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“"I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh


Made a long journey from Lyon to Nice, Rochelle Rochelle!

Made a long journey from Lyon to Nice, Rochelle Rochelle!

Paris was over almost as quickly as it came. George Shea, a friend from Sewanee and seen in the featured photo where we mutually touched the top of the Louvre pyramid, and I left that town and by car made our way south to Lyon. The iconic French farmland accompanied us out the window all the way. Tiny villages sat on isolated tree covered hills like islands within a sea of green fields. The special towns encircle humble castles and chateaus. I had no idea what their stories were so I’d imagine my own stories of Merlin and King Arthur and the Holy Grail. 

Lyon proper sits on an island of the Rhine River. The Rhine flows north, the Rhône flows south. They are both so similar and I feel privileged and accomplished having seeing them both. George was doing some day-off business in the car on the ride down. His boss rewarded him for working overtime by taking his fiancée out to dinner on the company tab. He figured Laura Jane was George’s road trip partner but that not being the case I got to fill the vacant dinner spot, coincidentally leading to the best meal yet in France. 

Snails, wine, eggs, duck, tartar, cheese and Chartreuse liqueur to top it off. This fruit infused gasoline has been made by monks for centuries. The irony, monks making alcohol and being forbidden to drink any. It’s the ultimate temptation I guess. The monk’s Abbots need not worry about the monks getting hooked on Chartreuse. It is a once a year drink as far as I’m concerned. That or however long it takes to forget its intensity of flavor. The cheese served after the meal, as is done in France, defeated my lifelong streak of enjoying every cheese I’ve ever heard of. It tasted like the pasture semi-digested and fermented for a day or so. Feeling obligated to eat the whole block, we ate as much as we could and hid the rest in our napkins which they definitely discovered later.

 Lyon proper sits on an island of the Rhine River. The Rhine flows north, the Rhône flows south. They are both so similar and I feel privileged and accomplished having seeing them both. George was doing some day-off business in the car on the ride down. His boss rewarded him for working overtime by taking his fiancée out to dinner on the company tab. He figured Laura Jane was George’s road trip partner but that not being the case I got to fill the vacant dinner spot, coincidentally leading to the best meal yet in France. 


Snails, wine, eggs, duck, tartar, cheese and Chartreuse liqueur to top it off. This fruit infused gasoline has been made by monks for centuries. The irony, monks making alcohol and being forbidden to drink any. It’s the ultimate temptation I guess. The monk’s Abbots need not worry about the monks getting hooked on Chartreuse. It is a once a year drink as far as I’m concerned. That or however long it takes to forget its intensity of flavor. The cheese served after the meal, as is done in France, defeated my lifelong streak of enjoying every cheese I’ve ever heard of. It tasted like the pasture semi-digested and fermented for a day or so. Feeling obligated to eat the whole block, we ate as much as we could and hid the rest in our napkins which they definitely discovered later.

Another long day’s drive brought us to Nice around sunset. I would call it a beach city not town because of the endless high rises that fill the hills around the city center. We dropped our car and lugged our bags down the main drag towards the sea and our Airbnb. French military lined the streets with machine guns because of the terrorist attacks two years ago. The closer we got to the beach the classic French narrow streets began to show up. Our spot was on the narrowest street making it the best spot in town. We met up with Simms who had been feeling out the town solo all day waiting for our arrival. Me and George needed a beer so I went and grabbed something new I’d never heard of. Cracking them open on the beach we discovered that they contained basically no alcohol and most resembled a Fresca. My bad, we drank them anyway. 

Dreams of skimboarding were dashed when I saw that the beach is a mile long strip of smoothed out rocks. No chance of the sprint start throwdown hydroplane glide ending in a dive into the waves or the unexpected face plant. The town buzzed all night. The rest of the London group got in around midnight and we greeted them loudly. 

It was Saturday and Bastille Day was here! We made for the beach early to claim our chairs under the cabana. The rose was the cheapest so that was the drink of the day. Our waiter kept telling us he can’t bring us anymore   because he was about to be fired. He kept coming back though with a different reply saying “I think I am quitting” and then “they won’t let me quit.” He was so hard on himself! When we tried to tip him he said he did not deserve it. He was not cut out to be a cabana boy. 

I spent about half the day in the Sea. After convincing the group that there were no sharks in the Mediterranean (I don’t know if that is true) we swam out to the buoy after half a day of wine consumption. The deeper it gets the bluer the water so we went searching for the deepest blue in the abyss. I insisted that everyone open their eyes underwater to see but it seemed I was the only one willing to expose my eyes to saltwater. I did that a lot and my vision was blurry for the afternoon. 

This night seemed no different than any other night out in France which was a little disheartening because it was France’s Independence Day. The events of two years ago still haunted the city. Fear is just what the terrorists want. These sad souls will never kill our faith in the love that conquers all. Still, it’s impossible to forget such a tragedy and sympathy should go to this town and country. Perhaps the main reason for this mellow night however was the anticipation of the next day’s soccer world war: The World Cup, France verses Croatia.

I left Nice early Sunday because it’s never fun to linger after a long weekend. My train went to Grenoble.

Exhausted, I went out on the streets to watch France win and the see entire town go insane. Every car horn honked. Cheers and smiles were forced on my face when taking part in the joyous riot. After an hour inhaling blue smoke I called it a night and returned to my hostel and met my sixty year old French roomie. We talked and laughed in French and English and the sack was hit. Tomorrow I would head for the mighty Alps and Chamonix.


Chamonix

Chamonix

Normandy

Normandy

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