Thursday, May 31, 2012


Thursday, May 31, 2012

We arrived home about 11 pm last night.  A very long day if you start at 6 am in Paris and remember to add the nine hours difference making a total of twenty-six hours we were awake with only a nap here and there.

The first flight was ten hours to Dallas, Texas; long but uneventful.  It was daylight for the whole trip and everyone stays awake for the most part.  I do try to do some exercises every hour to keep from getting too stiff.

The fun began when we landed in Dallas.  There had been a bad thunderstorm all day to the point that they actually shut down the airport for an hour in the afternoon.  It was open when we arrived but everything was really backed up.  It took an hour and a half to get through customs; about three times the normal!   When we arrived I turned on my cell phone while still in the airplane and it worked.  The battery had held a full charge for two months!  I called my sister who was tracking our flight and she told me that our connecting flight had been canceled because of the storms.  While we were still processing through customs inspections I was able to talk with airline staff and they said that they’d already switched us to another later flight for Los Angeles; I asked about Orange County and because of all the delays he was able to get us on a flight that had been scheduled to leave at 5 pm but was delayed until 7 pm.  

We were thrilled with the change as it cut our travel time from the airport to home in half!  We eventually had to wait until 8:30 pm before the flight finally got off the ground.  The airport was a mess because so many flights were canceled and/or late because of the storms.  Once we were in the air I could see the clouds in a distance where the lightening was flashing in huge strikes one after another…so fast it was like daylight!  But, we were far enough away so that other than a few bumps we were fine.  We arrived safely in California after a three hour flight.

By 11 pm we were home and tucked into bed…left the luggage in the car!  We slept through until 6 am so we should be just fine as far as jet lags goes.  We did take our “No Jet Lag” pills all the way home.  It’s been a busy day with laundry, paying bills and getting back in the grove after being gone two months.  Thanks again for sharing our journey.  I’m going to take a vacation from blogging for awhile but hope you find time to go back through some of my earlier post to read about other trips we’ve taken.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Everyone took the morning to do what they wanted and then we met in the lobby at 11 am.  We were early so I played with the hotel cat while we waited.  She was also here in 2010 and is queen of the lobby!

We caught the Metro to Rue Cler when Linda and Terry treated us to a light lunch of beer and crepes at our favorite place:  Ulysse…Linda had a chocolate crepe and Cappuccino coffee and the rest of us enjoyed a great Greek beer called Mikos with our cheese and jambon crepes!  A trip to Paris always finds us in Rue Cler for one of Ulysse’s special crepes.  We enjoyed one in April before the friends arrived and again today!
We then took our time walking over towards the Eiffel Tower views from the far end of the Champ de Mars at the Military School for photos of Mr. Eiffel’s beautiful tower.  We slowly walked towards it taking more photos as we walked until we were underneath the towering structure by 12:30 pm.

Before leaving home I had ordered and printed our tickets for a 1:00 pm entry.  We had to wait for ten minutes after we arrived and then they let us in about ten minutes early.  We felt just a bit guilty as the people who did not get their tickets in advance had waited in line for nearly three hours before they could purchase their tickets and enter the elevator.  Once on the upper level we were mixed with everyone and had to queue with everyone for the second elevator that takes you to the top of the tower.  The first elevator is like a funicular…traveling on a slant up the leg of the tower.  It pauses at the first level with the restaurant and then goes to the second level.  

 On the second level you have to change to another elevator that goes directly up the center of the tower.  Right now they are repairing one of the elevators so the number of people who are up in the tower at the same time is cut nearly in half.  It was not nearly as crowded and we didn’t have to wait long in the lines for the other elevators.  It was a very enjoyable experience.  

Yes…the sunshine is beautiful and it is warm but when walking under the trees on the right side of the Seine River we found it very pleasant.   They have been predicting some rain nearly every day but it’s been beautiful.  Not a drop has fallen on us since we arrived!

We ended our journey today at pont de L’Alma to see the golden torch that symbolizes the torch of the Statue of Liberty.  It is three bridges down from the Eiffel Tower on the right bank.  It is officially, a monument to French-American friendship, a copy of the torch of the Statue of Liberty.  But, unofficially, the Princess Diana memorial created by the people.   When Princess Diana died in a car crash in the tunnel directly beneath the monument; people started leaving flowers and written messages to her on and around the torch.  It’s always interesting to see this monument.   For the first time I didn’t see any flowers on the torch for her…but the messages are still written on the concrete walls overlooking the underpass.  

