[Of related interest to this item is an earlier posting, Visitors from France.]
I just got e-word from my friend Michelle that she and Yves finally made it back to their home near Bordeaux in France. She said that though they had had an absolutely fabulous trip, they were both very happy to be back home and starting up the familiar routine. I know what she means!
In any event, they did spend a couple of weeks out in California (Calistoga and St. Helena), and it turns out Yves visited not only many of the vineyards in the Napa Valley, but also some of the emerging ones in the region between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. And in The City [= ‘San Francisco’ in the local patois] there was much wining and dining, both by themselves and likewise with the import-export associates of the numerous wine merchants who inhabit the Bay Area. Apparently this part of the journey was a very successful one from a business and vacation point of view.
It struck me as a bit odd, but Michelle, an American, had to be introduced to San Francisco by Yves, a Frenchman. But no matter: she loved San Francisco and all the restaurants. She admitted she had put on weight as a result of their extensive dining in that (once) appealing city.
She says she fell in love with the Napa Valley, which, on her view, had nothing to be ashamed of in comparison with the great wine-growing regions of France around Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley. Since I’ve been both places myself, I can vouch for the accuracy of her comments. A few years ago I took a train from Strasbourg (right on the Franco-German border in the east) to Paris, and the train went through some utterly gorgeous wine country where they grow the grapes that go into making champagne. It is a sight you won’t forget (I would say the same about the vineyards I saw climbing up the steep slopes on the opposite side of the wide and fast-moving Rhine as I made a train trip a few days earlier in Germany south from Köln [Cologne] to Stuttgart).
Michelle and Yves had bad luck on the flight from San Francisco to Paris, as it apparently fulfilled all the worst fears one has these days about air travel: many delays before departure, not an empty seat on the entire flight, and a cranky cabin crew. Sounds like a nightmare, and it is precisely the kind of thing that makes me leery of travelling these days – who needs the hassle?
But they did spend a few days in Paris, splurging by taking a suite at the famous Ritz. Yves has a degree from the Sorbonne (in mathematics, of all things!), and for this reason he still has friends in the city. They did some partying and, again, some great wining and dining in this city that does it even better than it’s done in San Francisco – and that’s for sure saying a lot. Yves also had some business to take care of in Paris, so Michelle had a chance to take in some of the museums. Her favorite is the Musée d’Orsay (who could fault that?), which is quite near the Sorbonne, and I wish I’d been with her. She spent a thronged but rewarding morning with tourists from all over the world.
But, for all the fun they did have (and she thanked me again for the visit they had with me), they both agreed that the best part of the entire trip was coming home again to the quiet little vineyard in St. Emilion.
I can concur completely.