France 2006 Travel Home Page!
Well, let's start at the beginning. In the Fall of 2004, I found the 'premier edition' of the travel magazine, En France Magazine, on an aircraft, and it was awesome. The descriptions were amazing, and the photos were enticing. (Unfortunately, it appears it is no longer in publication.) I noticed a sweepstakes for a free 1 week river yacht contest. I entered, honestly not expecting to win. About 4 months later, I sent what I thought was a well worded, in French, question as to who had actually won the Contest. I received a short response, in English, that I would have known had I won. Not one week later, I received a large package in the mail with the notice that I HAD WON! (The postmark was prior to my e-mail.)
I had several scheduling concerns that Connoisseur Cruise Lines/Crown Blue Line, and Ms. Debbie Petermann in particular, handled my concerns with absolutely amazing grace. I explained to her, via e-mail, that I had already made prior commitments for 2 long international voyages in 2005, a wedding in Italy and a trip to Australia to visit our Godson, Patrick, and the rest of the Windle family. The problem was, I was given 1 year from the date of the award. She quickly evaluated the request and extended my award to 2006, as long as it wasn't 'high season', which was not a problem for me. Cindy and I were planning on a Spring voyage to Europe anyway. With the additional time already taken care of, the next decision was which area of France and which river(s). After much discussion with Cindy and friends, we settled on Brittany (Bretagne). This was mostly because neither Cindy nor I had been to this region before. In addition, the area has a large Celtic influence, so the castles and churches should be quite interesting.
In the mean time, we had to decide who to ask on our little voyage. The first two people asked were David and Lesly Windle. Unfortunately, between the time we received word of the award and the time we had to make the decision, they had decided to move back to Australia to be closer to his family. After them we asked my brother Scott and his wife Cathy, and they quickly accepted. I then quickly decided, with the consent of my wife, Cindy, to ask Danielle, my oldest brother Grant's daughter, if she would like to come. The only stipulation was she had to 'try' to study the language. She did try, but the materials I gave her to study were too advanced for her age. French in Action, by Pierre Capretz, is actually a 2 year Yale University college course of study. Along with her, we asked her mom, Cindy, if she would like to join us. OK, we then had our 6 people for a 4+2 boat.
Next, my brother Scott was asked to plot a 'course' for us based upon the original plan for our trip, from Nort sur Erdre and then back again. He spent some time planning this, when about 3 weeks out, the company notified us that we would have a one way boat, instead of a round trip boat. I was elated. We would now start in the lovely little town of Messac, and finish up our voyage in Nort sur Erdre. This meant more to see, more opportunities, and more adventure with virtually no passing the same place twice. This also meant that the original efforts of Scott were for naught. The bonus was that the Company was waiving the normal 1 way fee due to the late change! At the bottom of the page is our very general map of the area we traveled.
Cindy and I started our voyage to France with Cindy, my brother Grants wife, and his daughter Danielle, on Easter Sunday, April 16th, 2006. After the normal zany breakfast at the Rainbow Restaurant in Mundelein, the whole family headed back to the folks for the annual Easter Basket hunt.
After this, we set off for the airport. We sat down in the terminal and I'm told by fellow Mechanics that our aircraft was struck by lightning and an equipment change moves us to a new aircraft. Considering the rainy and nasty weather in the afternoon at O'Hare, I was thinking this was not an auspicious beginning to our trip. Little did I know how wrong I could be. We were lucky in that all 4 of us obtained Business Class for the trip to Paris! The service was perfection. Our crew was exemplary, and the voyage went off without even the most minor glitch, after departing the gate.
For purposes of brevity, Cindy (G) will indicate my brother Grant's wife Cindy.
Now, here's where the pages start:
I've decided to break this down into days, based upon the insane number of photographs available by day. (Consider, there were 4 people in Paris with 4 digital cameras, and on the boat, there were 6 people with 6 digital cameras.)
I'll try to briefly 'describe' each day for you, to help you decide which you want to view.
Remember, each page will be quite large, so please be patient when loading the page.
Also, as a reminder, in order to ensure the photos are properly aligned with the captions, please close all secondary windows (Favorites, History, etc) in your Web Browser; i.e. Explorer, Firefox, etc... I plan on trying to set up cells for the photos and their captions in the future.
Here's one large river map we used for the general plan of attack for the route.
We started at Messac/Guipry. We stopped overnight in Beslé, Redon, La Roche-Bernard, Blain, Sucé sur Erdre, Nantes and finally Nort-sur-Erdre. We obviously stopped numerous times along the way as well.
Completed Pages: (Completed for the purposes of this web-site means simply that the pages are formatted and the basic explanations have been added, it does not mean that I have completely perfected the information and formatting. I honestly doubt that will ever be done to my total satisfaction.)
April 16/17th - April 16th (Chicago
departure) and April 17th (Paris arrival)
April 18th - Tuileries Gardens, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and Palais de Chaillot
April 19th - La Madeleine, Paris Opera, Holy Trinity, Bateaux Mouches boat tour and Gare St. Lazarre
April 20th - Musée d'Orsay, Musée du Louvre, Centre George Pompidou
April 21st - Meet up with Scott/Kate - Notre Dame, St. Etienne, Panthéon, St. Séverin & the Lion of Belfort
April 22nd - Off we go to Brittany (Bretagne) to get the boat, Messac-Guipry & Sainte-Anne sur Vilaine!
April 23rd - Beslé, Brain sur Vilaine & Redon
April 24th - Leaving Redon & La Roche Bernard
April 25th - Rieux, Guenrouët & Blain
April 26th - long canal ride and Sucé sur Erdre
April 27th - River Erdre & Nantes
April 28th - Nantes, the river Erdre & Nord sur Erdre
April 29th - Drop off the boat, ride back to Paris, and say goodbye to Scott/Kate.
April 30th - Mass at Notre Dame (with Gregorian chant), St. Sulpice, Luxembourg Gardens and the Catacombs!
May 1st - Return home