On the Metro…actually we cross the bridge and came home on the RER C; and then an afternoon of packing for our trip tomorrow.

Tonight we’re all meeting our Paris friends for dinner at a wonderful restaurant near the Opera Garnier known as Café de la Paix.  Reservations are for 7:45 pm so it will be a late night and then the alarm goes off at 6 am.  

Our shuttle picks us up at 7 am for the trip to the airport.  Yes, we’ve decided not to do the train.  I’ll add more to this either tonight or after I get home in the USA…depends on access to the Internet after we leave the hotel.

POSTSCRIPT:   It's Wednesday morning, May 30th, and we're sitting at CDG Airport waiting for our flight.  We had 15 minutes free on the wifi and I'm paying for another 30 minutes so that I can update my blog.  See additional photos from last night.

We arrived outside the Cafe de la Paix and met Nicolas...Maeliss was working late and met us at the restaurant...instead of this restaurant he took us walking to see the Place Vendome, filled with the best of jewelry stores and then on to a wonderful favorite restaurant of theirs in the Place Demarche St. Honore.  We sat among the wine bottles and enjoyed three hours of food, wine and good friends.  A wonderful way to end our journey; and a special treat by Nicolas and Maeliss.  Soon we hope that they will come again to the USA so we can repay all the dinners they have given us. 

I hope you've enjoyed sharing our journey for the past two months.  Au Revoir

Monday, May 28, 2012


Monday, May 28, 2012

We met in the lobby of our hotel at 9:30 am and then caught the metro to the Musee Louvre.  Arrived just before opening at 10 am.  The Museum Pass again proved invaluable as we walked through security check points with no problems.  

We split up after entering as Jim was being granted a reprieve for the day…promising to be at the hotel before 5 pm he was free to enjoy his day at the Louvre Museum.  He loved every minute of his day and actually returned to the hotel about 3:30 pm.

Terry, Linda and I hung together as we explored the huge museum.  Our first visit was to the statue known as “winged victory”; reached by climbing many marble steps, you earn the right to view this magnificent statue.  Did I mention…the crowds were horrendous today!  It was like being pulled by the ocean tides.

Around the corner and down the hall we were swept along to view the “Mona Lisa”; a small painting compared to most of the others.  Terry got the best photos because of his height.  Across the room was an enormous canvas painting of “The Marriage of Cana”.  

Our next painting was another enormous painting of “The Coronation of Emperior Napoleon”.  Our next quest was to find the “Venus de Milo”; another famous statue of Aphrodite; the goddess of love.  

Then the fun began; we wanted to see the Napoleon III Apartments in the Richelieu Section.  Up and down and up and down we went, stopping for directions by coming to dead ends.  Finally found the main section under the Pyramid and crossed from the Denon to the Richelieu Section.  There we found the Cour Marly; an open court yard in the center of the Richelieu Section covered by a clear roof that contains beautiful marble status on several different levels of marble steps and flooring.

The Napoleon apartments are a favorite of mine and both Terry and Linda seemed to enjoy the very ornate furniture and especially the crystal chandeliers.   There was a small display of some of the few remaining crown jewels.  

Our schedule was complete and it was noon.  Off we went to take the necessary photos outside with Linda’s arm resting on top of the Pyamid; then out from the building to the Royal Gardens and a look through the window at the famous Restaurant Vefour; used in many movies.  The prices posted on the menu in the window are a good reason not to plan dinner here anytime soon.

We walked the streets to the Opera House and then around the back of it to the Galleries Lafayette that has the famous stained glass ceiling.  We rode the escalators up to the eighth floor for a view of Paris from the artificial grass covered rooftop.  Checked out the menu on the restaurant on the roof and decided to go back to the street level for a delightful lunch at the Brasserie La Opera.  

I had Terry direct us on the Metro system for our return trip that took one transfer.  He did great and they seem to be very comfortable with the Metro system here in Paris.

We have a couple of hours to rest and then we’re going to the Rue Cler area tonight for dinner and then a viewing of the lights on the Eiffel Tower after dark.  

Like yesterday…I’m going to post this now and then will add more later when we return to the hotel tonight or maybe tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow is our last full day in Paris and our trip up the Eiffel tower.  We purchased our tickets over two months ago.  

Although we expected rain last night; it never rained here in Paris…just overcast skies.  They said possibly rain today but the sun has been shining brightly all day. 
Postscript:   We had a wonderful dinner as guests of Terry and Linda at the Café du marche on Rue Cler near the Eiffel Tower.  Then we walked to the Eiffel Tower and found that the lights are not coming on until 10 pm now!  What to do for an hour?   

