Chamonix and Aiguille-du-Midi

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a valley where the surrounding peaks are more than 12,000 ft (3,658m) above the valley floor. That is the setting for Chamonix where we are today. It is simply stunning.

This morning we took two cable cars and an elevator up to an altitude of 12,604 ft (3379 m) to the Aiguille-du-Midi lookout. The lookout is right next to Mont Blanc which has an altitude of 15,778 ft (4809 m)

The cable cars seemed to go straight up.

The elevator took us even higher.

And then we stepped out at the top. The air was very thin and Mont Blanc was right there!

The French, Swiss and Italian Alps surrounded us.

We walked through the ice tunnel to another lookout point.

We put slippers over our shoes to “Step into the Void”.

The whole experience was absolutely stunning!!

For dinner we had pizza at a lovely cozy restaurant.

Beaune to Chamonix

Today was Saturday Market day in Beaune so this morning we browsed the market alongside all the locals.

We have a rental car now so we set out heading south through the verdant Burgundy countryside. We saw canals, locks, lots of grape vines, and picturesque villages.

When we got to the south edge of Burgundy we headed east into the Alps. Tonight we are almost to Italy in Chamonix.

For dinner we had a picnic with a bottle of the wine we bought at the winery yesterday.

Beaune – 12 April 2019

It’s amazing to me that when things turn out totally different than how you planned them you can still have a great experience. We made a reservation a couple of days ago to tour a winery and do a tasting near Beaune.

We picked up a rental car today which we will have for the next few days. The weather was perfect today. We walked to the rental car place and then went driving to explore the countryside. We drove through the area north west of Beaune. It is agricultural and green with lots of picturesque villages.

When we made the winery reservation the website said they only had tours in Portuguese, French and Spanish. We picked a 5 o’clock Spanish tour with visions of being with a group of Spanish tourists. What actually happened was that we were the only ones visiting a small winery in a village near Beaune. The owner spoke about as much English as I speak French which isn’t much!! And I don’t think he spoke any Spanish. We still had quite an experience seeing his small operation, tasting his wines, and communicating surprisingly well.

It was the kind of a experience that makes a trip.

Driving is such a totally different way to see a country. After our tasting we drove back to Beaune, parked near our hotel and took a break until our 7:30 dinner reservation.

This morning before we picked up the rental car we visited Beaune’s most well known landmark L’Hôtel- Dieu Des Hospices Civils de Beaune, a hospital for the poor, it was established in 1443. It is an impressive building and the hospital has pretty much been in operation ever since. They own vineyards which make the hospital self supporting. The historic building is no longer a hospital but it has been well restored and we enjoyed the audio tour.

We had a marvelous dinner tonight in the cellar at Restaurant Le Conty.

We started with Foie gras and asparagus for Duke and a dozen snails for me. They were each excellent.

We had two different kinds of beef for the main course.

For desert we had pears poached in wine with anise ice cream and a yummy chocolate mousse concoction.

Colmar to Beaune

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day. We took a local train from Colmar to Mulhouse, the high speed TGV train from Mulhouse to Dijon and then another local train from Dijon to Beaune where we are tonight.

When we arrived at our hotel there was no one answering the door so we sat in the square and relaxed a bit. All the stores and cafes were closed from noon until two.

Eventually we checked in. Our hotel Abbaye de Maizières was originally an abbey from around 1400. It has been transformed into a luxury hotel. We left our bags and went out to explore. Beaune has ramparts around the old town. We wandered around and oriented our selves

We stopped for coffee and a pastry.

Eventually we went back to our room and put our feet up. We ate dinner at L’Air du Temps. To start I had escargot and Duke had foie gras. The “shells” on my escargot were actually made of pastry and were edible!

For the main course I had sole, scallops and asparagus and Duke had chicken.

For desert Duke had a rhubarb tart and I had something resembling strawberry shortcake but much lighter. It was a wonderful meal.

Colmar – the Unterlinden Museum and the Bartholdi Museum

When I travel and use hotel showers I often daydream about creating a hotel shower rating system. You know, showers would get points for basic things like hot water, water temperature that doesn’t fluctuate and shower cleanliness. There would be bonus points for things like a heated towel rack and big fluffy towels. I don’t like tub shower combinations so a walk in shower definitely gets point. You get the idea.

The shower in our room here at Villa Élyane in Colmar is perfect! It is one of the only 10’s I have ever rated a hotel shower. Big, bright, five shower heads, heated towel rack. Perfection!

It rained all day today so it’s a good thing that we have good raincoats and that today we visited museums.

First we went to the Unterlinden Museum. It’s a well laid out museum partly built in a former cloister.

The exhibits range from prehistoric to Roman to medieval to modern. They have part of an intricate Roman mosaic floor found nearby,

A colorful and dramatic multipart medieval altarpiece – Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece,

A treasure buried about 1630 prior to the Swedish invasion and not found until 1864,

And some powerful modern pieces.

We stopped for coffee and blueberry tart.

Then we went to the Bartholdi Museum.

On the way back to our B&B we decided we didn’t want to go back out in the rain tonight. So we stopped and bought picnic food and had dinner in our room.

Freiburg, Germany to Colmar, France

This morning when we walked to the train station in Freiburg it was raining.

To get to Colmar which is only about 35 miles directly west of Freiburg we had to take the train south to Basel in Switzerland and then go back north to Colmar.

In Colmar we are staying at a wonderful B & B near the train station, Villa Élyane. It is in a lovely old house and we have a big bright room.

Colmar is in the Alsace region of France. This afternoon we explored. Our host gave us a tourist map and we followed the tourist trail around the old town. Each of forty stopping points on the trail had an informational sign in multiple languages including English. The trail itself was marked with gold triangles set in sidewalk.

Auguste Bartholdi the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty is from Colmar. We saw a statue of him.

Duke and I each recently read a book about Bartholdi called Liberty’s Torch so it was interesting to see some of his sculptures.

Colmar is full of interesting old streets and houses.

The Colmar Spring Fair is going on right now so we saw pens of animals and lots of stalls selling everything from food to Easter decorations.

For dinner we ate at Le Fer Rouge.

Notre Dame and walking along the Seine

This morning we visited the Archaeological Crypt of the Île de la Cité. It is under the square in front of Notre Dame. Originally the plan was to build a car park there but when they found Roman and medieval ruins they decided to relocate the car park. It was very interesting to see the remains of the fortified wall, the ancient baths and the beginnings of the construction of Notre Dame from 1163.

Next we walked around both the inside and outside of the cathedral of Notre Dame.

It was a beautiful day for walking.

I especially loved visiting Shakespeare and Company English Bookstore. It has been a literary fixture in Paris for more than one hundred years. In my mind it is a perfect bookstore full of nooks and crannies, rooms leading one into another and lots of inviting books. I could have spent all day there.

I didn’t buy a book since I would have to carry it for the next two months but it was very tempting!

We ate dinner at Hebe. They had a great tasting menu. We had six dishes to share. The fish soup and the scallops were the best.