OXFORD AND WARWICK
"I used to be a tour guide", he said. So we begged him, "The Guide That Cannot Be Named" to take us on a trip to Normandy. We want to see the Normandy Beaches (we should have been far more specific as in take us to Juno). So giving him the beach information he quickly designed a tour for the Monet home and gardens because they are pretty. Dude...I live in Victoria, home to one of the greatest gardens in the world. I don't need to see gardens.
So everything was changed and we raced (as in ran our feeties off) to the Metro and then on to the train where we raced to grab the next (just departing no time to have your ticket checked) train to Rouen. Home to Joan of Arc but maybe not today. You see Rouen appeared to be closed, all of it. As in no museums open, no Cathedral open (though it is beautiful from outside). The outside was carved to look like lace or lacework so it is amazing. We didn't have time to look (not sure why since clearly we can't go inside or see a museum so we should have tons of time). Nope had to race through the streets. Really lovely old buildings though and had we not been with a guide we'd still be there in a maze of streets designed to keep you from finding your way to anything (it's true, they were built to confuse the enemy). Run through we must though as we have a train to catch.
We got very excited since we were apparently in such a hurry that we would get to Juno though we thought that we should have gone directly there. No such luck. We were racing to Le Havre. No history there, or at least as far as 'The Guide That Cannot Be Named" knew. Nope he wanted to show us a beach because you can see boats and water and stuff. Dude...we live 10 minutes from the ocean, we can see beaches and boats every day ("Well I didn't know that", he said).
Apparently all beaches close in France, or at least northern France on October 1st. That and this wasn't exactly a beach. It's a whole shitload of pebbles, no bathers no nothing. Wait I lie, there was one thing. You see all the public toilets were closed because the beach was closed so we managed to find a restaurant overlooking the beach where I may have had one of the best gelatos ever. The highlight of the day actually. Beautiful view if you don't mind pebbles and rocks. The toilet was nice though. Thank you La Croisette restaurant for a nice break and view.
We raced back to the train and back to Paris where our guide fell asleep and drooled all over himself. This is apparently the most embarrassing thing a Parisian can do, he was horrified. Now the best thing about our guide is he was a huge movie fan. There is us and then there is this guy, movie fan times a thousand. Not much he didn't know about film because he was a cinematographer. So even though the trip north was a disaster we still had a wonderful time learning about film.
He felt very guilty about not knowing France was closed on Mondays so he stayed with us and took us to movie locations around Paris. That included where they filmed the Bourne Movie. He showed us so many film locations I hate to stay I've forgotten them all. That and a lot of historical places that tourists don't normally see. Secret medieval alleys and the old walls of Paris.
Oh I forgot but where Joan of Arc got burned is all ripped down and under construction so didn't even get to see the statue.
Anyway we wound up at a very famous (perhaps one of the most famous) cafe's in Paris. The Bouillon Chartier founded in 1896. It's where all the poor folk used to gather for meals and it is still sort of like that. Basic fare (quite good actually) but packed. You actually form a line in another building then out into the street and then back into the main restaurant. It's crazy huge and seats something like 500 or more people. At last we found our first rude Parisian waiter (horray!). When we asked for medium well he said "NO!". That was it, just no, very adamantly. The medium was fine in the end, very tasty.
Lacey looking cathedral thingy.