Last day in Grenoble

Feeling a little better this morning but still rather tender, had small croissant for breakfast as we needed to travel via Tournon to collect my jacket which had been placed in a wardrobe rather than with the rest of my stuff. Traps for young players I guess but good that the lesson has been learned early in the holiday as there will be no going back once we are in Russia. We went off to Valence TGV station and had a coffee whilst waiting and took a nice photo of the family. Good single seat in the train facing forward so, although no good for photos at this spread, they is a brilliant view of the countryside. Sun is shining with just a few clouds, perfect summer’s day which is likely to change overnight as I go further north. Also noticed something different to home, we have a pet cat at one end of the carriage and a dog at the other, totally under the control of the owners, sorry, that was two dogs on the train, and as we are about to get out there seems to be a third dog on the train – nearly more pets that people.

Just a quiet day at home

Still suffering from dinner and spent most of the day in bed. Went off to the local lake up in the mountains but as I was so uncomfortable, was transported back home and they went off to the 30th birthday sans me. I will have a few dried biscuits for dinner and pack the bag so I can head off to Paris, Riga and Moscow tomorrow. The big journey is about to begin.

Pierre & Sylvie's home in Grenoble

Pierre & Sylvie’s home in Grenoble

Onion Festival in Tournon of to Grenoble

Onion festival day outside the window early morning. Had a little bit of fun with the guy selling mops etc outside the window and tried to get him to wash the 1st floor windows of the flat but to no avail. Did a walk around some of the markets but they had spring up all over town and time was not on or side. Started to head of towards Grenoble top stay at Pierre and Sylvie's 2nd house but will have dinner in town with an old friend of the family. I ended up having unskilled cod and shell fish. Not sure what it was but I ended up incredibly bloated and have not eaten for the last 24 hours – proves you can't trust a Frenchman.

France challenges Australia to a game of Petanque

Slept in rather late, think exhaustion probably got to me but certainly feel much better than I did when I arrived. Went for a stroll around the city and found out where we would be playing petenc this afternoon. Collected Romane from kindergarten and home for lunch. Romaine had her afternoon sleep them off to petenque where the the French were soundly beaten by 3 points

Mathilde, Julien & Romane in Tournon

Mathilde, Julien & Romane in Tournon

Sydney to Valence in France

24 August – Getting out of mascot was pretty pane free and there was plenty of time to spare. Good flight to Abu Dhabi where we enjoyed temperatures up round 39 which would have been great if not just coming out of negative numbers at home.

25 August – Caught the TGV to Valence France Map with just 7 minutes to spare due to the plane arriving in Paris about an hour late and mine was the last piece of luggage to hit the conveyor belt. Bus took just over the hour to get to Gare de Lyon rail station which was just excellent as the driver assured me I would be there on time. Had to get the tickets reprinted as the carriage number could not be read. Train reached 297 kph and yet the view from the window was quite easy – will be interesting to see how the Sapsan from Moscow to St Petersburg fares. No point taking photos out of train window due to the speed – image is just too blurry at this speed but the girls are very green and lush.

Train travelling at 297 kph - hard to take a photo

Train travelling at 297 kph – hard to take a photo

Paris & Sacré-Coeur Basilica

After watching the news and finding that there was an accident on the road in to Paris, we held off our departure time to go and see the Sacré-Coeur.
We drove towards the Arc de Triomphe and of course, this particular roundabout has 5 lanes but there are no line markings at all – cars come at it from all directions and just push their way across the intersection – no wonder insurance companies will not cover any accidents that occur on it. An exhilerating experience but surprised we got through in one piece.
After parking the car under the building where the Mirage Jet is parked in the front yard within the centre of Paris we headed off and had a coffee. Julien had decided that carting our cases with us all day would be a good idea so there was to be a challenging walk with luggage up the hill to the Sacré Coeure
As I was taking photos I realised that this spot was the final scene for the film ‘Rendezvous’ which was filmed in 1976 and followed a car racing across Paris early one morning and the driver meeting his girlfriend at the top of the stairs.
Wondered off for a nice lunch and just inches away from the pass through traffic before wandering around the corner to have a look at Place de Tertre where the local artists hang out and ply their trade. Some most interesting paintings and what a variety of styles.
After coffee and sad farewells to all our French friends at Paris Norde station caught the Eurostar to London, St Pancras which ran the track at close to 300kms per hour and it only took about 2½ hours to arrive at London St Pancras. Waited for less than an hour before getting on the train through to Leeds where we were met by Jill and Andrew who took us to their home which would be a luxurious base from where we could go out each day to connect with the local area.

