Saturday, 8 December 2012

Valence, a beautiful town

Wednesday 5 December

Indeed, Valence is a beautiful town, but we don't go there until Thursday.  In the meantime the baker, or rather the baker's wife, comes around on Wednesday morning with the usual variety to choose from and she even attempts a few words in English with us!  After that I spend most of the afternoon planning and booking for our upcoming (short) trip to Paris, while Frank wanders of to the old workshop to take a lot of pictures.  This workshop is full of old (almost antique) woodworking tools and he wants to get some pictures to show Kevin, since he is an avid woodworker himself.  I won't bore you with all the pictures on this blog, just a few of the house (the way it was built) and one or two of the farming and woodworking tools:

The planning of the trip is okay, but booking is something else.  We keep switching between wanting to go to Paris by train or by (hired) car, as we are not allowed to take the car for trips of over 350 km from here.  Eventually we settle for a hire car.  We book the hotel for three nights, which goes well.  At least we receive the confirmation within a few minutes.  Not so for the hire car, which is a bit unsettling.  Next I want to book tickets for Euro Disney, but on the site I have found I have to enter our address.  If I choose Australia, they are going to send the tickets downunder, which is not really very helpful.  If I go for our French address I can't get the tickets I want (being the reduced 20th anniversary tickets).  So, only option open to me is asking my brother to get our tickets for us if he hasn't booked his yet.  Which he hasn't, so that's fine.  Next I need to print out the hotel confirmation.  I need to do that from René's computer.  Well, that appears to be a challenge.  For starters, everything is in French.  That's not too hard, but.... his keyboard is not even close to what we're used to, and since I am a touch typist (meaning I don't look at the keys when I am typing) I discover too late that they are all over the place......  So, back to square one.  I have to log into my email and finally manage to type out my user name by searching for the keys.  Next I have to enter my password, which consists of letters and digits.  Even when I look closely at the keys I still can't get it right, until.... I discover that the keys with the digits have 3 options each, so if I want to type a digit I have to use the 'Caps' key!  Well, after some undisclosed time I manage to print the confirmation.  That's all done, now we only have to wait for the confirmation email from the car hire business.  That's Wednesday dealt with!

Thursday 6 December

The weather is fine, and the sun is shining (!) so we head off to Valence.  We want to orientate ourselves a bit, because our car needs to be parked at the TGV station in Valence and the hire car picked up at the same place.  It always helps a lot when you know where to go and how long it will take you if you are pressed for time, and we will be, because the trip to Paris is going to take at least some 6 hours.

After a pleasant drive through little villages at first and via the highway later we find the TGV station easy enough.  Next we make our way to Valence centre where we find an underground car park.  As we surface near two parks along the river Rhône it's only logic that we go for a walk:

Kiosque Peynet at Le Champ de Mars

Fountains at Le Champ de Mars

View across Le Parc Jouvet and the river Rhône in the background

Motorway along the river

Walking across the bridge

View from the river bank on the opposite side
Walking across the bridge was no mean feat as the wind coming down from the mountains was icy cold.  We were so grateful for our gloves (and my hat). We were glad to be back in the city centre where we were more protected against the wind.  There were plenty of shops, all quite modern like in the bigger cities and even a shopping centre with some 40 shops.  As it is soon Christmas the little ones are catered for with all kinds of displays. In this one moving puppets put together a Christmas tree:

Frank needed a new battery for his watch, which we got there and there was a nice kind of restaurant where we had lunch.  French of course, which means their idea of a 'sandwich', which is a baguette with whatever filling you choose, a cup of coffee (minute and black) and dessert of you choice, which for Frank was a pattisserie with apple and for me the same with nuts. After this delicious lunch we decided to explore the rest of the town:

Marion posing with Napoleon Bonaparte
(although I cannot remember what he was doing there safe for reading something)

Don't be deceived by the sun, it was still very, very cold!  At about three pm we'd had enough, retrieved our car and made our way back home again.  It's a shame I had forgotten all about the geocaching, because at home I discovered that a cache was hidden near the Kiosque Peynet.  Ah well, perhaps next time?

Next I leave you with some impressions of our drive back home in the late afternoon sunshine:

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