We decided to take the long anticipated boat ride on the Seine River!  Lots of fun to see Paris from the water…the quai was full of people out to enjoy a warm summer evening.  

We arrived back at the Eiffel Tower just as the lights came on and the strobe lights were blinking.  We hurried to the bridge to get some photos and then decided to try something new.  There are new taxicabs in Paris this year called Tuk Tuk & Co.  Actually an extended motor scooter made by Vespa in Italy with seating for up to four people; can go up to 65 mph but thankfully he didn’t go that fast.  We had a very bumpy ride but lots of fun arriving back at the hotel about 10:30 pm.  What a serendipity day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Sunday, May 27, 2012

We all met in the lobby at 9:30 am this morning and walked to Notre Dame for our journey up the bell tower; the door was scheduled to open at 10 am and the line was already long when we arrived.  It was nearly 10:30 am by the time we started our climb up the 400 steps.  The climb is broken into several sections going up; the first flight takes you through the security check and ticket booth area in the gift shop.  Our ticket was included in our Museum Pass but there is no “pass the line” option here. 
We then started the longest stretch up the winding tower to the first level where we had an opportunity to catch our breath and enjoy the views far down below.  We were on eye level with the massive gargoyles that peer over the edge and took some wonderful photos for you.   

It was at this level that we almost missed the bells.  They are off to one side…part of our group had gone past and it was a real challenge to get back around the one way path; but we did.  The bells are reached by climbing up wood steps inside the tower…yes…more steps.  Waited for ten minutes thinking the bells would ring while we were there; alas…they didn’t…so we went back down the wood steps (one way) and out and around the narrow path towards another step of steps that we went up to another level for some fabulous views of the city.

The way down was a spiral staircase that didn’t stop…400 steps down and down and down until we reach the ground.  The bell began to ring as we entered the tower steps…it was the one attached to our tower…yes….the one we’d waited for earlier; and it was reverberating sound nearly all the way down!

For lunch we walked to a “hole in the wall” restaurant that Jim had found yesterday on his walk back from the Orsay Museum.  Quai 21 is a very small restaurant with questionable décor but the food was delicious.  After lunch we walked over to Sainte Chapelle to view the royal chapel with the floor to ceiling stained glass windows.   I do think that both Linda and Terry were impressed with the magnitude of these magnificent windows.

We’ve been going back and forth to the hotel between each site today; nice to be so close to the hotel instead of looking for public restrooms.  After this visit we headed for the elevator to the RER that we’d found the other day.  We were checking out if it would work for our trip to the airport on Wednesday.  Yes…perfect…the elevator takes you right to the RER tracks for the train to Charles de Gaule Airport.  No steps and/or escalators!

Then we had to get from RER B to RER C…that took some doing but everyone hung together and we finally figured out where we needed to go.  That took us to another stop where we were able to transfer to the Metro.  One more change and we were at the Musee Rodin.

With our Museum Pass we walked directly in to the museum with no waiting…yes…there was a long line of people waiting to purchase tickets.  The house is undergoing some renovation but we were able to tour the house and see many of the sculptures and a few painting before spending time in the gardens to see some of the more famous sculptures.  A bonus was the beautiful rose bushes throughout the gardens.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

Tonight we’re meeting at 6:30 pm and walking to the I’sle St. Louis for dinner at La Brasserie de I’lle St. Louis.  This is the restaurant that we were originally going to visit on our first night but ended at one closer to the hotel after we finished our walk.  Rick Steves’ recommends this one as having good Alsatian cuisine and that sounds good to all of us.

After dinner the plan is to take an evening illumination cruise for an hour on the Seine River. I’ll let you know how it goes later.  The weather prediction is for possible rain tonight!  The good news is that we returned from the Musee Rodin about 3 pm and have had two hours to put our feet up and rest.  I think we’re all ready to go home; we been going every day at a rather fast pace and everyone is a bit tired.  I’m going to post this now and will add a bit to the blog if there are major changes….if not…will only add a few photos of the evening.

Tomorrow is Monday and our plan is to spend most of the day at the Louvre Museum. 

