Oreiller (Or how to say "pillow" in French) + My Mother-in-Law teases me about my husband's past love life

rouler de nuit

ile de Groix (c) Kristin Espinasse
L'île de Groix, where we vacationed in 2006. We are heading back to Brittany, to a different island, on Friday.... Note: French Word-A-Day will be on break through August 3rd. 

rouler de nuit (roo-lay-deuh-nwee)

    : to drive through the night

 Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc's French: Download MP3 file or hear this Wave file

Pour rouler tranquille et au frais, roulez de nuit! To drive easy and in cool (temperatures), drive through the night!

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Yesterday Jean-Marc made a last-minute reservation for a home rental on the Île de Ré. We were unsure whether we would go on vacation this year, due to a certain stand-by situation that has us on a roller coaster of emotion.

Briefly, we will be getting off that roller coaster and getting into our family van for the 9-hour drive west, to the coast of Bretagne. To avoid vacation traffic, or what the French call le chassé-croisé of July-August vacationers, we have decided, once again, to rouler de nuit.

The idea of driving through the night makes me nervous, but for Jean-Marc it is not an issue: my husband enjoys the cool night air, the open road, the backseat peace (sleeping kids), and the music he listens to as he drives (I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot of Manu Chao this year, after Jean-Marc returns from the concert in Nimes tonight).

This year, instead of fretting, I might focus on being a better co-pilot. One thing I can do is listen to my husband when he tells me to go ahead and get some sleep. This time, I'll try not to feel so guilty and, especially, I'll try not to startle every 15 minutes, when I wake up after dozing off....

"Are you OK? ARE YOU OK? You're sure you are OK?" I can't help but quiz the driver each time I spring awake. Jean-Marc responds by assuring me he is wide awake and I should rest easy, only, deep down I know that he is only human, capable of nodding off.... T'es sûr que ça va???

Experience reveals him to be an alert and precautious driver. He's driven us from France all the way to Croatia. He's driven from Sainte Cécile to Sicily. Those long hauls make this drive to Brittany a trip around the block. And should he tire, Jean-Marc knows when to pull off the road and sleep for an hour or two, or to ask me to take the wheel for a spell.

A spell! Yikes, that's just it! I worry about the continuum of the road and how it can coax a driver into a trance-like state. To avoid this trap, some drivers roll down the windows, chew gum, or spritz their faces with a spray bottle. Jean-Marc's precautions include a good nap the afternoon or evening of departure and a good supply of caffeinated soft drinks—along with the other astuces already mentioned.

How about you? What do you do to keep alert while behind the wheel? Thanks for sharing your tips here, in the comments box. We'll see you in two weeks... at which point we hope to have some good news to share with you!

P.S. After two skin cancer surgeries this year, driving in the dark is also a good precaution! Now to figure out what to do on this sunny vacation—when my family is at the beach the day long. How about an early morning swim or a late night dip? And this might be a good time to return to knitting, after giving up? Please share some sun-skirting ideas and activities here in the comments box. Many thanks in advance--and I hope you are remembering to wear sun block, too!

 I leave you with our itinerary...

View Larger Map

French Vocabulary

la Bretagne = Brittany

le chassé-croisé = comings and goings

rouler de nuit = drive through the night

t'es sûr que ça va = you're sure everything's OK?

une astuce = trick, tip, helpful idea


Father and daughter in 2006. 

Smokey says, Why can't I come with you? I promise not to ask "how long till we get there?" and I won't fight with the other kids in the back seat. Please, take me on vacation with you!" (Smokey, you and Mama Braise are headed to Uncle Jacques, in Avignon. He's going to spoil you rotten--fun, games, forbidden food--so no complaining!)

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Dear Kristi, One of our favorite family vacations was many years ago when we swapped houses with a French Family in Nantes for a month when the kids were little (boys are now 26/24) and we went to Ile de Ré. This family has becomes our treasured friends and they have been in our life ever since. We loved that island and we mostly loved it because we heard very little English. Just hearing about it brings back such fond memories. John especially liked the easy going and laid back beach lifestyle. I particularly remember the wonderful bikes rides. Thanks for the memories and safe travels. xx Robin

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Bon voyage. I've learned that I travel better if I drink healthy drinks instead of caffinated ones. The U.S. sells all variations of green smoothies (sans sucre) that can give a burst of energy. I also eat crunchy things as I drive -- apples, carrots, etc. and drink water.

