Sunday, May 5, 2013

Last Day in Paris

The time had finally come for us to clear out of the apartment. We spent some time trying to make sure we could pack everything in our suitcases without going over our limits. We had given some clothes to Sandy and Bonnie to take home for us so we should have enough room.

We got everything jammed into our bags and lined them up ready to take off. Jacques was going to pick Judy up and take her to lunch and I waited to meet with Claudia to return Alexis' keys. 

Judy had done a great job cleaning the apartment and getting it ready for the final inspection. Both Alexis and Claudia had said to leave whatever re-arranging she had done. Claudia liked the little changes Judy had made and we hope that Alexis will too.

So, after turning in the keys, I took the metro to a final class with Patrick where he gave me a quick primer in working with water color. To get to his studio, I would take the train from Cardinal Lemoine to the Gare Austerlitz station and walk from there. We had taken the metro from the Cardinal LeMoine station many times and we would see the same panhandler working his way from the back end to the front end of the train. I wonder if he will still be working the same line next time we are in Paris.

And, finally, no May 1st holiday would be complete without a protest march. So, when I headed to the metro at Place de la Bastille I noticed the police had streets blocked and I could hear the sounds of music and microphones. I asked someone in the class that I was walking with what the march was all about and, after some thought, she smiled and said, "Against the government, I guess!". There are so  many marches it's hard to keep track of what they are for or against.

So, with that, I went down the stairs and took my Last Metro out of town to leave Paris and this adventure of ours would come to an end.

Paris Adventure Coming to an End

Well, it had to come to an end eventually. With only a couple of days left we took advantage of the nice weather and strolled around our neighborhood.

We are in the student quarter with a high school (Lycee Henry IV) and the Sorbonne nearby. We had stayed in a hotel in the Place de la Sorbonne when we arrived in Paris in the 70's so it was fitting to have lunch at cafe La Sorbonne before heading home.

After  lunch, I decided to avail myself of one of the unique services on the streets of massages. For a donation to the French Association of Relaxation, one could get a pretty good 10 minute massage. We had previously seen this group at the Place de la Contrescarpe so I said, "I've got to give this a try." It was terrific and pretty thorough for a 10 minute massage.

After the massage, we crossed the Blvd St Michel and walked up to the Luxembourg Gardens. This a beautiful park not far from Place St Michel and our apartment.

On a nice sunny day, it is crowded with families and tourists getting a bit of air and culture

The Medici Pool

A view of the Pantheon in the distance beyond Blvd St Michel.

All the little gardens were in full bloom.

The Palais de Luxembourg was the German Headquarters during WWII. It is now a French government building.

You can see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance and the palais on the right.

This is a great spot to just relax and people watch.

One final Post to come....if I have time at the Dublin airport. Just started boarding. Be back on later.

Visitors from Walple

On our last weekend here in Paris, we had a visit from Haydi Hurley and her sister-in-law, Marge Hurley. (Marge and Nigel have the place in Normandy. Speaking of which, we found out that the place we stayed in is NOT their cottage, but a rental they use while rehabbing their place down the road. We hope to see that place one day.). It was Haydi's first trip to Paris. They had been in England and were on their way to Annebecq. We invited them for a light dinner at our place. They made it up the stairs with no problem and were pleased to see the place after following some of the posts on the blog. Judy had made most of the meal from her favorite store, Picard.
After dinner we walked passed Notre Dame and watched the sun setting along the Seine and the lights of Paris appearing

on our way to a concert at the Sainte Chapelle that Marge had organized.

What a great location for an intimate concert of violin and harp. They have concerts there every Sunday night. The sound and ambiance could not be beat.

Afterwards, we strolled through the crowded narrow streets of the 6th Arrondissement on our way back to their hotel. As they had many things to do and see in their brief stay, we planned on meeting back in Walpole to reminisce.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Judy Loves about Paris Chapter 2

Chapter 2   What Judy Loves about Paris...

I enjoy sharing our love of Paris with our relatives and friends.
Tom and Peggy



    Tony and Terry and Curt

Ann and Pete

Judy and Sandy 

and Bonnie!

Oops here's Bonnie....on the left.

So have I mentioned eating?

Whether it be home cooking at our dear friends Jacques and Claire's home 

with old friends Jean Pierre and Blanche in attendance


Or, Pastries 

Or, home cooking...

Or, Ice Cream

Or Jacques' 

 Famous Birthday Cake...New York Style Cheesecake.

Or lunch at an outdoor cafe.

It's all good. 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Then and Now...

On our recent trip to Normandy with Curt and Terry, we visited Mont St Michel. This is an amazing site and is one of the most visited sites in France.

