Our European Adventure: Summer 2016 Edition! Part 3: France, finally

Chris is giving a lovely day-by-day account of this vacation, so I think I’m going to focus on the nuts-and-bolts of how we’ve pulled together this trip.

Saturday, July 2nd

We landed in Paris on July 2nd around 8am.  In France, I booked a 4-week stay in an honest-to-goodness chateau in Chris’ favorite wine village, Puligny-Montrachet.  Unfortunately, to really explore this area, a car is required.  We had enough friends staying with us during the first week that 2 cars were required.  (I looked into renting a 7-passenger vehicle, but the roads in rural France can get quite narrow and I didn’t want to be saddled with a large car for the entire trip.)

“My” car is a Renault Clio with an automatic gear box.  We “rented” this car through Renault’s buy-back lease program, where we get a brand-new car and comprehensive insurance at a rate comparable to or less than a normal rental car.  When we landed in Orly, I called the pick-up location and they sent a shuttle to pick us up and take us to the car.  Even with all our gear, this was pretty painless.

Once we had my car, we had to get Chris’ car, a mid-sized manual transmission that we rented for a week through Hertz.  We had landed at Orly-Sud and Chris’ car was over at Orly-Ouest.  So I drove Chris over there so he could pick up his car.  He hung out at Orly-Ouest for a little while, finding a Nespresso boutique and buying some coffee for the house (very wise decision, as it turned out), and then headed to CDG to pick up our friends.

I traveled pretty quickly after dropping Chris off and getting gas, so I was at the chateau at 12:45pm.  For the cats, I could not travel quickly enough: they were pretty miserable (and vocal about their misery) throughout the entire drive.

Fortunately, the on-site property managers were at the chateau when I arrived, getting the house ready for us.  I leapt out of the car, said hello, and took the cats up to our room.

Chris has posted on the house and I don’t have much to add.  We planned on taking the top floor of the house, giving us a bedroom and the attic for the cats to play in.  So I took them straight there, released them from their carrier, set up their litter and food, and let them explore.

Then I met with the property managers, who gave me the grand tour.  I walked through the house feeling pretty pleased with myself, but also I became aware that I had set an impossible standard for future vacations.  I don’t know how I’ll ever top this house!

The property managers finished prepping the house by 2pm, so I explored the house on my own for about an hour.  I found the little things — garbage bags, laundry supplies, bathroom supplies — and fun things — board games, card games, candles, oodles of wine glasses.

But eventually I had to leave the house.  One reason I drove down ahead of Chris and our other guests was to get the cats settled as soon as possible.  The other reason was so that I could hit the supermarket and pick up any necessary supplies.  While the house was well-stocked, there were a few odds and ends that we needed to settle in for the night.

By 4pm, I was back from the stores (I hit the supermarket and the bakery for fresh bread) and I finally had a moment to sit down and relax.  The cats were beginning to settle down, I had a bit of lunch and a glass of wine, the sun was shining, and I was ready for everyone else to arrive.  Chris’ timing was impeccable: he arrived about 4:15pm!

As Chris noted, we then went on to a wonderful wine dinner at La Table D’Olivier Le Flaive.   Booking here was incredibly easy by email, as they were responsive and fluent in English.  I had proposed this restaurant to the group because I knew most of us would be jet-lagged and/or travel-weary, so I didn’t want anyone to have to cook on night #1.  I also didn’t want anyone to have to drive, and this restaurant is a 3-minute walk from the house.  But I also wanted to set the tone for the vacation by starting with a proper wine dinner.  This restaurant fit all these requirements and then some!  It was so good that we returned the next week with a new set of friends… but more on that later.

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