As for sun-skirting activities, pack a lot of books you've been meaning to read. Knitting, definitely. And work on your writing if it is quiet. Get up early to get out to the beach and take an afternoon siesta while all the others are out in the sun (covered with sunscreen, bien sur). Then get your evening walk in.

What a perfect picture of Smokey.

Jens from Copenhagen

Dear Kristi,

Bonne route!

We ourselves spent last weekend driving back from Vaucluse to Copenhagen - 1.800 km - and my way of keeping alert while driving is not to eat to much during breaks (besides a lot of good music in the car). Coffee and water are de rigeur.

Enjoy your holidays.

janet greene

Hi Kristin,

I had to laugh when I read todays blog.I and my family have been driving down to Provence for the past 10 years, and I also do exactly the same thing to my husband when he's driving. I am a terrible front seat passenger, and also awake in a panic when I have dozed off only to jump at him asking him the same question 'Are you alright?' He gets the fright of his life he says, as he's not expecting it! We travel to Le muy, and have a wonderful time. We are also leaving this weekend and arriving Sunday afternoon. The one thing I always take with me is a hot flask of coffee, and several rest stops usually does the trick, but I must say, I will be doing most of the driving as I feel calmer when I drive that being the passenger! Happy holidays!

Janet, Surrey, England.


Tell Jean-Marc that I'm also a BIG fan of Manu Chao, and playing it on the night drive would be a great way to stay awake. You can't sleep listening to them; you want to DANCE! Of course, that means no one else in the car will get any sleep either.

Joan - Texas

Have a safe journey! That does look like quite the drive.

Mike Hardcastle

Hi Kristin,

I'm puzzled about your mention of Bretaigne. You map shows a good route to Ile de Ré but Brittany is a long way north of there,
to the most southern tip at least 2 hour's drive.
Ile de Ré is less than 1 hour drive from me but I don't go there often, the toll to cross the bridge (16 euros when I went last) and in high summer the crowds in St Martin-de-Ré deter me. It is a lovely island though so have a super holiday.


Bill in St. Paul

When in college I used to make the 24 hour (this is before many of the "freeways" were complete) drive from St. Paul to New Hampshire (and back). On one trip with other students riding or sleeping along, we stopped to get something to eat. At the checkout counter they had some lifesaver-like candy that was the equivalent of a cup of coffee. I put the roll on the dashboard and proceeded to down the whole roll in about an hour. Since it was night driving and everybody else was asleep one of my passengers said very softly "Bill", I responded with "WHAT!!!!" I was so wired by the caffeine that I think I woke everybody up. Drive safely and have a great vacation, Kristin!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bon voyage! Have a safe trip, and enjoy yourself.

Knitting is always wonderful. Take some great books!

I will miss my 3x/week escape to France.

Be well!

Kathleen from Connecticut

I often thought of going to Ile de Re, and will get there some day. When I drive and need to stay awake, I drink cold water and eat something crunchy. You also need to stop and walk a bit to give the wake up the body.

Bon voyage and for sunless activities, read, work on you book, prepare some different meals, go shopping, go to the Spa and just relax.


Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Have a wonderful holiday. I, too, have always been an excellent long-distance driver. HOWEVER, age has made a difference so just make JM aware of that. I'm 56 and I know he is still much younger but over the past few years, I've really struggled to meet my driving goals. Tell him not to let his pride in this area keep him pushing on when he feels some exhaustion.

At the beach, we tend to laze around and go to the beach at about 4 pm with dinner and beach toys (frisbee, etc.). The crowds and the heat are lessened at this time PLUS the photos are better!!

I'll join Jan in saying "Bonne route!" as I've never heard of that before and it seems to be more pointed to this post.

ENJOY your break!!! We'll miss you, dear Kristin, and we look forward to hearing all of your stories upon your return.

