David and Kathy

David Ferré and Kathy Childs Website

Greetings from Dave and Kathy. With our move to Europe from July to December, 2012, we're going to maintain a blog of what we're up to (see below). We'll return to the US in December to our winter home in Tucson. After enjoying a few months in Tucson, we'll head back to Europe in May, 2013, returning to the US in August, 2013. Our homes in Germany and France are via Home Exchanges with corresponding German and French families.

| July | August | Sept. | Oct. | Nov. | Dec. 2012 |

Slideshow of pictures (with music) - Click Here
(Click lower-right corner of show for full screen)

July 11

We left Denver exactly on time for Paris, via Iceland, on Icelandair. After 7 hours of flying time, we changed airplanes in Reykjavik, Iceland, then another 3 hours arriving Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Paris at 1pm on July 12th. We had one-way economy tickets but upgraded to the "comfort" level for a modest additional charge (thanks to my brother Robert for this idea).

July 12

Our home in Paris is the "La Villa Paris" Bed and Breakfast, 33, rue de la Fontaine à Mulard - Paris 75013. Click Here for their website. We selected this place because it has a great location, air conditioning, and was highly recommended. It's very quiet and close to Place d'Italie. We are in the "Bastille" room. Marie, the owner, speaks 5 languages. Alek, from Romania, fixes us breakfast.

July 13

Tonight we enjoyed a fine meal at our future French host family home. Shown (upper) are Bonnie, who will be staying at Perrine and Stephane's home while they stay at her home in Colorado for 6 months, next we have Perrine's parents, Perrine (her husband is already in Colorado), David is next and then the neighbor who lives in the flat down stairs.

Then (lower), Bonnie, Perrine, and then Bastian and Luc some truly high-energy children. We had such fun trying to understand each other, puzzling over the right French word or the right English word. Two bottles of champagne later, Dave and I made our way to the midnight train home to our B&B.

July 14

Paris is a bit confusing today, on Bastille Day, so we chose the wrong day to take Bus 67 the full circuit, that is, to get on by the B&B and then get off back at the B&B. The first photo is Kathy at the Institut du Monde Arabe, or Institute of the Arab World. Brother Robert has mentioned that the 9th floor roof top deck has fantastic views of Paris, plus at the top is a fine restaurant and then a café. The roof top deck is free and open to the public.

We walked to L'île Saint-Louis (an island in the Seine river) and after lunch at a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant on rue L'île Saint-Louis, we found this small band playing for loose change. Click Here for a 20 second video. Dinner was at a Vietnamese restaurant, "Suave" 20, Rue Providence. Reservations required for Pho Soup! The place has only a few tables.

July 15


Awake or sleep I’m not sure but I
See the vistas of architect and sky stretching outward
Light and dark gathering the old and new.
The street soften by rain
Ah, the gleaming metal modern art moving in the beams of sun
Catching me off guard, inspiring me.
I taste the air, the wine, the crepe, the deep dark coffee.
All rolling inside my mouth fresh, rich making me weak
I hear the melody of the French language as the couple walks by
The sound wrapping around me making me warm
Now the music of the one eyed accordion player pushes my train down the track
Deep into this dream of Paris.

By Kathy

July 16

Paris Visit Highlights: Best discovery was the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood with Chez les Filles restaurant a favorite; best stroll was the Viaduc des Arts; best place to explore was Cité Universitaire; best bus for sightseeing was bus 67; and best flea market was the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil. Except for the Viaduc (middle picture), these are not popular tourist places. Our B&B was in a true French neighborhood, with English not spoken at the cafés.

Then today David and Kathy decided to each have some time on their own. David went into Paris to spend hours at various used LP/CD record stores to find André Tchaikowsky recordings (found three) while Kathy did a walking tour of Parc Montsouris, a much beloved large park near the B&B.

For the evening activity, we went to the "Les Gobelins" neighborhood and the UGC Gobelins movie theater to see the latest Woody Allen film, To Rome With Love (not great). Lastly, home to pack for our morning departure.

