Monthly Archives: July 2013

An Archangel Burns a Hole in a Skull and Malo Isn’t really Bad at All

The morning was uneventful which is okay by me since the rest of the  day (and this post) is going to be jam-packed with visual delight.

We are renting (“hiring” in Aussie and Brit talk) a car and heading out to the coast.  Our first stop will be Mont Saint Michel.  I’m a bit nervous about the drive.  French drivers are really good but drive at lightning speeds.  Fortunately I won’t be driving.  Dean has bought a GPS for our journey so we won’t be getting lost either.  We don’t have much of a route set up. We are traveling, as always, waiting where the winds – in this case the wheels – will take us.  I like it that way though at times setting up good accommodations requires a bit of knowing our itinerary ahead of time.

I cross the street to buy some croissants and milk and coffee for the road. And we are off.

It’s a two-hour ride to Mont Saint Michel and it just flies by.  Before we know it we are approaching the very familiar site of Mont Saint Michel.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island As we get closer the little spots I see in the distance turn into munching cows that concentrate solely on eating and disregard the island behind them.  They create a perfect photo-op that I can’t let pass by.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, cows  We park the Renault (which curiously enough has not been named by us) and take a shuttle bus Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, bienvenue, bienvenidos that takes us closer to the entrance and then walk to the island which is linked by a causeway, which makes it technically not an island any more.  A fact that does not deter from its beauty and impressiveness.Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  There’s a medieval town on the mount with its expected winds and turns and narrowness.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, medieval town  The hoards of tourists remind me that this has been, through the ages, one of the top pilgrimage sites for Christians.  The abundance of souvenir shops Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs lining the quaint (and exercise inducing) steep streets may make you forget that this place has much history, dating from when years didn’t have four numbers.  It also has a peculiar history.  It is said that before the abbey that’s on it was built in the 8th century, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church. Seems that Aubert ignored the archangel so Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger.  The abbey was built afterwards.  First there is a little chapel we visit.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, chapel  And then onwards towards the abbey. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs  The abbey is built on the islet’s top point so it’s a bit of a climb. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church  It has a gothic feel to it.  The church Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island is more austere Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church than any of the other churches we have visited but if it doesn’t quite match the beauty of the others it holds its own by just where it is situated.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island   Before heading back in I am fascinated by how large the seagulls Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds are around here. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds  And how privileged they are to fly so high and have such an amazing place to land.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Once my eyes get unglued from the birds and the view, my imagination takes flight.  I can almost see the robed monks going from one side of the abbey to the other through this bridge.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, bridge  And going about their chores around water source which has the largest faucet I’ve ever seen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, water, faucet  We go back inside to explore how the monks lived.  I like the simplicity and solidness of it all.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  As usual, I am distracted by a window with a soft view of the outside.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, window, stained glass  But I concentrate on my steps in the inside for it is dark and a gentleman going down the steps has fallen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, hallway

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Archangel Michael, psychopomp, archangel   I encounter the Archangel Michael in the basement.  He is a plaster replica of the one that is on top of the spire and he is the one I mentioned earlier who burned a hole in the bishop’s skull.  I certainly would do as ordered!  He is also a psychopomp – which I wouldn’t mention except for the fact that the name made me giggle – though the responsibilities of one are quite serious.  He leads the dead and weighs souls (didn’t know souls had weight) on the day of judgment and is often presented with a balance in the scenes of the Last Judgment. I would definitely want this guy on my side!!

It isn’t a sunny day but it almost enhances the feeling of going back in time.  The view, with the tides low around the mount, is a bit surreal.

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Another unique feature of Mont Saint Michel is that the bay around it has the highest tidal variations in all of Europe.  At low tide the Mont is surrounded by sand.  At high tide the water comes in at an astonishing speed, compared to a galloping horse.  In fact, Wikitravel has a warning that says that it is not unheard of for tourists to die after being cut-off by the tide if not crossing through the causeway.  It must be quite a sight but we didn’t stay for we were headed to Saint Malo.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides I, quite the contrarian, have to look up as we are going down.  A door caught my attention and reminded me that this place was also used as a prison.  What a history!  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, door  As we descend the many steps we pass The Mere Poulard which cooks its famous mega omelettes on an open fire.  I was sorry I wasn’t hungry enough to eat there.  They looked really good, served in a really great setting.  But I am glad I didn’t for the reviews on yelp were pretty bad and at 28 to 60 Euros an omelette it would have been quite disappointing to not have an extraordinary meal.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, La Mere Poulard, omelettes, restaurant  One look back.Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, causeway

And we leave.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  The Renault is waiting for us.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  We have already paid for our ticket so Saint Malo here we come!

Saint Malo was recommended by a travel group I belong to, The Travelzine.  They said the walled city was lively and a good base to explore the area. We are not staying there (more on that later) but I am fascinated by walled cities and we figured it would be a good place to have dinner before we on to the farm.  We enter the narrow streets of the walled town and are at a loss to where to park.  A delivery van is blocking the street in front of us so I get out and ask him where to park.  He tells me to follow him and takes us to a municipal parking lot (car park for my Aussie and Brit readers) right next to the water and marina.  We cross the street to the city itself entering it through the Saint Thomas Gate.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  We are rewarded with beautiful views as we climb the steps to walk the wall that surrounds the city.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

I’ll just be quiet now, for the view captivates me and hopefully captivates you as well.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Malo.  Malo in Spanish means “bad” or “mean”.  This “malo” is good!!!

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled cityThere’s a lookout point that has a telescope which points into the direction of areas I have some connection with.  The Falklands (Malvinas to the Argentinians and from where a lot of my friends are).Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Rio de Janeiro, where I lived for 4 years. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Quebec, where two children of a family I considered my own live, one of them who I taught to drive.

A pool on the side of the sea that reminds me of Australia, a country I have learned to love because of who I love.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  It’s not that warm outside but there are people enjoying it, diving from the board.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city The city was not only walled but well protected. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  I loved the city but later Brittany locals (the region the town is located in) would tell me that they consider it a “sad” town mainly due to its history and the fact that it is walled in.

Hunger strikes me and Dean knows me well enough to get me into a restaurant fast before I get cranky. 🙂 So we dive into Le Lion D’Or.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, I’m glad we did cause it had great reviews on Tripadvisor and I would add mine to them.  I had a really great huge plate of mussels that was delicious though the mussels were small and could not compare in size to the Tasmanian mussels a friend and I had at the Sydney fish market, though they were matched in taste. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, The city is on the coast after all so I was counting on good seafood.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, marina, boats

Once we retrieve the car we are on our way to another real adventure… which I will tell you all about tomorrow!

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A Market That Was Not, And Everything Else That Was

I’m going to the market. Not a mentionable fact except that the owner texted us saying that Place des Lices is a well-known market. People come from all over the area to it.  I am one that loves markets so, needless to say, I am not missing this one.  Dean is.  I head out alone.  It’s Sunday and the streets are deserted.   Almost seems set up for me to enjoy this town through my lens.

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P1190472 Here comes the blue door deluge.  One I had not photographed the day before. P1190473

 I reach Place des Lices in no time at all but find it as deserted as the streets. P1190474  I peek in and in fact the installation is there but no people around. P1190475  I walk back and I see a couple with produce and baguettes protruding out of their bags and I ask them if they know about Place des Lices and they tell me that the market was on Saturday.  I resign myself but also am grateful that it wasn’t on for there would have been hoards of people. This way, I got to enjoy the streets calmly.

At the turn of the corner I am reminded of my hometown.  P1190501

P1190498I roam around a bit and see that Saint-Pierre Cathedral is opened. In reality there is a sign that says it is closed between 11 and 2 today but the door is open and I go in.  Turns out it is closed for the public but open for mass. It’s only me and I’m pretty quiet so I tiptoe in.  Right after me comes a Russian tour group.  The leader seems unaware or doesn’t care about the fact that there is a mass going on and talks loudly to his group of around twenty.  I cringe.  But I am also technically ignoring the rules so I move around.

The inside of the church is being repaired.  At the very end the congregations prays.  P1190477

If a cathedral has a life of its own, this one is not trying to impress but does. It is dark and uses much wood in its decor. It almost imposes introspection and demands you to stay and pray. I don’t but walk as close to the altar as I can without disturbing the congregation.  P1190481  On the side aisles (I am sure there is a proper word for the passageways on each side) there’s darkness from the paneling and I get this desire to just sit and close my eyes.  P1190485  The stained glass is beautiful though it is not the main attraction in here.  P1190482  P1190489

Before I leave I pass a little altar.   The name of Lourdes catches my attention.  My parents and I visited  Our Lady of Lourdes when I was around 6, footage that I recently saw. I don’t quite understand what it says but I have the urge to light four candles here to the Virgin.  2 for my mom and dad and 2 for Dean’s Nan and mum.  I am sure that they are looking down, protecting us as we go.   P1190490  P1190491

As I leave, I take a last glance – as I usually do. P1190478

I continue my exploration.  This wall is not pretty but anything that was built between the late Third Century and early Fourth Century has to have my respects even if the expensive and expansive wall that surrounded the city was soon to be found almost useless.

