#1, France, May 4, 1983

img198When planning our trip to France, I was discussing Paris with my grown daughter, Claire, who had, in fact, already visited Paris. She said, “Mom, you’re going to love Paris!” “Why, especially?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, “It’s so Paris-y!” And indeed, when Jeanne, Bob, Burt and I arrived in Paris, after getting settled in our hotel, one of the first things we did was to try some French wine at a sidewalk cafe. The waiter poured img199the glasses so full, we got tidley! It really was a sidewalk café but alas, we had arrived on April 30th, bringing April showers with us.  We had several days of wet weather, so we sat inside.

img201Our hotel was the modest Hotel Mont Blanc located just off the Boulevard St-Michel. We were near the img207Seine and near Notre Dame. Another block over was an ‘eat street’ which had several img202ethnic restaurants, including a wonderful Greek restaurant with a pig roasting in the window. While not really French food, who could resist that?

During the next few days, we explored many of Paris’ img203landmarks, including the Pont Neuf. The name, of course, means ‘New Bridge,’ which is ironic since it is the oldest bridge in Paris, having been started in 1578!

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The church of Notre Dame with its flying buttresses was in a dramatic location along img214the Seine. Then we bought some lavender from a sidewalk vendor—what could be more ‘French?’

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We walked the Champs-Elysees with its shops and restaurants ending, of course, at the Arc de Triomphe. We did it again at img255night, when it was even more atmospheric. We ate our dinner along that street, as did many locals.

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Notre Dame was also fun to see at night. img218Just walking around Paris day or night is so img223exciting—it’s so Paris-y!!

Walking along the Seine seeing famous landmarks—so many that on a short trip it would be impossible to do justice to them all. Still we enjoyed the ambiance as much as anything.img224

One evening we went to a concert in Sainte-Chapelle, that most magnificent of religious buildings. It was built in 1248 by Louis IX to house relics such as the Christ’s Crown of Thorns. The upper chapel was reserved for the royal family, while servants and commoners worshiped in the lower chapel. Unfortunately, the upper chapel was being restored, so we were relegated to the lower chapel, which still is splendiferous! A young violinist played Bach’s Tocatta in D and the acoustics were superb! He played it once with a small orchestra accompanying him, and then, as an encore, he played it again a cappella. Both were superlative, plus he was good-lookin’!

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The Louvre was a major destination for a half-day. A musician was playing under the arches as we arrived (we encountered this many times and places in Paris—nice!).

The first thing

img239was to see the Mona Lisa. Pictures without flash were permitted, but they had put her under glass for protection, so not img243so satisfying. –

We also saw the Venus di Milo and, of course, many other paintings and wonderful works of art.

Another museum that we really enjoyed was the Musee de Cluny. Here we saw the tapistries of the ‘Lady with the Unicorn.’  More good wine, more good food, more historic sights—more tomorrow!!

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