Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Chenonceau: The road from the entrance to the Chateau
Gardens at the Chateau de Chenonceau
Stables at the Chateau de Cheverny
And we did that while it rained quite a lot. Sometimes it was nothing more than a drizzle and at other times it poured as if the proverbial biblical flood was playing out in Western Central France. At night thick mist and a wet cold would cloak the valley and the smell of wood-burning fireplaces permeated every particle in the air.
The moat at Chateau de Chenonceau
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
There is no English equivalent for the term (flânerie), just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothing, including his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.
Dinner in the oldest house in Paris
The King's bedchamber takes centre stage facing the rising sun
No doubt who stayed behind these gates
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Time for rest was not yet insight though. We found our apartment on rue Chapon after about 15 minutes of walking. After we put our luggage down and listen to all the instructions and directions from the rental company’s host, we were off again to find a groceries store and a bakery to buy some necessities like coffee, milk, bread and pastries for lunch and dinner at “our home” for the next few days. Most of Paris’s groceries stores, bakeries and even many restaurants are closed on Sundays and those open closes at noon or shortly thereafter.
It is interesting to observe how quickly one feels one can become a “temporary” Parisian. Go to the corner groceries store and buy some salads and a bottle of wine, at the boulangerie a loaf of olive bread, and some pungent cheese at a market on a square and you instantly feel at home in Paris. It doesn’t make you French, but it makes you want to become more than just a tourist in Paris. It makes you feel “temporary” at home. I like that feeling and that’s why we always try to enhance the local sensation of our trips by staying in apartments/flats, houses, anywhere but hotels. We did stay in a hotel on 2 different occasions in Paris but it was because we were in transit to Avignon and then again the night before we returned to the US.
By Monday afternoon the rain and clouds have disappeared, thankfully, and on our way to the Eiffel Tower to ascent at dusk and watch Paris grow dark and see the city of light in, well, lights, we were presented with a glorious sunset that coated the Fames at the Pond Alexander III and the dome of the Invalides in gilded glory. At this time of day I already wanted to be on the tower but I underestimated Paris’s rush hour traffic.
The Heart of Paris
The Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris has been at the center of Parisian life for centuries. Building started in 1163 and it took more than 200 years to complete it. The church is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world. On the first day in Paris we visited the church on our walkabouts but did not go inside. The line was too long and it was raining. Puddles and mud everywhere. There is some pavement project taking place right in front of the entrance. Quite a mess. The famous organ is also currently quiet due to restoration work and it is all part of a major restoration project started in 1991, all due to be completed by the end of 2012. Neither did we visit the garden at the back of the church due to the rain. I read it was one of Paris’s best little parks (and best kept secrets seeing that few tourist venture there) and also excellent for photographing this Paris icon. When we returned to Notre Dame the next afternoon I totally forgot about the garden so I never got to see it. Blame it on creeping old age or being blown into a Paris “trance” after a long morning of gorging on the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the city. Oh well, there’s always a next time.
Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
However, if I thought Sainte-Chapelle was something to behold, Versailles, the next day was over the top.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Architectural Candy Store
In the Loire valley it didn’t rain but poured most of the time, but again, it didn’t prevent us from cruising the country roads in our tiny Renault Modus, which actually provides a very nice ride, and visiting the chateaus. Only once we arrived in Avignon did we experience the famous Provençal bienvenue of sunshine, warmth and color other than grey and black.
Night fall at the Place de la Concorde, and picture perfect representation of Paris.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Last week it was too cold for a walk down to the pond. Yesterday, although windy, was probably one of our last nice days for a while. From here on freezing weather or thereabout is in our future.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The stands of White Ash trees surrounding the house turned bald and it now looks like Gulliver bombarded Lilliput land with wooden darts with spiky feathers. Their grey bark against a grey sky made them ghostly. But the twisted road to the house still looked welcoming and inviting with thick layers of leaves leading the eye and islands of autumn in an ocean of green and brown.
The road to the pond looked inviting but the breeze was cold and my hands were freezing. With more than 20 species of trees around the pond it probably would have been very colorful, but that’s for another day, another time.
But by just walking around the house there were enough splashes of color against the bleak sky to appreciate autumn.
And it felt good to stand on top of the hill again overlooking a freshly cut and baled field and my neighbors cows in the pasture. France was excellent, it will stay with us, but it’s also good to be back home again.