Monthly Archives: November 2008

Cruising the Canal Lateral Loire & Visiting WWII Sites Normandy – France 2008

We started planning our fantastic 2008 vacation a year in advance during a wine-filled dinner party with our closest friends. Jerry suggested we lease a boat in to cruise down the Canal Lateral Loire in France, for Pam’s and my 50th birthdays in September 2008. Pam and Jerry moved to Springfield, Missouri shortly after that dinner party but we met in St. Louis to choose our boat (Corvette from Crown Blue Lines) and planned the rest of vacation via email and telephone calls.2008 France 006






John and I flew into Paris on a Friday and spent Saturday and Sunday re-exploring Paris. We explored the catacombs Saturday afternoon and went to a photography exhibition for Annie Liebowitz on Sunday.

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Bright and early on Monday morning we took a train down to Briare to meet Pam and Jerry. By this time we were relaxed and had already found our way back into vacation mode where the only tasks we had to worry about was finding lattes and croissants, then as the day wore on, more latte, then cheese, bread, and wine.

The train ride to Briare was about two hours and when we arrived mid-morning, we were surprised to find ourselves in a deserted train station, much like Petticoat Junction. John called the two taxis companies with no response so we started off towards town pulling our matching rolling duffels – John with his iPhone as a compass – and me with a dying borrowed GPS. Our sense of direction – or luck – was very good and we soon ran into Pam and Jerry out for a stroll. Their luggage had just arrived from being airline lost for 3 days, so we considered ourselves quite fortunate. Briare altho a seemingly big town, was pretty deserted, but we found a postwoman on a bicycle who directed to a coffee shop. So we enjoyed some pastries and caught up with each other before walking back to Pam and Jerry’s hotel for our taxi ride to the boat dock.
While we waited for our boat to be cleaned, we walked into town for provisions and a bite. We had not walked very far when we passed the first house along the water…it was a large country style inn with the proprietor outside hanging laundry. There were signs on his fence about an art exhibition and when he noticed us reading the poster, he was over talking to us within minutes, inviting us into his studio. Mr. Jacuzee is pictured here with one of his oil paintings. He was inspired by 911 and the colors red and black dominate his work. Although he spoke only French, he was very welcoming to all of us and John spent most of our visit translating. After showing us his home, he invited us to lunch which we had to decline in favor of provision shopping. As we left, he asked John to ask Pam and I if we would pose nude for him. Unfortunately we did not have time, but we were honored to be asked.
Once we had practiced backing the boat out of the slip and turning around, they handed it over and we were off. We started off cruising back to Briare so that we could take the boat over the narrow bridge canal suspended over the canal, pictured here below.

John captaining his first mission and happy to have successfully piloted the boat through the narrow Gustave Eiffel bridge.

Following are some photos taken on our second week of vacation in Normandy…comments coming later as this is a work in progress:
Our Band of Brothers (and one sister taking the shot) We took the Overlord bus tour of D-Day beaches. The farmhouse in the background is in the movie Band of Brothers.
More stained glass in the town that the paratrooper hung off the church steeple all night.

John curling at the Canadian museum at Juno Beach.


June beach bunker

Tank at Juno beach 

Teddy Roosevelt grave at American cemetery

American cemetery
The fighter jet that followed us all the 2nd week of vacation

John at Mont St. Michel and the view from above

Chateau Chambord


Our fighter pilot friend again

More photos to come as time allows – we have 700…


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