Friday, June 15, 2007

French Connection

I flew back to the US today after a successful trip to France. Although I got everything business-wise completed, I wasn't there long eneough to catch up with all my professional and social friends; although, I did get in one fantastic dinner with the best chef I know in France. He may not be the best chef in the country, but he cooks better than anyone I've ever met. From a running perspective, I got in the two recovery runs I had planned on very little sleep; a 6 miler on Wednesday and a 5 miler on Thursday.

Heading east from the US, I always have trouble the first couple of nights in Toulouse and this trip was no exception. I got to sleep around mid-night on Tuesday night, but I forgot to turn off my mobile and at 2:20 AM, I was awakened by a call from someone in Phoenix. I couldn’t get back to sleep for the next 3 hours, which put a big hurt on my first run. The picture on the left is my best euro-trash look after no sleep on Tuesday.

Instead of trying to power through the run, I grabbed my camera and took a slow 6 mile running tour of Toulouse. Sorry about the picture quality, the weather was warm and overcast, so the light really sucked for photographs. After a quick half-mile warmup getting to the river from my hotel, I got up on the levee and headed north towards town.



Some of the buildings in town run right up the river, so the paths aren’t contiguous, but it sure makes for great running none-the-less.



After a couple of miles along the river, I crossed over a bridge and headed towards my favorite canal in the city. I just love this place. On a sunny summer day, the reflection of all these trees on the still water is just surreal and quickly lulls you into a sense of inner peace as the noise of the city melts away. I somewhat cheated on the picture below. I didn't like any of the pictures I took while running this canal on Wednesday, so I inserted one I took in May 2004.



After completeing a lap around this short canal, I returned too the hotel via the same route, but took a quick detour through one of the many public gardens in town.



Wednesday night wasn’t much better on the sleep front and the quality of the light on Thursday morning wasn’t any better than Wednesday, so I left my camera at the hotel and headed out into a part of Toulouse I’d never been in. Found a couple of great bike paths and felt pretty good through the entire run. This recovery seems to be working.

Thursday night, I headed out to the sprawling megalopolis of Bellegarde St. Marie; a town of 181. It was nearly dark and the light sucked when I got there, so I didn't get any good pictures this trip. My friend, le chef fantastique, lives in a 200 year old house downtown. He has one of 5 houses in the actual village proper; which, like many small towns in the area, sits atop a hill with a church in the middle. Most of the people live on the farms below. Although I didn't get back to the hotel until mid-night and had a 4AM wakeup call, the chance to spend time with him and his family was well worth any pain and suffering I had from lack of sleep today. The picture to the left is chef and his wife in their kitchen. These are really great people, dispite the fact that neither of them are runners :) Their kids are also super; however, as a typical American, it always takes me by suprise when their kids, whom I have known for 5 years, walk up and execute la bise when they greet me.

Of all French gestures, this is probably the hardest for us Americans to figure out; altough it certainly is a key indicator as to how invested the french person is in the relationship. Besides my friend's kids, I only have 4 women and 1 guy that greet me with la bise. Fortunately, all my friends are from the same region, so the number (2) and the initial side (left) is the same for all ... one less thing for me to worry about. However, it sure is a pleseant gesture.

I'm in Macon, Georgia visiting with my father for Father's Day this weekend. My back is a bit sore (must have slept in a bad position on the plane), but I still hope to get in two good runs before I head back to Phoenix on Monday.

Have a great weekend all. I'm sorry this post ended up to be much longer than I expected, but I've been without a private internet connection for nearly a week and haven't been able to post at all.

22 comments:

Thomas said...

Quite the world traveller, aren't you?

For some reason, Italians seem to do the same greeting (as I found out during the wedding last week), and Viennese women do as well, as I got reminded again on my trip.

Laufenweg said...

ahhhh la douce france. <3 i'm so sad to leave europe and not be so close to her anymore. :-(

i loved your photos of toulouse - the light there is somehow different, isn't it?

oh! and i totally get your remarks about the FOOD.

your euro-trash look is pretty good. don't forget to gel your hair up into tiny spikes. that will complete votre look.

ReneeMc said...

I love the pictures. The canal and gardens are particularly beautiful.
Glad you got to catch up with your friends as well as some business. Enjoy the time with your dad!

J~Mom said...

Oh man, all of that talk of late nights and early wake ups makes me really tired. Looks like a wonderful and scenic visit!! Thanks for sharing all of the pictures!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, too cool!!!

StumbleGuy said...

Phil,

That's not a lot of sleep there! Toulouse looks just beautiful. Furthest South I've got in France is way over East in Chambery. Toulouse looks like it's going on my must-visit list.

And friends with a French chef? Wow - lucky man!

Andy

Bruce said...

Glad you had a good trip, cool photos, be sure to catch up on some sleep this week.

Sempre Libera said...

What a wonderful (and tasty!) visit!

And "la bise"... even though I grew up in the US, my family and all of our Mexican friends have always held on to our one-cheek version. I'm actually quite fond of it as a gesture among friends. I hug my close American friends, but for those in-between relationships, I've alwyas felt something lacking...

Jamie said...

France sounds great. Looks like a great area to run in. I like the la bise greeting. Makes me think we Americans are too uptight.

miss petite america said...

maagnifique! or however the french spell it.

having chefs as friends is the best!!! lucky you!

Dusty said...

Happy Father's Day!

Ewen said...

Sounds like a good trip Phil, even if you missed a little sleep.

Being a running tourist is great fun. I love the Plane Trees in that first photo.

Have a good week!

carmen said...

Very beautiful pictures. Brandon and I will be visiting France in the spring for our honeymoon. :) Now I know that I can run while I am there!

You are just all over the place when it comes to work! Lucky you. I bet it doesn't even feel like work sometimes! I'm just letting you know that I'm back on Blogspot so stop on by.

jen said...

What wonderful pictures! Oh man, what a dream to run in France. Your trip sounds exhuasting but fun. Have a safe trip home and catch up on those Zzz's. :)

Sub said...

Nice pics! Sounds like you had an awesome trip...

Nicole said...

Sounds like a great trip and I love the pictures.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

The French certainly know how to cook, so if your friend is one of the best, he is very good, I'm sure. Glad to hear that the trip went well and I hope you had a great Father's Day with your dad.

stephruns said...

les images sont très jolies

DawnB said...

hope you had a great time with you dad!!! the Place is gorgeous!!

Addy said...

How beautiful! What a lovely place to run :) And having friends who can cook are always wonderful. Sounds like a great trip, even with all the lack of sleep

Pat said...

love to see running pics in other parts of the world. Hopefully, you'll travel more, cause I like the photos.

pat

Josh said...

Nice photos! I think you've got my DC trip whooped!

kiss-kiss