Monday, September 2

I travel to Bayeux in Normandy, check into my hotel, and have one of the best dinners of the summer.

All packed and ready to head off to Gare Saint-Lazare in about an hour to start my big Normandy adventure. My Armani cartable (school bag) makes a perfect suitcase for a little four day trip. It's times like these when it is so good to be male.

Almost forgot to pack the USB cable for the pad. That would not have been good. Also packed my umbrella. I'm going to Cherbourg. Coals to Newcastle?

And that's my fancy new Ibiza silk summer jacket from Nordstrom. Getting kind of wrinkled. Needs a good dry cleaning. I'm bringing it for dinners in the nice restaurants. You get a better table if you look a little dressed up. Also good for chilly mornings and evenings. I've gotten good use out of it here in Paris this summer. Also good for boat rides on White Bear Lake.

Garbage taken out. Double check that everything's packed. Window CLOSED and LOCKED. All good. Time to power down the MacBook, then off to Gare St-Lazare to start the adventure.

From my apartment the quickest way to Gare St-Lazare is to take the métro ligne 7 to l'Opéra and then walk the few blocks to the station. Wasn't I just here a few days ago?

Le Printemps, another one of Paris' famous scary grands magasins.

A painting of Gare St-Lazare by Monet in the Musée d'Orsay.

The modern Gare Saint-Lazare, serving the regions to the north of Paris.

Inside Gare Saint-Lazare. Pretty nice for a train station!

A train headed for somewhere in Normandy. Not my train though.

My window seat in second class. This is a regular train, not a high speed TGV train like the one I took to Tours.

Pulling out of the station. The adventure begins! Took two hours to get to Caen.

Only a two hour stopover in Caen between trains, will return on Thursday to see the memorial. Took a long walk, saw some pretty things and took their pictures.

This is Église Saint-Michelle de Vaucelles. Very old. Looks like it stepped out of a WWII movie. Maybe it did?

Caen is pronounced "kaun", same as the French word "quand".

Rue Branville.

Pretty house on rue Branville.

The river Orne.

Cimetière de Vaucelles.

Took a little regional train from Caen to Bayeux, only took about 20 minutes. My room wasn't quite ready so I went next door to a pub, had a Guinness, and flirted in French with the barkeep. Told her they talk too fast in Paris and she liked that. She said that people here are much nicer (gentil). I agreed, "plus tranquille". Said I was happy to be finished with dictées, and that got a big laugh and tons of sympathy. She's been there and suffered through that!

This picture is of Rue de Crémel on the short walk from the gare to the hotel.

The entrance to my hotel.

My hotel in Bayeux, the Lion d'Or.

Ma chambre.

If I lean out the window I can see a bit of the town.

I'm glad to be here in my hotel. Enjoying the chance to relax before dinner in the restaurant downstairs in about four hours.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux.

Made a friend out in the jardin of the hotel before dinner.

In a nice salon with pictures of people who have stayed here, from Eisenhower and Churchill to Tom Hanks. This one is of Catherine Deneuve. "Le Lion d'Or est une fête". Chatting with a couple from England and a lady from Ohio. The couple from England are in their 80s. Said I was young. Nice change after the Sorbonne.

The department in which Bayeux is located is named "Calvados". What should I have for an apéritif?

OMG. This restaurant in the hotel is fantastic. I'm the first one here for dinner.

Apéritif. The drink is a cocktail containing a mixture of cider and Calvados, both celebrated products of Normandy. Very, very good.

Something with cream and apples to cleanse the palate.

I chose this wine, Château Les Vieux Maurins Saint Emilion 2005.

Entré. La terrine de foie gras de canard au poire blanc de Sarawak at son artichaut à la Barigoule.

Plat. Le filet de bœuf grillée aux oignons nouveaux, pomme de terre gratinée à la Mimolette d'Isigny.

Dessert. La gratinée de Camembert à la pomme.

Coffee.

Macaroons.

A final goodnight to the jardin. No cat!