Home again...great dinner...then we walked for about an hour; Linda got some ice cream...the rest of us were too full!  The sky is overcast; looks like we may get some rain tonight.  Beautiful sunset photos; decided not to go for a boat ride...everyone too tired and since it doesn't get dark until after 10 pm...too late we decided.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Didn’t leave the hotel until 9 am and we were still early for the opening of the Arc de Triomphe…10 am.  We used the extra time to walk several blocks to the Parc Monceau; a beautiful park in the middle of very expensive homes.  This morning it was full of joggers and people doing their exercises on the lawns.  By the time we walked there it was time to walk back and we arrived just at the opening.  Our Museum Pass took us past the lines and directly to the staircase.  The elevator is not in service so we climbed up and down the 283 for a total of 566 steps!  But worth all the effort; it’s always fun to see the views from up high.  

We took Rick Steves’ walking tour down the Champs Elysees; enjoying the car stores and especially the Gallerie with the Belle Epoc décor that has a Starbucks in the middle.  Terry found a miniature model of the Peugeot car that we rented at the Peugeot Showroom; so he purchased a car for cash on the Champs Elysees!

Walked all the way to the Plac de la Concorde where Terry found his family name on the placque on the obelisk…see the photo in the slideshow.  That was a real plus.  Then on to the Musee Orangerie for viewing of the famous Monet Lily Pad Gardens that were painted at Giverny.  Another thing that’s changed…we were not allowed to take photos inside!  So sad as we always enjoyed doing that in front of those famous paintings.  There were also many Monet’s are other impressionistic paintings in the lower level of the Musee.
Across the Seine river to the left bank and the Musee Orsay; a wonderful musee in an old train station.  Our Museum Pass again lead us past the lines and we enjoyed lunch in the café before heading up to the fifth floor to the Impressions paintings.

As we were leaving we had an opportunity to step out on the roof and get a photo of Sacra Coeur in the distance and again through the clock tower from inside the building.  Fun photos.

Terry and Linda have both come down with colds…we’re taking lots of Vitamin C and hopefully will not pick up the bug.  Hopefully we’ll all be healthy when we leave Paris next week.  I spoke this afternoon with our Paris friends, Nicolas & Maeliss; they are making reservations for all of us tomorrow for dinner in Paris.  Hoping that Terry & Linda feel well enough for dinner.  Based on tonight they probably will be okay.

Jim returned from Musee Orsay about 5 pm…he spent an extra three hours there on his own.  By 6 pm we were changed and met Terry & Linda in the lobby for our dinner plans.  We took the Metro back to the Champs Elysees and had a wonderful dinner at Chez Clement.  We were just a block away from the Arc de Triomphe and the people watching opportunities were fantastic.  I had a special dessert called an “island”; a large meringue drizzled with caramel sitting in the middle of a sweet sauce….Jim and I shared it at the end of our delicious dinner.   

After dinner we all headed back towards the hotel on the Metro.  Terry & Linda went back to the hotel and Jim and I headed for Notre Dame to check on Mass times for Sunday morning.  Along the way we stopped and watched a street performer who got the whole crowd involved.  And then we stopped at a store to check on a request from one of the children.  We also checked out the elevator that we found that goes down to the RER Station!!!  Wow…an easy way to get luggage down we think.

It was 9 pm when we arrived and found a parade of priests…including the Cardinal….heading into Notre Dame.  We had accidentally stumbled into Confirmation for the Archdioceses of Notre Dame.  There was not a seat to be had!  There had to be about two hundred people being confirmed.  We managed to get inside and then a lovely French family offered me their little girl’s seat as she was constantly moving from one lap to another.  Jim used a corner of a pillar as a seat.  We stayed for the whole service that finally ended just after 11 pm.  

A serendipity experience as you may remember we stared our trip during Easter Week…celebrating Good Friday in Notre Dame and ended our journey the week of Pentecost and witnessed the celebration of Christians being confirmed into the church.  WOW!

It’s after midnight and the crowds are still eating, drinking and singing outside!  Paris never seems to sleep.  Tomorrow’s another day so I’m going to close this and post my blog.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Friday, May 25, 2012

A late morning start; breakfast in our room and working on the blog from yesterday kept me busy.  We met downstairs at 9 am and walked the block to the RER Station for the train to Versailles with the tickets we’d purchased last night.  It was a 45 minute ride in a full train but we did have seats together.   Jim gave us a scare when he got caught in the door as it closed before he was all the way in.  It took several men from inside the train to force the door open enough for him to get inside.  He was the last person in and the train waits for no man or woman when it’s time to leave!   He was a bit shaken up but otherwise okay.

It was only a ten minute walk from the train station; after I used my train ticket to open the door to the toilette in the station…a first!  The gold on the iron fences and roofs are not a brilliant as it was two years ago but in the bright sunshine it is still spectacular!  

