Lately, we have sustained a nervous desire to get out of Paris. Why, you may ask? Are we so blasé so as to think that this city is passé and cliché? Have we grown so accustomed to just sitting on the same old café chair, so as to be unable to move it, even when we want to? Has the dreaded ennui finally set in? OMG, Paris is SO last year.
Well, perhaps it's not quite that bad. It is true that we are prone forget how delicious our daily baguette really is. My eyes sweep up and down an extraordinary medieval street or two on my way to work, and I am preoccupied with planning a trip to Spain, Italy, or even Iceland. It seems that before we take this wonderful place for granted, it is time to explore beyond the peripheral enclosure that has thoroughly defined our lives for some time.
The first opportunity to break free came last weekend, in the form of two trips - Karl went south, and Abbey went north. No, we are not so anxious to cover all the necessary ground before we leave this continent that we felt it was best to split up the party. Rather, my fabulous husband had a gig in the Pyrenees, and my weekend plans had already formed around a retreat on the Sea. So, we kissed good bye on the sidewalk in Paris (a cliché that I do in fact appreciate) and promised lots of pictures upon our returning.
Bernieres-sur-Mer is a tiny village on the Northern coast of France in Normandy. Yes, these were the beaches where the Allies landed on June 6th - the memorials to every country involved in this heroic act dot the misty coastline for many kilometers. We were nearest to the remembrance of the Canadian soldiers. I strolled the coastline with two very good friends of mine, when I suddenly realized that they were both German and I was American. I kept this to myself, but silently thanked God for bringing peace and that in Him, we were reconciled. Indeed, all of our time as a group over the weekend could be best described as "family time" - three delicious meals shared everyday, going for long walks, praying for one another, playing together, holding each other's babies, telling stories. And all the time, the backdrop of the very-present sea, with the smell of salt and sand everywhere.
Karl's train took him to a different place entirely, the town of Lourdes. This used to be a quiet little market town at the foot of the mountains, until several superstar saints and also the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared, and transformed the place into a colorful place of pilgrimage. Despite the exciting visitors of yore, apparently the gospel choir that Karl was playing with was the main draw last weekend. In fact, they were such a big hit that Karl's boss was given a statue of Mary filled with holy water as a thank you gift. Very sweet, though I'm not sure what I would do with that. At any rate, the occasion was made all the more special as dear friends of ours maneuvered the French country roads all the way from Bayonne to Lourdes to enjoy the show. (Many thanks to Beatrice for the photos, since Karl forgot his camera!)
So, did these adventures satisfy our wanderlust? Well, not completely.
The fact remained that because of Armistice Day this year, I can faire le pont ("make the bridge" from one day off to the next), and thereby have five days off in a row. It was my firm conviction that this should not go unexploited. After much fitfully trolling of travel websites all week long, and realizing to our chagrin that derniere minute (last-minute) still means three days in advance in France, we finally stumbled upon a solution. A couple of tickets that will carry us South for a few days, and a couple more to carry us back North. And yes, this time we will both be in the same train!