Julie S. from San Diego

Have a safe trip, Kristin! I think taking books along is a great idea! Read under the umbrella on the beach. The trip is long, but not too bad. I remember once in the early 1990's, the truckers in France all went on strike to protest the permis à point. We had to leave Aix-en-Provence and drive all the way to Amsterdam where our car was being shipped back to the States for us by Volkswagen. The truckers had blocked all major highways in France and we had to drive north toward Belgium on all the two lane Route Nationale highways! I was so relieved when we made it to Belgium! Hopefully the truckers are not on strike this summer?
Have a wonderful and safe trip!
Julie in San Diego

Sue J.

books on tape (or cd)-- i get mine from the library, ergo they are free. absolutely engages the mind. just be careful you don't get caught speeding during the exciting parts!

Willette Windom

I put on a book-on-tape...these days, that the entire book could be on a flash drive, and thus, you wouldn't even have to bother with various discs. I find I get involved in the story, even a bad, or badly told story, and forget about the tedium of the drive, not even looking at roadside markers, reminding me just how much further I have to go.
Enjoy your vacation!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the suggestions -- I am reading them aloud to Jean-Marc!

Mike, I am going to blame Jean-Marc for the Brittany mention. For some reason he keeps telling me we are going to Brittany. I will have to ask him why! I have a feeling it will be a humbling response: he probably realizes that my mind will not be able to envisage exactly where the island is--unless he points out a clear landmark: the region of Brittany. (The *Poitou-Charentes région*, where the island belongs, draws nothing but a blank in my mind...)

Carolyn Chase

Activities: My favorite is always a book - curl up on the "la galerie ou la terrasse ombragée" or stretch out on a "chaise longue". Not a vacation for you, but I sometimes journal. Board games or cards. Go through the instruction manuals that you never have time to read, and work on skills - for the camera, for example. Do yoga or T'ai Chi. Write the cards for the next couple of month's birthdays, etc. Do some of the recreational shopping one never has time to do normally. Plan out the new arrangement of furniture at home. Visit with family members about unexpected topics. (sorry if these are repeats - I don't have time to read other posts.)
Just lie back and dream.

Suzanne Codi, Washington, DC

My solution for not being nervous in the car is to drive myself!! Also a good way to avoid a divorce!(nag nag nag ) Seriously, my husband falls asleep at the drop of a hat ( or the hum of an engine ) so I do a lot of the long-distance driving, and music is how I stay awake. And sinceI normally drink very little coffee, a good jolt of joe helps!
As for the sun, ( I'm in the same boat as you for this one) definitely no beach from 11-4, but reading, taking pix ( wear hat and sunscreen) napping, writing and drawing are all good, specially the napping after a long lunch...aaaahhhh les vacances. My doc said any SPF over 50 is a waste of money, just FYI, and to re-apply every 2 hours. Bonnes vacances to all of you !! Can't wait to see pix of Ile de Re, never been there.

Louis Plauche'

Bonne route! If I remember the temperature of the waters off Brittany correctly, you might do well to wear a full-body scuba suit...no one will think that unusual. Also, I'm sure you know to slather on the sunscreen; my (blonde) wife uses one she calls Sherwin-Williams), and wear a hat.

The only trick I know about driving long distances is to lay of both food and wine until you stop. To do otherwise for me is to fall asleep at the wheel...which I have done.

As for navigation...Jean-Marc should peruse the route on Googlemaps.com...using the yellow man icon to actually experience the route beforehand. A GPS might be even better. Anything beats a blonde wife's kibitzing.

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Kristin, I hope you have a wonderful vacation enjoying your family and relaxing from the daily responsibilities of work and home-life. You will be missed, but look forward to hearing about your holiday when you return. As for staying awake on the drive, I agree with one-two punch of caffeine and an audio book. Safe travels!!

Karen from Phoenix

Have a safe and wonderful vacation. I will miss your wonderful stories, but look forward to your vacation ones.

Read, write and just sit and enjoy the view. If they have umbrellas at the beach use one of those. This way you get the best of both worlds. Sitting on the beach and staying out of the sun.

When we drive long distances, I fall asleep in the passenger seat. The engine noise makes me sleepy. Good thing it doesn't effect the hubby!!!!



Sun-skirting activities might include a DIY spa treatment: give yourself a facial, pedicure and manicure. Try meditation. Listen to your favorite music. Start an art journal. Have fun!

L. M. Davies

Bon voyage! I'm another person who loves driving at night when the rest of the world is sleeping. I generally drive in silence, preferring the company of my own thoughts and the sound of the wind. When I do want a bit of aural stimulation, I usually have a book on CD. (I think they may even have rentals available for your phone!) I haven't had a problem with dozing off as I so completely enjoy driving on empty roads. The important thing for me is to be completely rested before undertaking a long night drive, but everyone is different.
As for Brittany, I have many stories of the last time I was there with my fifteen year old son. His dry sense of humor kept me laughing through most of the trip. I enjoyed a side trip to Dol de Britagne - as I recall, a tiny settlement atop a small plateau. There was a pub in the windmill that had a great selection of crepes and good beer and cider...and no one spoke English. I think that was my favorite part - the rough beauty of the coast, the fresh seafood and the lack of English.
Have fun!!

rick chinn

staying awake: I like iced espresso. There's no way to burn your mouth that way, and the coldness is a pleasant jolt to the senses.

When I drive, I often listen to a "a book on tape" (although the "tape" is often a CD or my iPod. The voice and the story keep me conscious. Often music puts me to sleep (bad). When the girls were younger, it would be one of the harry potter stories, but the content could be racier now since they are 18/22. But we all still enjoy the Harry Potter stories. A twist for you might be to listen in English...

eat: I eat salty chips. I have stay hydrated, so the salt makes me drink liquid.

at 65, I have to make more frequent bathroom stops, and these help get the rest of my body in motion.

sun: I'm not an outdoors person, so usually the only time I get too much sun is when I drive.

There is a lighthouse on the island, and les phares are often open for viewing during the summer months. Yes, you get to climb the stairs, but the reward is the view!

Bonne Route!

Russell in Austin

It's been three years since I was last in France, and I regularly suffer from withdrawal. Your blog is my regular fix. Oh, no...what will I do for the next two weeks until your return? I hope you all enjoy your vacation!


last year I had skin types of skin cancers removed. The doc says the sun is not my friend. Even just going to and from the car he says wear sunscreen. We also bought another huge umbrella for our lounge area so I am not tempted to be in the sun. I read loads of books in the shade, picnic in the shade etc. Also I now have an iPad and can while hours away with it.

I can't really sleep in the car as I worry that my husband will too!

So books, computer, umbrella and loads of sunscreen. Have fun
Shelagh, Vancouver BC

edith schmidt

Bonne vacances!
We just got back from a week in the Colorado mountains. We didn't see the aftermath of those terrible fires,but like Arizona it was very dry. I lost my hat along the way so had to buy a lovely fuchsia billed cap, tres chic mais necessaire! I also lathered on some spf 15 mosturizer which isn't as gooey as suntan lotion and you don't end up smelling like a coconut!I also have one of those light weight, quick dry poly long sleeved shirt which is great. Some of them have sunscreen built in. Don't forget those sunglasses as well. This might be a good time to read that special book you haven't gotten around to. Did you ever read "The Sweet Life in Paris" that's a winner!
Hope you all have a great vacation.

Edie from Savannah

Lee Isbell

Caution on the beach, even under an umbrella, as sun reflecting off of sand and sea can still catch you to a degree. I believe the French have some super sunscreens not available in the US, so apply lavishly. Bonne vacances!

Jennifer from ON, Canada

Salut Kristin!
Hopefully you can get plenty of rest during the drive so that you can switch with Jean-Marc when needed.
I would probably make lots of sand castles so that I could stay on the beach with the family. What about painting?
Bonnes vacances :)


Hi dear Kristin,
Bonne vacance!!!
What a wonderful time you'll have!
Sometimes just a change of scene and Mindset(!) is all that's needed to chase away any roller coasters of emotion--(we all know about those!
Rod (my husband) usually does the driving in our family. I can't handle the stress anymore,particularly at night.I'm so appreciative of his thoughtfulness!!
Kristin,under ANY circumstances,please don't forget your sunblock!I use spf 50, and have been really happy with it.After melanoma,I'm just not taking chances! Love,Natalia XO

Hilary Lange

Bon voyage. Je chante très forte dans ma voiture. I just returned from the unbelievably beautiful Loire valley. There is a website "Ville et Village" with whom one can rent a gîte or apartment or a house in France. Hilary

