Monday, June 17, 2013

Heading south with the Roussets - vacation in France - VI

Jun 7, 2013 Fri.

Other than get some work done, Fabrice is running some errands on his own, so I had some time to dance in the garage in the morning.  Inspired by Zhuzhu's love for dance, I picked up some dance activities myself.  Every Friday and Sunday nights, I would get out of the house to practice on classic Chinese dances.  As I said before, it only takes persistence to be good at something and anything!   

The afternoon was devoted to packing for our weekend - we are going to take the kids for a mini-vacation to the Provence in South of France.  We are visiting our friend Rousset, a long-term friend of Fabrice and mine.  He was a French Ph.D. student who did his research thesis work in the same laboratory where Fabrice and I did our postdoctoral research.  In fact, Rousset was the one who picked up Fabrice at the airport the first day when the latter arrived the U.S., although Rousset himself only came to this land of opportunity 2 months earlier than Fabrice.  The 2 French men have remained to be best buddies ever since.  Rousset lives on the pleasures of helping others, even though he had lived in the U.S. for only 2 months, he was the one who helped Fabrice to settle in and getting on a new life in a new land.

Back to our mini-vacation plan.  The 2 French men talked on the phone for hours to decide where we would meet and what we could do together.  Finally, they came up with a complicated plan.  According to Fabrice, that was all Rousset's idea, because he insisted on driving our family of 4 together with half of his family of 3 together from Lyon to the Provence.  So, we followed Rousset's master plan: Adalie, the wife of Rousset first drives their oldest girl Celesse (8) as soon as she gets out of her work; Rousset will pick us up at Lyon train station with their second and third daughters, Lacie (6) and Honore (2).  After that, we would ride together heading South!    

Our TGV train from Le Creusot to Lyon is scheduled at 7:15 pm, but here is a 5 min delay so we counted about 10 trains passing us within the 5 min waiting.  The kids are impressed by the speed of these trains and the noises that they make.  Each time they see a train approaching, they would hide behind us with their hands on the ears.  After we got on, they act like typical active kids, speaking quite audibly as if the train cart was their home.  It was truly embarrassing since none of the other passages made any sound.  If the kids shutter up, I promise that you could hear a pin drop!  The French do speak softly, you see.  Our kids, however, were keeping each other entertained.  They paid no attention to their surroundings and continued to play their silly games.  The French Daddy was quite uncomfortable and apologetic.  I bet that he would have dug a hole on the floor to hide if he could.

Luckily, we got off at the first stop.

There we are, at Lyon Gare de la Part-Dieu at 8 pm.  Rousset met and took us to his luxurious Volkswagen van that he got as a Christmas present from his parents-in-law - it's good to have a rich parents-in-law, even the GPS system coming with the car speaks politely to us.  It always ends directing drivers with "S'il vous plait!"  Joke aside, it does help a lot to have a big and comfortable car to ride on a long road because the distance between Lyon and the Provence doubles the longest car rides that Zhuzhu and Niuniu have ever had in their previous car trips.

In the middle of our drive, the kids fell in asleep and then Niuniu woke up screaming.  We had to make few stops, but finally what calmed him down was the BarbaPapa video from Rousset's iPhone.  We reached our destination at 1 am, Adalie and Celesse received us at the main door and then led us to get inside from a sliding door beside the house.  

When the lights were turned on, I am shocked by what's in front of our eyes.  A spacious loft with wood beam ceiling against very tall book-filled shelves that completely covered 3 sides of the walls.  A long, wide, and tiled bench/couch/bed at the bottom that runs through all 3 sides of walls.  There are numerous cushions laying everywhere along the bench, except one side that have been covered by 2 full-sized beds, which are separated by a TV set and few cushions.  There are 2 big sofa chairs beside these 2 beds and more cushions on the floor close to the beds to prevent kids falling off the bed in the night.  There is one large deck on the opposite side of the bed against the 4th wall, which covers only the middle half of the room with 1 open side leading to a Sauna Steam room and another to a flight of stairs to the upstair bedroom.  We are told that is our bedroom.    

What a luxury! 

We even have our own separate toilet room inside a 2-car garage-covered storage room, which we can easily access from our loft.  The storage room is used to contain tools, gadgets, and even machines.  It looks like a well-organized hardware store.    

I have visited few of luxurious houses in France before, but never have I seen one this contemporary and spacious.  It is truly a rare-find.  I cannot wait tomorrow to visit the main house. 

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