 P1190499    P1190500

P1190505  Wall art / graffiti again reminds me of Los Angeles.

  And what would this blog be without a little more on blue doors?  P1190506

This little tabby cat comes up to me and follows me as I reach the main plaza once again.  He gives up after a block.  P1190508

P1190502I reach home and am greeted with a nice cuppa (cup of tea).  Dean leaves to get a GPS for tomorrow we are renting a car for the next portion of our trip.  First stop is Mont St. Michel.

I am left to explore our home. This place we got through airbnb (I know I am sounding like an ad but it has afforded us some incredible opportunities to stay at wonderful places and meet such interesting people) is certainly not the most luxurious P1190512 though it is quite large and has really good vibes.  The bathroom is fun.  You have to go through a saloon-type door to take a shower. P1190511 Inside a sign that says its wombat crossing. 🙂 The owner has a lot of knick-knacks from Southeast Asia June 16 and that already makes him way cool in my book.  He also has tons of books some of the greats in Spanish literature. And how not love a place that has antiques P1190520 P1190518 that remind me of my little store and one which Tutu has claimed for his perch. P1190514 He is pretty stubborn just like this collectible bull which is my astrological sign. P1190524  Outside there is a kiddie park P1190525 that is for exclusive use of the building we are in, and on the other side is the park we visited yesterday.  In the middle some city work building and I catch a worker taking a break.  P1190528

I would cover the same ground I did this morning again, for when Dean returns we go out to dinner.  We settle in an Indian restaurant P1150654 where I have a vegetarian dish of spinach.  P1150658 It was delicious.  We chat at length about the town with our Nepalese waiter.  He tells us how he came to Paris first and is now in Rennes.  How there isn’t much to do but he loves it here.  I may have to agree with that!!

As Walter Conkrite would say: “And that’s the way it is.”  Good-night.

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A Blue Day :)

We arrive in Rennes.  The apartment owner, an IT guy for public television there, meets us, gives us the key and we crash.  Train travel just seems to tire us much. We barely have enough energy to go to the local Carrefour to buy some essentials (directions given by the sweetest old lady carrying a bag of groceries).  Wish I could have photographed her.  Her smile just illuminated an otherwise plain face that has not weathered the passing years well. Her bent over body by the weight of the bundle and the crushing force of years on her shoulder generously stopped to guide us. A good omen.

We sleep.  We wake. After almost four weeks in Paris (with some side trips) it is kind of odd to be in another city. The day is beautiful and there is just no excuse not to go off and explore.

There is a park right next to us and it seems to be an oasis, a place of peace.  It is. As soon as I enter I notice this wall of climbing roses that is really beautiful.P1190370  P1190369 P1190368  I’m liking this Parc Hamelin Oberthür P1190378 quite a bit.  Would you believe this is their community center?  P1190372  P1190373 One heck of a buildingP1190377  I direct my attention to a game that is being played and that I absolutely have never seen before.  Just blocks of wood involved here. P1190375 Does anyone know what it is? I didn’t want to interrupt the players and ask. Now I am regretting not doing so.

I should have warned you but I have acquired a new obsession which is blue doors. So you will see a lot of them. Please just resign yourself to it. 🙂  P1190381  This town, as many others, has a Rue de Paris – where we currently reside. Something like Main Street in the United States or 10th Street (my GPS could always find one in every city and state.) I wonder how Daisy (my GPS has a name) is doing. This one caught my attention because it is blue but primarily because the graffiti turned into little hearts.  P1190382  I warned you, so here is another blue door along with windows to match. P1190386 I cross the street to photograph a garden by it.  That balcony up there seems just perfect to have some cheese, a baguette and wine at.   P1190390  This single family home stands out. P1190391 The front gate made of iron and flanked by beautiful yellow roses, my mom’s favorite.  P1190394  So toughtful of this town to place another sign so that I won’t get lost. This one is so French and almost Parisian in its white and black design. P1190398  Another beautiful home. P1190399 This is also a standard in France.  Rent-a-bikes.  First half hour is free and then you pay a nominal fee.  Wish I knew how to ride.  I can hear you snickering… please stop. I have a balance problem that never allowed me to learn. Really. P1190402

I think it’s a blue themed day; this car made everyone turn their heads.  P1190403  P1190408  Yep, definitely a blue day.  This is the door to the municipal pool.  How cool is that?

