France and Switzerland

 

Photos:

Map of our trip:

We met both Helene and Edith during our tenure in the Pardi Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder: Helene in 2001 and Edith in 2007.  We had seen Helene and her husband Manfred in Boulder since then, and with Edith asking in every email “When are you coming to Paris?”, it was definitely our turn to make the trip across the pond. Edith met us at the Paris airport and fed us a late lunch of French cheese, bread, and wine.  We walked from Edith’s house for some Parisian sight-seeing.  After catching up with Edith and Marc late into the night over yet a few more bottles of wine, we left early Saturday morning for the long drive to Marseille, south to the Mediterranean coast. We drove through several hundred miles of the French countryside, and after a stop at a small vineyard to stock up on wine for the weekend, we arrived at Marc and Edith’s daughter’s apartment in Marseille. Anna and Jesus were great hosts, and we barbecued and drank into the wee hours of the morning.  Sunday, we toured Marseille and beautiful Cassis.  Monday we said good-bye to our French friends and drove Marc and Edith’s car through the vineyards of Provence and north to the mountains of Grenoble.  We spent Monday night with Jorge and Alda, friends of Edith, who put on an excellent BBQ and treated us to a late night ice cream in Grenoble.  Tuesday, we crossed the border into Switzerland and made our way to the Alps.  A cogwheel train carried us up to the glaciers with incredible, clear views of the Matterhorn and the Italian border. After several hours in the sun just staring at the Alps, we devoured raclette, schnitzel, and bratwurst for dinner in Zermatt, and then took the train back to Tasch. Wednesday, we drove north to meet Helene and Manfred at the Castle in Gruyeres.  After a tour of the picturesque castle and a light lunch of (what else!) cheese, we made our way to Helene and Manfred’s new home in the village of Wald, northwest of Zurich.

From there, we did day trips around Switzerland including a 6-hour hike in the small mountains around Wald, which culminated in Rivella and accordions on the mountain top! Another day we drove south past Lucern to tour a waterfall and the narrowest gorge we’ve ever walked through.  On the way “home,” we spent the afternoon in Lucern and had a lovely “typical Swiss” dinner riverside. Helene’s parents joined us on a gondola ride to the summit of Santis, a mountain in the Appenzeller region with views of Austria and Germany. Helene and Manfred, who cooked us amazing meals and introduced us to soooooo many kinds of cheese, are dear, dear friends, and it was incredible to travel around their country with them.  On our last evening in Wald, we celebrated Helene and Manfred’s first wedding anniversary at the restaurant where they had their reception a year before, with views of Lake Zurich in the distance.  The following Monday, we spent our last Swiss Francs on kilos of chocolate at a chocolate outlet before crossing the border back into France.  After a stop in colorful Colmar for lunch, we settled into our downtown Strasbourg hotel, and spent hours walking around the perfectly beautiful city. We ate a lovely, leisurely dinner along the river and walked back to the hotel by streetlight.  Tuesday, we drove on towards Paris with a stop in Metz for quiche Lorraine, and navigated around the Peripherique, delivering the Citroen safely back to Edith and Marc.  We spent the final two days of our trip seeing the sites and museums of Paris, complete with Monet, statue-filled gardens, and lunch on the park of the Eiffel Tower.  On our last night, we dined at the Brasserie Bofinger near the Bastille, and Marc drove us on a tour through “the city of lights.” Thanks again to all of our hosts and hostesses:  We are so looking forward to “next time!”