Nantes 17-20 October 2016

Almost the end of the season for city breaks (though we do have a couple more planned!), nothing could compare with our trip to Venice but this was a good antidote to it and a surprisingly lively and youthful city. We are getting very good at airports now and finding the best way into the city centre. This was very straightforward with a shuttle bus just outside the arrivals gate and a short bus ride of 20 minutes into the city centre at Commerce, where all the trams stop. The transport system in Nantes is brilliant with one ticket usable on trains, trams and buses, without travel zones, you just buy a ticket for an hour, a carnet, 24 hours etc etc. We soon got the hang of it and bought a couple of tickets and rode the tram to the end of the line and saw all sorts of aspects of French daily life as well as having a trip to the Ikea which was on one of the tram lines!

We stayed in an Hotel Ibis for economy’s sake but it was also very centrally placed being in the pedestrian zone and equal distance between two grandes places! The Passages Pommerai were just a short distance from the hotel so we were able to make several visits for photographs as well as shopping!

One excellent thing about the drivers in Nantes was they were all so polite to pedestrians! Usually in French towns you don’t venture onto a crossing unless you are very sure the drivers will stop, which they mostly don’t! In Nantes they have sections where there are no road markings, people just cross hither and thither and the traffic has to make the best of it, in consequence they go really slowly, giving way to those on foot and of course everyone gives way to the trams! There are 3 tram routes in Nantes, you can just make out one in the background of the picture below, sadly I didn’t seem to take anymore of them!

The weather was mostly fine although we had a light shower of rain one afternoon as the picture shows. We knew the the Beaux Arts museum was closed for renovations but we found a good Natural History museum and also a Jardin Des Plantes.

The Beaux Arts museum will have to wait for another visit, they are certainly sparing no expense on it!

Eating out was as usual a joy in France, we tried Vietnamese one lunch time as well as excellent seafood and a good meal at La Cigale Restaurant where we were lucky enough to get a table. We had frequent stops for beer, wine and coffee as well as a variety of salads and deserts. A major diet is now called for.

Nantes is a very user friendly type of city with people offering to guide you, even when you didn’t need it! By our last day though we were somewhat tired out, having done about 5 miles walking around a day, so we decided to go to the cinema and saw Mal de Pierres with Marion Cotillard. It was a film without too much dialogue, beautifully shot, so we had no difficulty following it.

Here are a few more shots of the city, in no especial order, all in all a good trip.

A Short Trip to Venice

October 3-7. 2016.

We booked a number of city breaks earlier in the year and the only thing we checked was that the dates didn’t clash, however, as it turned out, we were only back a couple of weeks from France and we were packing our bags again. A quick trip to Bristol airport on Monday and the next thing we knew we were in Venice. A lovely city, not like a city at all and much cleaned up since I was last there. Our travel arrangements worked like a dream and we were soon out and about seeing the sights and soaking up the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many shots in such a short space of time. 

It wasn’t at all crowded off the beaten track,  but you could mingle with the tourists when you so wished. We didn’t queue up to go in any buildings, rather we admired them from the outside and watched ordinary people going about their business. We took a train ride to Trieste on Wednesday, it was as the websights all suggested, past its sell by date, but the weather was a bit overcaste in Venice and Hyw wanted to go, at least the sun was out when we got there! I had some black sandwiches for my lunch!

We had some good meals out and we tended to go to our local cafe, near the hotel at the end of the day. We became quite expert with the vaporetto and really felt at home in the city. On the Thursday we did make an exception to not seeing any art by going to the Accademia to see the Boche paintings which were advertised outside. We hadn’t made it to the museum outside Amsterdam so now was a chance to make up for it. The paintings didn’t disappoint although the Accademia itself could have done with an imaginative curator. 

We must return to Venice, sooner rather than later!

The rest of the holiday

Each day seemed to go by quicker than the one before. The young people made a visit to the Jardins Suspendus, luckily it wasn’t far as I was able to give some of the a lift. They also made a trip down to Cahors before the girls came back from London. Lunches out were always going to be a problem for 11 of us but we got round that by eating in the village, the first time we had a lunch and the second time we had an evening meal, both were excellent, especially the one we had at La Traverse, where I had razor fish. The kids also made a canoe expedition and we caught up with them on a pleasure boat. It was a lovely day and they stopped off to have a drink with us before we caught our boat. Lots of fun was had playing frisbee, in the swimming pool, playing ping pong, watching films and having an excellent evening opening presents from a lucky dip that Maureen arranged and a very noisy sing along evening which followed on from Verity’s game of Timeline.  

Verity and Rich were the first to leave us on Friday afternoon, a very tearful parting with us all putting a brave face on it. They were off for a week in Marseille but they almost didn’t catch their train, they were so slow and saying goodbye to everyone. The boys left first on Saturday morning, with Fi and Nicole – no one wanted to make a big deal of the parting but we got choked up just the same. We left about 20 minutes later and took Matt and Mo to Sarlat before heading north ourselves. The boys were having until Tuesday in Bordeaux and then flying back to Taiwan although there was initially some doubt weather they would be held up by the typhoon. 

We stayed at Illiers Combray, home of Proust, in a very good Logis with a delightful restaurant. The trip to Calais was uneventful, thank heavens, but we could see all the immigrants tents and the roads were ringed with high fences and razor wire! 

Well everyone is back home now and already the holiday seems like a dream. I’ll have to have another one while we plan next years jaunt! Meanwhile we have some wonderful group shots to remember it.

Four more arrive!

Saturday, Matt and Mo arrived by air at Bergerac and then trained up to Sarlat, where Laurie, Gwilym and I were waiting to meet them. We called in at the big Leclercs first as Laurie wanted to buy a trimmer to shave his head! It wasn’t long before Laurie went back to Sarlat for Verity and Rich who had flown into Bordeaux and then trained onward to us. At last we were complete ( except for the girls in London ). Our first trip was to Beynac and Roque Gageac, it was quite a climb to the top of Beynac (most chickened out) and we were delighted to find La Petite Tonnelle restaurant which Laurie had been reading about, where we had a fantastic lunch, courtesy of Maureen.