July 17

After a quick trip back to the CDG airport to get our leased car, we took off for Lyon, France on highway A6. The Peugeot 207 diesel is very comfortable, has a built-in GPS and many other features like air conditioning. The advantage of a leased car instead of a rented car is that you do not have to pay 21% sales tax. Our car came via the kemwel.com website.

At lunch time, we got off the A6 for Chablis, France (yes, that Chablis) a wonderfully picturesque French town loaded with "Dégustation et vente" signs (taste and buy), with a lovely lunch at Restaurant Syracuse. Then a look around town, before heading on to Lyon.

In Lyon, we checked into the Ibis Hotel Perrache, which is in a great central location, but offers no parking. Next was a lovely evening stroll with the locals, along the Rhone River where we noted several river cruise ships tied up for the night. In particular, the Viking Neptune that is in Lyon on day 3 of a "French Countryside" 8-day tour. Click Here to learn more about this cruise.

July 18

Even though we have only spent a few hours in Lyon we are both feeling the difference between Lyon and Paris. They are both great French cities with lots to see and do and yet there is a subtle difference between the energy of the two. Paris gets our vote but Lyon is pretty neat as well.

We started with metro/tram/bus riding, going though several neighborhoods and then the two funiculars up Fourvière Hill. One of these terminates at the spectacular Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière whose interior spaces are completely covered with tiny mosaic tiles (floors, ceiling, walls, everything). Amazing to see.

After a nice afternoon rest, we ventured out again for dinner at Restaurant Têtedoie, which is positioned ½ way up Fourvière Hill, in fact, you have to take the Saint-Just funicular to get to the restaurant. Since we dined quite early at 7:30pm when the restaurant opened, we were able to have another lovely evening stroll along the Rhone River. They dine later in France, in fact, Happy Hour (Heures Joyeuses) is from 6pm to 8pm.

July 19

After a lot of confusion to get our car out of parking and then back to the hotel to collect our bags, we finally got underway for Montagnier, Switzerland. By error, we went through Swiss Customs as a member of the European Union and without a Vignette (pass for Swiss highways). So we stopped at one point and bought one, which Dave proudly put on the car.

Then a beautiful drive into the Swiss alps and a stop along the way for some lunch and to get some Swiss money, since they are not on the Euro. In fact electrical outlets are different in Switzerland so we had to buy adapters for our adapters.

Finally arriving in Montagnier, we found our apartment and checked in. This town is at the base of Verbier Mountain so you can take the Ski Lift (télécabine) or drive to Verbier. We were disappointed, however, that our apartment is a basement unit with no view, terrace, balcony or anything that provides a view. Just some tiny windows so we can see people walk by, but we've seen some nice shoes. C'est la vie.

July 20

Day 1 of 17 - It's all about music now. Got our volunteer badges and briefing. We found out we can go to any concert not sold out, for free, so last night we got into the gala opening concert with Brahms’s Double Concerto (soloists Renaud and Gautier Capuçon) and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, given in the largest venue, the Salle des Combines.

July 21

Day 2 of 17 - Dave worked the Master Class for Hungarian pianist Ferenc Rados, and Kathy worked the Church concert for Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Kirill Troussov, Lars Anders Tomter, Mischa Maisky, and Elisabeth Leonskaja playing Beethoven, and Shostakovitch. Excellent lunch at l'Ecurie restaurant, located right in the center of Verbier (pix).

July 22

Day 3 of 17 - Dave and Kathy both worked at the Church Concert today, with Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja playing a recital of Mozart, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and a Chopin encore. She is a truly great artist. Then a walk through the Sunday Market and a stop for lunch at the Le Monde des Crepes (pix). Click Here for a 20-second video of our waiter!

July 23

Day 4 of 17 - Dave and Kathy both worked at the Church Concert again, with Renaud Capuçon, Lawrence Power, Mischa Maisky, Martin Fröst, Simone Dinnerstein, and Julien Quentin playing Bray and Mozart. Next was the Master Class with German bass/baritone Thomas Quasthoff (for an amazing video Click Here) and then back to the main concert hall for the opera Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy.

