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The Grape News
Volume IV - Spring 2001 - March 10, 2001

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Dear All,

"What has happened to them?" everyone wonders, "have they dropped of the edge of the earth?"

"Why haven't they written another newsletter in a year?" Well, our excuse is one that I am sure many of you can relate to. On February 21st, 2000 our first child, Charlotte Adèle, came into the world. Even though more than a year has passed since then, we are still waiting in vain for things to "slow down" so that we can take care of all the things on our "to do" lists. We have been assured by other, more experienced parents, that we will be waiting for things to "slow down" for the next twenty or so years of our lives, so we might as well get used to it!

To kick off the end of the long hibernation of our newsletter-writing career, here is a recent photo of our greatest ever excuse.


We just came back from six weeks at the La Maison des Deux Clochers with Charlotte. Despite the grim predictions we received when we told people of our plan to travel with a nine month old baby, it was really not that bad. In fact, it was all quite merveilleux. So, nos amis, do not let your children stand in the way of your dream vacation in France! The plane flights from Vancouver to Paris (via Toronto) are long indeed, but I learned a few valuable survival trips:
  1. Cabin Crews generally like babies, so don't hesitate to hang out in the galley at the back of the plane - valuable burping / crawling / walking space is to be had there as well.
  2. Order a baby meal (free) at least 48 hours ahead of time for your flights. Saves inevitable back injury from hauling around backpacks full of Heinz baby jars.
  3. The crinkly peanut / pretzel package they hand out at the beginning of the flight can keep a baby busy for at least half an hour.
  4. Resign yourself to the fact that for the first few nights after your arrival, "playtime" will be scheduled from approximately 2:00 - 5:00 am. Good thing that we can hear the church / mayor's office bells from our house so you can keep track of the hours passing!

Anyway, I won't bore you with any more baby talk, but I will take this moment to do away with the notion that traveling with children should be avoided at all costs. Absolutely not true. Sure it's tiring at times, but children are surprisingly adaptable and the best ambassadors imaginable (particularly with the French people). Try it if you haven't already, you might just enjoy yourself!


The house is still in great shape, thanks to our wonderful guests and our ace cleaning crew. We have added some new artwork to the walls, plus MANY photos of Charlotte on the shelves, but besides that it's still the great little house we all know and love.

The thing I couldn't believe was how much the garden has grown. The lavender has puffed out to an enormous size, and a few of the rose bushes are climbing quite tall.


Franck and I, along with his mother and father, have become addicts of brocantes - the french word for lower-priced antiques. We have found the most amazing address that is an easy drive from the house.

It is virtually a mini-city of brocante, all run by the Emmaüs (French equivalent to Salvation Army), located just outside of the village of Norges-La-Ville, which is in turn very close to Dijon.

The selection is huge, and as with any place like this, a certain amount of digging is required to find a treasure, but treasures are certainly to be found. Besides, the search is half the fun! The stuff changes every time we go, but I have seen (and/or bought there); antique enameled kitchen storage jars, huge wooden armoires, antique china sets, paintings, metal bed frames, old milk jugs, old books, exquisite hand embroidered linens and clothes, a set of "pastis" glasses and the matching jug.

It is definitely worth an afternoon to explore if you are into that kind of thing. It is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons only (we always try to make it Wednesday as it is significantly less busy). It is also great from a people-watching perspective; you will see a huge mish-mash of people from all walks of life, including the mink-swathed matrons of Dijon, one of who whispered to me on my most recent visit as we both contemplated a set of beautiful wooden and marble bed side tables "On trouve toujours un petit quelquechose ici pour se faire plaisir, nést-ce pas?"  I heartily agreed "Oui madame, c'est vrai!" 


In the next few issue of THE GRAPE NEWS (which will be coming at a more regular frequency in the next year, promise!) we will highlight some great day trips that can be taken using La Maison des Deux Clochers as a starting point. The first one we will highlight is a trip to Lyon, a magnificent city less than two hours away via autoroute.