Lines were long but we expected that.  We did pass the line to purchase tickets as we had our Museum Pass for entry; this alone paid for nearly half of the cost making the Paris Museum Pass one of the best bargains in Paris.

The tour was very crowded but with the audio guides that were included in the price of the tickets; everyone moved smoothly from room to room.  No air conditioning so the space by the open windows was the most crowded.   It took a little over an hour to tour the Chateau and then we were in the gardens.   We stood in line for the Petit Train to the Grand Trianon; this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to visit this particular one.  Then we walked to the Petit Trianon that was a favorite place of Marie Antoinette when she lived at the palace.  It was about a ten minute walk from there to the Hamlet where she built a miniature village with a working farm where she could spend time with the “common folks”.  

It was nearly two o’clock by the time we boarded the Petit Train again for the ride to the Grand Canal.  There we enjoyed lunch while watching people paddle their row boats around the canal.  Took lots of photos, even one of monks on bicycles, and then got back on the Petit Train for our final ride back to the Chateau.  As we departed the train several of the fountains came on in the upper gardens.  There was a stiff breeze and it created a massive “mist” machine and the school children were delighted to frolic in the cool water being blown over all of us.  

The gardens are in transition from spring to summer flowers so there is not much color in the gardens.  We took a quick look and then headed back to the train to Paris.  Arrived about 4:30 pm and enjoyed a hour of rest before heading out for dinner.

Our dinner tonight was in Montmartre; high on a hilltop on the North side of Paris.  It took us several metro trains to reach the area…about 45 minutes travel time.   Then we rode the funicular up the steep hill and plunged into the crowds for photos of Sacra Coeur…the beautiful white church that is visible from all over Paris.

We wandered along the lanes until we reached the artist area and all the restaurants where we found seating at the La Mere Catherine Restaurant outside in the plaza.  We used our Rick Steves Tour Book for the trip down the hill, he has a great walking tour in his book of this area.  We found the Laughing Rabbit Bar; several famous homes, the one remaining original windmill and finally at the bottom of the hill:  The Moulin Rouge.  Back on the Metro and home to the hotel.

Terry, Linda and I went back out to try for a night photo of Notre Dame; it was about 10:30 pm and just getting dark.  Workers were setting up palm trees in sand all over the plaza in front of Notre Dame….must be having something special for this Sunday…Pentecost .. a religious and national holiday for France. 
Terry and Linda could not believe the activity and number of people still on the street.  Many people were just sitting down to dinner; others were just out drinking and having a good time.  The quai was full and it was still very warm when we returned to the hotel about 11 pm.  It’s going on midnight and I can still hear the sounds from the streets outside.  

A benitot…

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Breakfast this morning was in the kitchen of the B&B in Honfleur; the owners had extended the room by adding a glass conservatory to one wall creating a charming dining area.  By 9 am we were on the road heading southeast towards Giverny and then Paris.

It was just over an hour to Giverny; a tiny village near the town of Vernon that was made famous by the artist Claude Monet.  He spent his last years here and is buried along with most of his family in their cemetery.  He painted his famous water lilies here in these gardens.

I think every tour bus in France was visiting Giverny today!  It took us over half an hour to get into the gardens and then moving from one place to another was a process of moving in long lines along the narrow paths.  You’ll see the crowds in the photos.  But even with the crowds it is a beautiful place and worth the effort.

Jim decided to walk the town and visit the cemetery while we were in the gardens; smart move as we’ve been in the gardens about four times….in fact we stayed in the village several years ago for one night on a trip. 

By 1 pm we were on the road to Paris; stopped along the way and ate our picnic lunch before following Daisy/Fifi’s directions back to the car rental agency.  They had programmed the address into her memory banks and it was the easiest car return we’ve ever made!  We had each put 125 Euros into a kitty for parking and toll fees.  There was 2.50 Euros left to divide.  Our odometer read 5,999 kilometers as we drove into the lot.

Completed the paperwork, loaded the piles of luggage into their van and they took us to the railroad station at Roissy.  We had others in the van including a couple from San Diego…they were originally from Indiana.  The lines were long for tickets so eventually I took all of coins that we’d been saving the last few days and purchased the tickets at the machines…another learning experience.  We were soon on the train headed for Paris.  