Lorna Peterson

Sounds like a wonderful trip ahead!!
When driving up and down the West Coast, I always arrive feeling good if I eat well (healthy , natural snacks: almonds, apples etc. No sugary drinks---tea, unsweetened juices,water) Bcomplex vitamins, and stopping often to stretch and walk!! Also trading neck and shoulder massages, esp for the driver is helpful.
Be well and Bon Vacance!!!
Have a great summer cher Kristin : )

Lorna Peterson

Diane Heinecke

I get very sleepy in the car, so I usually fast from solid food if I can. I recently read a report that said smelling peppermint can wake you up, so last trip I brought a vial of peppermint oil to sniff. Other ideas people have suggested to me: drive with your shoes off (sensory stimulation); if it's cool open the windows, if hot, put on the a/c; sing aloud; drink coffee or a highly caffeinated soft drink (in U.S. it's Diet Mountain Dew); do not use cruise control because it lulls you into non-involvement; if it's daytime & sunny take off your sunglasses so you have to squint; take frequent exercise stops.
As for you, Kristin, slather on the crème solaire that your doctor recommends, wear a hat & shades and limit your outings to early morning and early evenings as much as possible. I am a cancer survivor too, and I have to remember I can't "have it all." Life pre-cancer and post-cancer is never the same, but I choose life and that means hard choices sometimes. A votre santé. Amusez-vous bien!

Susan Carter (Westminster, CA)

Bonne Vacance & have a safe & fun filled trip.

Mademoiselle Chenonceau

What a coincidence! My sister and I are driving to historical and toasty warm Williamsburg, VA this Saturday, July 21, and a friend of mine asked why we weren't driving at night to avoid traffic from NYC to VA? I replied that I wasn't sure I could stay awake if I couldn't have a nap first... In any case, even during the day when I undertake a long vacation drive (for this trip it's going to take at least 8 hours, and that's if there are no traffic jams!) I snack on chocolatey-sweet treats so the sugar, caffeine, and protein help keep me alert. I also point the air conditioning at my face. I decided if I feel drowzy despite those efforts, I will pull over at a nice hotel and finish our trip the next day. Safety first! Hope your trip is lovely. We're looking forward to ours! Take care and bye for now. Love your blog!


Perhaps some yoga, outdoors in the shade (or ideally, on the beach if you can find a bit of shade)? You can find poses to try online (the Yoga Journal has quite a few, for example). Maybe checking out some new music (I use Spottify, a free download)? Just to get you started, you could try Sarah Jarosz, a very young and very talented singer from the U.S. I might try to find a nice place to spend an hour or two in the morning over coffee, eavesdropping on the locals -- that's always interesting! You could rent a bike and (with a sunhat and dressed appropriately) ride to a nearby ruined abbey, then sit in the dappled shade listening to the somnolent hum of bees while reading a church-related murder mystery (Brother Cadfael or Sister Fidelma?). It sounds like such a lovely, unspoiled island that you're bound to have a beautiful time, and I'm sure you'll come up with many far better ideas than the few I've proposed! Bonnes vacances!

joie in carmel,ca

It sounds like Jean-Marc has everything covered as far as the driving. I do like to stop every two hours for 10 minutes just to revitalize myself. Fortunately I don't mind driving at all. When my sister and I go on a road trip (60 yr. old Thelma and Louise) we will think nothing of driving 10 hours some days....others we are lucky to go 50. Last trip to Europe we put 1800 miles on the car in 20 days.
I know you will bring your camera, so that can cover some of your time. You have an artists eye just like your mother....so why not pick up some acrylic paints, a couple of canvases and sit under the umbrella and try your hand. The beauty of a painting is so individual. One persons silk purse may be anothers sow's ear or the other way around.


It's actually pretty easy to avoid the sun; you just stay covered up! Get some nice drapey linen pants or a skirt, a big beach umbrella, a big floppy hat and some loose shirts button down shirts. You can wear a little tank top underneath and take off the big shirt in the shade. Light scarves are also good for covering up.
It will actually keep you cooler than having you skin in the sun. I do it all the time, from Tunisia to Australia. I don't feel trapped or like I have to hide, you just need the right clothes.
And for the water, a rash shirt works great for your shoulders. Plus, try for early and late swims, which are actually nicer because you avoid all the crowds.
Have fun!

joie in carmel,ca

I have the perfect book for you to read. Have you heard of Joanne Harris (Chocolate, Blackberry Wine and others)? She wrote one called "Coastliners" about a tiny island off the southern part of Brittany.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Your connection with geography is not a direct one, is it? That island sounds fantastic.

