Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trip to France Day 6: Lyon-Nancy II

Hotel Guise staircase 1 Day 6, Part 2
When last we left our intrepid vacationers they had eaten a questionable lunch, but scored some yummy wine, in the village of Pommard. Then they continued their mission of reviving the French economy through the payment of highway tolls on their way to Nancy.

The trip (and traffic) into Nancy was mercifully uneventful. But Hubby absolutely deflated when he saw it was another city. On the approach, all you can see are high rise buildings. It isn’t terribly attractive. Once we got into the city, and the area around our hotel, the view was more attractive.

Hubby was upset because it wasn’t a charming little town or village. In fact, the only little town we managed to stay in was Pauillac. That was also the only B&B we stayed in, so I don’t know how much the fact we were staying mostly in hotels factored into us being mostly in cities.

I assured him it was going to be fine and that he did the best he could from thousands of miles away. I checked the Fodor’s. By that point in the trip I had finally realized Fodor’s puts a happy shine on almost everything.

I mean, really, do the towns pay to be included? Are the editors just afraid of offending anyone?

I started reading between the lines. If it described a place as being “vibrant with lots of energy,” I interpreted that as being a large city with bad traffic. The description of Nancy went on and on about the fabulous architecture and the mix of time periods and styles. No real warning that it was a big city. However, in a separate paragraph discussing the overall region, there is a passing mention that Nancy is the largest city in the area. Large in comparison to what? I mean, a large city in Vermont is much different than a large city in New York. Population counts would have been helpful. For instance, Wikipedia says over 100,000 people live in the city proper.

Psst, Nice Steps
We found our hotel with relative ease. They didn't have parking, so hubby had to dump me on the curb and drive a few blocks away to a public lot.

We were staying in the Hotel de Guise , which is a converted nobleman's mansion. The front foyer was all old marble, with sweeping curving staircases. There were big windows looking onto a closed courtyard.

And there was no elevator. Well, the hotels had been getting more affordable the deeper we got into the vacation, so it was bound to happen. We got some exercise dragging our luggage up to the third floor. There wasn't air conditioning either, but there was a desk fan in the room that was pretty helpful.

Stanislaw PalacePsst, Nice Building
We were walking distance of the Place Stanislas, so we headed in that direction to get the gawking out of the way.

The area was set up with an elaborate building at one end, then a long, long plaza, that ended at a wee Arch de Triumphe, which was the entrance to the massive courtyard in front of the palace. A museum, an opera house, and another fancy building made up the other sides of the courtyard. Two of the corners had very large, elaborate fountains in them. The entire center was pedestrianized. There were a few restaurants and shops as well.

We went questing for an ATM, hoping for a BNP so we wouldn't have to pay fees. There was an awkward moment when a young woman with a backpack and a dog said something to me in French. I said, "Pardon?" So she repeated it. I could tell she was saying something about money and thought maybe she was trying to tell me something about a bank location. I called Hubby over and she repeated what she said for like the fourth time. Turns out she was begging. Oops. Well, we didn't have any cash, so she was wasting her breath.

Mmm, Pasta

On our way to the palace we had passed through the Rue et Place St Epvre, which had both a nice cathedral and a number of cafes. Since it was on the way back to the hotel, we headed in that direction in search of food.

Once nice thing about all the outdoor seating in France is that you can totally spy on what people are eating, which can help you make up your mind.

We ended up deciding on a place called Plazza Pasta, because it smelled good when we walked. We figured out which restaurant it was by matching the large, oddly shaped white bowls people eating had to what we could see inside. It was like a fast food, take-out Italian place. Really, you ordered a drink, pasta shape, and sauce all for one affordable price.

Yeah, I know, right? We're in France and we're eating quick cook pasta. I think we were both ready for something a little less elaborate for once.

It was really good. Sure, it wasn't the best Italian food I've ever eaten, but it hit the spot. Hubby got spaghetti with bolognase (bolognese?). I got spirals with carbonara. Little rolls rounded out the meal. Of course, coffee and chamomile tea finished it off.

I didn't sleep very well that night. We had two beds in the room. I think they must have been double/full size. They looked big enough, but I felt really crowded. Heaven forbid I switch to the other bed.

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