Weather today was bright and hot sunshine that was also overcast at times.  Actually muggy, the breeze through the door when it opened at each stop … yes we were on the milk run…was a welcome relief in the non-air conditioned train.  The train became more and more crowded until they were standing in the aisle shoulder to shoulder.  We had to inch our way to the doors at our stop but at least we did have seats all the way into Paris.  It’s a great way to get to and from the airport…just don’t try it at high traffic times.  We were lucky that we decided not to go to Rowan or we would have arrived at the wrong time.  

Off at St.Michel and up the stairs…two long escalators and one set of stairs….and we were in Paris!  Our hotel was a short two blocks from the RER Station.  Terry & Linda have been upgraded to a Superior room with a balcony…they are doing work on some of the rooms…they actually have two balconies.  We have a Standard Room without a balcony but with a good view.  We’ve very happy to be back in Paris.

Out the door as soon as we unpacked a few things.  Its 85 degrees outside!  But we walked back to the RER Station and purchased our tickets for the trip tomorrow to Versailles; then over to the Information Booth at Notre Dame to purchase our four day Museum Pass.   

Terry and Linda are amazed at Paris.  Yes…it’s hot…but we wanted hot…and the tourists are here…very crowded everywhere.  I love it!!!!!

We walked over to St. Chapelle to check on the concerts…have decided not to do it again as it’s mostly Four Seasons.  Then we walked back towards Notre Dame and over the bridge to I’lle St. Louie….showing them our town!

Purchased ice cream cones at Berthillon; very expensive but a must at least once.  Then back across the bridge to the left bank.  Climbed down the steps to the quai and discovered a television crew filming.  Walked through their set and continued on our way towards our hotel.  We found a restaurant near the hotel, made reservations and then returned to the hotel for an hour to take showers before dinner.

It was a decent dinner…nothing to write home about, but afterwards we walked a triangle.  First through the Sorbonne…Paris Universities…to the church where they shot the film “Midnight in Paris” where he meets the car at midnight.  It’s across the street from the Pantheon so they also saw that from the outside; then down the hill to the Luxembourg Gardens.   They were in the process of closing the park for the night…we realized it was after 9 pm….continued down Blvd. St. Michel towards our hotel giving them an overview of the area.  Stopped at the store for some supplies and then back to the hotel.

We meet tomorrow morning at 9 am for our trip to Versailles.  So nice to be back in Paris even if it is VERY warm!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I was up early and downstairs well before breakfast to use the Internet; the B&B owner, Will, felt very badly that I had so many problems with his wifi.  But, I was just happy that I was able to connect and send my blog before breakfast. 

Will was a wonderful host and we so enjoyed his sitting with us at breakfast; he was a great information source. 

On the road east before 9 am; we arrived in Honfleur about 10 am.  We found parking in the lot down near the harbor and spent several hours walking around the town.   This town is known for many impressionistic artists who came to paint the tall skinny building along the harbor in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Today the artists continue to come and set up their easels to paint these tall ladies that have survived the centuries.  There was very little damage here in WW II.   We walked through the Wednesday organic food market and into the Church of Saint Catherine that is built like two inverted boats.  The church is built entirely of wood except for its foundation.  Across the street is the clock tower that also is made of wood.
The old cite is full of half timbered houses; some are so crooked that you wonder how they continue to stand.  We’ve decided to bypass Rouen tomorrow as we’ve seen so many half timbered houses already.  This way we can spend more time in Giverny.  

About noon we walked towards our B&B that is up the hill from the clock tower.  We’d discovered when we were reconfirming our reservation before coming that we had accidently made reservations for the wrong day…no problem they said.  But when we arrived we discovered the “no problem” was because she booked us at her friend across the street…same rate and terms.  We are delighted with the new accommodations…it was a lucky turn of events.

We picked up our room keys and then started back down the hill for the car.  Jim’s shoe had broken on the way to the church so we headed for the shoe repair shop…information and map from our new hostess…while Terry and Linda went to pick up the car and find parking near the B&B:  Le Fond de la Cour. 

We found the shoe shop just before they closed for lunch; the repairman had a good laugh and gave us the French shrug….can’t be done!   Next door was a bookstore with stationary supplies.  I said let’s try there and sure enough…they had Crazy Glue.  We purchased two tubes.  Looks like it’s going to work well enough to get us through the next six days in Paris and then we’ll toss the shoes before boarding the airplane for home!!!!  

We then started walking back up the hill to the B&B to find the car…we had a key to open the door…but on the way we found Terry and Linda.  Back down the hill we found a restaurant on the harbor with crepes and beers.  Enjoyed our lunch sitting outside in the sunshine; have I mentioned that it is another glorious day weather wise!!  We enjoyed ice cream cones for dessert.

After lunch we strolled back up the hill to the B&B, put all of our luggage in the rooms and then started walking the long trek up the hill to the Cote de Grace.  It was about a mile…straight up the hill…to the top.  We were hot and sweaty by the time we arrived at the small chapel that honors Mariners with many small boat models hanging from the ceiling and the walls are covered the plaques from sailors in thanksgiving for safe sailing.   There were bells outside that we enjoyed recording when they rang on the quarter hour and half hour.  Nearby there is a huge cross that is one of the favorite subjects for painters in this area; it overlooks the ports of Honfleur and Le Havre.  There is a beautiful new suspension bridge connecting the two ports that bookend the source of the Seine River.  

Tonight we going to walk down to the village again for dinner in a nice restaurant that Terry and Linda have picked out on their walk this afternoon.  We’ve been enjoying our room; organizing our luggage for the transfer to Paris tomorrow and drinking our bottle of Pineau des Charentes that we purchased yesterday at the store.  Actually Jim purchased two because the price was so good and we shared bar of chocolate.   Jim also ate his sardines this afternoon…the can that he’d purchased in Chinon to get change for the laundry!  

Paris…here we come!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It’s been a long day and the Internet is not working so thought I’d write this and send everything tomorrow morning.  

The day began with bright sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky; and it continued the same all day long.  What a difference!  Even tonight there were people eating at tables outside of restaurants.  Good weather really makes a difference.

Today I had my first opportunity to navigate using Daisy.  We got along find and I discovered that there was a place to ask her to repeat her instructions!  Yesterday Linda found out how to reset the destination without starting from scratch!  We should have done this rotation thing earlier.  Here we’ve only got two more days and all this new information is not going to do us all that much good!

Our day began with a stop at the store for lunch supplies and diesel for the car then off to our first stop in Arromanches les-Bains arriving about 10 am.  Less than twenty miles from Bayeux, this was one of the places that they built an artificial port and one of the only ones that survived the massive storms that destroyed several others.  Today there is still plenty of equipment showing how they built the breakwater and long piers for unloading the massive amount of equipment that was being sent from England for the war to send Hitler packing from France.   The Museum was packed so we decided to come back again at the end of the day when the tide was out and the tourists were gone.  

We headed west and our next stop was at the village of Longues-sur-Mere.  Here there were four German Battery posts plus several observation posts.  We were able to go inside of the ruins and get a real feel for what it must have felt like for the German soldiers.

Then to the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach; our first stop was to walk down the cliff on the path and walk the beach.  While we were there we ate our lunch that we’d packed in our backpacks.  Then back up the long path to the memorial and the cemetery.  It’s a very sobering moment to look out over the sea of white crosses and stars of david on the thousands of graves.  They have also finished the addition to the back of the memorial where they have engraved all of the names of the service men who were killed during the war and their bodies were never found.  When my sister and I were here in 2009 they were still working on this project.  Jim had never seen the new section. 

We drove over to the memorial near the cemetery and then drove further west where we found the public Omaha Beach.  Working our way down this beach front road to the east we found the “Le Ruguet” where another beach landing had been built for equipment as it was one of the few places where there were no cliffs near the invasion area.

Then on to Pointe Du Hoc to view one of the most heavily fortified spots on the coast and heavily bombed by the Allies prior to the actual invasion.  But, unknown to the Allies; the Germans had removed all of the big guns that were not covered by concrete bunkers.  There were still lots of guns but not what there might have been.  The ground is still full of craters made by the bombs as they landed for days prior to the invasion. 
Our last stop was a German Cemetery.  We each were able to find family names of soldiers buried in the cemetery as we all have German heritages.  This one has groups of five crosses set in various sections of the cemetery. It is very well organized and we were able to find the actual graves that had possible relatives…distant but possible.

By this time it was nearly 5 pm and we headed back to Arromanches les-Bains to see the first site that we visited this morning.  The tide was out and we’d arrived just before closing of the Museum so it was perfect.  Could not believe how exposed the ruins were of the Artificial Port.  You’ll enjoy comparing the photos from the morning to the afternoon.

Back home about six o’clock we freshened up and walked to the same restaurant that we’d enjoyed last night.  We all enjoyed new dishes and ended our meal with an after dinner drink of Calvados, the local digestive liquor.  