I did a quick look on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poitou-Charentes , following the links in each article to Charentes Maritime (named on your map) and last to Île de Ré.

Definitely west as you said (as well as north), and on the Atlantic coast, on the Bay of Biscay. Seems as close to Bretagne as to Espagne. In the exact middle of one side of l'hexagone, as you described France.

Would you recall a place by its history? Part of the Aquitaine (as in Eleanor of Aquitaine) and part of the region in France for the people called cajuns in the US (travelled to Canada, then tossed out by the English, made their way to Louisiana).

Seems like this might be a new sort of vacation with your children older now.

Looks like there are some very old places to see on and near the island, including a lighthouse. La Rochelle may be worth a look before you take the bridge to the island.

Sun-skirting ideas -- wear a hat, cover your shoulders, siesta midday, from the shade watch for famous vacationers or identify those who come on the weekend from Paris on the TGV (people watching, in short), investigate the little museums of La Rochelle if you leave this fantastic island at all.


Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

I sometimes take a wet washcloth and wipe my face, or a mini spray bottle with a quick spritz - or I spritz my husband if he is driving - but you must warn him ahead of time, as it's a jolt even knowing it's coming!

Listening to a book on DVD was a bad idea for me - although I loved the book, it kept putting me into the nodding off place. I think rock music is better!

Have a wonderful vacation - I usually take a cross-stitch kit I bought several years ago in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, of a provence mas scene -- I purposefully have not finished it, so that each vacation I get 'taken away' again to a beautiful memory of the time in France. We often go up north to the coast of CA (Shell Beach) and so I watch the sea and stitch and think of Provence; two wonderful endeavors - and so very relaxing. Bonnes Vacances!! We'll miss your missives, but you deserve a break! Enjoy your family!


Going out in the morning is a good idea so you can enjoy the beach as well. Maybe you could cover up with cool clothing. I can't really think of anything else other than what has been said. I almost have a hard time staying awake just in the long commute to DC. Sometimes 30 miles can take 1 1/2 hrs. I tend to snack, and sing. Good thing I'm in the car alone most of the time nowadays. Have a wonderful vacation with the family! I look forward to reading about it.


Sounds delightful, Kristin. I hope you get adequate protection from the sun as well as that Breton rain. And remember, there is sufficient evidence to suggest cancer cannot survive in an alkaline body. If nothing else, it's interesting to read up on.

Enjoy your time away; we'll miss you!

Jim Chen - Taipei

Many years ago, I dozed off during hour-long drive home in a car without a/c in the high of the summer. Chew gum, pinch/slap myself, singing won’t last long. In fact the shock came from wheeling off the road kept me awake for the next hour or so! After repeating trials & errors, my choices of staying awake are 1) someone sings to me (sorry Kristin ;)), 2) a box of cheery tomato, 3) cold water (500 – 750 c.c.), and 4) a box of grape. Those are healthy choices. Continue chewing gets me awake. Drinking 500 c.c. of water IN-AN-Hour keeps me searching for stops during the second hour!
I like ebooks. It is small in size but holds many books. Download them to your smart phone, IPad or Tablet. You can have music while reading too. Just don’t read under the full sun. The most important thing is that you can share vacation photos when you reach a Wi-Fi hot spot. This saves you from filing & organization after return from the trip, right?
Be safe and enjoy!
Bonne route!

Mim   (Richmond, VA)

When my husband drives on a long trip, I stay awake to keep him awake, but when it's my turn, he promptly falls asleep; so I listen to old timey music, like Patsy Cline, and I sing along and keep myself entertained. By the Way, Mlle Chenonceau, if you need a break before you get to very toasty Williamsburg, we're nearby in Richmond, and have an open door for any fan of Kristi's blog.

Lauren Golden

I guess no one has mentioned doing a needlepoint project. That is my vacation activity when I want to relax and I look forward to it.
Lauren - Encinitas, CA

Janie (Mercer Island, WA)

Dear Kristin,
Bonne vacances! My husband and I spent almost 6 months in La Rochelle while we were studying French at the Eurocentres School there. The Ile de Ré is a lovely location, accessed by a long bridge from La Rochelle. The tides are fun. As they go out, they leave many boats that are moored near the shore high and dry. One does need to know the tide table if one will be going out on a boat. The beaches are fun to walk on, and the little villages fun to poke around in. Be sure to take your camera.
It's actually located in the Poitou-Charentes region, probably 2-3 hours south of Brittany. It's been almost 5 years since we were there--would love to go back sometime.

