Five Weeks in France


By Don Chesnut
Copyright © by Don Chesnut, 2018 [chesnut<at>]

June 27, Wednesday

Paula Shives picked me up at my house at 1 pm and drove me to the Bluegrass Airport—Thank you Paula. There, I printed out my boarding passes and then went through security. I got to my gate area by 1:30. My flight leaves in two hours and I usually use this time to start my journal.

I am attending the 5th International Palaeontological Congress in Paris, France. These conferences are held someplace in the world every four years. I have been to two of the previous ones, Sydney, Australia and Nanjing, China. I will be doing a pre-meeting field trip and a post-meeting field trip in France and attending a week of conferences in Paris. After the conference, I'm taking a two-week tour around France. I will be gone altogether a little over five weeks. I'm taking only carry-on items, my 45-year-old red pack, and a computer bag.

Anne would have driven me, but my brother-in-law Ernest unexpectedly passed away and she is with her family. Ernest was a good fellow, I will miss him and I'm sorry I can't be with his family.

I was in a panic the last few days because I had not received any communications about my first field trip. I didn't know where or when to meet it. Luckily, I got an e-mail this morning detailing the information. The leader had sent out information much earlier, but, for some reason, I failed to receive it. Perhaps it was my spam filter. I feel much better now.

My hotels and the conference are in the Latin Quarter. Most conference sessions will be in the Pierre and Madame Curie University and the Museum of Natural History across the street. I have built in several days to explore the area. I have a Kindle with Rick Steves' Paris guide to help. My big problem is that I don't speak French, or very little, at least.

I caught the flight to Detroit, landing a little before 5 pm. I walked rapidly to the other end of the long terminal to my gate for Delta flight 98. I boarded that plane and got my seat on the aisle.

An hour or so after take off, we were served dinner. I had roasted chicken and vegetables, salad, bread, cheese, and red wine. I watched a Will Ferrel movie, "Daddy's Home 2." I did laughed out loud. I then watched "Hostiles," about the US Cavalry repatriating some Cheyenne. I tried to sleep after that.

June 28, Thursday

I'm pretty sure I didn't sleep at all. A little after daylight, I had yogurt and water. More was served, but I wasn't hungry.

We landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris a little after 8 am and walked to passport control. It was the longest line I have ever been in, but I got my visa in about 10 seconds once I got to the booth. I then walked to the airport exit and got in another line to buy a train ride into inner Paris. Unfortunately, there is a rail strike and the trains run in segments only. I went to the RER B line and was confused by the situation, but a very outgoing fellow came to my aid. He was also helping another foreigner as well. We had to take the RER to Gare du Nord, then we had to walk to another platform to get on the next segment of RER B. He walked several of us foreigners through the station. The other foreigner asked where I was from. I said Kentucky. He said he lived in Louisville for 8 years and has duel citizenship. He was from Cairo and we talked about koshary, one of their national dished. The friendly Frenchman asked what I was doing in Paris and I said attending a conference at the Curie University and Natural History Museum. He said, oh you're a scientist, what type? I said geologist and paleontologist. He said he worked with a lot of geologists, he was a petroleum engineer.

I said goodbye when they got to their stop and I got off at Luxembourg Gardens and walked to my little hotel, Hotel des 3 Colleges on Rue Cujas, close to the Sorbonne. The Pantheon is close by too.

I checked in and went to my tiny room on the fifth floor. The tall windows in the room are open, so I assume there is no air conditioning. The temperature seems to be in the upper seventies. There is a room safe, so I put my passport, money, etc in it. There is WiFi, so I will try to log in tonight. I also filled out my notebook while I was in my room.

I went out for a walk in the area of my hotel. There are a great many restaurants, cafes, and similar places to eat. The hotel is in the most ancient part of the city, dating back to Roman times. It is called the 3 Colleges because there were the Cluny, Sorbonne, and college of Cholets, all ancient. I think it was part of an abbey too. I took photos of the Church at Sorbonne and the Pantheon.

I went back to my room and took a nap and it turned out to be a hard sleep. I woke up at seven and went out again. I walked to the Place de la Sorbonne again and stopped at Tabac de la Sorbonne. I sat outside under a tree canopy and ordered house special onion soup, and then Salad Nicoise, and a couple of glasses of red wine. I was there for almost three hours. The temperature was perfect and the ambiance was very nice. I just had the French onion soup which was very good. Then the Salad Nicoise which was excellent, almost as good as my Mom's. The anchovies were great, not from tins.

I got back to my room by ten and I was very tired. I filled out my journal and typed some. I went to bed about 11 pm.

June 29, Friday

I got up at 8 am, which felt early. I brushed my teeth and went down to breakfast. Breakfast is included with my room. A cheerful lady asked me something and I showed her my room key. She said some more things and I mentioned "continental" and "coffee," and that seemed to work. I sat in a corner window with the view of a small intersection. Parents are walking their small children to school up the block, business people are walking to work, and university people are headed to the colleges. Everybody is walking.

I was served a small baguette, croissant, cut fruit cup, yogurt, coffee, orange juice, etc. It was here that I realized that I lost my camera, must have been in my seat at the café last night and I left it there. I'll go back and ask later.

In my room, I washed out my shirt and hung it out to dry on a railing outside my window. I have taken four or five Patagonia AC shirts and they are great in hot countries or summertime. They are made of wrinkled cotton, are cool, dry, and don't show wrinkles or perspiration. I've been using them exclusively for decades. I then typed out some of my journal.

At ten I left the hotel and went to the café. They found my camera and returned it to me! Excellent!

Then I hit the trail for the morning. I found Rue Saint Jacques and followed it northward till I got to the Seine. What an excellent view of Notre Dame! I then followed the Seine to the east and then southeast till I got to the Natural History Museum. I walked through the garden to the main building. I took a number of photos. I then headed west on Lacepede. It was good weather for walking, about 80 degrees F with a breeze. I stopped at an outdoor café at Place de la Contrescarpe and had a large Lefe (Belgian) wheat beer. It seems that the wheat beers are the summer beers here, it's hard to get anything else on draft. I sat outside to rest my legs. My right hip was starting to hurt. The owner was about my age and the music was Caribbean Latin, and African. I was tapping my foot the whole time. When I paid my tab, I told him I really liked the music.

I followed my intuition and made it back directly to my hotel. I got back to my room by 1:45 and it was chilly. They do have AC and it was on. I had left a tip on the pillow and apparently they liked it. I filled out my journal and took a nap.

I got up around 3 pm and took another walk. I walked north on Boulevard Saint Michel and the turned east on Boulevard Saint Germaine. I walked to the end of St. Germaine at the Seine, then turned south on some street for a block and then headed west on Rue des Ecoles till I got to St. Jacques again and south to my hotel.

My hip did not hurt this time. I took another shower to get the street grime off. And then I typed some of my journal. Rick Steves' guide for the Latin Quarter is not very good. He only has one walk and it's on the northwestern edge of the Quarter. I may do that walk tomorrow.

I went out again about 8 pm to the same square as last night, Place de la Sorbonne, but to a different café, "l'ecritoire." I ordered a menu and selected foie gras for entre, confit du canard (preserved duck) with sautéed potatoes for main course, and crème brulee for dessert. I wanted a red wine, the waiter suggested Cotes du Rhone which I had last night. It's too sweet for me, so he suggested Broilly, a dry red, so I had it. The temperature is perfect, the breeze is very nice, and there is no humidity to speak of. The foie gras was good, I don't often get it. The duck was tender and moist, very good. I could not eat all the potatoes. Then I was served the crème brulee, vanilla, with a very thin shell of caramelized sugar. Now I had a glass of Cote du Rhone.

I got back to my room by 10:20 and my hip was starting to get sore again. I'll take something for it. I'm very tired. I brushed my teeth, took my pills starting with the LSD, and then typed some of my journal. If it doesn't make any sense, now you know why. I went to bed about 11 pm.

June 30, Saturday

I did not sleep at all last night till about 5 am. I attribute that to jet lag. I got up at 8 again and brushed my teeth. I washed out the shirt I wore yesterday and hung it out to dry. I put on the shirt that was already dry.

I went down to breakfast and ordered the same thing, even sat at the same table. Today looks like another nice day. The receptionist said it would not rain, but would be hot.

I headed north on St. Michel till I got to the Seine, then headed west. I crossed to the Ille de la Cite at its western point and took some photos. I walked back to the Left Bank and west till I got to the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge. Here I started Rick Steves' walking tour that ends at Luxembourg Garden on my Kindle. I saw the churches, St. Germain Pres and St. Sulpice on the way. It indeed became hot, perhaps in the upper 80's with a hot sun. I took lots of photos. This is Saturday and lots of people were enjoying the Luxembourg Gardens. I got a pistachio ice cream and ate it in the shade.

