Friday, April 27, 2007

France Travelogue

I’m back in the U.S... yey! It feels great to be back home, even if I am floating somewhere between jet lag and euphoria. Paris was better than ever, crisp, clear and unseasonably dry (probably due to global warming). My husband and I turned this trip into the honeymoon we never had. It’s the first time we’ve been away from our family for more than one night in twelve years. It was especially nice because Greg’s company incentive trip covered many of the things we wouldn’t have done on our own, so we ended up doing a wider variety of things. We did fancy things like a dinner cruise on the Seine, a tour of the Loire Valley castles and dinner at the Eiffel Tower along with the Boho stuff that we like to do, like picnic on a park bench with wine, baguettes, and Camembert, ride the Metro to less touristy areas and visit the catacombs under Montparnasse.

Because most of our nights were spent in a luxury hotel near Les Jardin de Tuilleries, for the final night of our trip we chose to stay on our own in Montparnasse at an inexpensive, small but very cool little hotel called Lenox Montparnasse. We rode the metro to the Latin Quarter, walked around the Sorbonne and when we were both tired of walking, we caught a screening of a classic American film, “People Will Talk” featuring Cary Grant. The French prefer their foreign films in the original language with subtitles, so it worked out perfectly. Afterwards, we strolled down the boulevard and into a fast food outlet where the clerk tried to sell us on the new “Spiderman” burger, which he pronounced “speederman.” I’m sure you’ll be seeing these in the U.S. pretty soon.

So without further ado, I’ll give you some of the highlights in pictures.

Here's what you get when you ask some other tourists to take a picture of you at night in Paris:

Me at the Louvre. It looks like the Pyramide needs some Windex.

One of my favorite paintings at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Double Portrait with Glass of Wine by Marc Chagall.

Le Chateau Cenonceau in the Loire Valley, which features the Black Room of the White Queen, a goth boudoir for a mourning queen.

In the Chateau D'Amboise, the walls have ears:

The Chateau D'Amboise in the Loire Valley, final resting place of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Just a few of the millions of bones in the Catacombs at Montparnasse. Although the Catacombs are creepy and claustrophobic (in a good way), they have been a tourist attraction since Victorian times, when ladies and gentlemen would tour the subterranean crypts by candlelight.

It's not to everyone's taste, so it's relatively uncrowded and inexpensive. For the first 15 minutes, I thought my husband and I were the only ones in there.

Cinema le Champo in the Latin Quarter (near the Sorbonne), where we saw People Will Talk. Good atmosphere and comfy seats - no popcorn, though.

We did so many things that can't be captured in photos, like listening to the Mass sung in French at Notre Dame, or watching the lights go on at the Arc de Triomphe while having dinner at a small sidewalk cafe or hearing a choir of nuns sing at Sacre Coeur, or walking through Montparnasse and seeing the beautiful or grotesque manniquins in the window move and discovering that they are human statues. Springtime in Paris... I finally get it.

Dinner cruise on the Seine. Tres romantique!


Anonymous said...

Looks like you had a great time in Paris. The Catacombs are really worth a visit, very macabre and unique. Looking forward to the show on Saturday night!

Anonymous said...

I found a cool slide show of the Paris Catacombs here: