Category: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:18 pm —

So, this was the trip.  Two disobedient, violent, manipulative, evil children and two cranky, snide, critical adults, trapped in a Toyota RAV 4 with nothing to occupy them but 3 computers, 2 iPhones, 2 seat-back DVD players, books, iPods and local radio.  

Not since the Donner Party . . .

Florence to Nice.  Nice to Carcassonne.  Carcassone to Rochefort-Fouras-La Rochelle.  R-F-La to Saint Lo by way of Mont St Michel.  Paris for just long enough to eat a croque, notice how weird Notre Dame looks all cleaned up, and a quick trip up a blue-lit Eiffel Tower.

The homeward leg was Lyon and Genoa, so far.  We reach Florence and home tomorrow.

Some great hotels — God I love Sofitel.  And some not great hotels.  I’m looking at you Villa Henri IV in Saint Cloud.  The restaurant’s closed, the elctricity goes out all night, there’s no hot water and the WeeFee (WiFi) amounts to leeching signal off the unwary local NetGear guy.

Twice the Douane — the French customs cops — asked me why I don’t have a front license plate.  People here are very aware of the front license plate.  People point and stare.  Having no front plate is the automotive equivalent of flying a skull and crossbones from the antenna and waving a saber out of the window while winding our way through traffic.

The entire speed enforcement system in France rests on machines photographing the front license plate.  North Carolina, with it’s parsimonious insistence on only a rear plate, has allowed me to utterly defeat the speed control regime of the French Republic.  

That makes it twice with the French, once with the Italians, and in each case I drove off freely because 1) I don’t look like trouble, 2) None of them knows what the hell form to fill out to deal with plateless Americans, and 3) none of the cops wants to be the guy who dumped this load of crap in his superior’s lap.

If you want to break a law, make sure it’s one nobody has a specific form for.

Anyway, I’m tired, so I’ll limit myself to pointing out that the French are not assholes.  The Parisians are assholes.  Like assuming people in Atlanta or Houston are just like New Yorkers.  The French were universally nice — except the biker who checked out my North Carolina plates, and my Obama sticker, pulled in front of us and carefully gave us the finger,  

Actually Frenchmen, as opposed to Parisians, were very tolerant of my mangling of French.  More tolerant even than the Tuscans who, God knows, have had to endure a lot from me.

Comparing the French and the Italians I focus on this:  the French have simply surrendered on coffee, while the Italians keep the religion alive.  Nothing but automat coffee at roadsides stops in France, while every last Italian stop has a full-function espresso machine and barista.  Frenchmen drink coffee an American would spit in.

On the other hand, could the Italians please, please, please, pick up a book on French baking secrets.  The Italians make bread that could be used as a murder weapon.  And their attempts at desserts (with the exception of some gelato) are pathetic.  I mean, come on people:  drive a few miles into France.  Buy a loaf of bread.  Think about it.  Reverse engineer it.   It’s not advance physics.

Horaayy..there are 5 comment(s) for me so far ;)


I am jealous as sin of the wildly “decadent” lifestyle you are living. I use to travel a fair amount, and your comments on the FRench are dead on. Parisians are unpleasant to everyone including other Parisians. The French by and large, are fairly pleasant.

As for the bread in Italy, I used to get in arguements all the time about it. Effort wasted. The Italians do make some good desserts though. Take the family to Trattoria Sabatino which is just outside porta San Frediano some time. The food is good, prices great, and the desserts amazing. I learned about the Mille Foglia there by watching a local six year old girl pick it out. Next time I was there I paid for her dessert, it was so good. Food for thought…

dt wrote on September 24, 2008 - 12:17 pm

Italian baking so little to say. While you were away there was a French market in Arezzo. Even though it was frozen dough being baked off in the middle of the Piazza Grande it was far superior to anything found in an Italian bakery. The pain au chocolat was almost as good as a Krispy Kreme. We went 2 times and spent over 30 Euros for 2 people. Wish they would have the market more often.

Martha wrote on September 24, 2008 - 3:09 pm

Oh please……you’re so totally American……….there is no more fabulous bread in the world than Italian bread….. crusty, yeasty, holey, chewey, full of flavor (except maybe for bland, saltless Tuscan pane) You just need to head further south on the boot.French Bagettes are just flour and water. Blechhhhh!!!

cas wrote on September 25, 2008 - 7:38 am

“If you want to break a law, make sure it’s one nobody has a specific form for” is one grammatical change away from being a Bartlett’s quote that people will think James Thurber wrote. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what that change is.

Callimachus wrote on September 25, 2008 - 9:23 pm

So, having North Carolina plates in Europe is the equivalent to having foreign diplomat plates in the U.S.?

MiM wrote on September 30, 2008 - 5:16 pm
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