As we motored down the A10, then the A75, from Orléans to Clermont-Ferrand today, we stopped at every highway rest stop that had a playground (about one of every two, it seems). The playgrounds were each different from the other, and they were all inventive and lots of fun. Oddly, one of the rest stops incorporated a “forest spirits” theme, and had a long explanation of western Canadian native practice vis a vis trees.
While Oliver, of course, was in heaven, I think we’ve raised the vacation expectations bar quite high now, and we might be expected to visit 4 new playgrounds a day for the duration.
The other highlight of the day was a visit to the Orléans Médiathàque (see picture here), which is their central public library branch. It’s an architectural masterwork, complete with a massive children’s area, a “newspaper and magazine pod” that you enter as if entering a spaceship, and a bright, bright, bright orange stairway that would send Jodi reeling.
Actually, the real highlight of the day was encountering the “new washroom system” here at the Clermont-Ferrand Formule 1 hotel: as soon as you enter, the toilet pre-flushes and digital birds start to chirp. Then new-age music starts to play as you alight the toilet. Upon completion, there is a small automatic sink, which auto-sprays soap on your hands, then starts up water, and finishes with a powerful blast of hot air to dry them off. We might as well be in Japan.
We’re off to the Clermont-Ferrand market to get something for dinner…