Last full day in France — from Combertault to De Gaulle

April 18, 2009 17:31 – 17:31

We arose this morning in Combertault, near Baune. I won’t say that the Best Western Golf is the best hotel we’ve had in Europe—that would have to be the Landa Palace in Spain or the Charlecôte Pheasant near Stratford-upon-Avon. But, it is one of those places that’s sufficiently energizing and inspiring that I wouldn’t mind spending a week or two there, while exploring the many chateaux and wineries in Burgundy, as well as just plain walking and relaxing a lot.

Here’s what we saw out our balcony as we were packing up. The flag proves that this is a golf course. I’d previously thought that the course was on the other side of the building—but it appears to be on both sides.

We also kept getting buzzed by a small plane. That reminds me… as we were entering the Czech Republic, we saw a bright yellow crop duster flying close to the road. At one point, some of his load—pellets of some kind—actually hit the car. I’m glad it wasn’t something that could have gotten taken into our ventilation system. Today’s plane, however, just seemed to be joy riding.

It was with a sense of leaving an excellent new friend that we departed from the Golf hotel. Our stay was brief, but we plan to return.

Our departure was not without drama, though. At the last minute, I couldn’t find my camera! I went back up to the room and searched—no luck. I searched the car—no luck. On a whim, I searched in my main suitcase. Whew! I’d stuck my camera case in there. This is not a tiny camera or camera case, by the way. It’s a digital SLR with a large zoom lens on it. So, I have no idea how I fit it into my regular suitcase without at least some kind of struggle.

I’m glad I did find my camera—for a lot of reasons, but most of all because I put it to good use as we made our way up the road. Karen had made a list of some of the towns where the impressionists painted, and we wanted to go to some of them and take pictures.

We finally left the hotel at about 11:15. We’d had a small breakfast on some inferior croissants we’d bought the day before in Lallio, Italy. Why would anyone make a lemon flavored croissant? Enough said. In any case, this left us hungry for a decent lunch. Without any solid information upon which to base a choice, we decided to do what we sometimes do when traveling in the U.S. and Canada—play Garmin roulette. I told the Garmin to find us food (“French” food) somewhere along our trajectory. The two closest were Le Restaurant and Auberge La Beursaudière, the latter in Nitry, France. We’ve always been partial to auberges, so we decided on that one. Excellent choice.

It turns out that Beursaudière is a popular destination for diners in Burgundy. It’s set in an 11th century convent that was started by the Benedictines. There a beautiful old church behind it. The restaurant itself features a wood-fired stove that produces excellently flavored beef, duck, chicken, veal, and fish. No nuns on the menu.

Saturday appears to be when large French families go out to lunch. When we arrived, a family with six children—five boys and one girl—were just beginning. They seemed mostly well behaved. As Karen & I settled in, five or six additional families—ranging from 2 to 4 children—came in, as well as a number of others. We got there—sans reservations—at about 12:45. By 1:15, every table was filled. At about 1:30, a German tour bus arrived, and we wondered where they would be seated. They filed in—I counted at least 60 of them—and they proceeded to upstairs rooms we didn’t know about.

For lunch, we both had what was essentially steak frites, but the steak was a bit better than usual, and had been cooked in the wood fireplace. The fare came not only with frites, but a crispy round potato patty (seasoned with garlic and onions) and half a roasted potato as well. There was also some broccoli that had been cooked in cream and butter. Everything was excellent. We each had a glass of 2007 Burgundy-Pinot Noir. It went really well with the food, and was excellent. For dessert, we both had the chocolate mousse. Not sublime, but certainly competent.

After lunch, we went outside and took these pictures, and a few more.

Here, some of their staff is trimming the dandelions.

Here’s Karen, seeking shelter from some of the occasional rain.

Sharon had asked for a picture of our rental car. Here it is:

It’s an Audi A3 1.9 something. I don’t speak car. But, this little diesel gets over 45 miles per gallon even when being driven hard. It doesn’t hold a lot of luggage, but it gets the job done.

French rest stops are quite varied. Here’s an example of one, where we stopped for a restroom break about an hour or so after lunch.

Lest you think it’s all exotic, at the other end of the parking lot was this:

Sure, it’s Esso rather than Exxon, but it’s the same On the Run store you might see back home.

First on our list of towns where the impressionists painted was Moret-sur-Loing. We had a hard time finding a place to park, but we did hesitate long enough to snap these pictures.

Next on our list was Fontainebleau. Many years ago, Karen, Katie & I bought a roast chicken and some bread and cheese in the town, and went into the forest of Fontainebleau for a picnic. To our chagrin, we found no picnic tables. So, we ultimately took up residence on a large rock. We now refer to that as our “picnic rock.” We might’ve seen it today.

Fontainebleau is a huge—and I mean huge—chateau. Here are a couple of pictures I took as we hesitated across the way from it.

If you’re ever been to Biltmore in North Carolina, you might be interested to know that you could fit at least ten Biltmores into Fontainebleau.

And here is a picture from the town.

Leaving Fontainebleau, I next set our destination as Barbizon. We also visited Barbizon with our 4-year old Katie. Going there today brought back some wonderful memories.

After Barbizon, things became less fun. We decided to head to Cergy-Pontoise—to the west of Paris, where Karen & I once stayed in a Novotel. Today, however, we quickly found ourselves in heavy traffic, reminiscent of our first day on the road when we left Paris on the 9th of April. It also was raining heavily. So, by the time we got to Cergy and Pontoise, it was a bit too soggy for much picture taking, and I was out of sorts from the wearying drive. We picked up a few items for tomorrow’s breakfast from a boulangerie in Cergy, then headed towards our hotel—about an hour away.

For our final night here, we had previously decided to get some baguettes, cheese, and a roasted chicken for dinner—we would have it with the complimentary bottle of wine from our Paris apartment—still untouched. Alas, it was not to be. We unwisely chose a Carrefour as the place to get our dinner items (we already had the baguettes we’d bought in Cergy). Carrefour is huge, and exceedingly busy on weekends. We found roasted chickens, but they were room temperature, and not hot. Can anyone spell b a c t e r i a ? Ultimately, trying to find the few items we needed in that massive store proved too daunting, so we chucked it.

When we arrived at the Suitehotel near CDG, we discovered a Courtepaille adjacent, and decided to have dinner there. Courtepaille is a popular chain in France, and we’ve eaten there before. Karen had steak dans la hamper, and I had the brochette d’onglet de boeuf. We shared a 50cl “pot” of Beaujolais. Dinner was good, but spoiled somewhat by a diner next to us who apparently doesn’t understand basic hygiene. He was fragrant, to put it mildly, and believe me, there was nothing mild about his fragrance.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel, and I proceeded to see if I could get both of us connected to the wired (free) internet connection. My normal method—just plugging in the router—didn’t work because there’s some kind of basic first step that requires a browser. The system wouldn’t pass it through, as systems sometimes do. I tried ICS (internet connection sharing) with one of the computers connected via wire, and both connected to each other using the wireless router. That didn’t work either.

As a last effort, I decided to try bridging the internet connection and our wireless router. Bingo! It worked, and we both connected, and we’re sitting here right now working on our respective blogs.

Tomorrow’s flight is at 12:25 pm. I went online and did our check-in. At the moment, we both have aisle seats. Hopefully, that won’t change tomorrow, but I won’t be surprised if it does. I’ve yet to have the seats from online setup survive to the actual flight. I’ve girded myself for the misery of 7+ hours in a cramped space. I just wish I could go to sleep in my hotel room tonight and wake up in my own bed tomorrow morning. Alas, we’re not that far along technologically yet.

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