And of course the sky is as blue as it gets.   P1190413  We walk on and it makes me laugh to see this signage.  I thought Los Angeles parking signs were complicated! P1190416  We enter the street and it turns out to be such a wonderful surprise. P1190417

But first, another blue door.P1190421  The little cobblestone street we are on is super narrow and it’s not pedestrian only so it becomes a tango dance between cars, scooter, people, and café signs.  All careful to not kick each other in a misstep. In fact, Dean needs to move this sign, as we sit in our chosen bistro, so that this car could go through. P1190426  The meal is fantastic.  I have a salmon salad and a fried fish.  Just ultra yummy.  No guilt, for by now I have lost any feeble attempt I may have made on this trip of continuing to keep a healthy, low-caloric diet. P1190429 P1190431 Once well fed we carry on to discover some more.  P1190433  And discover we do.  A little festival of sorts P1190452 where farm animals and their babies are brought so that children and adults can see them.  Also there are fresh, organic, farm offerings of eggs, meats, jams, and breads as well as crepes and sorbets, but we have eaten so we pass by rapidly.

This little piggy went to market…. Remember the children’s rhyme done on their toes?

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These are La Limousine cows. Original from Limousin and not the ones you can ride on. 🙂

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These are examples of La Blonde D’Aquitaine.  P1190447 P1190448

We continue on.  What?  P1190455 And topple onto the most wonderful circle of buildings that I am smitten with.    P1190456

We enter an ice cream place that is all natural.  Sounds good.  And oh my gosh, was it!!!  Probably the best I’ve had on this trip.   P1190460   P1190459  I am loving the view of the plaza as well. P1190461 On home we go.  P1190464  As we walk a little balloon is floating in the air. We turn into children and play volleyball with it for a while.  Can’t show you photos because I was way too busy having fun!  This square signals that our street is not so far away.  P1190467

And I can’t resist but bring you another blue door before I close mine to sleep. P1190470

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Memory Left Behind Brings Me Back

I left a memory card behind at one of our places. That’s bad.  Left it at our houseboat, Soleil.  That’s good.  I have been in contact with the new guest there and she has agreed to hand me the memory card – which the owner of the boat set aside for me – this morning at 10.  I wake up early and instead of hanging around I head out the door at barely 7:30.  20th arrondissement, Paris, France, Pyrenees metro station I get lost going to the bathroom in my own home so this venturing out alone is a big thing. I usually get to where I am going… eventually.  But today everything runs smoothly. I expected to see lots of commuters but, to my surprise, they are not out yet.  I exit at the Trocadéro station instead of the Passy station (which is closer to the péniche) or Bir-Hakeim (which is closer to the Tower itself) so that I can enjoy the Trocadero Gardens and the walk, with the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine on the horizon, on my way to the dock.  Trocadéro, metro, station, Paris, Fance The surroundings of the French icon are almost deserted. P1190252 This pigeon and I are the only ones perched on the ledge. Only difference is that he can’t be bothered with the tons of steel and looks the other way while I can’t get my eyes off it.P1190253

I descend the stairs and look back.  P1190256 I am feeling like I own the place.  As I turn the corner a reminder that there are others who this belongs to more than me.  A man and his dog in what seems a daily routine. P1190257 A statue that is impassive as to my disappointment.  P1190258 Another that seems as entranced with the tower as me.  P1190259  P1190264  And another reminder that the area belongs to those whose daily routine includes it. P1190266

Is this a plea, made through graffiti, from the City of Love for me to love her or to just love?  Regardless, yes on both counts!   P1190269

I descend the stairs that will take me to Port Debilly, Port Debilly  P1190273 where the little houseboat I called home is. It’s still early but I will check if perhaps they have woken up and can be found enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck.  The weeping willow marks the spot.  P1190275  The roses in the garden under it have bloomed. P1190278 I call out to Fifi (aka: Yaya) but she is nowhere to be found, as neither are the new inhabitants of Soleil.  I head in the opposite direction past the bridge.  I follow the jogger P1190280 at a much more relaxed pace. My step is slow but my heart beats fast. This city energizes me. No roses to smell on this side but lots to focus my eyesight on.  A statue peeking from between the branches of a tree.   P1190281   And the Statue of Liberty raising her torch from the prow of a boat, oblivious that she is only a mini-me version of the one in the New York harbor and that she is being overpowered by the Eiffel Tower.  P1190283 I have to make some time till our rendezvous and it occurs to me that the new guests, which have moved in only yesterday afternoon, would appreciate some good croissants to start their day.  I know of an excellent pattiserie close to the boat so I head to my familiar underpass to reach it.  P1190286  In it there is a homeless man that has parked his mobile home of shopping cart and bags for the night here.  I almost feel like I am barging into his home but still try to take a photo unnoticed.  Unfortunately the result is a blurry mess. Homeless

