France — encore!

In October, I spoke and climbed in several parts of France. While there, I also got to visit some of my (French) friends, and re-visit some of my favorite places on the planet.

Have you been to France? Not just Paris, but France?? One always eats well all over France, and drinks exceptionally well! For example, at my friends’ home in Brittany (north-western France), a traditional meal is crêpes (which originated here) with hard cider (du cidre):

And of course, no matter whose home you go to, chances are good they’ll have ‘une cave’, or a wine cellar:

In Paris, I was invited to speak to the American Club of Paris, an organization founded by Benjamin Franklin, the first American ambassador to France when our country was new. 

Last season my son & his family spent a month bouldering (climbing without ropes) in Fontainebleau, an extensive forest filled with boulders just south of Paris. Serendipitously, during my trip I also got to spend some time there, exploring the boulders and the trails among them:

The town just next to Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, is dazzling — centuries old, beautiful architecture, friendly, just lovely! Many of the Impressionist painters used to come here for inspiration:

An important part of this trip was waiting for me down south in the French Alps — in legendary Chamonix, surrounded by iconic glaciers and peaks, where I got to experience some Alpine climbing…

…and in Albertville, the host of Le Salon du Livre, an international book & documentary fair / convention. White tents took over the whole main street of the center of Albertville. Like Chamonix, just upriver about 40K, Albertville nestles along a narrow river alley surrounded by towering peaks

And of course, no visit to France is complete without some exploring of what I think is the most beautiful monumental city in the world, Paris. A few glimpses:

La fameuse Tour Eiffel:

L’Hôtel de Ville de Paris, or City Hall:

Notre Dame without its steeple, scheduled to be repaired by 2024.

Spain (3)

Spain…seems like years ago! Only a few months, but in those months I spent 5 weeks in France, and put about 2,000 more miles on my car visiting family in Cal & Nevada. The American west is just TOO big!! 

While traveling to all my speaking gigs all over Spain, I also got to climb some outstanding, beautiful rocks…

to visit some vestiges of the Roman empire…

to explore some castles…

to wander through many historic cities (not American-type historic; we go back a few hundred years, here; these go back thousands!). 

In between working as a speaker or a climber…

I fit in lots of fun discovering some of the wonderful foods — tapas! tortillas! (not the American type, these are more like a Spanish version of a quiche).

I was delightfully surprised to discover Spanish vermouth everywhere, and some mighty fine wines. 

My experience of Spain was so different from my last one almost 50 years ago!…and I look forward to my next trip for even more wonderful surprises.