Sunday, March 29, 2009

My new favorite city

This weekend we packed up the dogs and drove over to Bordeaux.  It's a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house, through rolling hills and vineyards.  Bruce has an old schoolmate who has lived over there for about 10 years and he hasn't seen him in 25 years!   We left Friday morning and came back Saturday night.

We didn't have anyone to watch the chickens or the cat, so being gone for 2 full days was all we could do.  The poor chickens were shut in their coop for 2 days and Maillot had to live outside for a night (in fact 2 nights because she ran out the door at 10:00 pm the night before and didn't come back until we woke up at 7am the next morning).  We stayed at the Hotel Majestic (and they take dogs), it was a wonderful hotel and I recommend it to anyone visiting Bordeaux.  

We had a mix of rain and sun but it wasn't too bad, because the city is just lovely.  It's in fact my new favorite city.  I had hoped to meet Perigrinations but timing wasn't good as she was heading out of town right when we arrived.  So next time, hopefully.

I am very quick to judge and the minute I saw Bordeaux I knew that I loved it.  The architecture reminds me of Paris.  The city is clean thanks to a new Marie, many of the building are being cleaned up.  Seems that they are limestone and soak up all pollution and most of the buildings were black, now they are beautiful and clean.  Sure makes a big difference.

We met Bruce's friend B at our hotel and headed out to lunch.  B is married to N and he has 2 sons from a previous marriage.  It was great to finally meet him.  We had a lovely lunch and then headed back to the hotel to walk the dogs and relax a bit.

We then met up with B and his wife and kids for steak.  We don't each much red meat here, don't find it very good, but this restaurant had amazing steak and we had a great time.
On Saturday we woke up early and took a 3 hour walk around the city with the dogs.  It rained some and all of us were a bit wet, but we had fun anyway.  When it rains it's a good excuse to stop and have a café.

We walked all through the Jardin Public which was so beautiful.

After walking around the city for 3 hours we decided to grab a quick lunch and then had back to the hotel.  Check-out was 11 but they let us keep the car in the garage until 12:30.  We decided to take a drive east to St. Emilion, one of the famous bordeaux growing regions in France.  

The wine here is much more expensive than the wines of the Midi-Pyrenees (of's bordeaux).  So we couldn't buy 12 bottles like we did in Gaillac, we ended up buying 6 and it cost more than the 12!  We'll crack these open when our guests arrive in a couple weeks and in July.   

I can't wait to go back to Bordeaux.  We'd like to take our "village" bikes and ride around as they have bike paths everywhere.  It's a lovely city and I highly recommend you visiting it if you can.  We had a great time.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

An afternoon in Cordes sur Ciel

Approaching Codres sur Ciel

Yesterday was another beautiful day here in France (oh how I love saying that).  We have had 15 days of clear blue skies and warm temps.  We decided to be tourists for an afternoon and packed a picnic lunch and the dogs into the car and headed south to Cordes sur Ciel.  It's only 30 minutes from our house, on a very windy road (Stella and I usually get a bit car sick as Bruce drives our little car really fast around the corners).  We have been to the village many times, but we have never actually walked up to the top.  

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was beautiful.  Cobble streets, tiny turns here and there and a huge arcade (halle - which is a covered square) at the top where we stopped for a café.  The views you get are spectacular. It was very quiet as it was a Monday and it's not tourist season.  We roamed around and took lots of pictures and had a lovely afternoon.

Then on the way home we went by our "little neighbors".  I just love these goats, we drive or ride by them all the time.  Sometimes when we are on the bikes we stop to pet them.  When you stop they all come running across their little field to the fence.  Bruce thinks they look "Satan" like because of their eyes (the slits are horizontal instead of vertical).  But this time I noticed 2 little babies so we had to pull over to see them.  They were the cutest things and when they would nurse their tails moved back and forth super fast.  I think I have to add a couple goats to my "if i lived here full time I'd have to have a...." list.

two adorable babies

he's my favorite, super cool beard

we pass this old structure all the time, Bruce took this shot.

As I'm writing this, it's 9:00 am on Tuesday.  I skipped French class this morning, just didn't feel like going.    We have to take the car in to get it checked out because we are driving it to Belgium in 2 weeks and we want to make sure it's in tip top shape and ask our mechanic if he thinks it will make it - remember it's a 1985 Peugeot station wagon, "Claude" is what we call it. The weather forecast said sunny skies, but it's raining.  WHAT?   I've been so happy with sun and warm.  I'm hoping it will be short and the sun will come out.  If not, it's going to be a gym day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Le printemps est arrivé

We have had the most amazing weather since I decided to stay in France and not go back to Los Angeles for 10 days. Maybe france is telling me something or thanking me for staying. We had 2 really great days this week (well, basically every day here is a great day - but even better when it's sunny and 70). Wednesday we went for a long (3 hour) bike ride. It was the first time since early October that I wore biking shorts (not long insulated biking tights), no hat, no neck warmer, no winter gloves, no "windstopper" booties over my cycling shoes, no 4 layers (smartwool, jersey, long sleeve jersey, wind jacket). It was glorious!

my happy partner

ah, le printemps!

great view

the cutest little guys ever!

