63 jours après avoir déposé la demande de Laisser-Passer dérogatoire, le très saint Sésame est arrivé. Vous le trouverez plus bas. Lundi 19 octobre 2020 nous quittons l’accueillant Sint Maartens, le côté batave de Saint Martin, par le vol AF 499 pour rejoindre la grisaille de l’Ile de France.
Obtenir ce Laisser-Passer ne fut pas un parcours indolore, en cause les hésitations procédurières d’une bureaucratie peu capable de gérer à la fois une certaine improvisation et une relation client disons attentive.
63 days after submitting the derogatory permit request, the Most Holy Sesame arrived. You will find it below. Monday October 19, 2020 we leave the welcoming Sint Maartens, the Batavian side of Saint Martin, by flight AF 499 to join the grayness of the Ile de France.
Obtaining this laissez-passer was not a painless journey, the procedural hesitations of a bureaucracy little able to manage both a certain improvisation and a customer relationship, let’s say attentive.
Dans le cadre d’une dématérialisation, les miracles de Lourdes sont-ils désormais accessibles n’importe où dans l’Univers ?
Après plus de 60 jours d’attente, un message du consulat de Miami nous informe que notre dossier de Laisser-Passer dérogatoire pour Susan serait accepté si nous fournissons un récépissé de billet d’avion Aller-Retour. Si OPODO ne nous fait pas un petit dans le dos, ce sera chose faite ce soir.
Are Miracles now available World Wide and not only in sacred places like Lourdes?
After more than 60 days of waiting, a message from the Miami consulate informs us that our file would be accepted if we provide a receipt for the round trip plane ticket.
Ce matin ma félinophilie n’a pas été récompensée : la petite chatte blanche a humé le morceau de lard que je lui tendais, elle l’a simplement ignoré.
This morning my feline love was not rewarded: the little white cat smelled the piece of bacon that I handed her, she simply ignored it.A Marigot, nous sommes passés devant “Chez Martine”, elle était absente.
In Marigot, we walked by Martine, she was not around.La plage de Baie Rouge nous avait été recommandée pour l’observation des poissons. Le voilier, en haut à gauche de la photo, montre que les ravages d’Irma restent particulièrement présents.
The Baie Rouge beach was recommended to us for fish watching. The sailboat, at the top left of the photo, shows that Irma’s ravages remain particularly present.Les ruines du petit restaurant de plage le confirment.
The ruins of the small beach restaurant confirm this.
Message reçu ce jour du Consulat 60 jours après le dépôt du dossier.
Bonjour Monsieur Cech,
Nous sommes en bonne voie pour obtenir le laissez passer de Susan, cependant il faut que vous me fournissiez une réservation de vols a/r pour son séjour en France. Comme pour un visa, nous avons besoin d’un billet d’avion pour établir ce laissez passer. Je dois voir sur cette réservation toutes les informations inhérentes à ses vols (n° de vol, aéroport de départ et d’arrivée, heure d’arrivée, date de départ etc…)
Pourriez-vous me le faire parvenir dès que possible ? Je suis au bureau jusqu’à 12h30,heure de Miami, si celui-ci me parvient avant, je pourrai l’envoyer en France dès aujourd’hui pour décision.
Le départ ne doit pas intervenir avant au moins la fin de cette semaine : le temps de recevoir le laissez passer et Susan devra réaliser un test PCR dans les 72h précédant son vol et être en mesure d’en présenter les résultats a l’embarquement.
Je vous en remercie par avance,
Sans autres commentaires, du moins pour le moment.
le 7 août 2020, il y a donc sept semaines, la Commission Européenne a invité les pays membres à permettre aux couples, même non mariés, à pouvoir se réunir. Dans la foulée, le Secrétariat d’Etat au Tourisme a fait une annonce fracassante d’ouverture des frontières sur ce sujet.
Après avoir été baladé pendant deux semaines de Consulat en Consulat général, Susan et moi avons réussi à déposer un dossier noté complet auprès du Consulat de France à Miami le 17 août 2020.
Malgré plusieurs relances, nous entamons la cinquième semaine de Silence Radio.
Et telle la Sœur Anne, nous ne voyons rien venir.
