Month: August 2015

Chenonceau

Last weekend we drove up the valley to visit another Château (when in Loire…) – this time the beautiful Château Chenonceau, which spans the river Cher. I had seen many photos of this château and was entranced by the way it reflects on the water, and knew that I wanted to go there. The photo above is the best I could do with the reflection of the west façade, there was a definite current in the river that day, so the water wasn’t as glassy as I would’ve liked. I also managed to forget my dslr in Loches, so I did my best and managed with my iPhone. In typical Lesley fashion, I was swayed by it’s looks, and learned nothing of it’s history before going. Lucky for me I married a history buff, so Derek takes care of reading any pamphlets, websites, plaques etc. On our sight-seeing days, the kids (and myself, I admit) can often be heard saying “where’s dad? Oh, he’s reading another plaque.” Anyhow, it serves us well, as we all come out of …

Nightwalk

We took a little walk around town the other night, to see it all lit up against dark blue skies. Clearly I need to work on my night photography, as it is pretty lacking (and i forgot my tripod) but the kids enjoyed being out in the dark. Everything had a bit of an eerie glow, you could almost imagine the lives that have passed through these walls…

DaVinci

Last weekend, we drove up to Amboise to visit the Château du Clos Lucé, which was Leonardo DaVinci’s home for the last three years of his life. He was invited by France’s King Francis I to live in the Château, where he would devote himself to perfecting his inventions. Outside the Clos Lucé is the Parc Leonardo DaVinci, a beautiful sprawling park with a stream, pond, beautiful weeping willows and forested groves. Throughout the park, there are full-sized working replicas of DaVinci’s machines — pretty awesome for the kids especially as it gets them more involved and excited about the history. Throughout the Parc there are many oversized translucent panels of DaVinci’s works and sketches hung in the trees. At first I thought that sounded really cheesy (and so might you!) but the effect was actually pretty cool, and seeing Mona Lisa smiling at you in the trees is pretty dreamy. The house itself was fairly basic as far as Châteaux go, with bedrooms, studio, dining room and kitchen. There were a number of really beautiful tapestries hanging on the walls, and frescoes painted …

Tournesols

I’ve been waiting over a month to get some pics of the amazing as-far-as-your-eye-can-see sunflower fields. The sheer volume of sunflowers blows my mind! Today we finally had the chance to pull over so I could snap some pics (there aren’t that many pullouts on the country roads around here…) Lucky for me, I had a very willing assistant.

Juno

The memorial sculpture “Remembrance and Renewal” by Canadian artist Colin Gibson outside the  Juno Beach Centre. As a bit of a WW2 history buff I was super excited to head up to Normandy during our first road trip last weekend. This area is littered with museums, attractions, cemeteries, etc., all commemorating the D-Day invasion and the Allied push through France, the low countries and into Western Germany in the final year of the Second World War. Realizing that dragging Lesley and the kids from one historic site to another wasn’t going to happen, we settled on going to Juno Beach, the site of the landing of Canadian forces during the D-Day invasion. Compromises eh! We ended up staying in a small apartment in Langrune-sur-Mer, just east of St. Aubin-sur-Mer. It was pretty surreal to spend our days soaking up sun, playing and swimming on these stretches of beaches that had such a history. “Juno Beach”, one of 5 landing sectors on D-Day, is a 6 mile stretch of Normandy coastline running from the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer …

Honfleur

I thought I’d share a glimpse into our day trip to Honfleur last weekend. Just an hour’s drive from our little apartment in Langrune-sur-Mer, it was a nice easy drive through the always-gorgeous golden french countryside. We ate a quick lunch in the heart of the town before setting off to explore the inner harbour and the many narrow winding streets. It was ridiculously charming, every corner bringing us to yet another beautiful street lined with quaint shops, boulangeries, chocolateries, cider houses, book stores, boutiques, artist galleries…overload for the senses, really. We spent some time checking out the inner harbour. Completely surrounded by restaurants and bars, there are umbrellas and tables set up all around, with gorgeous ancient buildings looming up behind them. It is cool to think that this was the place where most French Canadians set off for Canada, ending up in Québec and the Maritime provinces. Honfleur is also home to France’s largest wooden church, Saint-Catherine’s. It’s clock tower is built separately from the main structure in case lightning struck the tower, it would prevent fire from …

Lower Normandy

Last weekend, we embarked on our first of what will hopefully be many road trips over the course of our year in France. Derek is super busy with work at the moment and really only had two days to spare. So, we took a quick trip over to the coast of Normandy, easily accessible and super gorgeous. We found a little place on AirBnB in the tiny town of Langrune-sur-Mer, just a few minutes’ walk to the beach. The beach at Langrune is at the far end of the miles-long stretch that is Juno Beach – full of history from WWII and especially poignant for us Canadians. We did visit the Juno Beach Centre and museum, a short drive from our apartment. Derek will share a post on that later, but let’s just say it was awe-inspiring. When we arrived at our apartment in the afternoon, we dropped our stuff and headed back to the beach. Danica simply couldn’t resist dipping her toes in the Atlantic. We are truly a coastal family, and having not seen the ocean …