Bonjour la France
French Flat

July 6-7, 2018

Our title today comes straight from our friend Emmanuel and the question was directed at Stephanie. While it may be normal to have a lover at the the age of sweet 16 in France, it certainly raised Stephanie’s eyebrows. This question was followed up with “would you like a glass of wine for dinner”? Saddle up Steph and welcome to Europe!

After safely arriving in Rouen, our friend Emmanuel took us sightseeing in his home City and then on a day trip adventure to Dieppe, on the Coast of Normandy

What happened…

Andrew writes:I’d like to wax eloquently about how nice it was to sleep-in, except I’m still groggy just thinking about the lag and crazy day we had. It included a trip down into Rouen proper where we were able to witness, first-hand, the boisterous crowds of people who were watching “Les Bleus” playing football in the World Cup. I hope that they go further into the tournament so that we can experience more of this joyful attitude.

I think I remember some talk yesterday about taking a bike ride to “nearby” Dieppe. As Canadian’s, I think Dieppe holds a mystique for us inside, although I’m hard pressed to put my finger on it exactly. I just know that there was a battle there, and Canucks were involved. We enjoyed a full night of sleep, and ended up leaving for our target by 1100hrs. I think Emmanuel was thinking that we would go all blazing saddles to get there, yet, even with his son in tow in the trailer, he was often waiting for us around the next corner. I hope it isn’t like this for the next week as he will be taking us cycling in Normandy.

Dieppe itself was a very interesting, stony, beach. Well, the site of the attack that is. Then we learned a bit more about the site at the small museum in the town proper. It’s a bustling tourist hub, as there are ferries nearby from the UK to France. Not many I think give two shits for the Canadians who sacrificed their lives for…well, that’s still in doubt I think.

Leaving by the crack of noon seems to be at thing here in France. What with one thing or another, including a trip to the grocery store, we finally left Rouen, minus Nawal and her daughter who will meet us in a few days. The ride was a series of ups and downs to get to the coast, and then flat the rest of the way. I really enjoy riding through these French towns. I’m already enjoying the fresh baked bread and pastries too. Anyhow, it was a great day for cycling and I’m looking forward to the next week in Normandy.

We finished off the day enjoying dinner and drinks with friends of Nawal and Emmanuel. I felt a little guilty about arriving so late (around 9pm?) but dinner seems to be a regular occurrence in this house after the sun goes down. Everyone spoke English so it was easy to stay involved in the conversation, and it’s nice meeting new people. What a great day today was.

Stephanie writes:
The day that we went to tour around Rouen, we got to sleep in. After we woke up and ate breakfast Matthieu (4 year old Son) and I played in the sprinkler and with some water guns for a while. As Matthieu was playing in the water, he suddenly had to go to the bathroom and just decided to go on the front lawn. Andrew and I were sitting at the table outside trying our hardest not to laugh because he just decided not to try and go inside. When Emanuel took us into Rouen to look around we stopped at lots of landmarks. Emanuel was able to tell us about all the land marks that we stopped at which was really cool. At one of the statues, as Emanuel was telling us about it, a very drunk man came up to him and told him he was wrong. The name of the man the statue was for was right underneath and Emanuel pointed it out to the man but he was very sure of himself being right which Amanda, Andrew and I thought was really funny because it was all happening in French. Emanuel ended up telling the man he was right so that we could leave. We saw some really big churches and went into one. There was still some of the original stained glass which was super pretty. After all our sight seeing in town, we went to a little cafe for drinks. There was only one server and about 35 tables so it took a little time but ended up being okay because we got to watch how crazy everyone went when France won the quarter finals in the World Cup. After our drinks we went to get SIM cards for our phones. Amanda and I stood outside while Andrew and Emanuel bought the SIM cards. While we were outside we got to see everyone going crazy about the game. There were people dancing in the crosswalk and chanting. Everyone in their cars were honking and cheering out their windows as they drove. Even the police cars had their lights on as they were cheering about the victory, there was no emergency, they were just excited like everyone else.