Notre dossier est tombé dans le trou noir de la Désespérante Bureaucratie.
on August 7, 2020, seven weeks ago, the European Commission invited member countries to allow couples, even unmarried, to be able to reunite. In the process, the Secretary of State for Tourism made a sensational announcement of the opening of borders on this subject.
After being walked for two weeks from Consulate to Consulate General, the Consulate of France in Miami on August 17, 2020 acknowledged reception of a complete document.
We are entering the fifth week of total black out.
Buried under bureaucratic silence. Intolerable.
Pour partager vos aventures sur ce sujet cliquez ICI.
To share your experiences on this matter click HERE.
Last week we decided to give a final answer (yes of course) to the following question :
Did you see Jim Morisson grave in Paris?To find the place, we just had to follow the crowd bound to the sanctuary.But is Jim Morisson the only one you should pay a tribute to? Of course not.
Earlier, as we were in the Montparnasse cemetery, we had hand picked a few places to honor.
This time we just walked randomly and ran into some Hall of Famers. Victor Schoelcher for example, everyone in the universe knows him for his fight.
If you do not belong to the category “Everyone”, click on the link above, you will understand why tou should revere his memory.While we are in a remembrance moment, let us pay a tribute to the non French who fought, with courage, in France, to save Liberty and Democracy.
Here, and do not think that I am overly chauvinist, let me ask you to join me and, together, pay a tribute to the Czech people.
After leaving the Père Lachaise, one of the two major Paris cemeteries, we walked down the rue du Chemin Vert and made two encounters. To be honest only the second one was planned.First stop.
To maintain the glamour reputation of Paris, this shop sells erotic books.
The shop was closed so we did not bring back a sample to share with you.The second stop is more emotional.
Here lived someone who will never be replaced in my memory.
Because our mothers were High School friends, with Patrick, we have shared good and excellent times for the last seven decades.
From cradle to the present moment. Can you say better?Susan loves art, so we made a stop in Barbizon. Please note that even the Post Office is Art.Art did I say?Probably yes.Barbizon is not far from Fontainebleau famous for its Château built by François I (pronounce François Premier). Here Napoleon abdicated the first time in April 1814.Back to Paris for a last walk before Susan returns to Florida. Of course a last fine lunch in our Tuxedo like attire.As a final smile, a forbidden picture.
Susan returned on August 15, we shall reunite in 5 weeks for a French family reunion in Florida in October.
Now that Susan has become an expert in public transportation, ie the Paris Metro, she travels by herself and begins discovering Paris on her own.
Along the right bank of the river Seine, East of Paris was a large estate dedicated to wine trade. By the end of the fifties, the area was reassigned: on the left bank a Science University, on the right bank, a park. Vanessa, my daughter and Salomé met Susan for a discovery of the park.Sculptures, ponds decorate the park.As everywhere in this world, shopping booths pop. Some elements of the previous architecture remain, so do the rails of the train that moved the goods around.Last year, Susan discovered China Town, we had a dinner at this restaurant.
As a celebration to this Anniversary, we did an encore.
By the way, she is not the only person with whom I spent a dinner there, my Buddy Claude will recognize the place, it has been there for at least 30 years.On the way to the restaurant, we ran into one of the Fontaine Wallace that ornate Paris, and not only Paris, ever since the end of the XIX century. But let me be square, even though wine is a French common beverage, these fountains offer water only.Paris tries to keep the original artefacts, here an Art Deco Metro station.
Another day in le Marais
A promise was made to Susan a long time ago: a visit to the Musée Picasso. Here we are enjoying, on the ground floor, a common exhibition Calder-Picasso.
Abstract of slightly figurative art offers a large space for naming the works. Here Calder named his word “Wooden Bottle with Hair”. To my point of view, I would have rather called it “Rock attracting Fishes”.As we left the Picasso Museum, we ran into a feather covered bike.
The designer must have smoked untested substances.As we were hungry, in the Plaetzl of Paris, the Jewish quarter, we made an attempt to enjoy Fallafel. The lines were too long, we gave up hoping to find another place.During our search, a Rabbi asked me if I was Jewish and if I had done my daily Mitzvah.
Of course I had was my answer My Mitzvah was to visit the Picasso Museum with Susan.
