Here it is the end of March and it's still more like winter than spring in Eastern Ontario - piles of snow everywhere you look and a bitter wind that dries sheets on the clothesline quickly but is otherwise not very pleasant. Fortunately, my thoughts have been on the south of France for most of the last 2 days.
1. This morning I booked TGV tickets from CDG to Valence for our trip to Drome-Provence this June. I did a couple of test runs before giving my credit card # to see if I could get a better price if I said I lived in France or Great Britain - I live in Canada by the way. There was no difference but by the time I was ready to make my purchase the tickets were €25 more expensive - no doubt a reflection of my activity on the site. I also tried to figure out if it was still possible to print the tickets online, as I think some recent posters on Slow Travel indicated, but I was not able to do so. So I have to take my confirmation numbers with me, go to a kiosk at CDG when I land in June, and use the numbers and the credit card that I used to purchase the tickets to get the actual ticket. I've left 3 hours from the time our plane lands to catch the train. There were earlier trains, but I didn't want to risk missing a connection.
2. Last evening we had a trip-planning dinner with 4 friends who want to go to Provence in June 2009. We started out with a kir aperitif, then some fig and goat-cheese appetizers followed by herbed potatoes, asparagus and salmon, coffee and a choice of coconut-cream pie or chocolate cheesecake for dessert. One of the bottles of wine we opened was a Chateau de Mille 2003, which we picked up last September at the retail store in Apt.
I brought out several of our Provence resources, ready for the borrowing. Only two were selected - a copy of A Year in Provence and a DVD of A Good Year. It's a start.
None of our friends have ever been to France. It was interesting to hear some of their questions:
What will the weather be like in June?
How will we get there?
What is there to do?
What's a euro worth?
Will we have to speak French?
How do you pronounce Aix?
Here they are on the way out the door after dinner, all bundled up against the cold, well-fortified with wine from the Luberon and visions of two weeks in a most beautiful part of the world.
After they had left, I commented to my wife that they seemed very enthusiastic. "Well," she said, "Somebody else is doing all the planning and will be doing all the driving. Women like that."