After wandering around in the gardens, I walked back to my hotel and got to my room about 1 pm. I caught up in my journal and planned the rest of the day. I also backed up my photos.

I went out again to the medieval Cluny Middle Ages museum, but it was closed for renovation.

So I went to Place de la Sorbonne and had a beer while I consulted the Kindle. I decided to do the inner Paris tour which started in front of Notre Dame. I did not go in because lines were long, but I did the walk instead. I took lots of photos. I visited St. Julien de Pavre and St. Severin churches.

I hear cheers from the cafes all over town. Apparently France is doing well in football. I got back to my room by 5:30.

By 6, I headed out again. I went back to Place de la Sorbonne to "l'ecritoire" and ordered a mixed prosciutto, potted meat, cheese, and bread plate, plus some kind of sweet wine (that part was a language problem). It was a lot of salty, greasy, fatty food for a hot day, but I managed. It would have been a nice appetizer for four. And now I'm getting sleepy again. I did not take a nap today.

I got back to my room by 8 pm, earlier than usual. I wrote in my journal, and went to bed early.

1 July, Sunday

I got up at 8, brushed my teeth, and went down to breakfast. The intersection in front of me is blocked by six police vans and policemen are standing in the intersection. I thing there is some event at the Pantheon, they were erecting bleachers there for the last several days. The reception people said they were transferring something to the Pantheon, but I could not understand what.

I headed north on Boulevard St. Michel till I got to the Seine. From the Seine, I headed west then southwest. I passed the Museum Orsay, L'Orangerie, etc., and ended at the Eiffel Tower. It is difficult to comprehend how large it is. From there, I walked down the park to the end and headed east to Invalides. I continued eastward, and stopped at an outdoor café, Le Babylone at Square Baucicaut, on Rue de Babylone. I had Kronebourg beer and goat cheese salad.

After lunch, I followed my nose and made it back to my room by 3:30 pm. It was a long, hot day. I don't know how many miles I walked, but I'd rather spend my time walking than standing in line. Lines everywhere would wrap around a football field. Back in my room, I took a much-needed shower, and then a nap. I wrote in my journal and then typed it out. Tonight I will pack because tomorrow is a travel day.

I went back out about 7:30 and heard talking on a loud PA system. I walked to the Pantheon and the entire street was blocked off to traffic. The statesman Simone Veil's body was being interred today in the Pantheon. She was the first woman President of the European Parliament.

I then went back to Place de la Sorbonne to the Tabac de la Sorbonne and my waiter was the same one who saved my camera. I ordered lamb chops with salad and a glass of Cote du Rhone. The evening has cooled off nicely and the temperature is perfect.

I finished my dinner and went back to my room. I packed my things because tomorrow I start my first field trip.

2 July, Monday

I got up a little before 7 am, and brushed my teeth. I went down to breakfast and had coffee and a croissant. I went back to my room and took a quick shower. I took my things down to reception and then checked out.

I walked about a mile due east and came out exactly where I was supposed to be, the Jussieu metro stop, and the entrance to Curie University. I am early so I sat down and filled out my journal. It looks like another nice day, but we are supposed to get rain during the field trip.

I met with my group. There are five of us altogether, Loïc Villier, the field trip leader, a fellow (Patrick) who works at the Natural History Museum, a lady (Oeva) from Estonia, and a young man (John) from Spokane, Washington. Everybody is very nice and interesting to talk to. We are all in one car. We left a little after 9, and headed to the southeast. We stopped for sandwiches at a truck stop, and proceeded to the Jura wine producing region.

By the time we got to our first stop, it was very hot. We met with a retired geology professor (Michel Compy) who is an expert on wine terroir and geology. We also met with the mayor of the village Château-Chalon, Christian Villaume, also an expert on wine. This is a stunningly beautiful landscape. I took lots of photos. We looked at the Mesozoic strata that influenced wines in the region, and we sampled three types of local wine products.

We then headed to our hotel, Domaine du Revermont near Passenans. Their internet was not working. We had dinner soon after we got there, and Loïc ordered for us the red wine made on the next-door vineyard.

I went to my room soon after dinner, filled out my notebook, and took a shower. I went to be by 10:30. Tomorrow is another travel day.

3 July, Tuesday

I got up at 7, brushed my teeth, and went to buffet breakfast. I sliced some nice bread, had sliced ham and local comte cheese. I had three cups of good café au lait.

I packed up and we loaded the car. We are following Michel. I grabbed my journal so I could take notes. I didn't yesterday.

We stopped at an overlook on the east side of the N-S Bresse (Rhône) graben, and looked across the plain. Michel explained the grape varietals (cepages) associated with specific Liassic (Lower Jurassic) and Triassic strata. Michel is the expert on this topic. We looked at the slope and outcrops associated with the gravity thrust fault and ramps.

We got back in the car and headed to our next stop. The scenery and villages are very picturesque, but it is difficult to take photos in the moving car. We stopped at an outcrop of mid-Jurassic limestone and underlying gray marls of Liassic age (Lower Jurassic).

We stopped at a vineyard and looked at an outcrop of Posidonia shale (Toarcian)(= the famous Posidonienschiefer in Germany, Wikipedia entry).

Le Caveau de Bacchus
Le Caveau de Bacchus
In the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, we then stopped at Le Caveau de Bacchus winery and went to their cellar (cave). We met the owner, Lucien Aviet and sampled eight different wines. It was a very interesting place and interesting family.

We then went to the restaurant "La Finette" in Arbois, the town from which Louis Pasteur came. I had two regional dishes, a potted pork for entre, and the regions sausage on lentils, plus we had a regional wine. I took photos.

We then went to a wine cooperative, Fruitiere Viticole d'Arbois (their website), where they showed us the big stainless steel vats and wooden casks. The vineyard owners bring their grapes here and here they are transformed into wine.

Next door we toured a cheese making establishment, Fruitiere du Plateau Arboisien (their website). Here they make Morbier which has a thin charcoal streak through it. This region also makes Comte and we've had plenty of that as well.

We drove some distance and came to Salines Royales, a sort of museum and hotel (Wikipedia entry). Salines Royales was built to make salt from brine originally.

We drove to the nearby village, Arc-et-Senans, and had dinner at Le Relais d'Arc et Senans. It was an old relay station for the horseback post. I had sole rolled up with olives, also had aubergine, and samphire (a succulent that grows along the coast—we have it). I had a local beer flavored with gentian. The food was delicious and we had long conversations.

We rode back to the salt works and walked through some of the gardens.
We went back to our rooms and I was in bed by 11. I was very tired.

4 July, Wednesday

I got up around 7 and took a shower. I packed my things because we travel again.

We went to another stone building for breakfast. I had coffee, baguette, ham, morbier and another local blue cheese, yogurt, and a small croissant.

I went back to my room and wrote in my journal. I gathered my things and took them to the car. Everyone on this trip is very nice and I enjoy their company. I'm happy it's a small group. The next field trip is a large group, I am told.

At 9:30 we met with an English-speaking guide who took us on a tour of the salt works. The factory was designed by the famous French architect, Claude Nicolas Ledoux (Wikipedia entry) who led a very interesting life in its own right. I took lots of photos.

After the tour we got back into the car, my turn to ride shotgun. So far, our field trip stops have been on the east side of the Rhône graben, the vineyards were in the west-facing slopes of the graben. Now we cross the graben and the rest of the field trip will be on the west side of the graben.

We stopped at a small town, St. Leger sur Dheune, and ate at a restaurant on a canal, Restaurant le Marchand. I ordered veal head and a Picon beer which is flavored with three herbs. The veal was covered with mustard, dill, parsley, chopped pickles, etc. The flavor was nice. There was not much meat in the head and it seemed to have lots of fat which I did not eat. At the end of the meal, they asked me why I did not eat much of it and I mentioned the fat. They said that it was not fat, but connective tissue which one was supposed to eat. Oh well, next time I will know. It was good.

We then went to a small vineyard, Domaine Jeannin-Naltet, in Mercurey. They discussed the terroir and then we tasted four dry red wines from the fields that we visited. I really liked all four, but especially the tannin-rich one we tried last. I bought a bottle to share with everyone later. We skipped one stop in order to save time (but picked it back up on the last day) and we also re-ordered some stops..

Our next stop was an old hotel (hospital), Hospices de Beaune, in Beaune that began in 1445 to assist the poor (Wikipedia entry). It was a very interesting and photogenic museum and we had English audio guides to help us understand it all. I took lots of photographs again.

We then drove to Bouchard Aine & Fils winery and went on their tasting tour. The lady that led us was Chinese from Hangzhou. I recited a Chinese poem about Hangzhou and she was very surprised to hear it.

At 6 pm we headed to Dijon to our accommodations. We got to Hotel Le Sauvage about 6:45.