It has changed a lot over the years. Not Mont St Michel itself, but the access to it. Whereas one used to be able to drive up near the island and park pretty close to it, now one has to park in a huge parking lot and take a shuttle bus to get closer to the entrance. The new access is still under construction and will  be finished soon carrying many tourists from the parking area right to the main entry way. From there, one can walk up to the top to the church. A new dam has also been built to facilitate the flow of the tide in and out of the local rivers.

But, some things stay the same,


 or do they?


Where is that plaid jacket?

The Louvre and Versailles

Another great thing about living here for a while is one doesn't feel obliged to always do the touristy thing. Of course, we are tourists, but when we have this time, we can just enjoy the atmosphere of the beautiful things to see and do here without lining up with the rest of the unwashed masses.

The other day, Judy said she wanted to go to the Louvre, just to walk around a bit. We had sent many friends to the Louvre but hadn't been there ourselves for about 40 years, other than going into the "new" entrance in the glass Pyramid.

So, we got a relatively early start and took our metro from Place Monge to the Louvre stop which has an exit from the station directly into the Louvre ticket area. After messing with the automatic ticket vending machine for a while (multiple cards, multiple languages, multiple attempts), we finally got our passes to enter. After all these years, we wanted to see if they had found Venus de Milo's arms.

The Louvre is massive but the maps are pretty good and they highlight where the most well-known works are including the Big 3  (Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and the Mona Lisa). We found our way to Venus, stumbled on Winged and skipped Mona and decided to head for a cafe. One problem with negotiating the museum is that many of the elevators and stairways only go in one direction. We entered one elevator on the 1st floor, looked for buttons to go the 2nd floor until the door opened again and we saw it only went down. Eventually we found a cafe on the 2nd floor of the wing that is closest to the Seine. We stood in a short line for a few minutes, but could only see a small bar in front of us, not knowing what kind of cafe it was. After a brief wait, we were led by the  host out onto a balcony of the museum overlooking the courtyard and the Pyramid. It was spectacular. What a treat to be seated among the statues of dignitaries in this historic place.

Both our cameras were dead, but I had a sketch pad with me. Our cousin, Bonnie, gave it to me when she and our friend Sandy visited. Here's my take of one of the statues, then a scene from the wading pool while Judy cased out the Pyramid shopping area.

To continue this theme of visiting iconic, historic sites in France without actually visiting them, we went to the Chateau de Versailles with Jacques and Claire today. Took the metro to the end of the line where Jacques picked us up. We only went there to walk around the huge 6km long reflecting pool behind the Chateau. (back in the day, I used to ride my bike around this pool with friends. I had a pretty good crash here one day. Reminder, don't pedal when taking sharp corners...)

There was lots of activity. Teams of rowers practicing with this beautiful backdrop.

Joggers on the perfectly manicured alley-ways along the pool.

Swans and rowers competing for space.

Natural lawn mowers for the Chateau

and Judy and Claire walking back to the car.

No day would be complete, however, without a great lunch. We went to the Brasserie du Theatre which is located, coincidentally, next to the Theatre on the Boulevard du Roi, which intersects with Boulevard de la Renne.

Judy had the Salmon Norvegian complete with little mussels... had to take a picture.

This was a charming restaurant with a distinct bistro look and atmosphere. 

A perfect way to cap off the day. Good idea, Jacques and Claire

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What does Judy love about Paris? Chapter 1

What Judy Loves About Paris
Chapter 1

I can't believe I can listen to a Gospel Choir in one of the oldest churches in Paris, St. Julien de Pauvre, where hundreds of years ago Gregorian Chants echoed through these very walls.

I find exploring small restaurants with small tables and even smaller chairs such fun.  The word
" petit" is really charming in the french vocabulary   So different from "super sized, jumbo, all you can eat".

I love the color and variety of fruits and vegetables you finds at these markets in all of the neighborhoods. This one is in the Marais.
Nothing makes me happier than stepping out my door and finding everything I want without a car.

Picard is the name of my new secret weapon.  It is a french food store dealing in only frozen food.  Let me tell you this salmon is wonderful!  I hope to try everything in the store before I leave.  I have to walk by The Pantheon to get there. Now that's a bonus. 

Coffee is a wonderful part of my life.  Sitting and sipping for as long as I want at a cafe is one of the best treats in France.  No hurry. It beats a cardboard cup in the car any day.

It's so rewarding to have lunch with good friend Jo and learn so much more about Paris from her vast knowledge of art and Parisian life. 
It's amazing to think about how many people have been warmed by our  beautiful 16th century  fireplace.   The beams the size of trees with all the markings of age fascinate me.  Who lived here?
I love looking out our kitchen window.  I never tire of the church bells ringing and knowing that they have been chiming for hundreds of years and will continue to do so for hundreds of years to come.

To be continued....