Storm the Bastille

Back in the old days, before our company was a year-round berry marketer, we used to have a major slowdown in the summer.  That was the time for vacations.  One July in the early 90’s when our kids, Elizabeth & Nick, were young we planned a trip to France.  I have heard Marcus, in our sales department, use the term “Storm the Bastille”, referencing growers coming up way over on their production forecasts.  There is a tie-in, in the story that follows.

Our trip started out like most family trips to France, with a tour of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.  After a couple of days in Paris, the snootyness of the city began to wear on us.  I was looking through a book in our hotel room of the best places to stay in France.  I came across a property in the Loire Valley, Lion d’Or.  Translated to the Golden Lion.  The place boasted a Michelin star chef and was a little off the beaten path. It sounded perfect to get out of the big city and venture out into the French countryside.  We called, made a reservation, and checked out of our Parisienne hotel early.

That evening, at Lion d’ Or, the meal did not disappoint.  We had the best bottle of Chassagne Montrachet that I have ever had.  After the meal, we retired to our rooms to relax.  We were looking forward to a quiet night.

Therese and I had a room on the 2nd floor overlooking the main street that ran through the small village.  The kids were next door in an interior courtyard room.  The temperature was somewhat warm and air conditioning was not included, so we had the windows open.

The quiet of the evening did not last for long.  We heard a bit of commotion on the street and we looked out to see a parade with bands and lanterns coming down the street.  Not being French, we did not realize that July 13th was the eve of Bastille Day.  The four of us sat by the window and watched the parade go by.  The celebration was nice, but it went on well into the evening.  When it was over around 11, we got the kids to their room and Therese and I retired to our room over the street.

We laid in bed and we were having a hard time getting to sleep because of the constant noise of traffic going by, on the street below.  After an hour of this, Therese had enough.  She went to the kid’s quieter courtyard room and got Nick to swap places with her.

Nick and I had a hard time sleeping, until about 1 am.  That is when the street noise finally died down and the temperature cooled off.  Peace at last.

I was in a deep sleep, when I heard a loud pounding on our door.  I flew out of bed.  My first thought was, the place must be on fire.  It was Therese and little Elizabeth standing there.  It is 2 am, what the heck is going on now?  Therese announced that Nick and I had to switch rooms with them.  She went on to say that in their room, mosquitoes were eating them alive.  My first reaction was – NO, this is not going to happen!  Are you crazy?  My room just got good!

Then I did what any good leader does to resolve a tough dispute.  I compromised.  We all got into the same bed in the room above the street.  Finally, we all got to rest, but not for long.
We slept until 5 am to be exact.  That is when the final blow occurred.  Trumpets under our windows were announcing, musically, the beginning of Bastille Day.  Why under our window, and why at 5 am?  How was this a good idea?  Is this some sort of sick French patriotic tradition to punish guests?  It was then that I thought, maybe Paris isn’t so bad after all.  Although, that was a good bottle of wine and the people were polite in Loire Valley, except for the stupid guys with the trumpets.

We are headed for great things, as long as we do not let them “Storm the Bastille.”