Then we walked to our restaurant, Dr. Wine at 7. Loïc walked us past some very interesting old half-timbered homes, churches, and official buildings. There also is a pedestrian area that was part of our walk. I would like to come back and explore sometime. At the restaurant, we sat outside in a courtyard under a courtyard-sized umbrella and it started to rain. Loïc had to pre-order our food and we had regionally famous dishes. Our first course was a potted pork, second course was beef bourguignon and mashed potatoes, and dessert was a black currant sauce with mousse and crumbles. Loïc picked a Chardonnay for the first part and a Marsault red for the second part, and finally expresso at the end. Everything was delicious. It started raining harder, the wind picked up and it began to thunder. It rained pretty much the entire meal and it actually became chilly. After we finished, we walked back in the rain, only Patrick thought to bring an umbrella.

We got back to our rooms by ten. I brushed my teeth, etc. and filled out my notebook. I went to bed by 10:20.

5 July, Thursday

It rained off and on throughout the night, but I didn't hear any thunder. I got up a little before 7, brushed my teeth and took a shower.

I joined the others for breakfast. I had Emmental cheese, ham, croissant, yogurt, and coffee.

We made geologic stops in the fog and some light rain. We looked at limestones and, at one place, very fossiliferous marls with extremely abundant, loose terebratulid brachiopods, bivalves, and I found two whole cidaroids. I took a lot of photos.

We next went to a vineyard and the oldest medieval church, Fixey Church, in the region (10th and 11th centuries). I took photos here as well. It's a small church. It is not raining now.

We spent some time in the car traversing a lot of Grand Crus vineyards (Wikipedia entry), the is the Rue de les Grand Crus.

We went to an abbey which was also a vineyard, Château of Clos Vougeot (Wikipedia entry) and toured it. The abbey was started in 1110 AD. [Family note: It was here that Patrick told me that Phillip Tacquet, the paleontologist was a Huguenot. I feel certain that we are related because I descend from a Phillip Tacquet (line now Tackett) who was also a Huguenot who settled in the American colonies after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.]

We continued our drive past Grand Crus vineyards.

We drove through Nuit where the name Cote de Nuit got its name. We went to the Campaillette boulangerie-patisserie and got five ham-cheese baguette sandwiches, and it was raining very hard. We went to a little picnic area and the rain quit. We ate our sandwiches and shared the bottle of wine (Mercurey 1er Cru, Les Naugues, Jeannin-Naltet)  that I bought yesterday. It was a nice, but windy picnic.

We then went to the Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson vineyard (their website) and tasted about ten of their wines, all organic, which is unusual. Their wines were excellent.

We had a long drive and it rained off and on. I took a couple of naps. We stopped to look at an ancient salt work, a Gothic cathedral in a small town, Yonne, and then drove more.

We got out at a Vezelay and walked up a long hill till we got to the Basilique of Vezelay (Vezelay Abbey, Wikipedia entry). We were inside when it started raining hard. After half an hour, it let up some, and we walked back down the hill. I got pretty damp by the time we got down.

We drove some more and got to the town Nitry. Our hotel is Hotel de la Beursaudiere (their website). This is a very eclectic place, all sorts of antiques and rambling hallways and rooms. It's a very nice and entertaining place as well.

After a few minutes we went to the hotel restaurant Auberge de la Beursaudiere (their website). I ordered escargot for entre, a cheese-walnut tart with salad and potatoes, and for dessert, crème brulee. Loïc picked a regional Chablis and a red for the table. It was another excellent meal.

I got back to my room by 10:30 and filled out my notebook. I was unable to log onto the internet. I brushed my teeth and soon went to bed.

6 July, Friday

Several sets of bells tolled at seven. I got up, brushed my teeth, and took a shower. We had breakfast at 8. I had coffee, sliced baguette, old cheese Epoise, aged ham, croissant with bramble honey, and yogurt.

We checked out and I bought an unusual candlestick holder for Anne (I hope it makes it through airport security; it did!).

We went to several Jurassic outcrops and saw some coral reefs. I took lots of photos.

We drove on to Irancy and stopped at the Gabin et Felix Richoux winery. Here we tasted wines from the same grapes and the same plots, but from different years. We started at 2013 and had a taste from each year to 2008. It was amazing the difference, largely based on weather differences for each year.

We walked down the street to a restaurant Le Soufflot on Rue Soufflot, named after the famous architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot (Wikipedia entry), who designed the Pantheon in Paris. I had smoked salmon for entrée and grilled beef for main course. Loïc chose a red wine for the table.

We walked back to our care and drove a short distance to a nice overlook for photos and then hit the road for a long drive to our next city.

We stopped at a Lutetian age (Eocene) paleontologic site, La Cave aux Coquillages (their website) in Fleury-la-Riviere. In this case, it had been a cave dug into the soft Eocene limestone for storage of wine or champagne. The owners discovered many fossil sea shells and converted it into a sort of walk-through museum. The large Campanile giganteum (Wikipedia entry) marine snails were especially impressive. I took lots of photos. They also had their own champagne and we tasted it.

We drove to Épernay in the heart of Champagne country and stayed at an interstate-type hotel, Hotel Campanile, without any charm.

After ten minutes we re-boarded out car and went to downtown Épernay to a very nice restaurant, La Table Kobus (Michelin rated)(their website). I ordered lamb rolled up and wrapped with thin ham. Everyone laughed when I ordered because I really butchered the pronunciation. I had a local dark beer for drink. For dessert, I had an apricot dish and cafe americano.

We then walked along the Avenue de Champagne (Wikipedia entry) with all the champagne company mansions lit up at night.

We got back to the hotel just before midnight. Everyone is very happy because France just won the next round in football. I brushed my teeth, and wrote in my journal. I went to bed a little after midnight.

7 July, Saturday

I got up at 7:30, brushed my teeth, and took a shower. I also packed up. I then joined the others for breakfast. I had ham, emmenthaler, something like yogurt (fromage blanc, Wikipedia entry), really good honey, cut fruit, croissant, crepe, and lots of coffee. All of our meals have been included, which was a pleasant surprise. We have had excellent meals throughout this trip.

We loaded into our car at 9 and headed toward Reims (rrahns). We went to the famous Reims Cathedral (Wikipedia entry) where most of the French kings were crowned.

Next we toured the Vranken-Pommery Champagne cellars. These were galleries that were dug into Cretaceous chalk. At the end of the tour we tasted a Brut and a vintage champagne.

We stopped at a boulangerie-patisserie and got a variety of things to try for lunch. We drove a bit and found a picnic area, and had our lunch.

 We drove a short distance to Chartillion sur Marne and saw the large statue of Pope Urban II who infamously started the first Crusade (Wikipedia entry). He was from this village. This stop was actually planned for Friday, but we cut it to save time.

After that, we had a long drive back to Paris. We ended up at Curie University campus of Sorbonne. We said our good-byes and I walked a short distance to my next hotel, Hotel Saint Christophe on Rue Lacepede. The desk had my reservation, but it started tomorrow. Somehow, I miscalculated (I did not receive the updated itinery until a couple of days before I left). However, they had room, so I was able to check in. I got to my room about six.

Because our days in the field were very long, I didn't have time to type my journal. Over the next few days, I should be able to do that.

I washed three of my shirts in the sink, and hung them on my little balcony. I don't think it will rain.

I went out for a little walk. I made my way to Place de la Contrescarpe again. It is a busy Saturday evening. The Place is ringed by cafes and everybody is out, and the weather is nice. I managed to find a seat at an outdoor café, Delmas. I ordered Kronebourg 1664 beer and sat and watched the people. It's nice to relax for a change.

After awhile, I went back to my room and sent out some email journal entries. I did not eat dinner because I was not hungry. I went to bed shortly after.

8 July, Sunday

I got up around 7:30 and brushed my teeth. My three shirts were dry so I folded them and washed two more and hung them out to dry. I also typed some more.

The last couple of days, my short pants developed a large hole in the left front pocket. I went to the front desk and asked for a needle and thread. The two ladies gave me a tiny needle and some thread, but none of us could thread the needle, nor even see the eye. The only other needle they had was a large embroidery needle. I took it to my room and repaired the pocket, then returned the needle.

I then went for a morning walk north and south on Rue Monge. There was hardly any traffic this early Sunday morning. I luckily came across a farmers' market at Place Monge which was very interesting. I took lots of photos.

When I came back to my room, it was being cleaned, so I went to the lobby to write in my journal. I met several people from South Africa as they were checking in. They were also attending the conference. They were all vertebrate paleontologists.

When my room was cleaned I returned to it and typed for hours. I was able to catch up to today in my journal. I sent out many email entries.

At 3:15 I walked to Curie University and to the IPC5 registration. I got my credentials, program, cloth bag, and many other items. They also had a nice spread of wine and cheeses, bread, and fruit. I ate a lot of the cheeses, there were five or six varieties. I talked to several people I knew, but not as many as I expected.

Three of us went to the Place de la Contrescarpe and had a Kronebourg beer. It's pretty warm, but in the shade, it's not too bad.

