Sunday, July 27, 2014

Paris to Normandy

The first leg of the bus ride was an utterly normal bus ride, all things considered. Patrick pointed out relevant geographical details as we passed them (Sacre du Corps church, the top of the Eiffel Tower, et al), and gave us some general information about restaurants and tipping. Once we left the immediate metropolitan area, the landscape became very familiar and similar to Pennsylvania: a lot of nothing in between the cities.

The rest stop illustrated a great advantage of being a male director of a Sweet Adelines chorus: no lines for the rest room. The five other guys and I got in and out quickly. The rest stop was... well... a rest stop: coffee stand, restaurant, quik-i-mart grocery store, and tables. The neat thing about this particular rest stop was the play area / jungle gym for the kids, which my children would really enjoy. They even had fun little things for more grown-up people to expend a little bit of energy.


Lunch - closer to kind of a lunner or dunch, half dinner and half lunch because of the hour - took place in Honfleur, a small port town about 2.5 hours outside of Paris and an hour outside of Normandy. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it, except by saying that it's a European tourist town. The buildings are all vertical and scrunched together, six or seven stories high. There is an old fashioned Ferris wheel and a double decker carousel playing jazz standards on the (name of the carousel organ) instead of the normal Tin Pan Alley stuff. It's a port town, and three sides of the quay are lined with restaurants and cute boutiques.

Double decker carousel:

European streets:

There are an awful lot of motorcycles in this town today, particularly Harley Davidsons. I wonder if this is a regular thing, or if there's a French version of the Stergis bike rally? It's notable to see that many bikes in one area, particularly when the streets seem to be predominantly cobblestone.

Lunch was a beautiful little place on the water, 92 Quai Sainte Catherine. The day was beautiful: sunny but enough clouds to take the sharpness off; a light breeze blowing in from the river Seine. The awnings under which we ate looked to be long-standing and well maintained. The tables were small 2-person table; we crowded five around three of them, eating with Molly, Katie, and Joe and Connie Klug (who might be some of my favorite barbershoppers on the planet). The restaurant was a creperie, and I had ham and cheese and egg wrapped in a crepe, with a sugar crepe as dessert. We sang for the waitress, and they gave us a sugar crepe as a reward. The wine was red and semi-dry.

The view from our table:

My beautiful lunch:

We walked down one of the side streets in town, which was - sorry to use the same expression - European. Narrow, winding streets, tall houses right on the street edge without a sidewalk, crammed together yet of different colors and architectural styles. We walked into a shop called "La Ferme De Deauville," which had all kinds of apple stuff: apple butter, apple jam, apple jellies, apple cider, and hard apple cider. Here's how the exchange went:

"Can I make a suggestion for you?" Me: "I don't know." "Are you looking for cider?" "I don't know. Yes, maybe." "Do you like sweet or not?" "With dinner, so not too sweet." "Then try this one." "Okay." Five euros later, we're done. Easiest sale he had all day, I think.

I wrote the first part of the Honfleur description sitting on a bench overlooking the docks. It was an easy place in which to write. I'm moderately embarrassed to say that we were the last people back to the bus, although I will say that the people waiting in line for the potty did not include me.

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