As a matter of fact, the guy wanted me to lace the Tefilin and do the prayer with him.
I will not get into the details but, after a Pilpul, he understood that it was a lost cause.
Susan looked at us silently during the discussion and could not stop laughing as soon as we left.Facing the restaurant was a shop named “The Trouser”, the motto of the shop is
“You’ve got beautiful legs, you know?”
This of course makes a reference to a 1938 movie called “Quai des Brumes” and if you read the previous Susan’s Weeks, you will smile.
On the way back to the Metro we ran into two shops.The first one is a famous Gay shop.The second one is the world famous Mariage Frères that sells teas,
Susan could not leave without a can of local Earl Gray.Paris is not exempt of vandalism.Neither is the suburb of American invasion. We had to shop in the only COSTCO in France.
The good news is that if Susan falls into a home sick moment, a run to COSTCO will give her a shot of Americana. If the prices were not in Euro, it would be easy to beleive that you are in North America.On Saturday, a visit to the market where we bought Shrimps to prepare Flambé with Pastis for lunch and scalops for tomorrow.
Here comes the Sun(day)
You may have the Greatest Pinocchio, we have the Greatest Flea Market.
Susan had to discover this incredible mix of Schmatte and superb antiques.An example of weird way to spend money: a toy for 20k$.A booth more in line with Susan’s point of focus (desires).After grazing for over two hours, the stomachs cried famine.
An artichoke for Susan, a breadless hamburger for me.On the way back to the Metro, we ran into the French equivalent of Big Bird, a thing named Casimir. Every kid over 30 and berlow 50 knows the show that was the signal to bed time.A first for Susan and me, a ride in the Tramway.
In French the Tramway means a train in the streets.Last but not least, I tried to activate the speed trap an X-Ray Kodak machine.
Even if I had been successful, as I am not registred, I would not have received the moving violation ticket.
Home tonight, Scallops with a white Burgundy. You should have joined us.
May be next time.
Last week of Susan’s second month. A Parisian week, so Parisian that we bought a weekly metro pass and Susan graduated, Cum Laude, from “Find your way in the Paris Metro maze”.
The week had begun with a visit to the Louvre.
Susan tried to show the famous Mona Lisa enigmatic smile. SUCCESS!Unfortunately we were not able to reserve the Louvre for a private visit. Susan had to share.
Next time, who knows.
I know, this number 73 rue de Vaugirard does not ring a bell for you.
At this very address I spent the first 40 years of my life. This area was my village.
A pilgrimage was needed. DONE!As we were in the Montparnasse area, we paid a tribute to the great men (and women too) burried in the Montparnasse Cemetery. For stupid reasons we missed the 100th Anniversary of Citroën, the car manufacturer, not stopping by the founder’s grave would have been an insult to his memory.Some graves of unknown wealthies are overly Baroque. This one does not lack an ounce of bad taste.Most Cemeteries have a Jewish quarter, Montparnasse has at least four.Here a famous film maker, Gérard Oury and his wife Michèle Morgan. She had a superb career and she leaves an immortal trace in the French cinema. In the movie “Quai des Brumes” Jean Gabin seduces her with a “You’ve got so beautiful eyes, you know”.
Did I fool you? Moving even in French.Talking about love, sorry LOVE, this deserves an Upper Case, the most famous couple of French intellectuals, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Simone de Beauvoir, a Path finder in the Women’s Lib said, “You are not born Woman, you become one”.
As for a tribute to the great woman, Susan too left her mark too.We went to l’Orangerie where Monet’s Water Lillies are on a permanent display. In the lower part of the building another exhibit was waiting for us.This modern abstract painting by Alex Katz, inspired by Monet’s Water Lillies, needed a close inspection.Soutine was also part of the exhibit that included, but not only, Matisse, Renoir…
Two hours well spent.We left the Orangerie for, as Bankrupt Pinocchio would say, the most touristy picture in the Galaxy: from le jardin des Tuileries the alignment of la Concorde, les Champs Elysées and l’Arc de Triomphe.Saturday was dedicated to my perversion, Arts and Technologies. This Museum hosts a collection of technological objects such as clocks, measuring standards, communication equipments, mechanical devices, looms (I just discovered this word) and technological cathedrals that will never be number crunching again.Here a Cray 2. In my presence, should you wish to avoid a three hour lecture on the beauty of super-computing, do not even mention the name.
