Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grandma & Mrs. Eberhart's Visit! May 6, 2011

First morning in France -- They were treated to a trip to
the Arles Market

Enjoying Van Gogh's Garden

Smiling in the Garden

Andrew has been looking for just the right "chapeau"
since we arrived

Grandma found one right away!

Outside the cafe depicted in
Van Gogh's: The Cafe Terrace Arles at Night

Picnic at Sts. Maries Del La Mer with food from the market

Enjoying a breezy walk on the rocky pier

Celebrating Mother's Day!

Enjoying a little relaxation by the pool - Cheers!

Next stop - PARIS! 
Mom and Marilyn arrived on Friday night after 9:00 pm.  We had the house cleaned up, snacks ready and were very excited!  When it was time to go, we all walked to the tram station to discover that the trams were running 10 - 15 minutes apart and we were probably going to be late to pick the travelers up from Gare St. Roch!  The trams typically run 3 minutes apart except on Sundays when they run 10 minutes apart - this was a Friday night - I have no idea what the issue was! Rather than waiting for the tram, we began walking to the next station - down the road to Station Boutenet - when we arrived there, we would still have a 7 minute wait so Adam ran to the next stop while the rest of us patiently waited for tram 1 which finally arrived, right on schedule, 7 minutes later!  As we stopped at each of the following stations, we looked for Adam to jump on but never found him. I could tell that Andrew was concerned and I was beginning to be also.  I decided, however, not to panic until we got to the Gare St. Roch station - if he wasn't there, we had a problem!  Sure enough - the tram stopped at our destination and there he was, waiting for us with a sweaty brow!  He had run all the way from home to the train station - about eight tram stops!

We walked into the train station to discover that the train was running a few minutes behind so we had some time to catch our breath and figure out which platform they'd be coming in on.  Soon, the train pulled in and people began pouring out of all 20 cars.  Since we didn't know which car they were in, our family of 5 was evenly distributed along the platform looking for two grandmas and their baggage. They were found, baggage collected, hugs and "French" kisses (three in a row on cheeks!) were distributed as we showed them the way out of the station and to the tram.

Upon arriving home, they were given a tour of the house and a small portion of the gardens since the sun was setting and it was getting pretty dark.  We had a nice visit that night with wine and Pain au Chocolates (a welcome to Montpellier tradition started by the kids) as they settled into their visitors quarters - Emma's room  :).

Bright and early Saturday morning we awoke, drank some coffee, tossed everyone in the car and took them to our favorite Saturday morning hangout - the Arles Market.  Arles is approximately 1 hour from our house so the drive was nice and we showed them the outer edges of Camargue region.  The Camargue is known for the "Guardians" (cowboys) and their white horses and black bulls.  It is also an area where Camargue Rice is grown.  As we passed by many of the fields, I mentioned that I wasn't sure why there was so much water standing in some of the fields - Mrs. Eberhart (very smart former kindegarten teacher!) very nicely suggested that the fields might be rice patties - Ahhhh Haaaa!  Well duh!  That makes complete sense!  The drive was nice, we got to our favorite Arles parking garage without incident, and headed for the market.

Showing visitors around the market is always a big treat for us.  Mrs. Eberhart kept her eyes open for some Provencal fabric while mom looked around for souveniers.  We walked away from the market after a while to find a bathroom which, ironically, happens to be in Van Gogh's garden (the nicest bathroom that we've found in Arles that we don't have to pay for anyway!)  While we were there, pictures were taken and the various Van Gogh memorabilia was perused before our return to the market. 

Everyone agreed that since the sun was shining and it was close to lunchtime, a picnic on the beach sounded nice.  We bought some bread, cheese, olives, fruit, baked goods etc... packed everything into the car and headed for Sts. Maries Del La Mer for a nice beach picnic.  When we arrived, the wind was howling and the temperature was chilly!  We eventually found a barrier to sit behind (most of them were already taken), set up "picnic shop" and ate our market lunch on the chilly beach next to 4 teenagers - two guys, and two bikinis who, I'm sure, were happy to have our company!

After walking on the beach and watching some wind surfers, we collected our basket of goodies and headed for the town to walk around the shops and see if we could find the area of the church where people go to say a prayer for fertility that Mr. Boisson had explained to us. We bought rice from the Camargue area since we pass the rice patties every time we visit the area, tried some Gelato and enjoyed the afternoon before heading back to the house.

Sunday was Mothers' Day - Nathan surprised us with gorgeous flowers and wonderful cream puffs from the patiserie as well as a nice card written in French.  We went to St. Pierres for mass in the morning and enjoyed a tour of the Parc Zoologique, compliments of Adam, in the afternoon. The sun was shining, time was spent by the pool.  Andrew and Nathan left later in the day for Aix en Provence, where Nathan had made arrangements to take his important A.P. Biology exam. Aix is approximately two hours from Montpellier so they wanted to get there Sunday night in order to check out the town, find the testing location and get a good night's sleep before the test began early Monday morning.  During the test, Andy toured around Aix and had an enjoyable time on his own! Nathan felt that he did well on the test and will be anxiously awaiting the results until they arrive at our Ohio home in July.

The rest of us spent Monday touring around Montpellier, showing the ladies all of the monuments, little squares, Place de la Comedie etc... The guys returned on Monday night and we celebrated the end of Nathan's intense studying regiment with a delicious cake from his favorite patiserie! Early Tuesday morning I delivered the ladies to Gare St. Roch to get them on the next train to Paris - which is where they spent the next few days, touring around by themselves.  We got them back on Thursday evening.

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