We spent just over one week in France, starting in Paris with Stu's competition to "green" a major international manufacturing industry. His team didn't win, but man, they really did a great job! They were competing against teams from India, China, and Malaysia among others, and blew the presentation to the panel of judges out of the water. And it was a great idea, one that needs to be implemented eventually and his team plans to protect, so hopefully, there will be life-after-competition!
|The Q&A session in front of the judges|
|My very corporate-looking husband. Somebody give this guy a job!|
|We even spent a day at the Paris Air Show, the grand daddy of international air fairs. It was fun (sort of).|
|The SSE Team, which I was made an honorary member of.|
Our hotel was just blocks from the Eiffel Tower, and though he had a jam-packed schedule, I got a little sight-seeing free time in and hung out with friends.
|Notre Dame, check!|
Stu got ONE day of actual non-competition Paris time, and said his trip would be complete with A) seeing Notre Dame B) Going to the Louvre and C) eat a crepe. We got two out of the three, since we generally kept ourselves stuffed to the gills with heavy French food, we didn't have any late-nite crepe callings. BUT my friend Alex is a tour guide at the Louvre, and she gave us our own awesome tour of the museum on Friday evening, so I think B) outweighed the crepe thing altogether.
|Anabelle and I|
|The heaven that was Ble Sucré, which I had heard of the *last* time I was in town. Seriously, when in Paris, go to there.|
|The only picture I got with Alexandra|
|The Louvre pyramid, from the inside|
After Paris, we took the train with Anabelle down to Saintes (outside of Bordeaux) where our friends Pierre & My got married. We stayed in a nun's cell in an abbey built in 1046.
It started off so proper and Catholic, but after many bottles of lovely French wines and champagnes and all the gazillions of toasts that Swedes seem to do at weddings, by the end of the night (or should I say early, early morning?) it was basically utter debauchery.
|The groom, the best man, some unidentified Frenchy, and Stu. Dancing?|
It was 3am. I was asleep.
Then we rented a car and road-tripped our way from the Languedoc through Provence to the French Riviera--from Bordeaux to Nice--over the next several days.
|French chocolate milk. It really makes you feel healthy, drinking something called "Candy 'Up"|
We stopped the first night in Carcassonne, the fortress city with walls built up by Celts, Romans, Goths, Franks, Visigoths, and Ostragoths over time. They call the towers 'witches hats,' done in an 1800s renovation. It is a COOL little city, and we stayed in a super charming B&B.
|The view of the cathedral from our bedroom window|
Then we drove through Provence, stopping in Nimes, where they have some of the most intact Roman ruins in the world. We *would* have gone into their amphitheater (a smaller, better version of Rome's Colloseum) but Bobby McFerrin was playing later that evening, so we skipped it. But how cool to see a concert in a 1st century Roman ruin!? Portishead and Ben Harper are making stops later this summer...
Then we drove through the Cote D'Azure, staying one night in Antibes, in a lovely little hotel with a pool and a short walk from one of the few sandy beaches. It was super relaxing. That is, *after* we finally found the place (thanks to the wrong Google maps directions in a roadwork zone and rush-hour traffic in the blinding sun!) Starving, we ate at the closest restaurant, which also happened to display every snooty French restaurant stereotype you can think of, and our 2 small plates of pasta and one glass of wine for Stu cost a whopping $74. Antibes is beautiful, but also not cheap.
|Antibes, at sunset|
|Our tiny stretch of sandy beach|
|The rocks of most of Antibes coast line, and a little friend|
And then super early, we took the train from Nice to Florence, which started the Italy leg of our final European tour...