Friday, February 20, 2009

Profiter de Soleil

This is what our friend Jean told us one of the first days we were here...

"Stuart and Aaaaleyy," he smiled, pointing at the sky, "profiter de soleil!"

Profit from the sun.

Wise words in a place where rain shows up at the drop of a hat.

So! What do you think we did? Stuart took the day off of work on Friday and we profited until the sun came out of our ears!

"Where should we go?" we mused. We'd been to several of the nearest towns already, and did we really want to drive two or three hours? Hmmm....

In the end, we opted to explore Pernes les Fontaines, our own little city that we'd managed to overlook in our other "bigger game" travels.

Our challenge?

They don't call it the city of fountains for nothin' friends! There are around 40 fountains scattered over this little village, and we wanted to see them all! In addition, we had seen several beautiful chapels, sweet little patisserie shops, and the mysterious inner city (complete with 13th century walls and other fascinating architecture) all from a distance. We had not yet taken up our cameras, backpacks, and tennis shoes and conquered the unknown stone gates.

This was that day.

We layered our clothes (because you know "sunny" doesn't always mean "warm") and dug two bicycles out of the Daniels' garage. With a few squeezes of life into our tires, we were pedaling towards adventure on the rutted back roads of France!

Here I've included some pictures of our extreme fountain quest. Let me just say that I'm not sure how many fountains we ended up seeing. They all began to look very much the same after awhile, and I got the feeling that we were circling a bit too.

Anyway, I've included two of the fountains. The first was the most gruesome and it's a closeup, there were other deranged figurines surrounding it as well. The second was a larger one in a quiet courtyard we found. You may not be able to see it, but the statue on top is of a bird "partaking" of a fish.

Lovely, yes?

This picture was after Stuart had stolen chocolate bread from a patisserie and was banging on the cathedral door for sanctuary (and hopefully confession). Too bad they were closed!

Now Stuart is stealing something else....a kiss from me! (Okay, so secretly I let him do it!)

Our last picture is of a typical French street: extremely narrow and stony. After about 20 of these sweethearts they all start looking the same! Still, I love the quaintness of the towns, and the houses possess a certain character that most American homes lack.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire day was when we ran across an iron-gated staircase. Stuart, being the extreme fountain quest leader, immediately said, "Come on!" I timidly followed, stating my fears that we may be wandering into a residential area.

Stuart insisted.

I sighed...he's the boss!

We followed the staircase...which led to another, narrower staircase, which turned into....

a staircase....

After awhile of climbing, we soon realized we had stumbled upon the stairway to heaven!

I mean the city tower!

We found ourselves in a courtyard standing at the base of yet another set of stairs. But in the end, it was well worth it. We were at the highest point of the whole city! The views were gorgeous, and everything felt so calm and carefree.

We've included a picture of one of the views, though it really doesn't do it justice!

I like that you can barely see the mountains rising in the distance.....

So, at the end of our extreme fountain quest, we hadn't seen all 40 fountains. We're not ashamed to admit it! But, we did see many beautiful things that we hadn't planned on seeing at all, including a Chocolate shop (which we will be returning to soon...yeah), an awesome little boutique with home decor, cool sundials on the sides of a church, and of course, the surprising "rooftop excursion" I just mentioned.

This is Marco Polo signing off,


  1. I love you and Stuart!! Those narrow roads look very familiar, much like the ones I travels down here in Germany, though the one in the above pictures looks a bit more severe than ours. I do hope you can come visit, we can go explore Koln together, I'm sure you will climb the bell tower with me!!

  2. Wow Haley, what a lovely spontaneous day! I am so glad Stuart took the day off like that when it was so lovely outside (even if it was cold). It looks like a grand adventure! I love the pictures, but my favorite is you and Stuart kissing. That's a frameable one for sure!!!

    You need to tell us more about French cuisine or the cheeses, because all this dessert talk is driving me bonkers!!! :)


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