Posted by: octogirl7 | December 15, 2014

a mad dash

In the spirit of the first will be last, i start my Paris posts from yesterday, instead of from the first day in the lovely land of France!

Alex had booked us train tix to Rouen. We arrived at Gare St. Lazare in plenty of time, so we opted to go across the street from the station.  We were delighted to see that they had “Brunch” which included eggs, ham, bread (is there any restaurant in Paris without bread?) and fruit, yogurt with raspberry puree and of course, coffee.  And we got to have dessert too…lava chocolate cake!  in a nice sauce of vanilla with cocoa whisked on top.  Perfect, right?

Except intrepid Alex, upon opening the cute little jar of fruit, found mold on top.  At first, he optimistically thought it might be spices, but the blue color told him otherwise.  We checked my jar and found the same thing!  We called the waiter and he looked dismayed.  He asked if we wanted something else instead of the fruit…I replied No, merci before consulting with hubby, who later told me that if he had understood the question, he would have asked for creme brulee!

Oh, did I forget to mention that one of Alex’s goals is to have creme brulee every day we are in town?!  He is not kidding. I can feel my waistline expanding as I type that.  And nothing says I have to eat it every time he does….

So we got to the train station and found places to await our train.  There was actually a Yamaha piano, that was there so we could play!  So I played a bit of Fur Elise in my very rusty piano memory.  Then we went to the train departure board, to find that the track we would be taking didn’t yet have our track listed.  They only list when the train is within 20 minutes of arriving.  So once we got within that time frame, the track # immediately came up and there was a mad dash for the train!  Us and about 100 other people.  Luckily, the train was long….More on the mad dash #2 later..

So we sat on the train and were accompanied with 4 later-in-life-ladies.  They had hiking boots and walking sticks.  Turned out later that they thought they got on the wrong train, so there was some push and pull with the train officials.  They were on the right train, so it was very to cute to see them realize that and breathe their various sighs of relief. They were very cute and found us quite interesting.  Not interesting enough to talk to us, though.  I’m sure they thought me Canadian, since I was wearing my Montreal ball cap.  I am nothing if not a fashion plate!

And I must add: it is very frustrating to see all those French women!  They are so well put together that I soon gave up trying to be that chic.  We are having fun, so that’s the important thing.

It is funny, though, how all the shop keepers immediately know we are not French.

So we got to Rouen, after about an hour on the train, with various stops on the way.  (These stops will become important on the return trip.)

Lovely Gothic building just across from the train station.  It took up an entire huge city block.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were enjoying seeing what we thought was the cathedral we had come to town for, but this turned out to be the Palais du Justice! Alex noted the pock marks, which were reminders of World War II, when the town was bombed.

And for those of you who don’t know your French history, this is also the town where Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was eventually burned. And may I add FOR SHAME!  French people burning Joan just because she heard voices from God. The nerve!

We did eventually find the cathedral and since mass was about to start, we wandered around to view the markets.  Crepes being made right before our eyes, a Ferris wheel, cheese shop, wine shop, jewelry, etc.

I had made more or less of a pledge to NOT get so carried away with postcards this time, so I bought only a couple.  They have a cool series of Normandy cards…i’ll try to remember to take a picture so you can see.  They are amusing and fun.  And very Normand!

It was COLD.  Luckily, I had my vest, overcoat, gloves, and scarves.  We needed it all.

So after mass was over, I wandered inside the cathedral, as Alex investigated the markets.


I told Alex I could easily understand how one could be impressed by God when there are such immense places to worship Him!  There were folks at the mass, but not a full cathedral.  I can only wonder how many people that would take to fill up such a large building.

and of course, stained glass, which I have yet to really figure out how to photograph well:


Fuzzy, but you get the drift.  I was told on our previous trip that stained glass was introduced to help those who couldn’t read understand Bible stories.  Whatever it takes!

So we wandered around town looking in the shop windows, many of which were closed, as it was Sunday. Finally my loving partner demanded food.  We found some places, also closed, so were in a growing ill humor until we landed upon Cafe de Rouen, oddly named…ha.

Lovely steak with great fries, and salad.  (We discovered this morning that our omelets were accompanied by salad too! It’s a good thing..) And, come to find out they also had creme brulee.  So we had the 3rd of 3 days brulee.  The amazing thing is that they are all different!  One in our favorite restaurant, Fous de l’iles, Theirs was pistachio creme brulee, which was good.  Then we had two other “regular” creme brulee.  Still good!

We noted that when wandering around, two meals a day seems to work out.  We have a breakfast (not just a croissant) and then later in the afternoon a meal.  OK I admit I had some wine.  I am not going to say I will not have wine while here.  (Wedding at Cana)

Then we visited the museum of Fine Arts.  Nice museum, but I noted that first of all, the paintings all looked really fresh, which to me meant they had been retouched and updated with fresh colors.  I don’t know that for sure, but I do know my French language skills didn’t reach to explaining that question to any of the museum folks! Alex and I both agreed that the painters represented were not their best works.  Still worth a visit.

Then we had two hours until the train.  After finding out that we could not exchange our online purchased tickets for the earlier train, we waited in the station until our train was announced.  And another mad dash for the train!

Turns out that this was the FINAL train of the day bound for Paris, and boy oh boy, was everyone eager to get on it. And I mean EVERYONE!

We couldn’t decide and I didn’t ask, if they were all workers bound for Paris for the work week, but many of them were French and yet had luggage.  Which ended up meaning that there were people in the aisles and baggage.  I felt sorry for those who had to go down the aisle for the toilets!

One kind young lady did ask if I wanted her seat, and i thanked her but said no, as I didn’t want to be separated from Alex.

And I returned the kindness to another young lady with a horrible cough: I got her attention and threw her one of the cough; drops I had in my pack.  And of course with my bad aim, it landed in the lap of the young man seated next to her.  Arghhh!

Anyway, with 6 stops on the homebound direction train, we had to really mash people in. And the train was stopped for a longer time at each village, since they really did need to scooch people in.   They must really oversell that train.  We weren’t sure if it was because of Christmas shoppers, or if it is always that way.  I do see why they don’t announce the track earlier: they would have masses of people waiting near the track.

So after standing in the aisles for two hours, we did arrive in Paris.  And grabbed the Metro and were home within half an hour.  Very dog tired!  But happy and we slept well.  And yes, they do have a heater in our apartment thank God!

And to end on an amusing note, we did find a store in Rouen called Undiz, which had the following undies:


What a scream!

and for Lisa, Rouen cobblestones:


I like cobbles myself, for photos, though, not walking on!  And I’ll find a way to take pix of them with something else on them, so they are not just the bricks themselves.

I also learned this morning when we were “just going out for some bread” that one should ALWAYS take one’s camera!  and the shopping list! we ended up going to the Monoprix and buying lunch.  And of course, missing many great photos.

C’est la vie!


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