Kind of half way into Susan’s summer three month trip in France.
The first part of the week will be a family moment in the West of France.Here motor boats have only one engine and the power is usually under 100HP.Family reunion, here the cousins are almost at full count, one only is missing.On both sides of the big pond, such a gathering means FOOD!
Cannot escape.Took a day off on our own to visit the Marais de Grande Brière. I left the WIKI link in French, the one in English is almost non-existent.After a light lunch, we rented a row boat for the afternoon. A nice and slow way to discover this rather well preserved area.Two hours of rowing in an undisturbed, silent environement.Nice encounters, here a Kingfisher.By the end of the trip, a local needed to talk to some one, we happened to be around.
In a dense 15 minutes speech, we became scholars of what has to be known of la Grande Brière. On the other hand, it was too dense to be digested in such a short period of time.Susan was promoted to additional Grand-Ma with the bottle duty.
Both seemed to be enjoying the situation.Before leaving and returning to Paris, we were offered a Flute concert by Salome. This week end a visit to the 100 years of Citroën. I had registered from Florida in March and hoped to be among the happy visitors of the event.
Kolossal error, I was not expected, my payment had not gone through and I had no way to check if I has paid or not.
Furious I left the event without meeting my friends from Seattle who were attending.On Saturday, to calm down, we met with my long time buddy for a appeasing moment.But happilly, my Seattle buddies made it to my future new home.
A 2CV with a Washington St license plate, quite amazing.For them it was a short stop on their way back to Germany.
But at least after 6 years, we met on this side of the pond.
Here a reminder of the good time spent together in 2014.
Made it yesterday night to our Airbnb in La Rochelle hoping that the temperature would be lower than what we lived in Bordeaux. Of course, as Oleron was on the way, we enjoyed the Sunday diner there, please refer to the end of week 4.After a nice walk along the board walk, we deserved a light lunch in the Old Harbor. The tower behind identifies the city.Made it too late after lunch to visit the “Marché couvert” from the second half of the XIX century. La Rochelle is an important harbor. During WW II, the Germans set up a submarine base. Not so long ago it was possible to come close to the walls, due to an ununderstandable paranoïa, it is not possible any more, so we grased in the open parts of the harbor, here the fishing quarters. On the way back home, our attention was caught by a statue impersonating a game.
Can you guess? Ok easy, BaseBall, you got it right. Boucaneers is the name of the team.It was low tide and the boats were sitting in the mud, so as a public service,
I made a futile attempt to create a high tide.To end the day, Susan prepared a light diner.
A bottle of Beaumes de Venise, a superb red Côtes du Rhône, died on the table.
Tuesday July 9
As the temperatures lowered, a bicycle ride was scheduled on l’Ile de Ré.Even though we made it late, they provided us with a pair of well maintained bicycles.The boss convinced us to make an attempt to the “Phare des Baleines”, the Whales Lighthouse.
A 30 miles round trip.
We are on our way.A pit stop at a salt production site. And they sell it.This is the sales booth. Pick your choice, pay at the piggy bank. Your honesty is challanged.
1€ a pound and half for coarse salt,
7€ the pound of the high quality “Fleur de Sel”.Around Mid-Way, we decided to stop for a short feeding break. Do not be fooled, the oysters got a pint of local Rosé.
Fatal error, when leaving the table, the legs cried for a shorter ride. We decided to visit le Phares des Baleines (sorry the link is in French) on another occasion.Susan wondered if Vines carried grapes.
Look carefuly, the fruits are small and green, but they are here.
The obvious answer is YES!After returning the bikes, exhausted we crashed for a drink before driving back home in La Rochelle.
Wednesday July 10
Susan enters Postal 2.0, she writes post cards, adds stamps and hands the result to the French counterpart of USPS. Guess what, this old fashion way of communication still works.
Today was a scheduled Museum day. To avoid inner city parking nightmare, the car was parked just outside the heart of La Rochelle and started moving on foot.