The conference starts tomorrow and there is nothing planned for tonight. I walked a bit and then returned to my room. I washed the shirt I wore today and hung it out to dry. I took a shower and then caught up in my journal. I am assuming I won't have a whole lot to write about during the conference.

I brushed my teeth and then studied the program for tomorrow's talks. I went to bed by 11.

9 July, Monday

I got up at 7:30 and brushed my teeth. I removed my shirt from the balcony railing and folded it up. I typed out yesterday's entry and sent it out.

I went to the breakfast room in the basement. Breakfast is not included in my room rate. I waited and waited, meanwhile the lady served other people who came in later. She just did not notice me. I finally got up and left. I went to a café a short distance from the hotel and got a nice coffee and croissant. I sat outside and read my program. There will be coffee breaks during the conference so I won't need breakfast after today.

I went to the plenary sessions and saw invited talks about fossil wood in southern Africa, early animal life, and giant dinosaurs of Argentina.

For lunch, I walked back to Delmas on Place de la Contrescarpe and had a salmon club sandwich on flat bread, a salad, french fries, and a red wine from Irancy (where we had been). This seems to be my hangout café.

After lunch I went to a long series of talks on the Ediacaran fossils. I was able to stay awake for most of it. I was glad to see more old friends from previous trips. The talks ended at six and I walked back to my hotel.

I am still absolutely stuffed from my late lunch. I walked to Delmas again and had a beer and stayed a long time to people watch.

At 9:30 I went back to my room and wrote in my journal. I did my evening ablutions and then went to bed.

10 July, Tuesday

I got up at 7 and brushed my teeth. I went down to breakfast and this time the lady noticed me. I said good morning to the vertebrate paleontologists as well. I had coffee, baguette, and jam. I studied the program for this morning's talks. It is cloudy for a change, so I may take my umbrella.

I took a shower, washed out yesterday's shirt, and hung it out to dry.

I went to the morning sessions including one on large igneous provinces and extinctions, Ediacaran and Cambrian faunas, and another on Devonian faunas. I did not eat lunch, but had coffee and snacks at the coffee breaks. I attended Ediacaran and Cambrian talks in the afternoon. I found out from my friend Markus Arretz that the next Carboniferous Congress will be in Cologne in 2019. I plan to attend.

At six we left the sessions and a thousand of us walked to the back of the museum for a group photo. After that we went into the Grande Galerie de L'Evolution of the Museum of Natural History, closed for us to have a "Dinotoire" with lots of food and champagne.

After an hour or so there, I went to Place de la Contrescarpe again and had a beer. Apparently tonight is a big football night and France beat Belgium in a close game, that means France will be #1 or #2 in the World Cup in Russia. It was very loud and the crowds were rowdy. I filmed part of it. And I clapped and chanted with them, having no idea what they were saying.

I got back to my hotel by ten or so and filled out my journal. Many horns are still honking and people are still shouting.

11 July, Wednesday

I got up at 7:30. I brushed my teeth and went down to breakfast. I had baguette, jam, Gouda cheese, fruit cup, yogurt, and coffee with milk.

I went back to my room, typed out some entries, and sent out email entries. I took a shower and washed and hung out yesterday's shirt.

Today is a non-session day. I'm free this morning, but I have a geological walk this afternoon. I read the guidebook for the walk in my room.

About ten, I walked to the paleontological building at the far corner of the museum/botanical-garden complex. I bought my 9 euro ticket and went in. It is set up in the classic style, especially the invertebrate floor with display case and underlying collection drawers. I took lots of photos including some from Big Bone Lick, Kentucky.

A little after noon, I walked to Rue Monge and found the café/restaurant "le village Monge." I had roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, bread, and a Broilly white wine from Burgundy.

When I finished, I walked quickly to a meeting point at the museum for a geological walk through the Latin Quarter. It was interesting and we had lots of good discussion. I also saw more of my old friends that I hadn't seen yet. We saw lots of military aircraft flying overhead the duration of our walk; this is practice for Bastille Day which will be this Saturday. We ended up at a Roman arena built almost 2,000 years ago. I took lots of photos.

I then went back to my room about 4 pm. I took a nap and then filled out my journal. I typed some, and backed up my photos. I also went over the program for tomorrow morning. I did not go out to eat because I was still full from lunch. I watched BBC and then went to bed by 9:30.

12 July, Thursday

I got up at 7:30 and brushed my teeth. I went down to breakfast and had a granola-like cereal, fruit cup, croissant, cheese, and coffee. I went back to my room and took a shower and then headed out to the talks.

I went to a series of talks on lagerstätten (look it up in Wikipedia, lagerstätte) in the same lecture theatre that Lamarck used.

After that I went to my room. I may be coming down with a cold or allergies and tonight is the conference dinner. I had a rest, hoping to nip it in the bud.

At 5:30, I took another shower and got ready for the dinner. I'm taking my sport coat although it is warm out.

I left the hotel at six and walked to the quay at the eastern end of the botanical gardens of the museum. Hundreds of us waited there for our two restaurant boats for our big conference dinner. This is not the normal stop for the boats and there was no room at the quay for them to dock, so hundreds of us had to walk to a bridge, cross the Seine, and then walk back to a boat slip. Eventually we all got on board. I ended up sitting next to a young German fellow who was working on his PhD in Plymouth, England, and a young Muslim lady and her mother from South Africa. The young lady is a PhD student and she brought her mother along on this trip. The boats cruised up and down the Seine and, as the sky darkened, all the lights came on all over the city. We were served red and white wine, a snack, fish in a sauce with peas and asparagus, and a dessert with red berries, thin cake, meringue, and sauce. The two Muslim ladies adhered to Halal and didn't drink wine or the main course. They had a vegetarian dinner instead.

We ended at the Eiffel Tower at 10:30. No transportation back to the university was offered and most people took metros back. The two Muslim ladies were apprehensive about the Metro, so I walked them back to their hotel about 1.5 hours away. I got back to my hotel by 12:30.

I brushed my teeth, filled out my journal, and went to bed.

13 July, Friday

I got up at eight, brushed my teeth, and took a shower. I washed out yesterday's shirt and hung it out to dry.

I went to the talks a little after 9. Today is the last day of talks. I went to the morning sessions, chiefly ones on fish fossils and fish evolution. I had lots of coffee and pastries at coffee break and looked at some of the poster presentations.

I got back to my room by 12:30. I thought there were afternoon sessions but the morning sessions were the last. There are a few meetings dealing with the next Congress and other congress issues, but I don't usually attend those. I wrote in my journal and typed a bit.

I went to Delmas at Contrescarpe again. I had a large hamburger, fries, and a Kronebourg 1664 beer. It was too much to finish. I stayed there for hours though. I walked north to the Seine again, but I was not hungry enough for dinner when the time came.

I eventually made my way back to my room where I typed, sent out email entries, and backed up my camera. I watched a little BBC and then went to bed.

14 July, Saturday

Happy Bastille Day!

Let me tell you how I spent Bastille Day. I started early, at 1 am, my stomach started hurting. You could hear the thump, thump, thump of bands playing up and down the neighborhood. By three, my stomach was hurting so badly that I couldn't sleep. It's the worst stomach ache I've ever had. This wasn't the usual travelers stomach problems with vomiting and diarrhea. There was none of that. I couldn't get in any comfortable position, lying down, sitting, standing or walking, so I did all of those for the next three hours. I had several cases of dry heaves, but nothing else.

At six I went down to the desk and asked the night clerk to call the hospital. An ambulance came and took me to the University Hospital—I did not know where I was at the time. They did a bunch of tests and took blood and urine. They said that my dry heaves were from the pain, I didn't know pain could do that. After the tests, they gave me morphine. The morphine finally kicked in and I was able to rest for a change.

The doctor came in and confirmed that my illness wasn't an infection. He pushed on my stomach and back some more and told me that I had kidney stones. I had considered that as one of the possibilities myself, but had had no experience with them to know.

After the morphine wore off, they gave me different IV drugs that targeted the kidney stones and the pain they cause. That seemed to work very well. Around noon the doctor came around and gave me prescriptions, but he thought that the worst of it was over. I thanked him and he said I was free to go. They will send me a bill.

My cell phone still had a charge when I left, so I opened the maps app. It turns out that I was at the University Hospital and about 1-2 miles from my hotel. It was a nice day, so I walked back to my hotel.

When I got to my room I took a shower and washed out my shirt. The shower felt great. I was pretty tired, so I drank some water and took a nap. The nap turned out to be a long sleep, I'm sure I needed it. I filled out my journal and typed it out. I was expecting a lot of neighborhood celebrations this afternoon and evening like we have on July 4th. Most of the people here live in apartments and there are no yards, and, I guess, that makes a difference. Most of the big festivities are planned for the Champs Elysees. And that is too far for me to walk today.

