Saturday, July 13, 2013

An Interesting Chateau

When we moved to France, people said: 'you must visit some chateaus'. So, when our friends came to visit us, we thought we had better visit a castle. I am just not sure that any of us were expecting this!

Savigny-les-Beaune, just west of Beaune, is in an area well-known for its wine but what we found at the Chateau had little to do with wine, except that it does have a vineyard.

Built originally in the 1340s, destroyed in 1478 by Louis XI, the chateau was reconstructed in the 1600s. The property is beautiful with some formal gardens and other areas of wildflowers.  

Initially, the furnishings are typical but I thought the lovely library in the turret could have used a few more books.

Yes, you are seeing correctly those are motorcycles and the shelves are filled with bits of engines, oil tanks and cans and other mechanical bits and pieces. And that was not all. A long reception room is filled with more motorcycles, bicycles, model planes and more.

One building was dedicated to the Abarth and various other brand advertising. Another was filled with farm and some viticulture machinery.

Outside, there were planes and more planes and just when you thought you had seen it all there were bits of planes and then some firetrucks.

While it wasn't quite what we expected from a 17th century chateau - it certainly was interesting. And with the company, well, it was a pretty perfect day!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back to Auvergne

Unlike many expats, we are spoiled by having a crowd of friends already in France and more returning each year. Unfortunately, they are about three hours away - too far for just a day trip and, with swim practice, kayaking and volleyball, it is hard to make a weekend of it. But last July (2013) we were able to go for a weekend to discover some of the sights of the countryside near Clermont-Ferrand. Our friends have an amazing house, with wonderful views and cows as neighbours, who could ask for anything more? Well, they also have great hiking all around including Puy de Sancy. It was a long steady climb but with five children under the age of 12, I was amazed how little complaining we heard - no "my legs are tired" from any of them. I not sure if it was the company or the landscape - probably a bit of both plus the reward of cable car trip down! 

It was a wonderful day and a fantastic weekend since we also got to see some of our other (ex) expat friends. 

It might have been July but there were still little piles of snow in protected areas.

View from the cable car on the way down.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


One thing about being in the French school system is that the history and geography that the girl learns is very different from what we were learning in Nova Scotia at the same age and, even though it is much older, in many ways it is much more tangible. So, at the end of grade 3 the girl is learning about the Gauls, the Romans and Vercingetorix so we can drive about 1.5 hours northwest to Alise-Sainte-Reine to visit the Alesia the site of the Roman victory over the Gauls in 52BC. Take that Columbus in 1492! (yes, I know things on the other side of the pond go back much further than that but now you can't get that ocean blue thing out of your head can you?) 

We had a beautiful day to visit and were able to enjoy some demonstrations of the protective gear and weapons which were used at the time.

The museum part is very well done, with lots of interactive displays about the history and the study of the site - although I must admit these guys were kind of creepy.

The park consists of two parts - the interpretation centre and an archaeological site of a Gallo-roman town about 3 km away so we stopped at a little park to have a picnic lunch and were carefully watched by Vercingetorix himself.