A typical Rail Road station built in the second part of the XIX century.After the operative back office, the front entrance.On our way to our first stage, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, we visited the covered market that offers a wide choice of fish, meat and of course cheese.Delicatessen and ready to enjoy catering.And of course locally produced oysters.
After the market stop, hit the walk to the Museum.
Museum closed for major structural repairs. Not advertised anywhere.
Ready to eat my cap in sign of furror.So we visited a substitute option, the Bunker, (sorry it is in French) a German artefact from WW II that offers a superb explaination of the life in La Rochelle at that time.By the end of the afternoon, I spotted my boat in the old harbor. It has my name on it.Here is the proof. BTW, in Hebrew “Saba” means Grand-Pa and this is the way my grand-children call me. Is it a sign?On the way back I discovered a superb Japanese tree that requires heavy maintenance in term of triming.
As I ignore the real name, refering to the mandatory maintenance, I call it a vegetal French Poodle.
Thursday July 11
The last day in La Rochelle, a lazy day, little on the to do list, just a visit to the Musée Maritime. On display live a Weather Station Boat and a Tug Boat. Nothing really visual.Nothing visual worth showing, but worth visiting. Here the tug boat.The city of La Rochelle gathers a superb collection of real sail boats, perfectly maintained in operating condition. A dream.Even though the heat wave is coming to an end, the water fountains offer a welcomed cool moment.
Friday July 12
On our way to the July family reunion, we left La Rochelle for a pilgrimage in a small village on the Atlantic ocean.Susan was wondering why they did not cut the SunFlowers to sell them.
A kind of misunderstanding, the SunFlowers are not to be sold as such but they are farmed to be pressed later to get a healthy cooking and seasoning oil. Another discovery.On the way to Les Moutiers en Retz, we stopped at Le Passage du Gois, an access road to the Ile de Noirmoutiers, submerged most of the time, it is usable only during 2 or 3 hours around low tide.
This is of course a Fake News photo op pretending we escaped to be caught by the tide.After crossing the straight by the bridge, we stopped in Noirmoutiers en l’Ile.
One of the most desired cars, a Mini Moke, caught our attention.Susan’s natural attraction for shopping led her into this beautiful shop.The shop is named Athmosphere. Every time the word “Athmosphere” is heard, the French people refer to a well known scene where a pimp lets his women down.
The final words are about changing Athmosphere, in this case meaning changing partner.
Not subtitled but obviously understandable.The famous Lanterne des Morts in Les Moutiers en Retz. This light house dates back from the XII century and is lit when a resident dies and remains lit until he is burried.
A long time tradition.It is time to cross the river Loire. No bridge but a free ferry.It is time to board for a five minute crossing.Susan’s first ferry trip ever. Let’s celebrate.This will be the focus of the evening spent with my nephew’s family.
Saturday July 13
Made it to our destination at noon time. Violette celebrated our arrival with a Great First, she started her first non bottle meal. Semi success, after the initial try, the bottle was welcome.
Sunday July 14
Susan is in charge of Baby Sitting Violette.In the mean time, the boys are having fun.After lunch and the necessary nap, a walk along the beach.Upon returning home, before a family BBQ, a call to the US.Nineteen people around thee tables. A nice final stop to this week 5.
No more traveling for the next 5 days.
Left Andorra to join my friends in Anglet a city on the Atlantic Coast in the Pays Basque.Low cloud cover, cool tempatures, making it to the col du Port.
Port pass in English but if you use the French sequencing it is called Pass Port.
Tuesday July 2
This is to prove that we made it.Another picture to prove we made it to Biarritz. Could not escape the standard picture.Marie & Philippe drove us around the area.
Let us remain as Latin as possible, the men sit in the front, the ladies behind.A typical architecture of the Hinterland of the Pays Basque.
Found fresh nuts, an opportunity for a lesson in Natural Sciences later.Here a remainder of the Old Europe when, before the European Union, borders tried without any success to slow commerce and people migrations.
Bankrupt Chicken Bonespur in Washington should try to understand History and stop bragging about a stupid, costly an useless wall.Here with Marie, our right foot is in Spain, the left one in France.
And on this road, there has never been a border building, even during the nasty days of the Franco dictatorship, the flow was unchecked, the crime rate lower than any where else.
