Friday 31 August 2007

France - Episode 6

It was a late start to the morning and we had a big breakfast. Then off to Bayeux to see the world famous tapestry.

It didn't start off very well. The skies were dark and the air was damp (again). Just finding the place was difficult. The sign for the parking led us on a wild goose chase and a parking lot miles from the museum which meant we had to walk through all the tourist traps.

There were no signs to the museum and when we asked for directions we were given a route which was very circuitous when we later realised we just needed to cross the road and walk straight on.

The museum itself was not child friendly. All the exhibits were high so the children couldn't see anything. Then we were herded into a cinema to watch a documentary film. Thank goodness it was only 15 minutes long or we really would have had a little people meltdown.

But then the real trouble set in. Given the age of our traveling companions we had to stop at the toilets which meant we were the last ones to join the queue to see the actual tapestry. We waited in the queue for 90 minutes. On numerous occasions Helen and I threatened to just walk out. There was nothing for the children to do and they were bored stiff.

When we got to the front of the queue we were given little handsets with an audio tour. the children were given a separate audio targeted specifically for them. At first glance this appears to be a great idea. In reality we realised that the children's tour went at a different pace than the adult tour so whilst the adults were at partition 17, the children were on partition 14. Not so good!

The younger children lost attention halfway through although the girls, Lottie & Abby just pretended they were telephones and had a great time. Seb listened to every word.

And if you could get past all the bad things the work is really remarkable. Stitched in the 11th century it was meant to be used like a propaganda tool to communicate to a largely illiterate population and inform them about the Story of William the Conqueror and the activities of 1066, specifically the Battle of Hastings. It was an effort to win the hearts and minds of the general population. The detail is remarkable and the condition of the fabric is astounding although you can see the minor repairs here and there. Not bad for an embroidered cloth almost 1000 years old! My embroidery was never this good.....

Lunch was chaos and was an example of the French rudeness. I know lots of people complain that the French are rude but I have to say those occasions for me have been few and far between. I've had more German rude to me than French. but when the French are rude, they are spectacularly rude. We were rushing for the 2 pm cutoff (again) and found a cafe. The only seating for 8 was outdoors which wasn't ideal because it was grey and chilly but we sat down.

Then it started to rain. We tried to get under cover of the canopy. We tried to move indoors. and then the waitress took away our menus and refused to speak to us. She went out to the back of the restaurant and ignored us. She wouldn't return. Well, Helen and I had had enough. We left which is obviously what the waitress had been hoping for!

We ended up at a corner cafe. Got Croque Monsieurs for everyone, sat the children on high stools and the adults stood under the canopies eating the lunch in the pouring rain. We were wet and cold. Oddly, only the adults were complaining. The children took it in stride!

In hindsight, this makes me laugh But at the time, we were so frustrated I wanted to just fly home!

On the way home we decided to do some Calvados, Cidre (apple alcoholic) & Pommeau tasting. Well, Helen & I did - the men were driving! We headed back towards the beaches of Normandy where we had seen loads of places.

At the first stop, we tried some Calvados. it nearly killed all ofus and we decided that would be the first and last time we ever tried that!

The next place we went to was a real find. In a farm courtyard there was a local produce market. They sold all the local delicacies including tripe, snails, foie gras, oysters, fresh strawberries, vegetables, cheese and of course, pommeau & cidre. We passed on a couple things but after tasting the pommeau & cidre bought some of that as well as some cheese and strawberries. We would have bought some oysters but we didn't have an oyster knife back at the gite so we passed.

The funniest part was watching Marc try to buy cheese in French. He always gets a wee bit embarrassed but after a bit of encouragement he spoke up and managed to buy 3 delicious cheeses!

That evening we all went out for dinner in La Haye du Puits at La Rose des Verts. This was a bit of a mess in that the children were served and finished with their meals long before the adult had even received their main course. We were saved by the ice cream!

The evening passed with more wine, cheese and crudely named card games. Helen won again! Darn it!

1 comment:

Janell said...

A difficult museum visit, rain, and rudeness should always be followed up with hard cider, wine and laughter.