Nicole has asked me to write on her blog from my perspective about our day in Nantes. It started off with a ride on the Tramway to meet Nicole for a run along the river. Like everything else when you travel, it takes a little time to become used to a different transit system, but with Nicole’s directions, we were able to meet up with her and only be five minutes late. The weather was cool but the sun came out and warmed us up. The circuit that we ran was along a river on a dirt path that reminded me a lot of the paths we run at home. You have to be careful as the surface levels can change and if you’re not careful, you could take a spill, which unfortunately happened to Nicole’s mother. She stumbled over some concrete and hit the ground hard. She was unhurt except for her hands, which she used to break her fall. After a few choice words, which she never spoke when Nicole was little, we got her up and inspected the damage. She scrapped up the bottom of her hands pretty good, but was still able to finish the run and after a warm shower and some bandages, she was ready to tackle the rest of the day. We joined Nicole for some lunch in a park, baguettes as usual (so much bread over here), and she showed us some sites (another castle, another cathedral, I mean, couldn’t they find anything else to build) for a few hours. After the tour, we stopped into an upscale restaurant for some coffee. According to Nicole, it’s the most famous restaurant in Nantes, and would probably be out of our price range or clothing range if we tried to eat dinner there. [From Nicole: It’s called La Cigale. If I had not forgotten my memory card in my camera, I would put some photos up.] We then went back to our quaint hostel (it didn’t SAY hostel on-line) [from Nicole: he insists it is a hostel but it’s not. It was just a 2 star hotel that we found last minute.] and packed up some gifts to take to our dinner with Nicole’s host family. Nicole has already described her host family in previous posts and we found them to be exactly as she had said. They were very warm, inviting, gracious and extremely hospitable. From the initial Belgian beers (8.7%!!), to the champagne, wine, food and a final small drink of Chartreuse (only 55%!!), the evening was excellent. Nicole once again acted as our interpreter, but we were able to converse for short periods of time before we needed her assistance. We were asked by the family what we liked the best about France. Now, we could’ve said the Eiffel Tower, Versaille, Notre Dame, chateaus or any number of their other historical sites because they were all wonderful. However, what we told them we most liked was how we were able to visit with the two French families that we now know and experience their way of life. You can go to many places in the world and stay in lovely hotels, but until you experience the local flavour of places, you don’t quite get the full effect of the visit. Of course none of this would have been impossible were it not for Nicole. As I have told many people, when you are parents and opening up the world for your children, it’s a wonderful gift that at some point, they start opening the world up for you.