Does this ring a bell?An evening at Saint Jean de Luz for a doubble game of Cesta Punta.Could not escape a meeting with the local Mascott.
Wednesday July 3
A day in Spain at San Sebastian or Donostia depending if you feel Spanish or Basque.A walk on the sea side, Susan and Marie along the sea, Philippe and I remaining on the Broad Walk.
We woke up late as the previous evenig at the Jai Alai took a toll seen below.
We had to explain that thirst was about to create a pair of Widows. Message heard.
Therefore the mandatory first pit stop, just after the walk, was at the restaurant on the harbor.Marie succesfully convinced us to climb the hill where in the Fort overlooking the pass to the Bay. No lift, no chopper but feet, sweat and pain.On the other hand the view from above was worth the pain.I told you it was a Fort. Tried to load the gun and check if the second Amendment makes sense here.The public, Marie and Philippe, cheer the performance.On the way down we met a local.
After this too short introductary stay in Biarritz, a musical dinner beautifully ended our stay.
Thank you Marie and Philippe, you made me rediscover the area I visited 54 years ago.
Thursday July 4
On the way to Bordeaux.Before our final evening destination, we stopped at the Dune du Pilat.Susan made it to the top quite exhausted.I was the only one able to plant the flag of Victory.We needed to refuel the tanks. A sea food platter offered the required relief.DONE! No prisoners, do doggy bag. Head for the last stop of the day in Bordeaux.
Friday and Saturday July 6 & 7
Visit of Bordeaux, few pictures, did not save them. The disaster wil happen tomorrow.
Sunday July 7
Left Bordeaux unable to cool the Airbnb, hoping that La Rochelle will offer some lower temperatures. Unfortunately we lost the camera we used for this trip.
Hoping to recover the lost camera, we returned to the Fort of l’ile d’Oléron.Susan is kind of disapointed, had to find an activity to restore her smile.The usual suspect, a sea food platter was the obvious solution.
What a lack of imagination.
Tomorrow a last attempt will be made to recover the lost camera, little hope.
On the other hand week 5 is on the way.
It will be enjoyed in La Rochelle leaving for Quimiac on Saturday 13.
Car is loaded, driver and passenger ready for a late afternoon arrival in Orange.The route Napoleon is on the way, so are the small restaurants using History to promote their menus. Respect.
Made it to Orange before dusk and had diner at Barbara’s restaurant the Peperoncino
Thursday June 27 – En route vers le Midi
After a short week spent in the heat wave that struck Orange, we leave the house for the last time. On July 11, the property will be handed over.En route to our destination, Carcassonne, harrassed by the heat, up to 43 (Celsius) we stopped in Quillian for a refreshing salad. No wine today!
Saturday June 29
Carcassonne, a total rebuild of ruins left behind. Looks like a Walt Disney set up. As a matter of fact, the structure of the “Sleeping Beauty” castle was inspired by Carcassonne.What Disney did not know was that the the Sleeping Beauty was not sleeping.
Saturday June 29
As we crossed the Canal du Midi, we stopped at one of the locks.A house boat on her way to the Mediterranean gave us the demo on how a lock is operated.Behind the lock, a 4 centuries old bridge.Another bridge, inaugurated in 1928.
Can anyone guess
1-the name of the company that built this bridge
2- what the name of the bridge is?
1- The bridge was built by Eiffel, the father of the Eponyme Tower.
2- And now Susan has a piece of property named to honor her presence somewhere in the South of France.Almost arrived to our destination, the last pass rises to 7500 feet.No this is not plastic pollution, this is real snow. Susan could not escape the moment.Neither did I for a short down hill run.And finally, the reward of a nice evening diner with my long time buddy, Claude.
Sunday June 30
Shopping in the city of Andorra la Vella, ready for a piece of art Street lifting. Did not do it, too heavy for my car.So we went for lighter shopping, not lifting.Magnificient piece of Art. Magnicicient, may be but not for me!Cured Ham the Spanish way. Delicious, prices range from $100 to $600. Not sure I can taste the difference.
Tomorrow morning the Tour de France continues with Biarritz in sight.
Philippe, are you ready?