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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To Market, To Market

Shopping in France is a feast for the senses.The colors and fragrances are intoxicating, and every town has its own market day with vendors hawking their wares. Our first day in Normandy we arrived in time for the market in 
Saint Mer Eglise.
 Here is the cathedral in the background with the infamous WWII parachutist hanging from the spires.

I love this French wine seller!

The fresh fruits and vegetables are mouth watering. 

 And the flowers! I wish I could have taken these home to my garden!

 Freshly caught fish and mouth watering nougat.

Of course, there is more to buy than fresh foods and flowers.  I hit the brocante markets in Versailles, Strasbourg and Colmar. It's such fun to roam the stalls finding everything from hats, shoes, books, pottery and silver. You never know what treasures you may find!

Here are a few of the treasures I brought home.

My travel tip - I only pack my suitcase half full and take plenty of bubble wrap to protect my purchases on a flight home.
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fabulous French Food

The French are known for their exquisite cooking and beautiful food presentation.  On our recent trip, we were not disappointed! 

 We awoke every morning to fresh crusty baguettes baked by the Sisters of La Joie Saint Benoît at the convent where we stayed.

The French LOVE their bread! And why not? Crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. In the movies you always see French people with a baguette sticking out of the top of a grocery bag. This is so true! It helps that there is a boulangerie on every corner.

One afternoon in Rouen I felt that I need something light for lunch and ordered a salad. It came loaded with thick slices of bacon and cubes of foie gras. A bit heartier than I had planned, but delicious!

While I ate my "healthy" salad, Scott indulged in veal chops in a mushroom sauce and 3 cheese baked pasta.

In Paris we had to have  bowls of steaming onion soup with freshly grated cheese.

In Strasbourg we were served this crispy flatbread with cheese, carmelized onions and smoked sausage as an appetizer.Each was plated up on an individual breadboard. 

 We were told a specialty in Alsace is a dish called baekoffen. While my photo may not make it look  very special, trust me, it is! This casserole is made of lamb, pork and sausage plus potatoes,onions, carrots and herbs slow cooked in a clay terrine. It was melt in your mouth tender and loaded with earthy flavors.

Of course, we didn't skimp on desserts.
 Our favorite waitress was Valentine. Here she is serving up some raspberries flambé over vanilla ice cream.

Just look at the colors in this strawberry torte with berry sorbet.

My favorite was the profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Confectionaire shops are almost as plentiful as boulangeries. This is a giant meringue  I happily munched on one afternoon.

Oooh, which would you choose?
Strasbourg was such a delightful mix of French and German!

Such a clever display of  cupcakes hanging in jars. 
Can you see the adorable poodle meringues?

And then there is the chocolate... 

 and cookies,
and jams  and preserves. 

A tower of macaroons! 

At one market as we wandered the stalls we came upon this one that looked like cheese -

but it was different flavors of nougat! Fluffy and rich it melts in your mouth.

Now here's the cheese!

Eating well is one of the great pleasures while in France!
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Majestic Mont Saint-Michel

It rises majestically out of the sea like a fairy tale castle from The Little Mermaid. 
It is the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. Built during medieval times off the coast of Normandy it has served as an abbey, monastery, fortress and prison. 

Because of it's unique location on a tiny island when the tide comes in it is completely surrounded by water making it accessible only by a walkway.

The main chapel is at the very top of the mount with smaller chapels, great halls, kitchens, and crypts below. So, to get to the top one must climb and climb. 

This is the interior of one of the Great Halls. One could easily get lost inside the maze of  hallways and stairwells.

The views from the top are spectacular and a bit dizzying! The weather was a bit overcast and rain threatened but never materialized.

At the bottom of the mount there are souvenir shops and restaurants aplenty. I had my first, but not not my last croque monsieur  sandwich here.
Mont-St-Michel - Main Road - La Grande Rue

If you are planning  a trip to Normandy you MUST include a visit to Mont Saint Michele. It was truly one of the highlights of our visit to France.
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