“Distress in France” – by Debbie Ambrous

May 27, 2018 – Sundayof the Burgundy, France Journal

Published normalement (normally) bi-weekly on Sunday

Only eleven days of medicine was left!  There should have been a second bottle, but it was nowhere to be found in our luggage.  That was an emergency for me! The owner of our rental house had given a bowlful of freshly-picked cherries to me, but my day was far from a proverbial bowlful of cherries!

Jim had called his sister Virginia, who lives only a short distance from our house in Alabama, and she agreed to use her key to our house and send the medicine in our cabinet by express mail.  Virginia was coming to Jim’s rescue, not the first time, since she is his older sister who is always reliable.  I felt better with this urgent request in her hands.  This 911 call to the big sister, who is actually little in size but a giant package in love, strength and compassion, happened on Saturday, the day of the “Rose Sale”. 

On Sunday, May 27th, my panic had settled to “3” on a scale of one to ten.  The story wasn’t over for me, but ignorance is bliss.  We should be exuding bliss!  Counting our blessings, we went for a walk in Arnay-le-Duc when fewer cars were on the streets.  Starting at La Maison Bourgogne, which houses the tourist office, sculpted lion heads greeted us in the morning light.  The growling, frowning lions matched our faces since we weren’t picture-perfect models of radiance and joy.  Hoping to lift our spirits I teased Jim, “You can pose by the lion face as its long lost twin brother!”  A slight, up-turned grin spread across his cloudy face, but he wasn’t quick with a jab in reply since he was also under the weather about the medicine mix-up.

La Maison Bourgogne – Tourist Office


La Maison Bourgogne was built at the end of the fifteen century with a decorative turret, and it was purchased in 1850 by Mr. Bourgogne who gave his name to the building and turned it into a confectionery and a biscuit (cookies) factory.  The shop was closed in 1971, and then forty years later the city hall acquired it. The tourist office opened in the building in 2012.

Jim and I continued down the lane past the many flowers from the florist shop displayed for customers to examine and purchase.


Past the tempting, pretty flowers that I could only plant in an imaginary garden, an interesting doorway presented B. Frey’s gallery of African art

Jim was apparently returning to his old self because he dared to suggest, “Stand to the right of the doorway, the far right by the picture of the woman with the baby on her back.  Yes, that’s the one!  Stand in profile and I’ll take your picture!

What a set-up!!  If I could have found an African poison dart gun, I would have shot him right there in front of the other African sculptures with the heavy eyelids!  They wouldn’t speak a word to the gendarme


Our next destination was the tall tower that we could see from our garden at the rental house.  We walked along a lane past a bed and breakfast with the cutest ideas for flowers at her window boxes.  The pansies reminded me of our lovely white-haired friend, Mable, who still has a huge garden in the country despite her age of 80+ years.

I have bought pansies for her flower garden by her front porch when I purchase mine, but she always has one request saying, “Now, I want pansies with the ‘faces’, not solid colors.”  If you look closely at the pansies, you will see the bright, cheerful faces, enough to cheer any worry-faced person, even the stone-faced, grouchy lions.

Around the corner, Jim said, “You know I don’t think you look like the saggy-chested African woman by the gallery door.  I just thought you would be extra pretty standing next to her, a contrast, like standing a peacock next to a buzzard.”  I walked on ahead of Jim up the hill toward the tower thinking that we rarely have a dull moment and feeling very thankful for it.  When Jim caught up with me I told him, “I get the picture.  I’m not a beautiful Victoria Secret lingerie model. But at least you don’t think I look like an old buzzard!” That husband of mine really has a way with words.

La Tour de la Motte Forte

La Tour de la Motte Forte:  Arnay-le-Duc became a fortified city in the Middle-Ages.  The castle was built on a natural mound of earth.  When the last capetian duke died in 1361, the lieutenant gave the castle to the residents of Arnay.  They had to maintain the castle and pay the castle tax, but they didn’t respect the pact and used the castle as a stone quarry.  The last vestige of the castle is the Tower.

Now, I only hope you don’t use a poison dart gun on me for inserting so much history.   Or, hopefully, you enjoy digging into the past as much as I do.

La Plus Ancienne Maison – The oldest house in Arnay-le-Duc

The last building for this day on the walking tour of Arnay is La Plus Ancienne Maison: This is the oldest house in Arnay, built at the end of the fifteenth century. It is a typical house from this age with visible beams, a first floor which overhangs the ground floor.  It was a shop which can be recognized by the typical shop windows for display of goods.

We walked past this old building every day on our way to the boulangerie which has a sign showing Sophie and Jeremie as the owners.  Heather and Jeremy are our good friends at home, so we laughed about whether Heather knew about Jeremy’s boulangerie.

We finished our walk and rushed to a vide-grenier (large community yard sale) after we bought our picnic lunch at a boulangerie near Gevrey-Chambertin.

With camera in hand, I wandered around and found murals, ornate gateways and a maison’s front yard filled with poppies.  Jim suggested that we could do the same at home and he wouldn’t have to mow the grass.  We located the sale in a smaller village where I found two adorable little dresses for Royce, a precious, beautiful girl at home.  Spice jars with colorful lids went into my shopping bag for my sister-in-law Virginia.

On our way home we drove through a tunnel and I snapped photos since I wanted to add tunnels to my list.  What do you think about the results? We drove along the Burgundy canal in a new area, and Jim stopped at a hamlet with lovely scenery.  A couple of older gentlemen joined us and I asked permission to snap photos of his colorful flowers.  He showed the vegetable garden to us where the tiny plants were growing in rows with promise of many good meals in the future.  I identified the vegetables, calling out the names in English.  The gardener understood and seemed impressed that I knew my veggies!  I smiled as one gardener to another, where we had soil, seeds and a love for all growing things in common.

Back at our rental house in Arnay-le-Duc, my emergency story continued.  Jim’s sister broke the news to Jim in a phone call.  She had rushed to the post office on the previous day, Saturday, but it had closed early since Monday was a holiday, Memorial Day!  The package could not even begin its journey until Tuesday!  With that situation, my medicine in the bottle was dwindling to a very narrow gap!  What could I do?  My days in France should not be filled with such distress!!Y’all come back next time to read how my emergency was solved and see our rainy Monday.  Thanks for coming around to visit.

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All photography is the property of Debbie Ambrous.

12 thoughts on ““Distress in France” – by Debbie Ambrous

    • Thanks, Bill! I’m sorry I am late in replying to your comment, but I was away for a few days in Florida on a work trip. I did manage one dip into the swimming pool, though! Hope you are doing fine. I am always happy to see your comments. All the best, Debbie

  1. I liked the pansies with the faces on them. The tunnel reminded me of the Lincoln tunnel in NYC which we drove through last month -except that it was much busier than your French tunnel. Glad you had such a good time in your travels. Looking forward to seeing how your problem with meds was solved.

    • Kathy, I liked those little faces on the brilliant golden yellow pansies as well. It is almost time to plant pansies again. Glad you liked the tunnel photo! Thanks so much! All the best, Debbie

  2. Photos are beautiful as usual. Your humor had me LOL a couple times. Great story especially on this very cold blustery day.

    • Carolynn, we just returned from southern Florida with temps in the 90’s, so it is difficult to imagine cold, blustery days. I am so glad you enjoyed the story and photos! Take care, Debbie

  3. Brilliant as usual!!! Certainly running out of medicine is no fun! The bowl of cherries looked enticing. Looking forward to more of your stories about France.

  4. Enjoy sharing your special finds. We have been on the, we’re almost out of meds situation. It’s good for a panic attack surely followed by death but we did survive.

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