Bonjour mes amis!
I know it's been a few days, but I have so much more to share...
Today, I want to show you one of the most requested places my Dad asked me to take him to in France...the castle of Richard the Lionheart. Much of it is in ruins, but it is being rebuilt according to historical accuracy. Here's the valley below, which is the village of Les Andelys.
Here is an excerpt from the Les Andelys website regarding the history of Château Gaillard...
"The Stronghold of Richard the Lionheart
Think back to the fantastic life of Richard the Lionheart, the friend of Robin Hood, as Walter Scott related it in his novel Ivanhoe.Chateau-Gaillard is the very place where these romanticized stories meet History. For this fortress was dreamed of, skillfully designed and built by the fiery Richard I of England, feudal Duke of Normandy, better known as Richard the Lionheart. This nickname was given in recognition of his bravery in the Crusades.
Eight hundred years later, Chateau-Gaillard offers living proof that this celebrated ruler really existed. Its stones give an idea of Richard's nature. Like its creator, the stronghold of Les Andelys calls to mind strength, power, invincibility. Yet the virtually impregnable fortress would live only a few years, just like Richard, who was too confident in his talents as a warrior."
This is an impressive castle that was built in only one year. My Dad was fascinated to explore and read about this castle, and especially to gaze at the impressive location high on the hill with beautiful views all around.
Enjoy these views as I tell you a little story that is loosely related to living in France!
First of all, while Dr. J and I lived in France with our son, Jewelius, we were privileged to be able to eat out in Restaurants quite a bit, probably most weekends, and then we were invited to dine in French homes as well.
We got spoiled...
French restaurants tend to be much smaller than American ones, and they are also much quieter, even though you tend to sit closer to your neighbor's table in French Restaurants.
Here is what we observed and enjoyed...
French Restaurants and its diners are quiet. They speak in lower voices at their tables, and in general, there isn't music blaring over speakers so you can barely speak with your dinner companion. In a French Restaurant, when you are escorted to a table, the table is yours for the evening. There is no rushing through a meal, so more guests can be seated thirty minutes later. A French meal is leisurely and enjoyable.
When we returned to the U.S. after a year in France, we wanted to go out to eat, but dreaded deciding on a place to dine every time. American Restaurants tend to be larger and noisier and rushed. For us, it is not relaxing.
Last week it was our Anniversary and we wanted to make an evening of it, so we planned to go out to eat and then to a movie. All day long, we asked eachother, "so...where do you want to go for dinner?" The movie decision was fairly easy, but we hemmed and hawed all day on what restaurant to go to. We didn't want a noisy place. We wanted a place we could sit and talk and not be rushed.
Since Dr. J really wanted to see the new Star Trek movie, and I was okay with that, he basically let me choose the restaurant. I was not in the mood for waiting, or rushing or noisy.
I chose a place closeby, mainly because their food sounded good to me that night.
We drove up to the restaurant and Dr. J went in to check about putting our name in. He returned fairly quickly and told me to come in, that they could seat us right away! Oh wow! I hadn't expected that!
We headed in and were escorted to a booth in the corner, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant was fairly quiet.
We ordered sangria and talked, and perused the menu. It hadn't been too long ago that I had been at this restaurant, but I guess I had forgotten one thing...
This place tends to rush the courses...as so many American restaurants do!
No sooner had we ordered and received an appetizer, and our salads showed up! How disappointing! We were being rushed! Perhaps the restaurant felt they were giving us good service, but we didn't see it that way. Not after all the relaxing meals in France!
French Restaurants set the standard for us!
We decided to do something about the situation...
Dr. J flagged down a waiter, and we asked him to find out waitress. We assured him there was no problem with the food, but he wanted to know what he could do to help and tell our waitress.
So, we told him that we were not in a rush and really wanted to enjoy our appetizer and then our salads, and Dr. J. told the waiter we didn't want to see our main course for an hour.
Even though I thought an hour was a bit of overkill, we waited for our waitress to come over to our table. When she arrived, we explained that it was our Anniversary, and just how leisurely we wanted our meal to be, and Dr. J told her that we would signal to her when she could put our steak and salmon orders in.
She was quite accommodating, and we were able to talk and enjoy and not rush through our food.
Too bad the server mixed up our salads and I ate atleast one third of Dr. J's salad with blue cheese dressing before I realized it. Guess that's another French habit! I used to hate blue cheese until I had it in France!
I guess we are still tentative about dining in the U.S. when we want a leisurely meal, but our faith is restored that perhaps some restaurants can work for us.
Of course, if I didn't insist with Dr. J, we would probably never go out to eat. His motto is...
"There's no place like home!" He will always take a home-cooked meal over going out!
I hope you have enjoyed seeing Château Gaillard and the surrounding area! Now, we will head to the village!
My Dad and I had an enjoyable walk around the town, and stopped in a small restaurant for a leisurely lunch!
Notice the Château off in the distance!
Our walk along the river was quite nice, too!
Especially when we came upon this happy little family of eight!
Well, I hope you've had some good dining experiences...
And the chance to chat with your dining companion...
But, take it from us...you can always ask for things to be slowed down...
If that doesn't work...
Tell your waitress/waiter it's your Anniversary! (It also helps if it's true and you look very much in love)!
Have a "jewel" of a day!