For the evening I stayed in my room and watched the BBC. I went to bed around 10:30.

15 July, Sunday

I heard some thunderstorms throughout the night. I got up at 6:30 and it started raining. I sent out an email entry and then went down to breakfast. I am still not hungry and I haven't eaten since Friday's lunch. But I thought I should eat. I had yogurt, coffee, fruit cup, cheese, and croissant.

Today is a travel day. I start my second geology field trip this afternoon, so I started packing. I also took a shower.

I checked out at 11 and stayed in the lobby till 12. At 12, I walked to the meeting point for the field trip to Anjou. My left kidney started hurting again. I found the group and told the leader that I had been sick. I started getting pretty bad pains for the first two hours of traveling. One of my Chinese friends, Huang, talked to me to help me keep my mind off the pain, and it really helped. After about two hours, it subsided and I could sleep. It was not as bad as yesterday's pain.

We arrived at a complex of caves dug into the Miocene rock, Les Perrieres Centre (their website) in Doué-La-Fontaine. This is part museum and part hostel. All the men are in a couple of rooms on the ground floor and the women are on the floor above. These are very nice facilities.

They had a computer projector and we watched the big France-Croatia game in Moscow. France won and everyone was very happy here. I drank two small beers in hopes of flushing my kidneys.

I took a shower, but had no towel. I was a little wet for awhile. We went to dinner and had vegetables with couscous, green beans, bread, apple pie, and Anjou rouge and blanc.

I went to be in the dorm about ten.

16 July, Monday

I got up at 7:30, but didn't sleep much because of dormitory sleeping. Someone was up every half hour, or snoring. I did feel much better, however. I found that taking naproxen reduced inflammation of the kidney and I had no pain. I brushed my teeth and went to breakfast at 8. We all had the same thing, baguette, butter, jam, drink, Frosted Flakes, milk. For drink I had coffee with milk. They gave several of us towels and soap.

We went to the field and saw some interesting sites. The field trip is "Fieldtrip Booklet: Anjou Noir, Anjou Blanc, Anjou Rouge: Paleontology and Geology of the Loire Valley," by Fabrice Redois, Damien Germain, and Gael Clement. The director from the Angers Natural History Museum, Benoit Mellier, joined us and he sat next to me. We talked a lot and he asked me where I was from. I said Kentucky. He said he really liked a musician from Kentucky and he asked me if I'd ever heard of Bill Monroe. He started playing the banjo because he was amazed at Bill Monroe's music. I told him that my daughter, Nora also played the banjo.

We visited a historical outcrop, La Roche de Mûrs and the nearby vineyard. La Roche de Mûrs is where Royalists forced six hundred Republicans over the cliff to their deaths during the French Revolution. This is an outcrop of Ordovician and Silurian strata. We talked to the owner of the nearby vineyard and his spokesman. At lunch in a park, we had sandwiches, etc., and tried some of their wine. It was very good. The owner gave me his card with photograph.

We stopped at a Pennsylvanian-age pull-apart basin and saw an old coal mine and associated geology. People collected some plant fossils from the spoil pile.

We went to a Peugeot car lot, walked behind it and looked at an Ordovician-Silurian contact with graptolites.

We also went to the natural history museum in Angers and had a private sparkling wine party provided by city officials. We spent several hours at the museum, it was closed to the public while we were there.

The bus driver, Francois, took us back to the caves where we were staying and we had dinner. We had bread, vegetables, salad, potatoes, fish, broccoli, and red and white wine. I also had beer for my kidneys. After dinner, I took a shower.

People gathered in the courtyard and played Petanque (Wikipedia entry), much like bocce ball. The balls were metallic and much heavier, and the polina was called cochonella (?), little pig. Then I went to bed around 11:30.

17 July, Tuesday

I got up at 7:45 and brushed my teeth. Then I went to breakfast. I had a nectarine, baguette, jam, butter, cereal, and lots of coffee. I mixed some with hot chocolate to have mocha. Back at the dorm, I caught up on my journal.

We started our field trip and Benoit sat next to me again, wearing a "I love banjo music" T-shirt. We stopped at a quarry and collected very many ammonites and other fossils from the Middle Jurassic limestones. I gave my fossils away, but took lots of photos. The bus driver, Francois, got into it and collected a large quantity. We were all given yellow vests with IPC5 on it to keep as a souvenir.

We got back on the bus for our next stop for lunch. We went to a park below the Montreuil-Bellay castle and had a nice ham and cheese sandwich, potato chips, and red and white wine. I also had a nectarine.

We walked from the lunch stop up a hill to the Montreuil-Bellay castle (Wikipedia entry) part of which dates back to the 11th century.

We re-boarded our bus and had a 25-minute ride to our next stop. We stopped at Ackerman winery and toured their caverns cut into Late Cretaceous limestones. They make sparkling wines and we sampled a white, pink, and red. My favorite was the red.

We got back on the bus and drove along the Loire River. We stopped at a small UNESCO world heritage town, Saint-Saturnin-sur-Loire, and looked at Eocene sandstones close to City Hall. We had a nice view of the Loire Valley.
We next headed to an old windmill close to a castle. This was Domaine Bablut (their website) and the tasting cellar was in the stone part, or lower part of a windmill. The windmill is no longer there. We met the owner, Mr. Daviau, whose family owned the domaine since the 16th century. The wine we tasted was called "Ordovician" because the grapes were grown on Ordovician slates. It was a very nice white wine. The winery itself is located on Ordovician-Silurian sandstone.
We went back to our cave dormitory. The mayor of this town, Douné La Fontaine, gave us a champagne reception and he welcomed us to the area.

Then a truck with a large, round oven came and made special pocket bread. When that was ready, we sliced o pen the pockets and put a variety of ingredients into it. Choices were minced pork, minced salmon, baked pork, herb butter, butter, goat cheese, and camembert. If you wanted a sweet one, they had home-made jams, salted caramel, chocolate, and other things. We also had a large variety of wines especially chosen for us by one of the crew.

A young man, Valentine, showed us his special fossil collection which was amazing. The specimens had been specially prepared and shown in display cases.

This was our big end-of-fieldtrip party and we all had a great time. Everyone sang songs from their country.

I went back to the dorm at 12, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

18 July, Wednesday

I got up at 7:30, brushed my teeth, and took a shower. I went to breakfast and had baguette, butter, home-made pear jam, Frosted Flakes, and lots of coffee with milk and hot chocolate. After breakfast I packed.

We had a tour through the caves which was fabulous. It was an amazing audio and video art exhibition, very creative and effective, but hard to record.

After the tour, we loaded onto the bus with our luggage. After a long ride, we got to a stone structure called a "dolmen." These are Neolithic burial chambers that originally had been covered by small rocks and dirt. The large stones were Eocene quartz sands with some bioturbation. We had our picnic lunch there. I had a baguette with tuna fish, mayonnaise, lettuce and very ripe tomatoes. I also had potato chips, golden apple, and a beer and red wine. After the nice lunch, we got back on the bus. Today will be a hot day.

We stopped at a quarry in Eocene sediments to look at marine sands, very loosely cemented. I heard a very melodic bird; Damien told me it was the Alouette bird (a skylark), namesake of the song. We found shark teeth, other vertebrate bones and teeth, bivalve shells, and lots of bryozoans, and parasitic corals on bryozoans. It was indeed hot and sunny. I drank lots of water and took my anti-inflammatory. After and hour or so, we got back on the bus.

We headed toward Sauvigné in the Tours region, not in Anjou region. We visited a nice natural history and history museum there and saw lots of fossils from the Miocene strata from which we had collected earlier. We had an afternoon coffee in the garden and the leaders, who were staying behind, said their goodbyes. This was the last stop of the field trip and now we head back for Paris.

We stopped at a truck stop to fill up the bus at 4:30 and most of us got an ice cream bar. In Paris, we arrived at the museum gardens entrance next to the Seine where we initially met for our field trip. We said our goodbyes and I walked about a mile to my new hotel, Hotel Des Nations St. Germain on Rue Monge, about two blocks from my last hotel. I checked in by 8 and took my things to the room. I wanted to watch the news, but the TV system wasn't working. People were telling me that I should be seeing what Trump is doing with Putin, but I couldn't see.

Anyway, I walked to Delmas on Place de la Contrescarpe again and had a Kronebourg 1664 beer and a Delmas bowl, a big salad with nice greens, goat cheese, rainbow radishes, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, quinoa, dressing, and bread. After I finished, I had a glass of Irancy red. It was a comfortable evening and a popular place. Several musicians played.

After the meal I went back to my room and washed out three shirts from the fieldtrip, and a pair of socks. I also took a shower. I hung the shirts out on the small balcony and filled out my notebook. I brushed my teeth, took my flatulence pills and went to bed by 11:30.