The English pre-concert talks are given by the opera (and cooking) expert, Fred Plotkin (pix), who is well known in the world of opera and classical music. With the weather improving, we took a picture from the viewing deck at the main concert hall (pix), where we also enjoyed a fine white wine before entering the building.

July 24

Day 5 of 17 - Here we are in our official uniform! Lots of music today, ending with an unbelievable recital by pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. Earlier, another pianist, Alexandre Tharaud played. Then at lunch, at the La Pergula restaurant, we had a lively conversation with cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan sitting at the next table. His cello is from the year 1689! I guess he couldn't afford a new one.

July 25

Day 6 of 17 - Kathy did the Church Concert with Kate Royal, soprano, and Malcolm Martineau, piano, while Dave did his Master Class with violinist Pamela Frank. All Master Classes are for Verbier Academy musicians, world-class performers but young and unknown. We were done by 1pm so we went exploring, finding the small town of Orsières (pix) and continuing to Champex-lac in search of Swiss cows with tinkling cow bells. Success! Click Here for a 20-second cow bell video.

July 26

Day 7 of 17 - We both did Master Classes today, Kathy for violas with Lars Anders Tomter, and David for pianos with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler. Lunch at Chez Martin in Verbier and then off to Montreux, Switzerland for the afternoon where we strolled the beautiful walkway along Lake Geneva and rode the petit train des quais de Montreux (Click Here for 15-second video).

July 27

Day 8 of 17 - Kathy worked the Church Concert with pianist Alice Sara Ott, and Dave the Master Class with bass/baritone Thomas Quasthoff. Each day we drive up the mountain to Verbier on a wild zig-zag road (pix). Some drivers treat this as a race course, believe me. After some shopping, we went to the Le Chat Bleu restaurant in our little town for dinner and jazz featuring Verbier Academy musicians (Video).

July 28

Day 9 of 17 - Kathy and Dave had tickets for the Church Concert featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov, playing Debussy and Chopin, so we were semi-volunteers only. For the afternoon work, Dave took the gondola "Télé Verbier" (pix), which is free to Verbier volunteers, to work at the Master Class for chamber musicians, given by violinist Antoine Tamesitit.

We also had time to check out the real estate market in Switzerland. Amazingly, mortgages are offered at 1.5% with 100-year term. In fact, you can specify interest-only payments. For example, payments on a $1,000,000 mortgage are about $1,000 a month. You pay taxes on your net worth in Switzerland and you can subtract your mortgage from your net worth so this is the trick. We did find a fixer we liked (pix) for $65,000.

July 29

Day 10 of 17 - We both worked the Church Concert today, the Kuss String Quartet playing Brahms (suburb). Then the Sunday market (pix) with the cheese seller (video) and on to a long lunch at Restaurant Millennium (excellent). For fun, we took the gondolas to the very top of Verbier Mountain (video 1) (video 2). Kathy was fearless, pretty much. Then a "Roby Lakatos" concert.

July 30

Day 11 of 17 - Kathy worked the Church Concert, chamber music of Brahms and Elgar, and Dave the Master Class for a true master, pianist Alfred Brendel. Dave continued to another Master Class given by Gabor Takacs-Nagy. Finally, a concert with Neeme Jarvi, Joshua Bell, Mischa Maisky, and Martha Argerich. The Verbier Volunteers were featured in a newspaper (pix), "Still more volunteers to Verbier Festival" and a quote from Dave (Read).

July 31

Day 12 of 17 - Kathy did the Church Concert, pianist Jan Lisiecki, and Dave the Master Class with pianist Menahem Pressler. Lunch at the La Pergula restaurant then up Verbier Mountain with scooters (pix) to then ride down to Verbier on the switchback roads. See going up (Video), see Kathy riding down (Video). Along the way we had a nice refreshment stop at the Carrefour Restaurant.