My gaze is directed up when I come out of the underpass.  That apartment on the tippy top would be kinda nice to live in. P1190293  I’m on Rue de L’Alboni P1190296 where I will take the steps up, P1190297

passing the Passy station that doesn’t hold the best of memories.  Click here to read about it.  As I prepare to cross the street I spot this couple with their dog that seems so in sync both in color-matching clothing as in direction of their gaze.  P1190298  Think I’ll have my morning coffee there before going to the patisserie. I cross the street. P1190301 Spot a familiar face on that billboard. P1190305  I sit and enjoy seeing the city wake up around me. P1190306  I go buy the croissants and return towards Passy P1150652 to descend the rose flanked  P1190308 stairway P1190310 P1190309

I cross Kennedy Avenue.  P1190312  And go into the underpass again.  The homeless guy has relocated. It is now being used by business people in their bikes.  P1190315  Half of the recently married couple that is staying at the boat is saying good-bye to her husband as I approach.  They are a lovely Irish couple on their honeymoon.  I give them some pointers on the area, hand them their croissants, they hand me my memory card and I head back hoping that the world hasn’t woken up, that I can return home with a conviction that Paris and I had a thing going on if only for a little while.  P1190317  But that was not to be for as I climb the stairs I see the tourist are out in droves. P1190318 This statue just seems to shrug and say “What did you expect? They are always here!” P1190322  I go back into the metro and amuse myself taking photos of the different stations.  In 1999 the programme Renouveau du Métro was implemented, renovating designs, styles and decoration of the different metro stations. Still a work in progress.  Each station has its own “identity”. The benches are all in one color at each station to help recognize them at a glance.  République is yellow.  P1190330 Belleville (as is Trocadero -please see above) is green. P1190334 My station Pyrénées, at least until today, is orange.  P1190337 And, of course there is the confused one… Metro The metro’s tiles are beautiful in all of the stations.  P1190331  The interminable stairs that take you to many floors above are a constant in all. Some with escalators and some without.   P1190340  I exit  P1190341 and reach the yellow door P1190342 of the building in just a few steps. I still get a thrill of using my key or code to a place that I feel as ours in a city that becomes, at least temporarily, one we call home.

I take the steps instead of the elevator. P1190344 I lie face up for a brief moment admiring the moulding in this old building.  P1190350 Open the closet to start packing.  P1190345 These old buildings rarely have closets and most buy an antique one to match the architecture. Sometimes because it is cheaper than buying an Ikea one (which is huge in Europe). P1190346 I close the pink Ikea curtains that coupled with the old mirror, and maybe my not so good eyesight, gives my skin color a soft hue which is quite glorious.  Will miss that combination. 🙂  One last look at the entryway/kitchen. P1190349 And we are off to train station to take the TGV to Rennes where our next adventure will begin or, better said, where our adventure continues.

We are not leaving from Gare du Nord which is massive, chaotic at all times, and where someone tried to scam us.  I am grateful for that.  We are leaving from Gare Montparnasse which isn’t as big but to my dismay, upon arrival, turns out to be as chaotic as Gare du Nord.  What I also notice is that at these major hubs the signage is not the greatest so we roam around a bit with our luggage in tow before we find where to buy the tickets.  We both have the same method of travel which usually is no method at all (though at times we do plan ahead) and it serves us well in the most part except when buying tickets on the train. The Eurostar was bought months in advance and was quite reasonably priced.  The ticket to Rennes was bought on the day and we end up paying almost double if we had bought it ahead of time.  P1190357  Our train leaves in 35 minutes P1190353 so we wait.

The train is comfortable and we settle in for our two-hour ride. P1190356

As the train lulls Dean to sleep the clouds have my gaze and my imagination starts weaving stories of what may lie ahead.

Sky

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Versailles and Toto in One Day

We wake up early (this is becoming a pattern it seems) and head to the metro that will take us to the RER train which we will take.  Looking through the window, and past the bars in the wagon, I see a flash of an image of a weeping willow that will be forever ingrained in my psyche and my heart for it is under it that our péniche, Soleil, resides.  The dark clouds, the drizzle outside and the quickness in which we pass it do nothing to dampen the happy feeling had.

I take a quick photo and it is a bad one but here it is.   péniche, Port Debilly, 16yh Arrondissement, Paris, France, houseboat

After catching a glimpse of my little haven in Paris, a houseboat I considered my palace, we are going to Versailles, a palace with much greater notoriety, grandeur, and appeal. A fine drizzle does not cease for the full half hour the train ride takes. I wonder if it will dampen our visit. RER Versailles-Rive Gauche, France  Map, Versailles, palace, FranceI will soon find out since we are here.  We are promptly directed to cross the street for tickets which isn’t quite the truth since it’s a tour company where you buy a tour/ticket combination.  But it has headed us in the right direction and we follow the crowd.  It’s around 10:00 am and even with the bad weather and being a weekday, there is a huge amount of people as we approach the Chateau de Versailles.

