The Last Two Days

We were reluctant to leave the amazing chateau in Arc-en-Barrois, but it was September 16 and we had an early flight on the 18th. We decided to get a room at an airport hotel on the 17th, so we wouldn’t have to worry about traffic and depositing the rental car on the morning of our flight. That meant we had one last night to explore.

So we turned toward Provins, an ancient walled town located technically in Ile-de-France, but within medieval Champagne.

We had no reservation but were fortunate to find a room at a B&B/farm on the edge of town. It was the only time we stayed on a farm during the trip. If we ever go again, we’ll have to be more deliberate about finding farm stays. The owners were pleasant and seemed genuinely interested in swapping information about our farms, but after nearly two weeks of effort my brain was beginning to refuse to process French and they spoke no English. Cherie had some simple conversations with them, but I unfortunately I had to mostly sit them out.


Our room at the farm





After a nice day in Provins, which was pleasantly uncrowded, we drove to CDG, returned our rental car and took a room at the airport.

With one last day to enjoy before our trip home, we took the train into Paris. There we went on long walks, and had a nice meal. We visited Napoleon.



Notice the well-played photobomb

We even saw Mr. Jefferson there.


Then it was back to the hotel to rest for a day of travel.

For those of you who found these posts boring there is good news–this is the last of them! For those who enjoyed them, I’m sorry it took me so long to wrap them up.

We no longer have the travel bug the way we once did. I’m happy to have landed on a place I love so much that I’m content not to leave it. On the other hand, after having stayed in one place for so many years, it was fun and invigorating to see new places again, and to tickle parts of my brain I’d been neglecting. So we’ve decided, at least for now, to put vacationing back into our budget and our farm plans. Of course it is VERY difficult for homesteaders to travel–both because of the expense and because of the difficulty of leaving the farm. But for those who can manage it, there is much to be gained.

I’ll close with a couple of quotes from Mark Twain.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.


Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to except Heaven and Hell and I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.

16 comments on “The Last Two Days

  1. Joanna says:

    I think I agree with Mr. Twain there 🙂 I think it is also a good idea for folks in general to save for travel but perhaps less often. Save for a big trip every few years, rather than every year. We have’t had much chance to travel either for holidays, but then we haven’t really had many of those anyway. We have travelled but usually helping out somewhere like where we now live – Latvia, or just not been able to afford to go. Now it is lack of time and like you said, it’s hard on a homestead


    • Bill says:

      Yeah, there’s never a good time to leave a homestead. We had farm sitters during our trip but we couldn’t realistically ask them to do all the things we do, and unless you live here all the time you wouldn’t be able to recognize some problems when they arise.

      It’s challenging, but we’ve decided (for now at least) that it’s worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres says:

    I’ve known and loved both of those Twain quotations for years. And I must say, the weekend getaway is fine for some purposes, but I do love the wandering a longer trip allows. Even a week isn’t enough — although it’s often all that’s possible. Of course, that means that, for me, the long trip comes about every three years. It takes that long to save up for it.

    There won’t be any more overseas travel for me, for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, I really don’t have the desire any more. It’s great to see photos from people like you who have made the trek, but there’s so much of this country I haven’t seen, and want to, that I’d rather spend my time and money here.


    • Bill says:

      There is much to see here, for sure. I met a woman from England once (in West Virginia of all places) who put it this way: “Your country is so vast.” In the time it takes to travel across Florida, for example, a person could travel through several countries in Europe, all with their own languages and cultures. She and her husband had flown into New York, intending to drive to Texas. They never made it further than West Virginia.

      Cherie grew up on the west coast and her family took long camping vacations every summer. So she’s already visited most of the parts of the country that I’ve never seen. Still, we hope to do an extended cross-country trip someday when we’re older. For now 2 weeks is all we’ll be able to handle at one time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. avwalters says:

    Well, I’ll never say never. I’m content and busy here but I know we have a trip to Tasmania in our future, and possibly, just possibly, one more trip to France. If neither happened, I’d be just as happy here with the bees, the books and the banjos.

    I loved your France trip; it brought back many fond memories–and a revisiting of history.


