In Europe the best way to get around is by train–and we take the ICE train from Frankfurt to Paris.  This train reaches peak speeds of 315 k/h!  And wait til you pass on oncoming ICE train–wow!  We’re in Paris in about 5 hours.

Paris was overwhelming–we spent a total of two days there–and were mainly sick with the flu.  Mr. Eiffel must have owned an erector set when he was a little boy–we’re awed by the amount of steel here (and the long lines).  What a massive structure.  Our favorite time was walking around Montmartre.

Here we stumble across a street musician; aka “organ grinder.”   I spent last winter rebuilding an Estey portable pump organ and love this music.  We tipped him generously and continued to walk up the hill.

Our next stop was Lyon where we became couchsurfers hosted by a very nice chap named Nick.  Martina found him on the website and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening with him–he is an expert climber/extreme skier and loves climbing in Yosemite.  We will certainly invite him to Alaska!   You rock, Nick!

Being a country boy-camper type, it’s time to move on south to Provence!

It was here that we fell in love with France and most of all our French hosts.  Le Degoutaud is a 100 acre B&B run by the parents of our last summer’s guest, Tibo (see previous post).  We were really in for a treat.  Besides a well deserved mention in Rick Steve’s guidebook, they spoil their guests with home-made apricot nectar, preserves, tree ripe olives, & figs, and of course, locally produced wines.  Le Degoutaud is run by Veronique and Pierre and Pierre’s parents, Hubert and Josefine and we adopt them into our family immediately.  What hospitality!!

How can you top this?  Tibo takes us on a personal tour, through the vineyards around Suzette, and the villages NE of Avignon and Orange.  We drive up Mont Ventoux and see the tip of Mt. Blanc.  I acquire a strong French accent,  and a desire to sample the local wines.

Some of the 100 acres.

Meet Jean David and….

….Chateau Jean David

Martina and Tibo take an afternoon catnap by the pool ala Maxfield Parrish.

Last summer, Tibo and I began an outdoor kitchen here in Kupreanof.  Here he explains the finer points of French country cuisine.    A traditional Provencal dinner is planned this evening.

The outdoor kitchen is fired up, wine arrives along with the best that Provence can offer in culinary treats.  A night never to forget;  and such wonderful hosts!

What else can you wish for…. but a drive to the French Riviera and the southern Mediterranean coastline. Tibo, ever our faithful guide, takes us south to Marseilles and then eastward along the French coast towards Italy. Simply beautiful!

We drive up the tortuous roads above Cassis to the limestone cliffs where climbers prepare to descend.  In the old days, we climbed up, not down but it’s a new world.  Amazing exposure.

Well, I’m dizzy so we drive down to sea level and have lunch in a Mediterranean seacoast town (there are too many to count or remember). Can you imaging rowboats kept this nice in Seattle?  Never.  These Mediterranean French are perhaps the happiest ever.  Next stop–Languedoc-Lunas where we pick mushrooms and enjoy perfect French hospitality!  Stay tuned.


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