So as I said…it’s been a long day and it’s after midnight.  Seven will come early when the alarm rings as we’ve things to see on our way to Honfleur tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Monday, May 21, 2012

Found out this morning that we were supposed to park in a different lot last night at Le Mont Saint Michel and take the little shuttle bus for hotel guests instead of the big bus for tourists….it would have taken us right to the base of the Abbeye…live and learn. 

Had light rain as we walked to our car but soon the weather cleared and although it was overcast most of the day…we didn’t have any more rain once we were on the road.  Today we headed East and made our first stop at Saint-Mere-Eglise; the town that had a paratrooper land on the church steeple and it’s kept them in the tourist business ever since.  Plus there was a movie about it.  Seriously, this was the town that was liberated by the American Paratroopers and we’ve had a great relationship ever since.  They have built a wonderful museum there that had everything that the boys felt was missing from the big museum in Caen yesterday.  The one yesterday was fifty years of history and this one was all about D-Day!  Airplanes, tanks, etc., etc., etc.

One note of interest is that Fifi continues to work very well ever since we reported that she’d quit on us Saturday morning. 
We had lunch after the museum and then continued on to Dead Man’s Corner.  A German command post that was run by a former American College Professor who’d gone back to Germany when the war started; when the American’s arrived an American tank was attacked and burned on this corner.  The wreckage was left as is for several days…with the body of the commander visible; so directions were given “go past the corner with the dead man in the tank..” and soon it was called “Dead Man’s Corner”.  Another museum with all kinds of very expensive original memorable for sale and lots of history!

Then we headed for Utah Beach that is located near Saint Marie-des-Mont; walked on the beach but did not go into the museum.  Might stop there tomorrow; we continued East towards Bayeux and La Tour Louise, our B&B for the next two nights.

A tour of the museum of the Bayeux Tapestries; a visit to the Cathedrale and then another delightful dinner before calling it a night.  Finally found onion soup…not on the menu very often in this region.   It’s getting late so am making this a quick journal.  A Bientot

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rain, Rain, Rain….as predicted it came in full force and lasted all day.  We all ate breakfast in the hotel and then Jim and I checked out, loaded our bags in the car and walked two blocks in the rain to Saint Sauveur Cathedral for Sunday Mass at 9 am
By 10:15 am we were all in the car and headed east on the auto route towards Caen to tour the WW II Museum.  Traffic was a bear but Linda did a great job navigating for Terry who was our driver today.  We decided that we would rotate on the Navigation as well as the driving.  Jim enjoyed the backseat and caught an hour’s nap on our drive.  We arrived in Caen about noon and Daisy found the museum but we had to find the parking.  

We ended up at the far end and by the time we entered the museum I had wet feet!  We spent the next three hours touring the museum and then eating some lunch in the café.  One could easily spend two days there; in fact the ticket you purchase is for two days.  It was another emotional history lesson and even though I’ve seen it several times it still grabs you in the your gut when you think about the suffering of people during the war years.

Soon we were headed back towards the west…still raining quite hard…to our night’s lodging below the abbeye on Le Mont Saint Michel.  Something new since the last time; we can no longer drive over the causeway to the Abbeye.  We had to park at the far end, walk more than ten minutes to catch a shuttle bus that eventually dropped us about two blocks from the entrance.  Remember…it’s raining!!!


We were smart enough to pack our bags last night with this in mind…everything we needed for the night was in our little backpacks and one soft bag that Jim carried.  I can’t imagine pulling luggage…especially in the rain.

Our hotel tonight is the Hotel Du Guesclin; our rooms have a view over the bay towards the towns and it is a very beautiful view.  We’re close enough to the entrance that we walked out about ten this evening to take photos of the lights at night.  The place was rapidly locking down and the employees were waiting for their shuttle bus to take them to village and their cars.  It can be a magical place to walk late at night when the tourists have gone home…but not on a cold and wet night like tonight!

As soon as we checked in; Terry, Linda and I braved some more rain…I’d put dry socks on with plastic bags inside my tennis shoes….worked very well and my socks stayed dry!  We walked up and up and up and finally arrived at the entrance to the Abbeye; paid our fee and toured the Abbeye from top to bottom!  

About 7 pm we enjoyed a wonderful dinner here in our hotel in the dining room with a view out over the bay from our table…the tide had come it and it was beautiful.  I had another bowl of mussels…this time in a butter sauce; my plat was a large Mont Saint-Michel Omelette and the dessert was a small crème caramel.  Delicious way to end another great day even with the rain. 

Tomorrow we head east again and start our two days of touring the Normandy Beaches and more WW II History.