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, There is a huge, interminable line to enter The Palace so we decide then and there, as we wait in line to buy the tickets, that we will visit the gardens first, rain and all.

I entertain myself with how they have chosen to decorate Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, the area where you wait in line, or as my Brit an Aussie friends would say: where we queue up.

We get our tickets Versailles tickets and as we walk to the gardens I find it a bit unsettling that there are guards/army guys with rifles all over.  I laugh internally because these very official looking guys were merely on a break and heading to the cafeteria.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,   This I don’t find unsettling at all… the gardens flanked by the palace are impressive, the dark skies and rain not being able to lessen its impact.Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

escargotsBut just in case I have forgotten to look down Dean points to what at first glance looks like little colorful buttons on the fence. On close inspection they are little snails which are probably just loving this weather where no one stops for them. Suddenly escargots in butter and garlic (a dish I actually like) doesn’t seem so appealing.

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

Yo dude… look up!

So after this demand from the little cherub above I concentrate more on the statues we pass as we walk.  Le Printemps (Spring) Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Printemps, spring  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Printemps, spring is in the right time of the year, since summer hasn’t officially started, but it feels like fall -cool and rainy.  But perhaps daybreak, Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Matin, daybreak represented here Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Matin, daybreak may bring a sunny day.

The gardens cover such a huge expanse. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Versailles gardens

They are impeccably manicured and for now a bit deserted for not many want to walk under the light rain.  I’m not cold yet so I am truly enjoying the semi-solitude it gives us

P1190102

P1190107 P1190112 P1190110 Lonely paths. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate

The plants and flowers in the garden are beautiful.  You can also find flowers of the inanimate kind. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, garden, sculpture, flower

Though I have a green thumb I lack the skill of shaping a tree to do this:  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, shrub, tree I can only imagine how incredible the water fountain show is coming out of these.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate This path just charmed me. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, path, trees From nature we go into The Grand Trianon.  “A little pink marble palace with delightful gardens” is how Mansart, the architect, described it in 1867.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon We find Empress Marie-Louse’s bedroom.  Originally it was Louis XIV’s bedchamber but she is the one that furnished the place as it is today with the exception of the bed which belonged to Napoleon.  It’s a little too pink for my taste. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  Empress Bedroom The Room of Mirrors, the furniture was sold during the Revolution and replaced by Napoleon. The archduchess Marie-Louise, Marie-Antoinette’s great-niece, whom the emperor married after divorcing Josephine used it as her drawing room.  I rarely carry a mirror in my purse.  Don’t think I’d like a room where I couldn’t avoid looking at myself!  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  The Room of Mirrors, mirrors  Don’t remember if this was in it but since we are on the subjects of mirrors…Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  Room of Mirrors, bust This is the family room. Doesn’t seem too cozy to me. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  yellow room Even all this opulence does not stop me from diverting my gaze towards the outside.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon  To have a peek of Marie-Antoinette’s private life we go to her estate which, compared to The Grand Trianon, is almost rustic in feel. At least the hamlet is.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Starting with the Queen’s Garden.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate

It’s The Petite Trianon Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Petite Trianon is beautiful inside and is impressing me more than The Grand Trianon. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Perhaps because it has a music room with a harp and a theater (which we did not see).  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate  And a billard room with the biggest pool table I’ve ever seen. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Her bedroom sitting room. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate

Once outside, the light rain is no more. It’s graduated to a Rain with a capital R.  There’s a little shuttle bus/choo-choo-train that shuttles people for an additional fee between The Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s Estate and the Palace which we decide to wait in line for rather than walk the miles in between under the rain.  In back of us in line is a family from San Diego who we chat with. P1190168 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Arriving to the Palace we find the line has dwindled to nothing and silly of us, thought the crowds had too. Nope, once inside it feels like there are a million people which makes it a bit harder to enjoy. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

I think if this guy, Henry D’Aguesseau, – a French Chancellor -says to stop, I definitely would. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace But for now I have another window to look out of.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace What’s this?  A souvenir shop in the middle of the Palace and among antique statues? Me don’t like.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, souvenir shop I’m sure that Michel de L’Hopital, a statesman from the 1500’s, would not approve either.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, statesman,    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, Hall of Mirrors This is what I had to battle with to take the previous photos.  Ugh, claustrophobia may be kicking in soon.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds

