The last time I was in France was some 20 years ago – I was a younger man and was there with Rick and Sarah and their daughters Shana and Mimi. We landed in Paris and after a couple of days we headed south-east towards the Italian border. Our destination was Verona because we couldn’t find accommodations in Venice, so we just visited.
That long-ago trip had many memorables: – in Paris, for lunch, the girls had horse-meat hamburgers – for dinner, that same day, I had tripe at Au Pied du Cochon – Mimi and I went out and got pastries for breakfast – Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise was littered with weed-roaches – the top of Gertrude Stein’s grave-marker was covered with small stones
This time, eight of us are traveling – Rose and Derrick, Mary and Dom, Rick and Sarah, Frank and I. We’ll be in Paris for two-and-a-half days and then we’re going to Burgundy for a seven-day canal-barge cruise.
Both the featured image and the above picture are from the Internet. The flag in the Arc de Triomphe has always been one of my favorite symbols of France. The man in the vineyard points to Burgundy and the wines we’ll be savoring while being spoiled cruising the Canal de Bourgogne.
We got here using different airlines, and Frank is still back in Toronto. He will join us tomorrow. I’ve never been to Charles de Gaulle Airport and let me tell you it was both efficient and overwhelming. You go through customs before getting your luggage and getting through customs was horrible. Got through but it reminded me of Lima and its masses of humanity. Same was true waiting in lines to get through to have my passport almost ignored.
We decided to take the RER-A commuter into town. The train barrels through several northern arrondissements as it heads south towards the center of Paris. The City of Lights is organized very differently than most American cities. In the US, whites, middle and upper middle-class people live in the suburban rings that circumscribe large metropolitan areas. In Paris it’s the reverse and on the RER we saw how modern Paris is organized.
Our hotel is at 13 rue Jules-César – poor Caesar, even in modern times he gets assigned and ‘unlucky’ number. Personally, I love the address.
I’m continuing to use the gold-leaf sculptures atop columns and plinths as the featured images. Today’s sculpture is atop the Pont Alexandre III bridge pylon.
Rather than walk all the way up river, we decided to buy tickets on a hop-on/hop-off boat that cruised up and down the Seine. Our first stop was Le musée du Louvre. The story we will all take from this our first stop of the day, is that Dom got lost – hey, he was doing his thing. And being a good, frugal Canadian, he was damned if he was going to turn his phone on and pay the soul-sucking provider $15 a day. So we had no way of phoning or texting him. Naturally, I texted his kids back in Pickering telling them we had lost their father in the middle of Paris. After all, we all want to know of any breaking news, right?
But the more lasting experience was at Le Musée de l’Orangerie and interacting with Monet’s surreal, fascinating and other-worldly water lilies – le célèbre cycle des Nymphéas. At the entrance to the oval gallery, the notice asked that we remain quiet and respectful. I laughed; in Florence you were asked to remain quiet and respectful in the Medici Tombs; in Paris we are asked to remain quiet and respectful when interacting with beautiful art. I may have been born in Italy, but my sensibilities are certainly more French than Italian.
Frank is missing, yes we know; but it’s a great pic.
First, let me tell you why there is not post for our 3rd day in Paris – I walked out and forgot to put the camera card in; I left it in the reader. So, I have no pictures of the Picasso Museum and our day in Le Marais.
On Sunday, early afternoon, staff from the Barge picked us up at our hotel and we drove the 3-hours to the small village of Vandenesse-en-Auxois.
I’m home as you can see, but my camera equipment, laptop and thumb-drive are in Toronto. The Paris airports strike again. I’ve NEVER gotten out of either airport without some hassle.
Should have everything back Sunday and will be able to process all the pictures from the amazing trip.
Stay tuned to read about Sarah’s phone falling into the canal and recovered by a scuba-diving Emile; Herve NOT being Spanish; Frank getting lost on the not-a-towpath; the new light fixtures in L’église Notre-Dame de Dijon …
The French for waterlilies is nénuphars; sorry, English has the better word.
The Italian for sunflower is girasole – turns to the sun; girasole has motion, sunflower is static.
The French for Queen-Anne’s-lace is carotte sauvage; the English is elegant, the French pedestrian.
The Musée de l’Orangerie is church – you walk in and you’re transfixed, made holy. Monet’s waterlilies have replaced the statues, the crucifixes, the stained glass, the incense, the candles. The rectangular nave gives way to infinity space. We’re not looking for salvation; we are the children of François Rabelais; we are the children of The Revolution.
So we pray to blue, to yellow, to green. We pray in silence and we pray alone.
The above image shows the infinity design of the two galleries that showcase Monet’s amazing paintings. Also, the featured image for this post is from the Louvre courtyard. Many of the statues decorating the parapet that runs outside the second floor have been restored. The featured image is of the statue of François Rabelais.