Hougen Group

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France 2003

From April 30th to May 15th, 2003 our family of 32 experienced the "trip of a lifetime" in France. We spent our first 4 days in the amazing city of Paris. Our first visit was to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador Raymond and Kay Chretien. The adults were served champagne and hors d'oeuvres, while us kids were served Pringles, pretzels and orange juice. We all felt like royalty with servants meeting our every request.



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Over the next few days, we visited all the main attractions in Paris including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre (where I found the Mona Lisa a bit disappointing compared to the rest of the huge, full wall paintings), the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees where we had the best pizza dinner ever at Pizza Pino.



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On May 3rd, while still in Paris, we celebrated Auntie Greta's 40th birthday and Nana and Poppa's 48th anniversary. We celebrated at a very unique medieval restaurant called "Le Gallois" with live music and lots of delicious food.



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The following day we caught the train to Castelnaudray which kicked off our amazing week on the Canal du Midi. We rented 4 'Crown Blue Line" barges - 2 "Grand Classiques" and 2 "Royal Classiques". The boat configurations were set up with us and the Bells and Nana and Poppa and the Kelly Hougen family on the Royals.

The next 7 days were full of many locks, interesting towns along the way and tons of fun. Going through the locks required a lot of maneuvering, a lot of rope tying and untying and a lot of patience. Of course, all of it was worth it when we arrived at another stop along the way. Sometimes we were able to ride bikes!



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One of the most memorable stops was to the old medieval town of Carcassone. We took a 45 minute walk up a cobblestone street until we reached an incredible castle on top of the hill. We finished up our canal trip in Port Cassifiere.



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The final phase of our trip was spent in the coastal town of Cap d'Agde on the Mediterranean Sea. We relaxed on the beach for the next few days and I took runs to a little patisserie across the street from our hotel each morning for breakfast. This was also the place I stepped on a poisonous fish and had to sit with my foot in hot water for half an hour at a beachside cafe to draw out the poison. We celebrated Jenna's 8th birthday on the beach and Aunti Karen und Uncle Jim's 14th anniversary.

Cap d'Agde was a fun ending to a most memorable 'trip of a lifetime'.

Myles Hougen (age 12)



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