 Without the crowds.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

With it.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace    Beautiful with or without people.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

Without crowds.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace,

With crowds.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace,  That was the Mars salon which is a planet and also a God of War. A bedroom.    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

Probably the most famous room of all:  The Hall of Mirrors.  Merely a passageway and waiting room and an over the top feast for the eyes. 357 mirrors adorn the 17 arches in this room. A paradise for those who like to see themselves reflected.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, Hall of Mirrors    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors

I like the figure of a goth girl strolling through it looking ahead, not much interest displayed.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors

This is me, bringing you yet another photo. 🙂  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors  And now to the Queen’s Antechamber where the family had its meals.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, The antechamber of the Grand Couvert, Queen's Antechamber, Can someone show me how to fold napkins like this please?  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, The antechamber of the Grand Couvert, Queen's Antechamber, What a beautiful door.  One that may lead me outdoors and even though the rain hasn’t ceased it is starting to look really like paradise just to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of the thousand of tourists swarming around.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds,

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds  Yes, I want to be out there!  So a sculpture later, which clearly depicts a lung,   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, sculpture and we are out.  Yay!

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds

I’m hungry (Isn’t that rare?) so again I do not complain when we head into the first fast food we find which happens to be another upscale McDonald’s where a few Americans are talking and saying that these Frenchies are going to feel very disappointed if they go to one of our McDonald’s.  Yeah, they probably would but they would like the prices.  McDonald's Into the RER we go.  It will take us back home. This one doesn’t want to let us forget where we came from. Seems that it is trying to be as ornate and over the top as Versailles.  🙂  P1190240 P1190241 P1190242 We get to the apartment,      quickly change and off we go again for we are going to see Toto! concert, 35th Anniversary tour, Zenith Center, Paris, France

We take a cab and follow the people. The Zenith Center (Le Zenith) is one of the most important concert halls in Paris.  P1190246 P1190248

What a fabulous day and what a way to end it.  We dance (we were practically on stage) to the tune of songs like: Rosanna, Africa, Hold the Line and I’ll Be Over You, taking me back in time!!  Zenith Center, Paris, France, concert, 35th Anniversary tour

Categories: 19th arrondissement, Chateau de Versailles, France, Ile-de-France, Zenith (Le Zenith) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding a New Obsession… or Two, or Three.

We move again.  This time from a hotel to another apartment.  It is also the day that my scene will be shot.  The day starts relatively early for us since there is quite a bit to be accomplished.  For now I lazily get out of bed and go down to the café for breakfast.  A sacred ritual that must not be set aside even in the most hectic of days.  Must not let a heavenly croissant and noisette wait long. I watch daily life pass us by as I sip and go over my lines mentally.  Paris, France, 20th arrondissement P1150632 Then it’s onward to finish packing, doing my hair and getting into a taxi to our next home.  We get one quickly.  On the way he tells us that the neighborhood we are staying at is very much a village within a city.  I’m liking the sound of that.  We have been given instructions to ring the bell of the apartment owner’s neighbor and that she will give us the key and let us in.  Filming starts at 1:00.  It’s 11:30 and no one answers the bell. I breathe in and try not to think that I still have to find my wardrobe (for the shoot) in the suitcase, iron it (after searching for the iron in a new place), get make-up ready, hair retouched and centered for the scene.  We text the guy.  We wait. I breathe. I entertain myself with the floor tiles which are old and I really like. Paris, France, floor, tiles He texts back from California where he lives. That amuses me. I’m in his place in Paris while he is in my hometown. He, on the other hand probably isn’t amused since I think it’s about 2:00 am for him when we text.  We ring her again and she finally answers.  So we go in, and my mad dash begins.  Clothes found.  Iron inexistent.  Ring neighbor. May we borrow your iron?  Check.  Iron.  Good that I don’t have to search for the adapter. Go over lines. Make-up done. Hair retouched. And is it a film wrap (end of filming)?  No. It barely has begun. We film. I grab my camera when they do the other actress’ close up.  La Pleuresse, Paris, France, filming, short film They shoot my close up and then it really is a wrap!