Bob and Angela (Monterey Park, CA)

Your route is the same one we took (but in the opposite direction) when we came to Rouge-Bleu after visiting some friends near La Rochelle three years ago. If you like seafood you'll love the area -- that's where we were introduced to moules et frites, and had a most fantastic seafood salad that we still talk about. Have a restful vacation -- we know the harvest isn't far off!

Fabienne Aballi-McCarthy

What a hoot! I just drove 20 hours from Indianapolis,IN to Homestead, FL, yesterday.
I stop frequently to walk Daisy the dog, listen to music, books on CD, and talk out loud to myself. The last really works well. I make up lists of what I need to do, etc. Also, crunchy snacks like carrots, celery and apple slices are great to keep you awake and fueled!

Jo Ellen

Just took a trip down to LA with the dog for company...I got a mystery novel on audio for the whole way, about 15 H round trip...Jo Nesbo, from Norway, The Devil's Star. Was wide awake the whole time...dog slept!


Bonnes vacances, Kristin et Jean-Marc! *wave*

I just returned from a two-week trip from Napa to San Francisco. Everywhere I went, j'ai vu des tourtistes Français. J'ai même parlé avec quelqu'un de Marseilles... dans l'ascenseur.
Amusez-vous bien!

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Have a fun vacation! I get out early in the morning to walk before the sun becomes too hot! My favorite time to go to the beach is after dinner around 7:00 p.m. I bring out a chair and a glass of wine. It is so relaxing to watch the sun go down while listening to the waves.


Pas de probleme pour moi. Personne ne dort quand je conduit. On prie peut-etre mais jamais de someil

Pat - Roanoke, VA

Have a great vacation! Loved the photos, esp Smokey!

Claire IOW/Charente-Maritime

Wave to us as you drive back down past Saintes on your way home! The island is an hour away from our holiday home in Charente-Maritime - a few years ago we went across the bridge for the day to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We hired tandems to explore the island and our daughter fell off hers into a field of sunflowers. Look out for the donkeys in pyjamas! There is a lovely spa hotel on the island which offers some very relaxing treatments (marine-based, I think!) - it's a small place, I'm sure if you asked someone would know about it!
Bonnes vacances, Claire

DeeDee McDonald, Boston, Mass

Hi Kristin, as a nurse who has worked many a night shift, I would bring a bag of small crackers or cereal for the 1 hour drive home. Crazy as it sounds, as long as my hands were busy bringing a munchie to my mouth, I was able to stay alert. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

Patricia, Calgary, Canada

Hi Kristin,
We vacation in Bretagne every year as my in-laws live there. If sun is a problem, la vrai Bretange (read Finistere) should usually be able to provide rain and cloudy skies :) We just returned and actually had our last 5 days of fantastic heat and sunshine, something we hadn't had for about 6 years there! It is definitely a fun place though, lots of things going on in summer too (this year was Brest 2012 the sailing ship festival) as well every year there are Celtic festivals in Quimper and Lorient.
Enjoy your vacation.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Dear Kristin and Family,

I wish you a wonderful and relaxing time on your holiday. I will miss you but I can't wait to hear some good stories about your trip when you return. Bonnes vacances!

Mary Keates

Kristin and Jean Marc,
You are going to my favorite part of France.My husband and I would go to La baule,probably 3 years in a row.One of those summers, we made it to Ile De Re.Wonderful memories.I desperately want to return,but can't bring myself to go since my husband died...
Have a wonderful vacance,and write about you memories!
Mary Keates


Loved reading your entry today as it brought back memories of summer road trips of le Midi with friends during my school years. After 15 years I'll finally be returning for a wedding soon. I look forward to your upcoming posts and getting reaquainted with my adopted culture.

PS on long boring drives I'll pull over on the side of the road and do some calisthenics, quick cardio, and stretch. It draws some confused looks but it works like a charm. Enjoy your vacay! Cheers!

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