Lest you think that my brother's visit was all bad, I have to spill the beans. I am planning to visit him next spring. Plans are all VERY tentative, but I'm already excited. I think it will be just me and my son. Finances are tight, so I'm lucky we are even talking about me going :) I did find 250 Euro and about 25 Swiss Francs in my coin tin left over from prior trips, so that will take a little of the sting out of things.
And, my reformed Type A personality is suffering a relapse.
I've already gotten out my books on places to go, things to do and people to see. I'm torn between so many things since I have genealogical interests that pull in one direction and religious interests that pull in another! I probably have three dozen "must sees" on my short list. Before I present my ideas to my brother, I think I need to scrub this a bit.
I think my top place to go is Mont Saint Michel. My husband and I had bought tickets to Normandy to see MSM and the Normandy beaches, but we were supposed to leave days after 9/11 and all the airports were closed. We were allowed either a refund or to reschedule. We rescheduled...to the Scottish Highlands (and England and Wales). Figured the chances of terrorists finding us in the Highlands were pretty slim. A few years later we had a trip to Germany (and Belgium/Netherlands) planned to visit the small town where my German branch was from. That time I was too sick with hyperemesis gravida to travel. Hopefully, this time I will actually get off the ground.
Home base is Geneva, which puts me on the eastern border of central France. Not a bad place to be in the scheme of things. I have two books, Catholic Shrines of Western Europe and Europe's Monastery and Convent Guesthouses, both by Kevin J. Wright. If I was travelling with just my husband, I would love to stay at some monasteries, but my travelling companions this time aren't religious/Catholic and there may be three young boys in tow. Not something I would inflict on anyone, especially the religious! So, I'll cross off staying at any monasteries. But, that leaves some great shrines.
My plan is to drive from Geneva to Mont Saint Michel, which requires driving completely across the country from east to west. Here are the places I have on my list to see, driving from east to west. If anyone has been to these places, I would love to hear your stories and suggestions or any "must do's" while at the shrines or in the area. It seems that some of these shrines don't have webpages, so any advice on them would be very helpful. Since my travelling companions will probably go nuts with visiting all these shrines, any advice on which ones are "must sees" and which ones can wait for another trip?
Ars-sur-Formans - St. John Vianney
Doray-le-Monial - Sacred Heart of Jesus & St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Nevers - St. Bernadette Soubirous
Chartres and Versailles (possibly Disneyland Paris)
Pontmain - Our Lady of Pontmain
Mont Saint Michel
Normandy beaches and cemeteries
Lisieux - St. Therese of Lisieux
I also plan to visit Essen in northern Germany, near the North Sea and the Netherlands where my German branch is from, and to the small town in Canton Graubunden where my Swiss family is from.
In Geneva, I'm only about an hour or two from La Salette and the Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse so would consider driving here for a day trip by myself. Has anyone been to these places to give me any insight? Especially Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse. My book says you can't see much so don't bother going, but I don't think this is the case. Some areas are off limits, but not the entire monastery. Is it worth the drive?
By the way, I only plan to stay for a maximum of two weeks...