These donkeys were so cute.  When we stopped at the side of the road they ran over to the wall for some love.  If we lived here full time I'd have a couple of donkeys.  

Yesterday we went over to Ben & Anke's house in Najac.  Ben has 2 girls from his previous marriage and Anke has 2 girls from her previous marriage.  4 girls, ages 6, 8, 10 and 11 (talk about drama).  We decided to bring the dogs and go for a hike around Najac, down into the valley along the river and back.  A great 2 hours (we did stop for a picnic lunch too - the french always have to stop and eat).  Most of the hike the dogs were off leash, but when we were leaving the village, coming back into the village and passing the sheep farm the dogs had to be leashed - all the girls took turns walking them.

Ben and Lola

Lola walking Dashell (notice the castle of Najac)

Sandra walking Dashell

Chloe walking Dashell and Phoebe walking Stella

The gang!

the sheep farmers home

I'm so glad I decided to stay here in France and not mess up my inner peace with crazy Los Angeles.  We will have to go back in 6-7 months and I'm sure it's going to be hard adjusting, so right now I'm just taking it all in and loving my life and the spring weather.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A change of plans

fresh fruit at the market

bruce dressed up Matheiu like a little french man!

me and my nephew

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling a bit anxious.  I didn't want to go back to Los Angeles. It was a 15 hour flight and well, it was interrupting my year sabbatical.  I checked-in online and printed out my boarding passes, said goodbye to the dogs, cat and chickens and got in the car to head the Toulouse Airport (1 1/2 hour drive).  About 5 minutes into the trip I looked at Bruce and said "I really don't want to go", I was completely serious.  Something inside me, in my gut told me not to go.

I have never had that feeling before and I used to fly 3-4 times a week for years when I was a "suit".  But something said "don't go"  I felt guilty,  it's not like me to make plans like this and then at the last minute change my mind. All the kids and parents knew I was coming,  E&K had their guestroom all set up for me and our staff was waiting for my return.   But I couldn't go. The studio is doing great, the kids are happy, the parents are happy, summer camps are almost full, we have a weekly conference call with Travis to talk about things so we can stay up to date and as hands-on as possible from's OK if I don't go.  So we turned the car around and headed home.  I was so relieved.  I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful, understanding, non-judgemental husband, he's the best!

This morning I woke up in France and I was happy.  We have had a wonderful day today, it's 70 and sunny and warm and so peaceful here in our petite maison in the forest.  I actually laid in the sun and read a book for a few hours only hearing 1 car pass on the road below us in that time.  The only thing you here are busy bees and singing birds, very different from what I would have heard in Los Angeles.  

This is where I belong now.  Soon I will go back to LA, but not now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Tomorrow I'm leaving for Los Angeles.  For 10 days!  I really don't want to go and am not at all excited about it.  It's been 6 months since I have seen my friends, my in-laws, the pacific ocean, our studio.  It's been 6 months since I have driven on the 405, 101, 110, 5, 605, 710 etc...(these are all freeways).  I miss my friends and in-laws and sometimes the pacific ocean, but I love my life here in France and this trip is just messing it up.  But business calls.  Our studio is doing well, but the advice from our accountant/financial planner is to go back and touch base with the parents, our employees, the kids and be a little hands on.  We have been pretty removed from the business since we have been here and although things are going very well, it's time to check-in.  It took us 10 hard years to grow the business into what it is now, we need to make sure it stays successful and that everyone is happy.   It was either me or Bruce and since I'm the "works" side of our business (Art-Works), I was the chosen one.

The hollywood hills

the city of Los Angeles

The Santa Monica Pier

I'll fly from Toulouse to Paris and then Paris to Los Angeles.  I'm staying with our good friends E&K in their lovely home in the hollywood hills.   Thanks to Travis (who is running our studio for us) I have an amazing bike to ride, I had to find a bike or else I'd go crazy.  I have to rent a car and that seems a bit strange.  My afternoons will be spent at the studio.  I'll be able to touch base with all the parents and kids and see how things are running.  I'm there to help the studio continue to thrive, look at things that are working and things that might not be working and discuss ways to improve them. I better put on my "business hat" when I arrive, since I packed that away when we left.

My days will be spent riding (I plan to do as much as possible), going to the DMV to get a new license (I lost mine), seeing friends, my in-laws, shopping for bike stuff for Bruce, getting a pedicure,  buying converse for a friend here (they cost double here in france) and getting a thai massage (the best!).  Maybe if I'm lucky I can get a little tan, I'm so pasty white!

I have never been away from Bruce that long, in 13 years.  I know it might sound crazy, but it's true.  Longest we have been apart is 7 days.  I don't want to leave him, the dogs, the cat, the chickens, my relaxed life here in France, cooking dinner together, riding together (the weather has finally turned and it's spring), taking naps and enjoying our life here. This trip is putting a wrench in my sabbatical, argh!.  I didn't plan on going back this year and it pisses me off a bit.

I'll miss that under bite

and the snuggling from this boy

and of course this handsome guy

and our new idea of what a "city" should be

I'll take the camera and hopefully can update the blog while I'm there.  I'm sure I'll look at things a bit differently and it will be interesting to see if I enjoy my time in LA or if France really has a hold on me, I think I already know the answer.