Monday, May 5, 2014

France 2014 - Part 2

April 8 - Tuesday

We woke at 6:00 a.m. when the iPad buzzed. Larry tried the alarm app, and it worked. Of course, we could have set the alarm clock and awakened to music on the iPod like we do at home. Maybe tomorrow…
Breakfast was served between 6:30 and about 9:00a.m. Lots of choices: eggs cooked any way we wished, toast, baguettes, croissants, yogurt, cereal, fruit, etc. Larry fell in love with the Rube Goldberg-type orange juice squeezer. Insert one or two whole oranges, and it sliced them and squeezed a fresh glass. There was also a hot chocolate machine as well as hot water, coffee, milk, etc. The desk clerk told Larry the night before to get there early because the fresh bread went quickly. We split the last chocolate croissant as well as a plain one and a small baguette. Oh, the bread… Heaven!
We met another couple from the tour group, Ray and Rosemary from Seattle. They were traveling with another couple, Kent and Mary Jane. We sat and talked for quite a while. Then we headed out to take photos with the Eiffel Tower—just because we could!

On the way back, we bought some postcards to send home.
Returned to our room and wrote the cards. Larry downloaded a couple of photos and we posted them to Facebook. Took care of email and added more to my journal while listening to music.
Larry lay down and rested.
Went out again in search of a post office. Finally found it after walking through Les Invalides, the military museum and wandering around the local area. We loved the city for walking. So much to see in close proximity.

Returned to the room where we rested. Actually, Larry napped, but each time I dropped off, he started snoring...
At 5:00 we met our guide, Virginie Moré, and the rest of the group in the lobby. We walked down to La Terrasse again for dinner. There we introduced ourselves and got the basic information about the tour. The group consisted of 21 people plus our guide.
While we waited for our meal to be prepared, we walked to Rue Cler, the local walking street. By the time we got back, our meal service began. I started with onion soup, and Larry had quiche Lorraine. Our main courses were steak and chicken brochettes. We shared some of each.
Dessert was crème brûlée—fabulous!
We looked forward to the next day’s walking tour of the old city.
Back to the room for the evening, we washed some clothes and turned off the TV at 10:30.

April 9 – Wednesday

Our jam-packed day started off with breakfast in the hotel. Nice variety of food, and a chance to get to know a few of the folks on the trip. Lovely group of people.
At 8:30, we met in the lobby to get our Metro passes and our museum passes. We’d be using these for the next two days.
Like ducklings, we followed Virginie (pronounced Veer-gin-ee) down to the Metro station. (We had already discovered it in our strolls through the area.) Then underground and onto the train on the lavender line. A change at Concorde (beneath the Place de la Concorde —the ‘front door’ to the Louvre—above ground is a roundabout and an obelisk, as we’d discover later) to the yellow line. We all managed to stay together, and emerged in the center of the historical old city.
One of the things standard with a Rick Steves’ tour is the ‘buddy’ system. Each of us chose a buddy for the trip—someone other than our travel partner. Whenever the group convened, we did a ‘buddy check’ to make sure we were all accounted for. In actuality, we made two checks: one for our travel partner and the other for our buddy. Mine was Mas (Masatoshi Yamanaka), a retired orthopedic surgeon. Larry’s was Dick McConnell who owns a farm in Ohio. This seems a very efficient system for keeping track of each other.
There were only a couple of firm rules. First was: no grumps! If you groused, you had to smile and be pleasant. The second was: be on time. Beyond those two, the group was pretty flexible.
Along with seeing the sights, we received a great deal of the history of the city, starting on the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine where the city started. 

Next, we went to Sainte-Chapelle, a gorgeous royal chapel with fantastic stained glass. They were restoring the building, and the process was impressive.

Next, we walked over to the Latin Quarter, the center of education. (It’s called the Latin Quarter because the Sorbonne started there, and the language of education was Latin.)
On to Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. We learned a great deal about the construction of the church, including that it took two hundred years to complete. (Sainte-Chapelle, in contrast, required only six years.) The flying buttresses allowed for a tall, wide nave. The rose window was magnificent.
Mass was being held when we entered, so we circled the outer area. I was surprised at how many people were buried inside.

The church, like St. Peter’s in Rome, was filled with magnificent statuary. Larry took some wonderful photos both inside and out.
By the time we finished inside, it was nearly one o’clock, and we were hungry. We stopped at the little café across the street and had quiche and salad. All the food we ate in Paris was terrific, and this meal was no exception.

After lunch, we wandered along the river looking at the artwork for sale in the little kiosks which lined the walkway. I found a small print of the Eiffel Tower for our guest bathroom.
Then, some of us gathered again for the long hike to the Musee d’Orsay. (It’s either the Orsay Museum or Musee d’Orsay, but never just the d’Orsay.) This was one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing since it’s the home of the work of the Impressionists—my favorites.
They were featuring a special exhibit of the art of Van Gogh. We had missed it when it was in Los Angeles because we were in Japan at the time. But we decided to spend all our time on the French Impressionists. I adore Monet, and the museum has many of his works, some of which are very famous and familiar. We had tickets to go again when we returned to Paris at the end of the trip, so we figured we’d see the Van Gogh exhibit then.
The weather was quite warm, and it affected me badly. The walk back to the hotel felt extremely long and hot, but we made it. There we lay down and took a rest.
In the early evening, we set out again. Larry needed sunscreen, and I had used the last of the Band-Aids for the blisters I’d developed the night of the welcome dinner when I wore a pair of shoes I hadn’t had on for several years. I bought more bandages. After we got our items, we checked Rue Cler, but none of the restaurants there appealed to us. Instead, we decided to look at the ones on the way back to the hotel. We finally stopped at the Café de Officiers, around the corner.
I ordered a club sandwich, and Larry had the chicken dinner. We sat inside next to the window to try to avoid the cigarette smoke outdoors. However, right outside the door next to us, a man lit up a cigar. The smell was terrible, so we moved. Another couple seated near the door also moved next to us.
Turns out Geoff and Ariana were from Australia. We enjoyed a lovely meal talking to our new friends.
Back at the hotel, we went to bed early because we were still exhausted from all the walking.

To be continued...


  1. Keep it up, love traveling and eating with you vicariously.

    1. Glad you're enjoying. We had a FABULOUS time!