19 July, Thursday

I slept in and got up at 8:30. I brushed my teeth and went down to breakfast. I had whole wheat toast, butter, marmalade, ham, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, dried fruit, and lots of coffee. I will pay for breakfast because it's not included; I will pay when I check out.

My hotel is on Rue Monge, not too busy, but a larger street than my two previous hotels. My room is on the street side and I am only one floor above street level. The room is quiet, however.

Today is my only relaxation day for a long time. When it was time for the cleaning lady to come, I went to the lobby and read the New York Times. I was shocked. I spent a good hour reading it. After finishing that, I went back to my room. She still hadn't gotten to it, but she came to the door as I was leaving. I said bon jour to her and left to spend some time.

I walked to Contrescarpe again and had a large beer and watched the people. I didn't eat because I had a large breakfast. After a couple of hours, I went back and the room was clean. I filled out my notebook. My shirts and socks were dry, so I brought them in and folded them.

I looked for any English news channel, but there were none available at this hotel. I ended up watching Hercule Poirot in English with French subtitles.

At 8 pm, I went to Delmas again and the whole Place was packed. I finally found a crowded seat and ordered the Italian Salad, Kronebourg, and Irancy. Half of the salad was like a chunky capenade with wild capers, olives, etc. It was topped with thin slices of country ham (prosciutto). The other half was mozzarella with spices on greens and eggplant slice. There was also a nice ripe tomato. The salad was served with sliced baguette.

I was pretty crowded by a guy who felt the need to swing his arms wildly while he talked to his lady. I thought he would knock all my dishes over. He even hit the cellphone in my back pocket. I let him know I was there and it stopped. Otherwise, it was a nice evening.

I got back to my room at ten and filled out my journal. I brushed my tooth, took my pills, and went to bed after watching some mindless French TV.

 20 July, Friday

I woke up at 7:30, but got up at 8. I brushed my teeth and went down to breakfast. I had pretty much what I had yesterday, bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, scrambled eggs, wheat toast, jam, butter, and lots of coffee. I had a long breakfast, reading the New York Times International Edition.

I got back to my room by 9:30, and took a shower. I packed my things and checked out by 11:30. I caught a taxi to my next hotel beyond the Arc d' Triumph. I had planned to walk there, but my recent renal reality rendered me reticent to rally forth in such a manner, especially in the heat of the day.

I got to my new hotel, Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile by 12:30. I was met by Becky Regan, our tour manager for Collette Tours. She filled me in on details of the tour that I am now starting.

I left the hotel a little after 1 pm to walk around. I found my way to Avenue de la Grande Armee. I walked to the Arc d'Triumph and stopped at a couple of many motorcycle shops along the way. At the Harley shop, I bought a couple of T-shirts and a pin. I showed them a video of my Pan. They were impressed and asked me questions about it. I also showed them a photo of my Fatboy.

On the way back, I bought my kidneys a large Urthiel Belgian beer. They said merci.

At 3:45, we met in the lobby with the new group. There are 27 people, mostly couples around my age. They were tourists and most had not traveled much. They were Canadians and Americans, no other nationality.

After our briefing, we boarded our bus and went to the boat quay on the Seine. There were thousands of people there trying to board the tour boats going up and down the Seine. We already had our own tickets so we boarded directly. Our boat did become pretty crowded. We went up and down the Seine looking at the sights. If I had known in advanced what the boat tour was like, I probably would have bailed out.

After awhile, we docked and got back on our bus. We went to the Bastille area, the bus let us out and we walked to the Bofinger Restaurant (not pronounced like you think). It was an interesting old-style restaurant. I had French onion soup for entre, Scottish salmon, mashed potatoes for main course. I had a red wine for drink, but they didn't leave the bottle for us to examine. For dessert, we had a dish with three small items, a small crème brulee, chocolate mousse, and a small éclair.

After that nice meal, we re-boarded our bus and returned to the hotel. I was pretty tired. I got to my room around 10:30. I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth, and took my pills. I watched CNN and BBC, nice to be able to see news for a change. I went to bed about 11:15.

21 July, Saturday

I had a pretty rough night for about an hour last night, till I took two more naproxen tablets (four for the evening). I got up at 6:45. I read messages from Anne about very destructive storms in Lexington. She is still without power and there are trees down everywhere.

I went to down to breakfast, which is included. There is a tremendous variety of everything to eat. They even had kumquats. I had croissant, coconut, pineapple, fig, kumquats, prosciutto, other ham, nice blue cheese, and lots of coffee.

I went back to my room and took a shower. And I gathered my things for the morning tour. I went to the lobby at 8:15 and then we all boarded the bus for our city tour. We got out to get in line for Notre Dame. I didn't want to do that so they told me to wait for them at a cafe. So I sat at the cafe and people watched. At 10:30, we met back and got on the bus. We toured the Left Bank, which I already knew. We then went to the Right Bank and saw some of the things there. I took lots of photos.

The tour ended at 12 at the Louvre. Some had signed up for an afternoon tour of the Louvre and those people got off the bus there. Some left to go exploring on their own. The bus then took people to the Eiffel Tower. I stayed on the bus and was dropped off at the hotel.

I got my prescriptions and walked across the street to a pharmacy. I got three prescriptions filled that were written at the hospital, one is a special anti-inflammatory targeting the kidneys, one was a medicine to protect the stomach before a meal (perhaps the first medicine irritates the stomach), and the last is a pain killer.

I put my pills in my room and walked down the Avenue de la Grand Armee again, and stopped at an outdoor café (same on as before). I got a formula plate that included a choice of entre and choice of main course. For entre, I got a molded terrine that included chicken and vegetables on top of a tomato sauce. My main course was ribs d' porc a la provencal which also came with a vegetable couscous and some greens and dressing. It was all good. I had an Urthiel beer for drink.

After lunch, I took the long way back to my room, roaming a few neighborhoods. When I got back to my room, I took another shower. Then I filled out my notebook and typed it out on my computer. I also backed up my camera.

At around 7:30, I went back to my café and ordered the foie gras maison and a glass of St. Chinion red wine. I spent a long time there, and then wandered through the neighborhoods back to my hotel by 10 pm. I filled out my journal and packed most of my things. We leave at 8 tomorrow.

I brushed my teeth, took my pills, watched a little TV, and went to bed at 10:30.

22 July, Sunday

I woke up throughout the morning, not wanting to oversleep. I got up at 6:20 and brushed my teeth. I went down to breakfast at 6:30, when they opened. I had kumquats (which I put in my pocket later), cut coconut, fresh pineapple, and strawberries. I also had croissant, prosciutto, scrambled eggs, cheese, roasted tomato half, and sweet potato dish. I also had two big cups of coffee.

I went back to my room and took a quick shower, and then brought my luggage to the lobby. While waiting, I filled out my journal.

We boarded our bus for a long ride to Caen (kohn). We stopped at a truck stop, but there were so many buses and tourists there, that I couldn't use the toilets.

We got to the Peace Museum (Le Memorial de Caen, Wikipedia entry) in Caen and went through it. We watched a movie and then had a guided tour through the museum about World War II.

We then went to Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and the Juno Beach Canadian cemetery. It was all a sobering experience about war.

We drove to our hotel, Mercure Centrepoint Hotel in Caen. Three of us walked to a nice outdoor café about three or four blocks away. I had a fried goat cheese wonton salad for entre, and a confite du canard for main course with french fries. I had a 1664 beer for my kidneys and we shared a bottle of Burgoygne red from Beaune (where I had been a couple of weeks ago). It was a nice meal.

I got back to my room around 11, and took a quick shower, took my pills, and filled out my journal. I went to bed by 11:40.

23 July, Monday

I got up at 6:20, brushed my teeth, and went down to breakfast. I had bacon, ham, cheese, croissant, yogurt, and coffee. I went back to my room and took a shower.

We boarded the bus at 8 and went to the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. Over 10,000 soldiers are buried there. We also went to the interpretive center, which was very informative.

From there, we went to Omaha Beach. The losses here were much higher than that of any of the other D-Day beaches—2,400 American lives.

After that, we went to Pointe du Hoc where the Rangers had to scale the cliffs with ropes in order to destroy emplaced German guns in concrete bunkers. I went in one of the bunkers.

We went to the town of Sainte Mère Église where some of the paratroopers landed. Three of us went to a café and I had grilled ham and French fries, and a Stella beer.

After lunch, I walked to the local church to look at bullet holes in the door and the strange roof. Red Buttons, in The Longest Day, played the real character, John Steel, whose parachute got caught on the church roof. He played dead for several days so that the Germans wouldn't shoot him. The church has an effigy of this man on their roof and wall. The stain glass windows also depict the paratroopers' landing.

I then walked through the excellent paratrooper museum. We got back to the bus by 3:40.

We then went to Utah Beach. It is a beautiful day, and there is a nice breeze. Sunbathers are laying out on the beach. It's hard to believe there was a fierce battle here.

