complex literally next door to us, and which we hadn’t discovered  properly till today.

We came back from our trip down the main strip of the Marais to deposit this morning’s bags of goodies, and then thought we’d check out this adjacent building which looked like a sporting stadium. Imagine our surprise to find everything in it, including Nike and Sephora.  And to think I trudged up the Champs Elysees to find the latter. Our biggest treat was the Lego store. And so most of our photos relate to the amazing constructions in Lego in its Les Halles store. A dragon and a dinosaur, especially for Lucas, our grandson. And a Ferrari for our son. Photos only by the way. The blocks are too big to transport. A beautiful construction of the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame make it hard to believe these are all made out of Lego blocks. The panorama of the billboard is of an addition to the complex for a proposed Nelson Mandela memorial garden due to be completed next year, that is if there are not too many strikes beforehand. Oh, and of course there’s the obligatory coffee pic. I’m having a great time with lots of espresso coffees which make life bearable when you’re away from the coffee capital of our country, Melbourne.



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Touring the battlefields of the Somme


Today’s trip was a sombre reminder of the men who fought bravely and who died during World War 1 fighting off the Germans for the French. The battlefields of the Somme are a stark reminder of how brave were the Australians and how tactically through Lt General John Monash they managed to fend off the Germans. And the French are forever grateful. The beautiful church at Amiens and the monuments that have been erected throughout the region are in memory of the Australian battalions who fought to protect France on the borders of Belgium. Even though these small towns were destroyed during these fierce battles the Australians, alongside the Canadian troops, saved these important strongholds from German invasion. Our guide was a font of knowledge and was passionate in her defence of and admiration for the Australian fighting spirit. It was a fantastic reminder of how these brave young men (some as young as 18 years old) fought and died for their allies in the French. As I said earlier the French will never forget this bravery and their are tributes and memorials everywhere as a constant reminder.

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Strolling, shopping and sore feet!

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Today was a day of discovering the Marais district although we did end up in Bastille and as a result, are now enjoying a ‘feet up’ recuperation. This is such a pretty area though, and we are thrilled to be staying here rather … Continue reading

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Paris the city of love … except for the traffic

The drive from Beaune to Paris was uneventful – plenty of freeway, tolls and nothing much else. However hitting Paris was another level altogether. Traffic. Traffic. And more traffic. And our GPS let us down horrendously. Yes it got us to the Marais district and within a stone’s throw of our apartment hotel, but could we find it? No. We asked who we thought was a friendly policeman however as we started to speak in our year 12 French, he stopped us mid sentence and asked us to at least say ‘Bonjour’ before he would answer our question.  Arrogant so and so.  Doesn’t he know who we are? Anyway, to better news, on returning the car and then walking the 40 minutes back to the hotel (20 minutes quicker than it took to drive there), the other half took a number of shots which we share with you now. The riot police were at the ready in case Tony’s driving upset the Parisian motorists. Actually, the cops were preparing for a socialist demonstration march. The raspberry tart was Tony’s indulgence for the day. And the pic of Costa Coffee and Starbucks is for my son because he knows this is where I am NOT going to have coffee. Ever. Even if/when I’m desperate.

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Bourgogne or Burgundy, it’s all wine to us

Today we toured the Burgundy region with acclaimed Tasmanian wine maker and national wine judge, Greg Melick who owns Pressing Matters in the Coal River Valley, and who was obviously the best tour guide of a wine region one could have. Greg and wife Michele are in Burgundy and offered to take us around to show us the real thing. He took us past kilometres of vineyards as you can imagine, explaining the best grapes Grandes Cru, Premiere Cru and Villages Cru, showed us through the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot and we even saw the most sought after, and expensive wine in the world at the Romanee Conti  vineyard. Gevrey Chambertin is a commune of vineyards in the same region which we also had the privilege of seeing. Interesting day, amazing historical region and most importantly, a very fine drop. Some photographs of our day of touring and note, Tony in silent concentration as he listens to Greg making our wine history lessons easy. I’ve inserted a couple more photos of our chateau accommodation (Tony on the steps, our garden and what looks like stunning stable in its former glory).

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Wine, food and other things

Well Beaune is another quite beautiful spot. We had a lovely walk around the village and dinner at La Grilladine  in the centre of the city. My first experience of escargot, which was very tasty although saltier than my palate is used to. Of course all the ‘naughty’ plates in these photos belong to Tony. Overall, our first day has been fabulous – this is a very beautiful part of France and we are fortunate to be staying in a fabulous chateau. And of course the wines of Burgundy are to come tomorrow. Maybe we can delay our trip to Paris.

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Beaune you are beautiful

Just arrived at our chateau just outside Beaune (pronounced ‘bon’).  A beautiful respite here at the Chateau de Challanges  once again, but up several notches from our previous accommodation. Big kudos to the other half who found this oasis online.  Here are a couple of photos on our arrival to make you a little jealous of our two nights here. And as you can see we have a room with a view … or two … or several.

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Of wine and food

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Today was one to test the tastebuds. We visited the markets in Les Halles Avignon, which while impressive were by no means comparable to the markets of Barcelona which we visited last year (posts still to be updated!).  We then … Continue reading

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