Heading North for the Sea

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
Trip End Jan 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Marina La Baule

Flag of France  ,
Sunday, September 2, 2007

Next, I rush to catch an early train from Toulouse to the beach town of La Baule in in Bretagne (Brittany), a long 8 hour journey. Okay this will definitely sound like a cliche, but I was riding the rails past fields of sunflowers and farmer´s crops, rolling through the city of Bordeaux and seeing people out tending garden plots and their hedges, or vinters lovingly caring for their grapes. Watching these scenes, I thought about how much I love France. As the first foreign country I ever visited, back when I was only fifteen, when both my speaking and comprehension of the French language was far superior to my choppy attempts at speaking it today. I visited Paris with my high school French class and our teacher, Monsieur Normand, and we toured the Louvre, Louis XIV Palace of Versailles, the huge Parisian department stores La Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, the Pompidou Center and the champagne cellars of Piper Heidseck, as well as Chartres cathedral and Jeanne D´arc Cathedral in Reims. Back then I was as excited about being allowed to order a glass of wine with dinner as I was by being in France itself. But I did recall loving the fresh deliveries of baguettes and croissants each morning to our hotel for breakfast and the delicious hot chocolate made especially for us. Fast forward 26 years later to 2007, and I´m delighted to report that the food is still delicieux, the architecture is still grand, and the scenery is as magnificent. I am extremely grateful to partake, and soaking up every minute of my time here. After my week in St. Gery, with its fresh market on Sunday where I used my French to buy fresh Lot valley produce like melons, tomatos and Rocamadour cheese, Cahors wine, olives and freshly baked bread, I was in heaven. It occurred to me then that the French have it all - fantastic food, the world´s best wine, open spaces, historic buildings and a modern functioning society. While the differences here are much more subtle than Asia, where everything is a big change from what you know, I´ve been able to observe many. The slower pace of life in the South West of France is lovely, and it keeps to that pace in Bretagne as well. This beach town of La Baule is not much different from home, with its gift shops with knick knacks for sale, but again a market (similar to Eastern Market) was held in the town square on both weekend days, making for a fantastic experience. Of course, this enticed me to buy 2 French tablecloths and a part cashmere sweater, with no where to put either!! Cést la vie! I´ve discovered this is what the postal service is for, and have mailed a few things home......I do not venture far, mostly taking long walks along the quite developed shoreline. I contemplate taking the bus or a bicycle to where they collect salt from the sea, but I'm definitely growing weary of my long days. I'm quite interested in seeing this but decide instead to loll around on the beach, playing in the sand, watching the French people on holiday. I'm quite content to buy a chocolate croissant for dinner, marvel at the disfigured coastal pines and watch the Atlantic roll in. 
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