Mini France

Went to Mini France for the day – just fascinating. Silvie, Pierre, Mathilde & Julien had also not been here previously so it was extra special for them also. This village is just like Cockington Green in Canberra, only bigger (some 116 model replicas) – enjoyed hot dogs for lunch and were able to take our photos as if we were in a helicopter – see the ‘photos taken from the helicopter’ in the photo blog section for photos.
Yvette (Sylvie’s Sister) and Alex joined us for dinner – it was Yvette’s 65th – what a wonderful dinner yet again and a lot of fun as the birthday cake slipped down Silvie’s arm as she was taking it to the table. Pierre did his party trick and rescued it before it had to be eaten 🙂 😉

Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher

Up early and into a lovely big people mover with Julien behind the wheel. Lots of rain as we drove along the freeway but the skies cleared as we arrived at The Château de Chambord: What a great place it was. We started with a blacksmith demonstration and a smithy who was just brilliant at ramping up the crowds – very well done before going in to see the show horses with demonstrations of jousts, coronations and acrobats on the beautiful show horses. A lovely lunch followed and then we went for a horse drawn carriage ride for an hour through the woods and the forest, seeing a wild boar and deer. Im enjoyed his afternoon siesta during the ride.
We then went into the château created by Francis I in 1519 when he was 25 years old. The château was set up as a hunting lodge but Francis died before its completion and what we see today was put in place by his son and grandson (Henry II & Louis XIV). The château had a coach room, chapel, the King’s chambers, State apartment and the Queen’s apartment and a double-spiral staircase in the centre which wind independently of one another, all in an estate of 5540 acres – the same area as inner Paris.

Grenoble to Zurich

5 September
Got on the train following a wonderful 3 days with Mathilde and Julien and their family (including the cows being grown up)

The Cows being grown up

and after having a nice lunch with ‘English’ Uncle Dennis & his family in Grenoble – and headed off to Zurich via Geneva after enjoying a lovely ’89 red.

Hauterives and Facteur Cheval

4 September
Went to the town of Hauterives where we had an absolutely delightful lunch with the Moulins

and then walked through the village to experience ‘Facteur Cheval’. Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) was a postman who built his dream ‘Le Palais Idéal’.

It is an amazing and imaginary castle which he built himself, stone by stone. He believed that there were geniuses in all levels of society and set out to prove it. He believed that will power could triumph over all manner of physical and mental difficulties, and also achieve a more perfect understanding of the nature of things and the nature itself. From the first to the last stone took some 93,000 hours. He included images of most things that existed in his lifetime – Adam, Eve, the 2 main religions in the world, serpents, animals, the tree of life etc. No plan existed but he built each section as he dreamed it and it all came together in the end. He passed away and joined the Eastern and Western fairies. His tomb at the village cemetery is simular to his palace and took just 8 years to build.


3 September
Went off to have a look at Grignan and Nyons where we explored the old town, climbed many steps, checked out the lavender distillery before returning to the farm at Claveyson

Munich to Grenoble

2 September
Arrived Munich on time and had a very quick run through customs etc. And were able to get to Munich and be on the 1st train for Zurich and then Grenoble.

Coffee, tea and croissants were just €8.90 – seemed quite reasonable and negated having to carry hot water with us.

Fields are a beautiful green with snow on the alps, a far cry from back home. Cows seem smaller and are mushroom coloured.

We have travelled from Munich-Buchloe-Kempten-Landua where we swapped to a Swiss engine and continue on our way through Austria, traveling through Bregenz(AT)-St Gallen(CH)-Winterther and then Zurich.

Came across a Canadian couple trying to tell the guard they had gone directly from Munich to Zurich (“straight down” she said) and why did they have to pay €18 to go through the tip of Austria – just check the map – there is nearly no choice – suggested she look at the map or go with the flow.

We arrived at Grenoble and were met by Mathilde and Julien – wonderful to see them again even though they had only been home from Aus for 3 weeks. On our way to Claveyson we had a look at this mad guys house (he is about 60 years of age).