Thursday, August 23, 2012

France Part 2

How can Matt and I ever say thank you to my family for giving us 3 nights and 4 days alone without the boys?  We haven't been alone over night since Orson was born and it was amazing!  We started with a long drive south (with some impromptu stops along the way) to Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux country.  This is the Nappa region of France and Saint-Émilion is a World Heritage site.  We met up with Matt's friend, the Russian Frenchy that sells wine barrels for a living, who treated us to wine, sea food and good times.  We then went further south to Lourdes and the Pyrénées (where we accidentally ended up on the route of the Tour de France).  The drive home was long but we still found a few interesting stops. 

We started the trip with a run to the Bio-Coop where I found a GF loaf of fresh bread to chew on and a stop to take a closer look at the fields of sunflowers.

 We also stopped at what looked like a fairytale, Château de Montreuil-Bellay

Then we arrived in Saint-Émilion

 It was a stunning place to spend a few days!

On Sunday we drove down to Lourdes, stopping at a few more fields of sunflowers and grape vines

 Lourdes was amazing and awe inspiring.  There were so many believers from all over the world, you couldn't help but be filled with the Holy Spirit.
 We loved seeing the Our Father in Creole, it was a good reminder of how we started life together.

 And the walls of the church were covered with Thank Yous both officially on marble and unofficially in graffiti
 Below is hundreds of people in wheel chairs arriving to pray
 The Holy Rosary Church was covered in the most amazing mosaics of every decade of the rosary
 And the outside walls were mosaics of other Mary apparitions (we thought Our Lady of Guadalupe was the most amazing)

 After Lourdes we drove through the Pyrénées, with views of sheep and fog that only parted when we got to the very top.

 Then on Monday we headed home.  The weather was trying to catch us but it was still a beautiful drive.

 We found a "table of orientation" in one town.  When you climbed up on it you could see all the little towns up to 20 km away.  It was really neat.
While we were away, the boys traveled around as well.  They went to some caves, Normandy and St. Suzanne. The pictures look like they had lots of fun.

And all the fun wore out at least one of them
The time away was amazing and reminded Matt and I of why we love each other so much.  It also reminded us of how much the boys mean to us (we couldn't go a day without Skpying with them).  It was really neat to see the pictures of what the boys did without us and to hear Orson's stories about how much fun he had.  We are so very thankful for this trip.  Now all I have left to do is download the pictures Orson took and see what he really thought of France :)

France (part 1)

Our family vacation this year was to France (with a short stop on the way home in Iceland)!  Dad and Sofie invited us all out to her house in the Mayenne area for two weeks of family time and to celebrate Dad's 60th birthday.  It was like living in a postcard, meals outside full of good fresh food, wine, cheese and bread; fun day trips around the area; a chance to get to know Sofie's family (and they us); and lots of card games at night.  Plus, Matt and I got to leave the boys behind and head south to Bordeaux and Lourdes for a four day mini vacation (part 2)!  We took so many pictures that I don't even know where to start but here are some highlights of the trip:

 We started the trip off with a day in Paris.  Matt spoiled me with tea and cakes at a Gluten Free eatery in Paris and then we walked and walked and walked, trying to get see it all.

 After a long drive in the middle of the night, we woke up the next morning to Montourtier and Sofie's beautiful home.  The town in in Mayenne and boasts about 250 people and 3000 cows :)

 The town made a world record size omelet and the Orson thought the pan was amazing
 Lots of time with Grandpa and outside made both boys happy campers

 Ferdinand cut two new teeth while there using baguettes and wine corks as his chewies...we are still trying to break the habit!

 During the day we explored the local area.  
Orson loved the local lakes, swimming, playgrounds, boats and ice cream

 Ferd did not like the boats so much
 We went to Le Mont Saint Michel one day.  Orson climbed all million steps on his own!
 and still had energy left to run in the gardens at the top
 Another day we went to Jublains a small town built on top of Roman ruins.  We saw the fortress, baths, temple and theater, and enjoyed some ice cream (seems to be a theme :)

 I had them all do some Grecian Urns down on the stage

 Towards the end of our stay we went to Machines of the Isle of Nantes.  It was amazing to see the blend of mechanical and art.

 Orson loved the ant and we all thought the moving elephant was amazing!

 Ferd was tired :(

 The sea themed, three level merry go round was also very cool

 You could ride on the surface of the ocean
 In the middle and (Orson's pick) on the beach

 Ferdinand couldn't decide which to ride in

Our last day trip was to Musee Automobile de la Sarthe (Le Mans) for Matt.  He got to drive the 9 passenger van on park of the track and look at some amazing cars.

 Orson gave the museum a big thumbs up!
 We ended our stay with a birthday party for Dad, complete with, good food, a big box of birthday presents, cakes and karaoke.  It was a blast! Dad has officially out-lived both his father and grandfather, we are so very thankful!

On the way home we took a day layover in Iceland.  It was beautiful, cold and a nice rest for the weary.  

Stay tuned for part two and Matt's and I adventures without children!