We went to the German cemetery where over 21,000 German soldiers are buried. The markers are flat on the ground and there are several bodies under one marker. This was our last stop of the day.

We had a 45-minute ride back to the hotel, and Becky played an Andrew Sisters CD through the bus speakers.

We got back to the hotel and met soon after (7 pm). We walked across the street for our group dinner at Le Carlotta. The restaurant had an interesting interior. I had a seafood salad with mackerel, fish roe, greens, potatoes, and dill. My main course was a cod dish with mashed potatoes, mashed broccoli, and a bit of mushrooms and capanade. I had "Floating Island" (meringue in a vanilla sauce) and caramel. I had red wine to drink but they never leave the bottle so that we can see what we're getting.

After the nice dinner, I went to my room, filled out my journal, typed it up, and sent out a couple of email entries.

I packed my things, brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed by 10:30.

24 July, Tuesday

I got up at 6:20 and brushed my teeth. I went down to breakfast and had the same things that I had yesterday. After breakfast, I went back to my room and took a shower, and finished packing. I took my things down to the lobby and boarded the bus at eight.

We had a 45-minute ride to Bayeaux where we got out and walked to the Bayeaux tapestry museum. As you know, the tapestry commemorates the lead-up to and the outcome of the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of King Harold by William the Conqueror. It is truly amazing that the tapestry has survived for such a long time.

We got back on the bus and had a 2-hour drive to Dinan. We got out at Dinan at 11:30 and scattered to get lunches at different places. Those of us on the walking tour met at the information center at 1:05. I had no time for lunch. We had a guide and walked through this scenic and picturesque town. I took lots of photos. Most of us stopped at a bar close to the bus and had a cold beer while waiting.

At 3:30, we boarded the bus and headed to St. Malo (a locality in All the Light We Cannot See). We got there a little after 4 and checked into our rooms at Hotel Oceana. I have extra time, which is unusual, so I took a quick shower and washed out two shirts. I also updated my journal and typed some more.

About 7, we met in the lobby and walked through the winding streets to our restaurant, Restaurant L'Absinthe (their website). I had a sweet and savory roasted peach and sobrassada sausage entre, and then pork tenderloin with candied shallots for main course, and a raspberry pavlova for dessert. I had red wine for drink. This was the best house red I have had for several days.

After dinner, we walked back, and I was in my room by 9:45. I filled out my journal. There is no English language news channel available at this hotel. I brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed.

25 July, Wednesday

I got up at 6:15, brushed my teeth, and went down to breakfast by 6:30. I was the first person there for a long time. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, croissant, cut fruit bowl, yogurt, and lots of coffee. I enjoyed talking to some of the others on the trip.

I went back to my room, and took a shower and got ready for the day. It may be windy so I'm bringing my sport jacket. We took the bus to Mont St. Michel. We parked and walked to a shuttle loading area. We took the shuttle to the base of Mont St. Michel. I took photos of the tidal flats and tidal channels. The tide appears to be going out. We walked up the narrow and very busy pedestrian street lined with shops and cafes. We got to the top and took the Abbey audio tour. I took lots of photos.
Afterwards, I walked with several groups. Five of us stopped at a creperie. I had a salad with goat cheese and toast points and I bought a bottle of regional specialty, a dry (brut) cidre (cider). After that, we filtered back to the shuttles and rode back to the bus.

We had a long drive back to St. Malo. I went to my room and worked on my journal and computer. After a shower, I went out for dinner.

St. Malo has a large Old Town that is surrounded by ramparts. I walked the ramparts all around the Old Town and took lots of photos. It was all very scenic. I then walked through many of the streets. In the old days, the guards let loose twenty or so English Mastiffs after ten o'clock curfew. Anyone out after curfew was mauled by the dogs. I had a beer at the place they used to keep the dogs.

I then found a nice restaurant near the Porte de Dinan. I had a very large bowl of mussels, and a nice white wine the waitress had suggested. It was all excellent.

After dinner, I wandered the streets a little more and then went back to my room. I brushed my teeth, took my flatulence pills, and went to bed by 10:30.

26 July, Thursday

I got up at 6:20 and went to breakfast at 6:30. I had a bowl of granola (muesli) and milk, and then scrambled eggs and small sausages. I also had lots of coffee.

I went back to my room, took a quick shower, and packed up. I was down in the lobby by 7:30. I boarded the bus and began filling out my journal. We have a very long bus ride today to get to the Loire valley.

We stopped at Chinon, and scattered to different cafes along the street. I had a salad with avocados, tomatoes, and fried chick strips. I had a beer and water for drink. It is very hot today. Apparently it was 94 degrees F and the sun is fierce.

We then took an elevator up the hill to get to castle ruins (Chateau de Chinon, Wikipedia entry) on the top of the hill. This is the place where Jean d'Arc convinced Charles VII to go to Riemes to get anointed as King of France, instead of Henry II of England who also wanted to be king. We toured the remnants of the castle under the hot sun. I took lots of photos.

We got back on the bus and headed toward out hotel, the Abbey of Fontevraud, which is also a museum (Wikipedia link). This hotel doesn't have air conditioning, but it does have a fan in each room. I turned mine on. I washed out three shirts and hung them in the room to dry. I took a shower, which felt great.

At seven, we all met in a large dining hall. We had Ackerman white sparkling wine. I had been at this vineyard during our field trip last week (see 17 July) when we went to the Anjou region. We were served three courses. I've already forgotten what was in them because they were all complex combinations fresh from the market. I did take photos too. The chef here has won awards and I don't doubt it. He came out and talked to Becky, I'm not sure I got his photo though. His name is Thibaut Ruggeri according to the room brochure. All the flavors were complex and bright. We had water and the Fontevraud labeled red wine to drink.

I went back to my room and filled out my journal. I brushed my teeth and took my pills. After watching a little BBC News, I went to bed by 10:30.

27 July, Friday

I developed a head cold over night. One minute my sinuses were like concrete, the next, like a watering can. There was coughing and sneezing as well. I got up at seven and went down to breakfast at 7:30 when they opened. I had poached eggs, ham, goat cheese, bread, granola, and lots of coffee.

We gathered at the lobby and walked half a click to the bus by 8:30. We headed to Chateau de Chenonceau (Wikipedia entry). We got out and walked to the Chateau. We had an audio tour and I took many photos. It was crowded.

We got back on the bus and made our way to Amboise. We walked to a series of cafes. I sat with Becky, our guide. We shared a menu of crepes. First came a savory crepe made with buckwheat flour. It had ham, emmentaler cheese, potatoes, and spices. I had brut cidre and water to drink. It is another very hot day. Next came the dessert crepe made of white flour and covered with honey and roasted almonds. I'm glad we shared, because it would have been too much for one person.

After lunch, we got back on the bus and rode a short distance to Chateau de Clos Luce (Wikipedia entry), where Leonardo da Vinci lived out his last three years. Anne and I had listened to a series of CD's of a recent book about Leonardo. I took lots of photos again.

We got back on the bus. We rode to the Chinon area. We went to the Domaine de Noir winery. After the short tour by the owner, Jean Marc (?), we tasted about six wines. My favorite was the last, a red one, Caracteur (sp.).

We then boarded the bus and went back to the hotel. I took a shower to cool down. I watched some BBC News, filled out my journal, and went to bed by 10:30.

28 July, Saturday

My sinuses were not as bad as last night, but still active. I got up at 7 and brushed my teeth.

I went to breakfast in the dining hall, and had poached eggs, ham, nice bread, croissant, granola, yogurt, aged goat cheese, and lots of coffee.

I went back to my room and took a shower. I finished packing and walked half a click to the bus at 9. Today is all bus ride with comfort stops along the way. We are headed to Lyon.

At eleven, we mad a stop and I got an ice cream. We got back on the bus and after awhile, I saw the high mountains of the Massif Central (Wikipedia entry), which are about the same height as the Smoky Mountains. I was not expecting them to be that high. We made another stop in the afternoon and I got another ice cream.

We got to Lyon about five and checked into our rooms. I was in mine about 5:15. My room is a handicap room and there is a seat in the shower. It is not that comfortable while taking a shower.

We met in the lobby at 6:30 and took the bus across the two rivers to a Bouchon Les Lyonnaises restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnais regional food. For entre, I had a pork sausage in gravy and salad. For main course, I had anduillette tripe sausage (not at all like the andouille sausage of the States). For dessert I had a sweet praline pie. Our start drink was cassis mixed with white wine. For dinner I had red wine and water. Everything was excellent. I was only one of two who ordered the anduillette and I'm glad I did.

We took the bus back to the hotel and I was back in my room by 10. I brushed my teeth, took my pills, and filled out my journal. I went to bed by 10:30.

29 July, Sunday

My cold has moved down to my lungs and I have a tickling cough. I got up at 6:30, brushed my teeth, and went down to breakfast. I was still full from last night's meal. I had bacon, scrambled eggs, croissant, and coffee.

