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We returned to France earlier than usual, expecting to spend two and a half weeks at our friends' farmhouse in the Vendeé; however, car trouble stranded us in Rouen for four days. We made the most of our time there, marvelling at fireworks on Bastille Day, watching the magical projections on the cathedral in Rouen, gaping at the ancient tapestry in Bayeux, and avoiding the tides at Mont St. Michel. Sadly, our camera was stolen later in the trip, so we don't have many personal photos from the first few days.

For photos from our last trip to the Vendeé, click HERE. For 2006 France holiday photos, click HERE.

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A hot builder in Rouen
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Our one and only photo from Mont St Michel. We arrived just before the tide came back, and worried the whole time that our rental car would be submerged when we got back.
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Detail from the Bayeux tapestry, over 900 years old, which details the Norman invasion of 1066. We speculated about the many naked men shown on the bottom of the tapestry.
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We enjoyed lying on the cobbled stones and watching these images projected onto Rouen's cathedral, as bats flitted overhead.
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The images were taken from Monet's paintings, as well as this one, from Roy Lichtenstein, and were accompanied by an atmospheric musical score.
A memorable experience we don't have photos of was our Bastille Day lunch beside the river, where lots of elderly couples danced to live music on a narrow strip of asphalt. dancing14
One day, we drove to Giverny, home of impressionist painter Claude Monet and his often painted bridge.
Here is one of Monet's paintings.
Monet's house.
Monet's kitchen was my favourite room.
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The hotel's (rather cute) manager helped us dig through the rubbish, looking for the money. We found the empty envelope, but the money was gone.
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The day we arrived in the Vendeé, the Bearmobile broke down again and had to be towed away.
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The tow truck driver. The car stayed away for repair for over a week, so we got a nice Audi rental car (with air conditioning).
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Our visit to Challens coincided with the Festival Autrefois, when the whole town dresses up in old time costumes and demonstrates crafts and foods from the 1910s.
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A wooden sculpture in Challans
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A woman making waffles.
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Weaving folk decorations using grass from the nearby marshes.
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Old time car and movie camera
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This school for accordionists reminded me of The Village of the Damned.
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Weaving Boy
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Seen in the Challans market
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We met the mythical "Salt Boy" on our 2005 trip to the Vendeé. He was in charge of some salt flats on Noirmoutier island, and we bought some of his salt, as well as tasting some samphire he picked for us from the water's edge.
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We think of Salt Boy pretty much every time we use salt, and we felt we had to seek him out two years later. Sadly, his stall was shut down and for sale, with no sign of him anywhere. We explored his little hut and Nick found a souvenir pencil.
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We also collected samphire at the water's edge.
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We cooked the samphire and ate it for dinner back home that night, a fitting tribute to Salt Boy.
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Here we are, in front of the disused shack where we bought our salt two years ago.
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Salt Boy, 2005
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...and Oyster Man, 2007
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The Gois is a small strip of land that connects Noirmoutier to the mainland. It is only accessible a couple of hours a day at low tide. Here, we see people digging for shell fish.
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I liked this man's Popeye shirt.
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Nick on the Noirmoutier beach. We got lost in the woods later.
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Nick asked a local lady to guide us to the toilet
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The medieval market hall in Clisson
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Clisson's church
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Why don't our builders look after themselves like the French?
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On the steps of Clisson's church

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One of the three windmills at Le Mont des Alouettes used for signalling in the Vendeé wars
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Nick in stained glass light

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The heart with cross (and sometimes crown) are Vendeé's symbol. We searched in vain for a wooden heart for our wall.
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A cute fruit seller
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A cute cheese seller
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The church at St-Michel-Mont Mercure.
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The steeple provides the highest point of the Vendeé, at 290m (950 ft) Nick climbed all the way up!
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We spontaneously bought tickets to hear a recital of Renaissance songs in Réaumur.
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We were surprised to find this garden oasis in the rather dusty town, named after the French scientist Réaumur.
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As all the French do, we picnicked at 12.30.

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The mushroom museum gave us some useful insight to our own mushroom hunting.
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Artichokes in Fontenay's Saturday market. We were sad that morning because our camera had been stolen in Nantes- this photo was taken with the new one we bought - and we thought we'd lost all of our holiday photos. I found the disk in my pocket about an hour later, to much relief.
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The canal in Fontenay-le-Comte

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A wood seller
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The Melusine mermaid atop the tower in Vouvant. For more photos of Vouvent, CLICK HERE.
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A sculpture, mid river, in Voutant
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Two men consult their Spartacus guide...
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