After we got breakfast, we played a board game with Matthieu outside. It was a memory game and we were all struggling for a bit but when it came to Matthieus 5th or so turn, he made it all the way around the board and won. As I was getting ready I wanted to get my hair french braided, as Andrew said he could do easily. When I asked him to he said he didn’t know how so he looked it up. So I guess the rest of the trip I’ll just have to deal with not having my hair french braided because Andrew cannot do it at all. I was super excited for the ride to Dieppe because Emanuel had told me there was only a 6m altitude difference between Rouen and Dieppe which meant that the ride would be dead flat. I didn’t realize that he wanted to take us through and over the hills until we were already doing them. On the ride there, we stopped to see that there were some cows chasing a balloon around the field which we thought was pretty cool. We also realized that in France and Europe that poppies are actually like weeds and they grow everywhere which kind of surprised me. Once we got to Dieppe, we went down to the water and put our feet in, Matthieu and Manu went in and splashed us a bit but we didn’t go in all the way. We then went to the Dieppe museum and looked at all the little signs and little things from the war, we had to go quickly because we knew they were closing soon. After riding around the area we made another stop at a little cafe do get drinks before we trained back. We went to the station and got our tickets ready, because we had so much extra time, Amanda and I went back to a little souvenir shop and then came back to the train station. By the time we got back, we had gone 80km instead of the planned 65km so we were pretty tired. Emanuel and Nawal had some of their friends over when we got back, Julien, Emanuel and their daughter. We had a nice but super late dinner with them and then Emanuel asked if I could read a story to Matthieu before he went to bed, he did not want me to read to him so he went and watched tv and we went to bed.

Amanda writes:
After arriving to the very warm welcome of Nawal, Emmanuel and kids we were in for a treat. Numerous days of sightseeing and personal tours of France. Their enthusiasm was contagious and while we were still suffering from jet lag we jumped on board and enjoyed the offerings. The first day we rolled into town; just Emmanuel and the three of us. He showed us around the old and new parts of town, took us to the look out points for amazing views and added some historical commentary in English. Emmanuel is so much fun and his sense of humour translates well into English. And as an added bonus, we had Stephanie to translate when he couldn’t think of the word. And as an added bonus as we were cycling through town, crowds of people erupted in cheers. At first we thought it was a protest but then learned it was a goal by the French soccer team. It was so much fun watching the streets erupt with cheers. After a tiring day of sightseeing we returned to another amazing French meal with some of their other friends.

The next day we set out to Dieppe which as many of you may know is a very historical site for Canadians. While the site itself was beautiful, as a cyclist I was more intrigued with enjoying the French countryside. It was a bit difficult because before we left Canada we told Stephanie about this great route we picked for her for her first cycling trip. Nice and flat along the rivers all the way to the black sea. Short cycling days that would be easy and possibly even boring. Today we didn’t give her what we sold her on. Instead we had undulating hills all day and some traffic thrown in just for good measure. I suppose on the heels of cycling in Paris it was nothing, but still a bit nerve wracking for all.

Andrew and I agreed that Stephanie would remain in between us. This however proved to be difficult when Emmanuel was really encouraging/pushing her. He could see she was a stronger rider than me and wanted her to ride up front with her. And while she physically is more than able, her road sense is still developing. Stephanie just recently got her learners license so has yet to learn the rules of the road and add to that French signs; it can be a bit confusing. On one occasion she was working hard at keeping pace with Emmanuel. In the process she had left both Andrew and I in the dust and she was turning left onto a side road to follow Emmanuel. What she didn’t see was the oncoming car barreling down the highway toward her. Both Andrew and I yelled out in unison and fortunately she stopped. It startled all of us but we just chalked it up to a good learning opportunity. We talked about it later that evening to recap that while it’s fun to keep up with the fastest person, you’ll always lose to a car. As an Aunt I think I took years off my life in that moment and again was reminded why I never had kids; I’m not cut out for this! On the flip side it was such a treat to watch how strong and confident she is on the bike. Both Andrew and I were so proud today as an Aunt and Uncle as she not only completed the difficult ride of 70+ kilometres but did it with a smile! Well done Stephanie.

The aerial view of our sightseeing day:

A few smartphone photos

Today’s Flickr Photographs

Bonjour la France
French Flat