    • Bill says:

      Never say never. That’s a good policy. I was so sick of commuting and work-related travel that when we settled in here I intended to never go on a long trip again. I was happy to stay home and it would be alright with me if it stayed that way. But after 12 years at home we did enjoy getting back out on the road.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, when I see pictures of things like the chateau that you visited, I can’t help but think about how much time and effort it took to build such a massive structure out of stone. How long did it take and how many worked on it? Massive building projects that take more than one life time are just not done any more. What kind of compensation did the craftsmen of those days get to build such a thing? Who was the master engineer that designed the whole project? I’m over whelmed by just magnitude of what it would take to build some thing like that and with out the help of power tools. Those were indeed craftsmen and their work still stand centuries later as a testimony of what building should be.

    I’m ready to start planting seeds in a couple weeks. I have the potting mix, cell trays, and a big desire to get started. In about three weeks, cabbage, onions, and lettuce starts will begin.

    Have a great vacation reminiscing day.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer


    • Bill says:

      You’d probably enjoy The Pillars of the Earth, a historical novel by Ken Follett. It involves the building of a cathedral in a medieval town in England. It’s an entertaining book and I learned a lot about their building practices from it.

      Getting ready for seed starting here too now. A neighbor is going to start our hoophouse tomatoes for us and is coming over tonight to get the seeds. My plan is to start our kale seeds on 2/10.


  5. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip to France and so glad (and impressed) you stuck with the posts until the end.
    Years ago when M and I traveled through Italy on a motorcycle we stayed at an “agritourismo” that we stumbled upon (just looked for signs on the road with “agritourismo” posted) and it was our favorite part of the trip. It was a lovely farm with vineyards and olive groves, and a beautiful old villa. The food was fabulous, the rooms were lovely. There were a few other couples there from around the world – we sat with a german couple at dinner (M speaks a little German) and had the best time.
    We are taking an excursion down to Central and South America next month and your posts have inspired me to record our trip this way. Just hope I’m consistent – I never finished putting my travel log together for that Italy trip and I still regret it.


    • Bill says:

      I’ve kept a travel journal in the past, but on this trip I decided to just rely on the pictures and then type up the details of the trip later, as blog posts. I don’t think that was the best decision. In my travel journal I wrote about things that aren’t captured in pictures, such as the meals we ate, interesting social customs we observed, quirky and unexpected things about the language, etc. Those things aren’t captured in pictures and now I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of them. Next time I think I’ll go back to using a journal (and still take a lot of pictures of course).

      One of the best things about traveling is meeting people from other places and cultures. We didn’t do enough of that on this trip, in part because we aren’t proficient enough in French. I remember once meeting an older couple from Liverpool when we were travelling in Spain and talking to them about the early days of the Beatles. It was one of the highlights of the trip. 🙂

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the posts and I’m looking forward to seeing posts about your upcoming trip, which sounds excellent. Bon voyage!


  6. Thanks for sharing your trip, Bill. I can’t imagine life without travel, and that includes everything from quick weekends to year long trips ranging from cruising the Mediterranean to backpacking through Alaska. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have made a very good farmer. 🙂 On the other hand, my ancestors were all farmers and they just kept moving on… –Curt


    • Bill says:

      You definitely have the wanderlust Curt. I enjoy your posts sharing your adventures.

      Wendell Berry says there are two kinds of people: stickers and boomers. Stickers are the kind who tend to say put in one place and boomers are the roamers and travelers. We certainly need both kinds, but where would we without the boomers?

      Being a Scotsman and a rover, you’ll probably enjoy this tune:


  7. Thanks for wrapping up the trip for us. What an adventure. We love to travel. There is so much to see and learn. Forever learning is how my hubby and I feel. We love our home base too. Working on a good mix of the two for us. We mostly focus on places we can hike and experience nature, but a recent city trip showed us we can enjoy those too. Those Twain quotes are great!!!


    • Bill says:

      That’s exactly how we feel! We’re both lovers of learning. I have nothing against a lazy day on the beach, but the trips we love most are the ones that enable to us learn. 🙂


  8. Ed says:

    Whenever I go to Europe, I always try to find B&B’s to stay in as I find them much more pleasant and much cheaper on the pocketbook as an added benefit! They often are key in some of my fondest memories of my trips.


    • Bill says:

      It took a little more effort, but our B&B experiences on this trip were excellent. We’re going to try to be much more deliberate about choosing them on our next trip.


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