The next day I wake up to my usual calm self. I look out the bathroom window and see the usual windows with flower boxes that I so like to look at. Flowers, window, Paris, France Flowers, window, Paris, France

We are off to the Sacre Coeur but knowing us, there will be a lot side trips before destination.  Already after coming out of the metro metro, Paris, France, Sacre Couer I see so much to photograph.  An old car antique car, Le Progrés, Paris, France, street scene, cobblestones, café, Parisian bistro that seems to be positioned just right for people to capture it on film.  I find it amusing that it is parked next to a café that is called Le Progrés (progress).  Is it trying to say something to this antique car?  Would love to identify what kind of a car this is. This building caught my attention Building, Paris, France not so much by its architecture but because it was on the top of a steep street and would probably have the best views. I find the balcony architecture, Paris, France, building, balcony that I would like to look out of every morning (second after the deck from our beloved péniche, Soleil, on the Seine.) We are in Montmartre; I’m hungry.  Grant you, no relation of one thought to the other but in my mind there is, for as soon as I see a place to eat my pace quickens and ends up in this café, Le Carrousel, which has gotten terrible reviews but I found really good with great friendly service.  I do notice, as I am heading there this group of women that have stamped on their T-shirt my feelings about this city: “J’adore Paris!” t-shirts, Le Carrousel, Montmartre, Paris, France Once mydog, street scene, water fountain, Abbesses, Paris, France tummy is full sandwich, pizza, hot sandwich, salad, food, Parisian bistro, latte we continue our exploration of the area. I’m enjoying seeing bits of life happening around me.  A woman kneeling down to get water from a fountain for her dog. Abbesses, Paris, France, buildings  Streets so steep it seems that they are going right into other buildings. Signs that make me think and laugh internally.  Imagining a conversation that goes somewhat like this:  Hi! Where are you staying? At My Hotel in France. Really?  Which one? Just My Hotel in France. Oh?  You own one? hotel, Montmartre, Paris, France Buildings that keep on making me look up.  Paris, France, Montmartre  Then off to see a street, rue Cavallotti, that a friend had mentioned to me that when the shutters are down, art comes up.  P1180924_2  P1180927_2   P1180929 P1180930 P1180931_2  Aside from the shutters I look into the few stores that are not shutter closed.  I love the mannequin on the window of a vintage clothing store with the reflection of a building on the glass. vintage clothes, rue Cavallotti, open-air gallery  A Do Not Enter sign made cute by graffiti. P1180935 We walk on and bump into Le Moulin Rouge.  The plaza is teaming with tourist, tour buses, people in line to go in.  I would like to see a can can dance but the place is crazy expensive and we have already done something crazy at Les Jules Vernes so I content myself to look from the outside.  Loving the red car in front of the place matching with the Moulin.Les Moulins Rouge As usual I find a window to be amused by.  Window  We walk a bit more. Loving the ups, downs and curves. P1180957   P1180958 And enjoying seeing an old windmill on top of the restaurant Le Moulin de la Galette.  Wait, a windmill?  Yep, one of only two remaining from 1717 (from 14 originally).  windmill, 1717, Le Moulin de la Galette  Did you know about D.E. Inghelbrecht? He was a pretty famous self-taught composer and director and we pass the building he lived in where he also has a statue commemorating him. music, classical, French director, composer,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9sir%C3%A9-%C3%89mile_Inghelbrecht  We are starting the roundabout climb to the Sacre Coeur.  Le Consulat I have a feeling this restaurant has been photographed a lot.  I look up, as always, and photograph one of its windows. It has a flower and bull (symbol for Taurus which is my astrological sign). Window

Chat NoirHere is probably the most bought souvenir image Tournée du Chat Noir and just in case you have been wondering as to the history, as I was, click here. More windows.  Windows And please say it ain’t so… a Starbucks amongst all this? Starbucks  A gallery window to counteract. Gallery  Wall art of something I couldn’t possibly have in this town.  Wall Art, Montmartre, Paris, FranceAnd more wall art of something that rhymes with it, but could be closely linked to it in reality.  Repression often brings depression. Repression

I’m learning so much about people I didn’t know existed.  Now we see the house where Maurice Neumont, a lithographer and painter who made propaganda posters, died. And I am loving the door.  P1180985_2   P1180986_2

I may have a new obsession with street art.  P1180987 P1180991_2 P1180992 P1180990 P1180982

I try not to dilly dally though, because the Sacre Coeur is just ahead. Sacre Coeur  I go into the basilica remembering my mom. The view from up here has always been so magnificent. P1180999

Sacre Coeur

We eventually make our way down passing the carousel.  Frankly the view looking up isn’t half bad either! Sacre Coeur

P1190042  Sacre Coeur  Carousel Horses

I wonder if this guy ever gets tired of his view? His apartment faces the basilica.  Window

Well, time to go back home so we get on back into the streets, Street Scene into the metro, Anvers metro Anvers and are able to reach home with enough light to look out the window onto a garden in the sky that our neighboring penthouse has.  Garden in the Sky

I know I have said this before but I do love this town!!

Categories: 18th Arrondissement, Abbesses, Anvers, Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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