Many people may not have heard that Lyon has recently been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is due to the amazingly architectural and historical richness to be found in its centre. Franck and I and a friend of ours visiting from London spent the day there on one of our most recent trips, and now I am chomping at the bit to go back. It was amazing, in the space of a few hours, we walked through ancient roman amphitheatres, an amazingly preserved medieval section of the town, and then finished off visiting the stores in streets that were exquisite examples of 18th Classical architecture.

How to get there:

Train: There are several trains leaving from both Beaune and Dijon every day that stop at Lyon. If you are a little pressed for time, try to find a TGV rather than a regular train, which will most likely stop in many little towns on the way there (though that can be delightful too!)

Autoroute: Take the first autoroute exit before you reach Beaune, and then keep following the signs to Lyon. The trip should take between one and a half and two hours. Once you hit the outskirts of Lyon keep following the signs that say "Centre Ville". We parked in the center of town in the Place Bellecour, which we found to be very central with lots of underground parking spots. An added bonus, the Tourism Office is to be found on the Place Bellecour, which makes a great first stop, and also makes it easier to find as you just follow the "Office de Tourism signs".


Although many areas of interest can be reached by foot, we purchased a day transit pass, which allowed us to travel on the metro, buses and funiculaires (one of my favorite things in the world, like the ones in Montmartre in Paris). I was six months pregnant with Charlotte so this purchase was necessary to ward off weary feet at the end of the day!


In my view the must see/do 's in Lyon would be the following:

  1. Taking the funiculaire up the hill to walk around the Roman amphitheatres (the Gallo-Roman museum up here is supposedly fantastic, but we weren't in a museum mood that day).
  2. Wandering around the narrow streets of medieval Lyon or "Vieux Lyon". Make sure you go down any alleyways that look enticing, they often lead into spectacular courtyards of 12th to 15th century buildings.
  3. Go walk along the banks of the river, if you're there before noon, there is most often a market going on along its banks.
  4. Wander around the streets surrounding the "Place des Jacobins" and the "Place de la Rebublique" to see wonderful examples of classical architecture.
  5. A puppet performance - Lyon is the birthplace of "le guignol". 2, rue Louis Carrand (5ieme). You can book at the Tourist Office in the morning.

We had decided in advance that our day in Lyon was not going to be a "museum day" but rather a "wandering day". However, if a few museum trips would strike your fancy, Lyon is sure to please. Just a sampling…

Natural History Museum
28 Bd des belges

Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation
17 rue Cleberg

Museum of Fine Arts
20, place des Terreaux

The Lyon History Museum
1, place du Petit-College

We found that Lyon makes a fabulous daytrip from La Maison des Deux Clochers, and we can't wait to go back and explore it in more depth.

Next time, in our daytrips series, I will talk about going to the Jura, home of mountains, cheese makers, and fabulous yellow wine! 


As usual, September and the first half of October booked up eons ago, as did most of April, May, and June. However, strangely enough this year, although we have had lots of interest in July and August, usually our most popular months, they are still wide open. 

If you are interested in getting specific information on particular dates, don't hesitate to contact us, which brings me to my last point…. 


Yes, the eternal vagabonds have changed addresses once again! We have moved to Victoria and our new contact information is as follows:

Laura, Franck & Charlotte Germain
3170 Ripon Road
Victoria BC
V8R 6G5

Tel: 250-598-1549
Fax: 250-385-7500

Don't hesitate to be in touch just to say hi and let us know how you're doing, or to find out more information about Burgundy or La Maison des Deux Clochers.

À Bientôt! Happy dreams of France in the meantime…. 

P.S. You have received this copy of the Grape News because you are on our mailing list. If in the future you don't want to receive our rambling missives, just email us at and your name will be removed tout de suite. If, however, you know of anyone who wants to be added to our mailing list, just email us at the same address.

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