Thursday, August 07, 2014

France 2014 - Day 2 - Paris to Bayeux

Our second day in France, Sunday, was the official start of the trip with Vermont Bike Tours.  We had breakfast and then gathered outside to board the shuttle bus with our fellow travelers.

Our trip leaders would be meeting us in Bayeux 2.5 hours away.

Warning:  There will be A LOT of selfies during this trip.

After almost an hour of driving I couldn't stand the silence anymore, I was also driving Aimee crazy.  I walked to the front of the bus and introduced myself.  I led everyone through introductions which helped break the ice and started many conversations.  Our trip-mates would be Dylan & Vicki, Frank, Alex, Linda & Neil, Bob & Sharen, Jim, Joe, Rich & Maryanne, Gary & Sheila, Brenda and Tanya.

In Bayeux we met our trip leaders Bruno and Sophie.  From the very beginning this husband/wife team was friendly and looking forward to giving us the best trip possible.  As Bruno took our luggage to the hotel in town, Sophie took us around town for a small tour.  We had two days to experience the small town feel of Bayeux.
Mill wheel powered by the river that flows through town.

Bayeux of many we will see on the trip

Our group touring Bayeux

The first of many Yellow Cars we will see.

The history of Bayeux is very extensive but during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day it is important to know that Bayeux was liberated by the American forces on June 7th.   One day after the landing this town was reclaimed and the damaged was very minor.  Considering the amount of damage incurred at other towns due to bombings and deliberate destruction by the German Army, it was a miracle  Bayeux survived like it did.  The majority of buildings are original. 

After the tour we had some time to unpack, get some lunch and walk around the town on our own.  Aimee and I grabbed a ham & cheese baguette from a small shop and ate outside.  Walking back to the hotel we bought a meringue pastry that had a layer of cream filling.  The box it was packaged in felt empty as we walked out the door, but it was oh so delicious. 

We re-grouped and were fitted on our bikes.  Once Sophie and Bruno gave their safety talk we headed out for a quick 8 mile ride.
Bruno and Sophie

Ready to ride

Dylan (son) and Vicki (mom)

On bike selfie

Back at the hotel I made some minor adjustments to my bike and took it back out for a short ride through town.  This allowed me to get my bearings in the town on my own.  We still had time to kill so Aimee and I visited The Bayeux Tapestry.  This historic tapestry is 229 feet long, 19 inches high and relates the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, from 1064 to the outcome of the Battle of Hastings.  It is an impressive work of art and is listed as a "Memory of the World" by UNESCO.  There are so many details involved that the audio tour couldn't cover it all but told a great story.

Back at the hotel we had our first dinner together as a group.  Our hotel Le Lion d'Or took care of us with food and lodging just as it did for the English press during World War II. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

France 2014 - Day 1 - Paris

Aimee and I were long overdue for a true vacation.  Especially one that didn't revolve around a race, like Ironman.  Once we finished Ironman Wisconsin we knew 2014 would be the year of the big travel.

We looked at so many options and were becoming overwhelmed until we found this one trip to France.  We would be in the Normandy and Brittany regions visiting historical places such as Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.  Being the 70th anniversary of D-Day we thought this trip would be perfect.  The timing was also perfect because we would finish back in Paris the day before Stage 21 of the Tour de France.  We extended our trip by 3 days so we could watch the final stage of the Tour and properly visit Paris.

This post and the ones that follow will provide a glimpse into our trip.

Friday July 18 was a travel day.  We flew from CLE to ATL to CDG.  The overnight flight was completely uneventful except for me taking Aimee towards the incorrect concourse in ATL.  Yes, I was already getting Aimee lost and we hadn't even made it out of the US.  We decided it was just part of the fun we would be having.

We landed at CDG (Charles de Gualle) airport at 5:30AM....France time.  This is 11:30PM US time and we had been up since 6AM.  We transferred to our hotel and got to our room.  We power napped for about 4 hours before freshening up and heading out.

Seasoned travelers have said to get on local time quickly in order to avoid jet lag.  We hit a nearby plaza for lunch and to plan out where to visit.  Our hotel was in the  Bercy section of the 12th Arrondissement  We walked through Le Parc Bercy towards the Seine River.

We walked along the Seine to the Batobus station.  Batobus is a boat that you can hop on-off all you want at 8 different spots.  This would prove to be a great mode of transportation for us. 

Once we got off the boat we walked along the Champs Elysees.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting.  It was very commercial and reminded me of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago full of trendy shop, restaurants, and movie cinemas.

There were several store fronts related to the auto industry.  Race cars and concept cars were in two different stores.  This is for my friends who like F1 racing.

This is the Fly Emirates team store.  In the states it would be a Browns team shop with Johnny Manziel jerseys instead of a soccer team.

The metal barricades were already in place for the Tour de France that would be arriving in one week.

So we walked up to the Arc de Triomphe just to get a view.  We would tour it when we returned to Paris.

Back to the Batobus and a quick stop at the Eiffel Tower.

Of course the Eiffel Tower is photographed a lot and there will be more pictures to come.

As soon as we got to the Eiffel Tower a cold front blew through and it started to rain.  Aimee had her umbrella and the tower actually provided some good cover from the rain.

After the rain stopped some more pictures before heading back to the hotel. 

This group of cyclists came down the road and were greeted as if they were the Tour de France.  Once we got home I looked them up.  These are employees of Taylor Wessing finishing their charity ride from London.  Read about it here.