Posts Tagged With: views

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!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 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

“N’oublions jamais l’Australie”

We are on the road again…  We are off to Villers-Bretonneux a little town that experienced the first world’s battle (in World War I) between two tank forces (the British and the Germans).  The Germans took the town but the Australian Imperial Force recaptured it a few days later.  1,200 Australians died in the process.  A few miles from the town is an Australian Memorial and a cemetery where 770 are buried.  That is where we are headed.

Initially we were to take a bus to the Amiens train station but it is such a beautiful day that we end up walking.  In front of the Amiens station I spotted the cutest of buses.  I still get a kick out of how little cars are – even traditionally big ones as the Range Rover and Mercedes – in Europe.  Seems that they miniaturize buses too!miniature bus, Amiens, Fance

At the station train station, Amiens, France we buy our aller-rétour (round trip) ticket to Villers-Bretonneux.  We are lucky that the train departs about 15 minutes from when we arrive.  train workers, train, Amiens, France In one hour we will be there. The train is pretty comfortable SNCF, train interior, Amiens, Franceand I settle in with my espresso.  train, SNCF, Amiens, France  To my side, a reminder that I am in France: a baguette a main part of a traveler’s luggage.  Luggage, train, baguette, Amiens, France

We arrive.  station, sign, Villers Bretonneux, France  train, Villers Bretonneaux, France  Villers Bretonneux, France, train station, gare

We are two of only few that exit here.  No signs guiding us to the memorial so we decide to follow the only person that is on foot. Villers Bretonneux, France  Should we take the path unknown?  dirt road, Villers Bretonneux, France, Australian Memorial  The Franco-Australian Museum  comes up (the first thing that attracts me is the tiles on the floor)  Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, Franceso we go in Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, France   Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, France  Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, Francefor info on how to get to the Memorial.

They tell us that the Memorial is a couple of miles out of town and that it’s walkable.  So we continue. I am loving the stone houses. Villers Bretonneux, France. stone house,  Everything in this town has something Australian on it. Villers Bretonneux, France. kangaroo

We are leaving the boundaries of town. See the sign with a diagonal red line on it?  sign, leaving town, Villers Bretonneux

I promise not to go more than 50 km per hour (31 mph) in the construction zone.  In fact I don’t think I can walk that fast. Villers Bretonneux, France, road, road signs, km per hour   Though I may have to because that memorial looks quite far…Villers Bretonneux, France, countryside

The walk is long, the day is hot so I extend my right thumb in good hitch hiking mode and… nothing happens. So we continue on.  It doesn’t seem to be getting any closer yet suddenly we are there. Australian Memorial, Villers Bretonneux, France No one around.  We are alone. I fall silent.  Villers Bretonneux, France  Villers Bretonneux, France

Words of the mayor in 1919: “Soldiers of Australia, whose brothers lie here in French soil, be assured that your memory will always be kept alive, and that the burial places of your dead will always be respected and cared for…”

Villers Bretonneux, France Villers Bretonneux, France Many tombstones engraved with the one date they all died.  All so very young. Fighting someone else’s war. But the people of Villers Bretonneux are grateful, for, according to Wikipedia, on top of every blackboard in the school there is an inscription “N’oublions jamais l’Australie” (Let us never forget Australia.)

P1180639  P1180653  P1180649

There are stairs to go to the top of the memorial and I decide to go up disregarding my fear of heights. Villers Bretonneux, France, memorial  Going up. P1180656 The door to the outside.  P1180660  A few more steps and I’m outside.  The wind assaults me. I am quite high but vertigo does not take over and I am able to enjoy the view. P1180663 P1180665 P1180666  The markers have some names with significance to me. Amiens, London, Berlin, Paris and Villers Bretonneux.

 P1180675 P1180674 P1180673  We are not alone any more and as I climb down Dean remains upstairs and chatting with a fellow Aussie that thankfully gives us a ride back to Amiens where they are also staying.

We walk through town  children playing, fountain, water,  to meet with Lydie for us to have a mini table read.  The pastry shops are going to be the death of me.  This one has the dessert that I so loved: Paris-Brest (I know there is a joke here but please refrain.)P1180697 P1180696 Casa Crepes which kind of joins my culture with theirs, don’t you think? P1180700  But not all is food.  I’m taking my door photos too.  P1180710 P1180708  And windows.  P1180714  And buildings. P1180712 P1180711 Okay, back to the table read. Amiens, France, outdoor café  These are the remains of sorbets that our réalisateur (director) has devoured while we work. P1180717  Think I’m back to the food subject.  We leave.

I am now starving.  I get cranky when I am hungry.  I can’t concentrate when I’m hungry.  I need to eat now!  And when I’m this hungry even a McDonald’s will do.  And this one holds some surprises.  It is manned by smiley, cute people and it’s more in the vein of an upscale café than a McDonald’s, with comfy chairs and cool decor. Amiens, France, chair, McDonald's  And a sauce for the fries that is more on the mayo side which I like. Amiens, France, McDonald's. fast food A chicken wrap with a package that you can stand it up in.  P1180719 Amiens, France, McDonald's. fast food Prices are also a surprise: not cheap at all.

Now that I’ve been fed I have energy and will to have a walk around town.  We find a gem of a square.  Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square

I find the building that I would like to own.

 Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square

The day is done.  We have mentally wept for those gone, honored them, taken a step back in time, taken a step forward to filming, fed our minds and our bodies, and fantasized a bit about what we wanted.  Pretty full day. I smile and sleep once more.

Categories: Amiens, Amiens Square, Australian War Memorial, Franco-Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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