I went back to my room and packed up. I also took my morning shower.

Paul Bocuse
Paul Bocuse

At 8:30 we met in the lobby and boarded our bus. We have a city guide with us and he is very entertaining. We had a bus tour, getting out occasionally and walking around. We visited a food market and he talked about local food and the famous chef that was from here. We toured around the Roman and later age areas of Lyon. It was very interesting.

At the end, we scattered for lunch. I ate by myself at another Lyonnais bouchon, Le Palais St. Jean. I had a formula menu. For entre I had onion soup. For main course, I had medium-rare flank steak. For dessert, I had creme brulee. I had Chardonnay for the first part, and Hermitage red wine for second part, all regional wines. It was all good and I took my time.

We met back at the bus at 2 and proceeded to Avignon. This is a long bus ride. We made a comfort stop at 4:15. I saw lots of mountains on both sides of the road, but I don't know if these are still part of the Massif Central.

We were in Avignon about 5:30, and slowly made our way up into the fortified Old Town to our hotel, Hotel Mercure Avignon Centre Palais des Papes by 6:45. The temperature is in the mid 90's. My single room is pretty small. I washed out three shirts and hung them in the room to dry. I then took a shower. I was hoping to catch some news but the television doesn't work. At least WiFi does. I also filled out my notebook and typed some out. I then sent out two email entries.

I went down to the hotel cafe which is outside in a plaza with lots of trees. Many cicadas were making their chorus. I had a liter of Belgian Jupiler beer. That took an hour. Then I went back to my room, brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed.

30 July, Monday

I got up at 7, brushed my teeth, and then went down to breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, croissant, and lots of coffee. They also had Tabasco sauce which I used liberally. They had a machine that made orange juice automatically from whole oranges. The machine had a hopper full of oranges, a wheel rotated and oranges dropped into sockets on the wheel. As the wheel turned, it sliced and squeezed the orange to make juice. Neat, so I had some.

After breakfast, I took my morning shower. It is supposed to get up to 103 degrees F the next three days.

We met in the lobby at 9 and met our Avignon guide, Benoit. We walked a short distance to the Papal Palace (14th century) and he described the building and the history of the Avignon papacy. I took lots of photos. We also walked to other sites on the upper hill as well. We ended a little after noon.

Five of us went to the cafe in the plaza close to our hotel. We had charcuterie and other items and Jupiler beer.

After that, I went to my room and took a cooling shower.

After cooling down, I went out for a walk. I went to two of the city gates. After 1.5 hours, I retreated to my room to take another shower, and cool down. I am drinking water to stay hydrated and keep my kidneys happy.

At 5:15, we met in the lobby and walked a click down to the bus. The bus took us to another part of Old Town to the restaurant, Maison de la Tour. The chef had worked with Paul Bocuse at some point. I had Pissaladiere (tart with anchovies), mussels in white butter sauce over risotto, and creme brulee. For an encore, the chef brought three people up from our group to demonstrate how to make creme brulee. It was all entertaining, education, and funny (I got his recipe too). The food was excellent.

We walked back to the bus. The bus drove to our part of Avignon, and then we walked to our hotel. By the time we got back, it was warm, but no blazingly hot.

I brushed my teeth, took my pills, and filled out my journal. I went to bed at ten.

31 July, Tuesday

I got up at 7, brushed my teeth, and went down to breakfast. The breakfast room was crowded because there are at least two tour groups here. I had coffee, scrambled eggs, tabasco sauce, sausage, and croissant. It was too crowded to get anything else.

After breakfast, I went to my room, took a shower, and packed up. I went to the lobby by 9:15 and walked to the bus.

We headed south or southeast. We first passed mountains of the Luberon range, and then the Alpilles (Alp foothills).

We got to Antibes about noon and walked around the Old Town. I walked to the beach and stuck my feet into the Mediterranean. The temperature is now in the upper 90's. I went back to Old Town and sat with some friends and had a 1664 beer. It's too hot to eat.

We walked back to the bus by 2, and proceeded to Gras. The bus stopped at the Fragonard perfumery. Four of us decided not to do the perfume factory tour and walked up the hill in 98 degree temperature to a bar and had some beers. We had a great time telling stories. At the allotted time, we returned to the bus.

We then drove to Nice. We checked into La Splendid on Victor Hugo street.

Becky led a walk to the beach and to Old Town and left us there to find our cafes. I wandered around with others for awhile and finally just struck out on my own.

I found my way back to the hotel, had a Paulaner beer, and then went to my room. The television works, so I watched the news in English. I washed out today's shirt and hung it out on my balcony. I then typed out some of my journal. I backed up my camera as well.

I brushed my teeth and took my pills, and went to bed a little after ten.

1 August, Wednesday

I got up at 7, and went up to breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, croissant, cut fruit, yogurt, and coffee.

At 8, we met in the lobby. We took the bus to the edge of Old Town and walked to the center where there was a long pedestrian area lined with trees. In the mornings, it is a flower market. Not only are there flowers, but there is produce, charcuterie, and artwork. It is hot and humid already. We met back at the bus at 9:30.

We headed across a series of very scenic mountain highways to Monaco. After parking under the aquatic museum where Jacque Cousteau worked, we walked up the hill to the Royal Palace. We watched the changing of the guard ceremony under a brutal sun. We roamed around for cafes, but I just couldn't eat in the heat.

We then caught a city bus to Monte Carlo (you can see it from the Royal Palace, so it's not far). We got out and walked around. Temperatures was 103 degrees F and very humid. There was little shade and very little breeze. We didn't have anything to do but wait in the sun for a couple of hours. This was not good for my kidneys, and I drank two bottles of water. This was the most miserable day of my entire stay in France. In front of the casino were Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, high-end Porsches and Mercedes, and a Corvette.

When Becky returned, we walked to our bus, and rode back to our hotel.

At the hotel, I got my boarding passes printed out for tomorrow's flights. My new updated schedule from the airlines makes for a very tight series of connections. I always plan to have time to make connections, but the airlines just change everything according to their whim. There is nothing I can do about it.

I was back in my room by 4:30 or 5. I took a shower to cool down. We are supposed to have another dinner tonight, but I couldn't bring myself to attend. I had a beer in the hotel and then went back to my room.

I watched CNN till the signal failed for some reason, and then I watched BBC. I also typed out my journal, and backed up my photos. I couldn't send out emails because something blocked most of my access to several sites that I use.

I brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed early because tomorrow is an early travel day.

2 August, Thursday

I was afraid of over sleeping, so I didn't sleep much in the morning. I got up about 6:30 and took a shower. I finished packing and went down to the lobby and checked out by 7. Becky came down to see us off and I gave her a tip for the two weeks.

Our shuttle driver picked five of us from Collette and drove us to the airport. We are all on the same flight to Paris. We got to the airport in about 20 minutes. The others went to check-in their luggage, but I went straight to the security area. For some reason my pack was flagged, so I had to stand in a line of others whose carry-on was flagged. Most of the people in front of me had liquids in their luggage even though the signs warned against this. The lady in front of me had some grandkids with her and had never flown before apparently because they spent a long time going through her things. After all that, she decided to check her bags back at check-in. They went through my little red pack but couldn't find anything of interest. I found my gate area, and shortly after the other four from Collette came in. So this time, carry-on didn't save me any time.

I boarded my flight to Paris on Air France (DL8396) around 9:40 and made it to Paris about 11:45. I made my way to the international terminal 2E-M and went through Passport Control and then airport security again. I boarded my Delta Flight (DL0099) to Detroit at about 12:30. I watched "The Shape of Water," which was a little better than I expected, and then "Saving Private Ryan" again because I had been to Omaha Beach a couple of weeks ago and wanted to see it through new eyes. Part of it was actually filmed at Omaha Beach because I recognized the pill box (or at least they had a good facsimile of it). I also recognized the cemetery for Omaha Beach and had walked along those very paths. I was served some chicken with broccoli and risotto, the chicken was not very good, but I ate the risotto, a small bun, cheese and crackers. I didn't eat the salad because I was afraid of stomach issues. I had red wine and water for drink. I watched parts of other movies not worth remembering.

We landed in Detroit about 4:10 pm. I went through Passport control which was very confusing because they kept switching me from one line to another, each longer than the earlier line. It made no sense. Then, of course, I had to go through airport security again. I hate this kind of travelling. I barely made it to my next flight to Lexington (DL3743) around 5:15 pm, I was the last to board. I switched on my phone and got a text message out to my family that I had made my last flight. We got to Lexington about 6:50. Anne texted that she was waiting in the car queue outside. My entire travel, about 18 hours, was in daylight, because my flights followed the sun. Anne drove me home showing me some of the storm damage and downed trees following the storm two weeks ago. Even my dog was glad to see me. It's good to be home.

Au revoir!