So - we made it home after 3 weeks in mostly France. A great trip with many memorable moments. There are some great benefits with bringing your own car. It is much easier to improvise and it is possible to bring home bottles of strong liquid. In Provence we picked a winemaker by chance while driving on small inland roads. They let us taste several kinds of vin rouge and we ended up buying 2x6 bottles that are now safely stored in our basement.
We started our trip with a couple of days in Bruges - once the main trading town in north western Europe. Nowadays it is a very nice and lively city to stroll around in with many old houses and canals. And great beer. Every place has a couple of great beers on tap. Compare that to Sweden where we have to del with Spendrups and Pripps on tap - ouch. The food was good - the best place we ate at was De Vlaamsche Pot with traditional flemish cuisine. Highly recommended. On our way towards France we stopped at the trappist monastery of Westvlateren and had great lunch with even greater beer. The shop had run out of it unfortunatley so we couldn't bring any home.
Next Paris. Me and Käthe met with my kids there and then we made all the touristy things: Disneyland, Louvres, Tour Eiffel, Champs Elysees, boat trip on Seine, a glimpse of Tour de France, Montmartre etc. We also visited the great impressionist Musee d'Orsay. A great couple of days with some really nice food experiences as well. One lunch at Relais de l'Entrecote on 15 rue Marbeuf close to elysees where they only serve heavenly entrecote with frites. Great vin de pays to go with it. The place to visit if you are really hungry. Last night we tried another "relais" called Relais de Gascon offering huge brilliant salads and great pasta.
From Paris we headed towards Normandie via short visits to Versailles (gardens only - schloss closed on mondays....) and Rouen with the cathedral famous for being painted in different light by Monet. We stayed a couple of nights at the charming Hotêl St Etienne in Caen. This one star hotel was the cheapest and best we stayed at and the only one that came with free wireless. We made a couple of daytrips from Caen to the d-day beaches and cemetaries and to the nice monastery island Mont St Michel. The outstanding l'Embroche on 17 Rue Porte au Berger served the best meal of the entire vacation. Standard french food extremly well cooked.
More pics are available in this set at flickr. Not all pics are there yet though. The tiny camera has yet to make it on to the internet....