Saturday, May 19, 2007

Big brother and the best zoo ever

My eldest son, Tim arrived here Friday from the US. Tess and Colm have been all over him ever since that moment. They love fresh meat err...fresh faces and in this case they are doubly intrigued because he's family.

Since Tim had already spent four days in Paris, we didn't feel too guilty about dragging him off with us on a two hour drive to the zoo in Palmyres, near the port city of Royan.
The weather was perfect, overcast but no rain, mild temperatures. We had been told the zoo was a good one, someone had even told us it was the biggest in Europe but that's the sort of exuberant chauvinistic claim that you expect from patriot.
So let me get this one sentence opinion out of the way right up front:
It was the best zoo I've ever visited

We left at 11:00 and got there at 1:00. We stayed for six hours. Six hours.During that time we say tons of animals, many of them housed in pretty nice digs by zoo standards anyway.

We ate a picnic lunch in the outdooramphitheater and at 3:00 we watched an entertaining show with sea lions.

After that it was more animals,

many more animals...mostly from Africa and Asia it seemed.
One memorable moment was getting to see a polar bear dive into the water,

swim right towards us, and then gather himself at the bottom of the pool and surge into the air right in front of the kids on the other side of the plexiglass. He did it over and over again. The kids just stared at him slack jawed.

The layout and operation of this zoo seemed predicated on directing visitors in a predetermined sequence or route, hence you see everywhere signs that read, "Sens de la visite" with an arrow pointing in the direction you should walk. Very French. None of this picking and choosing or walking about in random directions. Just follow the signs, s'il vous plait.

There is a systematic and well conceived experience prepared forball who come to initial annoyance at being told which way to go all the time gradually was tempered by an appreciation of the fact that I didn't have to study a map or wade into that interpersonal swamp of decision making that sometimes can taint an otherwise pleasant family outing. In the end we saw everything and we had a great time.
We ate out in St. Georges, the kids fell asleep in the car on the way home, we arrived home at about 10:30. Good day.


Blogger KE said...

Wow, it seems like an amazing zoo. And, I'm sure it was great having your eldest son come to France. From the picture I'd say that it looks like your two little ones are having lots of fun with him around.

I guess I should explain who I am, otherwise you might just think I'm some random person babbling on about your blog.
Well, I'll admit that I'm random... I read your blog off and on, and I'm always amazed by your writing skills. Now, let's see, I'm a girl with blond hair who's currently a junior at LHS. Here's another hint: I went to France with you in March of 2006. Now for my name... Katlin Eyre. Sound familiar? If not that's ok, I won't take offence. Most the time I don't leave an impression in someone's mind.

Well, I look forward to reading more of your wonderful writing.

8:39 PM  
Blogger kc said...

nice to hear from you Kaitlin...of course I remember you!
I'm always glad to learn who's dropping in on the blog.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous cjones said...

Enjoying immensely the critiques on French (and American) education, politics, culture, dining, countryside, family, etc. But now it's time to get real: Who will it be, Odem or Durant?

7:29 AM  
Anonymous erin said...

Back in internet-land and time for the "Fam-Fix" as I call these visits to your blog. It's good to see that you guys are having such fun- Tim looks sunburned and everyone looks happy. Wish I was there, but I'm also having a great time driving from Alaska to Colorado. Miss you guys, and love and hugs to all of you!

10:17 PM  

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