Last night my husband asks me, “how about a trip to Paris in November?”
I know that it’s highly unlikely we’ll be travelling anywhere internationally for the next two possibly up to five years, sadly.
What he meant to ask me is that we buy a couple of tickets to go see the Moulin Rouge play at the Reagent Theatre in Melbourne in November.
Currently, I am used to not making plans anymore because of them being quashed by snap lockdowns or COVID scares. I have come to an acceptance that long term planning has disappeared out the window.
I can only think a day or two ahead now – and I’m okay with that.
I listen to an excellent podcast called the Earful Tower and it’s about all things French.
Recently I listened to the Top 50 Things to do In France and I thought to myself that if I can’t travel, I may as well do a virtual tour by going to the places mentioned in this podcast online and letting my mind wander.
So I’m going to do a fictionalised account of a virtual travel blog, PRETEND that I’m travelling and report from different sights around France. It will give me an opportunity to explore the sights online but also gain an appreciation of the language, culture and history. Throughout my travels, I’ll weave in stories of people I meet along the way.
As it’s fiction, it means that the weather is always sunny, everything goes to plan, all the shops and sights are open at all hours and there’s no lockdowns or signs of covid anywhere.
Allons-y, c’est parti!
Tuesday 24 February 2021
Travel to my first destination was surprisingly easy. It was the first time in my life where I was not affected by jet lag. Getting to France took me seconds. In the click of a mouse, I was here. Voilà!
I arrived at the quaint town of Beaune in the region of Burgundy. I had to look it up on the map because frankly, I’ve lost my bearings and don’t know what part of France I’m in. Am I north, south or east? I know I’m not on the western side. I think I’m near Geneva…if I only knew where that is too in the grand scheme of things. I think I’m in the centre southish but who really knows!
Regardless, I’m here!
Oh I can’t believe that I’m here!
To get my bearings after the ultra short journey and for a bit of fresh air, I decided to go for a walk around the town in the late afternoon to explore while they sorted out my room….
It was so lovely to hear the church bells ringing as I was walking. I never hear them back home in Melbourne and whenever I hear church bells, I know I’m in another country.
I made a mental note to wear comfortable shoes tomorrow because of all the cobblestones.
After the 20:51 minute walk, I went back to the hotel and let’s just say I’m REALLY happy with the room! It’s so opulent. Check out the photos! They upgraded me to a 5 star apartment that overlooks a beautiful garden. For $430 per night, you’d expect nothing less.
Of course, I’m not complaining because I have all the money in the world. I’m just saying. Don’t get jealous. You can dream too you know.
Well anyway, I organised a dinner meeting at its Michelin star restaurant The Bernard Loiseau for tomorrow night and sent a quick invite to my friends Fiona @whiteowl, Marilyn @malmade1, Meredith@dangerousmere, Irene @ireneoduffy and Gloria @gramsbottom .
I have no idea how they’re going to get here to Beaune by tomorrow but as this is all made up, they can fly in on a fiery green scaly dragon for all I care.
I just know they’ll be there. They wouldn’t miss this for the world!
Of course, I’ll be paying for their dinner because they will expect it of me as I’m usually a tight arse in real life.
I also sent Fiona a text message so that she could organise us some transport for Thursday when we go on a day trip to some chateaus and sample wines at vineyards around the Burgundy region. Let’s see what she comes up with.
On the other hand, I’m really worried about Gloria.
Gloria is a loose canon. She’ll reference some HR policy that we will in all likelihoods, break through the course of the evening.
I hope that she doesn’t embarrass us!
Wednesday 25 February 2021
First stop for today after a HUGE buffet breakfast of French pastries and delicious cakes (because I can’t get fat in my virtual tour) is Les Hospices de Beaune, a museum housed in a medieval hospice.
It was known as “palace (well really, it was a hospital) for the poor”
What I loved about this place was the stunning architecture and the distinctive coloured roof tiles which apparently, back in days past meant for the families who came from prestige.
I did a guided tour and it was all in French and I guess I can say I picked out about 50% of what they were saying. I kept saying, s’il vous plaît, parlez plus lentement!”
I remember Dr Melody Davis (@mrdphd) mentioning to me that there was a little tasting room down from the hospital entrance and true to form, I found it and bought myself a Hospice burgundy to have as BYO (bring your own wine – an Australian tradition) to the restaurant tomorrow night.
Always trust a doctor I say..
Later that Night, At The Restaurant
Things went downhill at the restaurant when my friends all showed up in good spirits with their BYO wines under their arms. We got some strange looks from the diners who rolled their eyes and looked away.
Not only were we the loud Australians at the table, Gloria was most embarrassing texting on her phone during the meal. I secretly hoped it wasn’t a sign for bad things to come…
While at the restaurant, at the next table, some bloke looked over to us and told us to be quiet (to be fair, we were being loud what with all the laughter and the hilarity with Fiona wearing a face mask and regaling us of the anthropological impacts of global pandemics – yeah, pfft, as if THAT would ever happen!).
I tried to put on my nicest French and apologised for our behaviour explaining, “We are Australians!” followed quickly with “Nous sommes Australiennes!
Usually I find that pretty much explains a lot of things regardless of what country you’re in.
So we got to speaking to this bloke (turns out he was actually Ukrainian). He introduced himself as Dmytro Malynovksi and mentioned that we should check out a chateau nearby called Chateau de la Rochepot. Gloria took out her notebook and made a note before taking a loud slurp of her Batida de Loco.
Irene, who knows these areas well because she lives here part of the time in her holiday house, then added that there was some dude a few years back who hid out at this chateau after faking his death so that he didn’t get caught up in an investigation of money laundering!
Well anyway, it was really weird because at that very moment Irene told us the story, Dmytro turned white, immediately excused himself, got up from the table and left in a hurry. He didn’t even say good bye to us!
(And I had to pay for his meal because there was some discrepancy with the money situation. I’m not entirely sure, they were speaking too fast and seemed angry so I just said to them that I’ll sort out the bill).
Thursday 25 February 2021
The next day, we all met outside the hotel to get into the transport that Fiona organised for us to drive to the Chateau de la Rocheport. Imagine our surprise when she ordered a few trikes to take us around the regions each with our private driver!
Unfortunately, by this stage we had lost Gloria. She was too taken with the souvenir store and was last seen haggling with the store owner over the cost of a 4Euro Beaune fridge magnet.
We didn’t end up getting to the Chateau because we got lost along the way but we found another chateau called Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune and you had to see it to believe it!
Turns out that the guy who owns this castle is an avid collector of fast cars, motorcycles and fighter jets. He’s turned his castle into a museum to hold his vast collection and he also bought the surrounding gardens and planted vineyards. More wine!
By the end of the day, we were really exhausted.
We had lost Fiona and wondered whether she had just gone off to find the owner of the castle to find out if he was single. Or maybe she just got tired of us.
Methinks it was the latter. She likes to disappear when she’s had enough. She could have returned home to Australia.
Irene, Marilyn, Meredith and myself looked at each other and thought it was high time to get back into town, find a nice restaurant for a quiet meal and relax. I don’t know whether they’ll be joining me at the next town. Guess they’ve got lives to live but they’re more than welcome.
Tomorrow, I’m off to the next destination of my wonderful virtual journey. You’ll just have to wait to see where I’m going next. It’s going to be amazing!
Who will join me?