Friday, August 3, 2012

Trip to Paris and environs

A week in Paris area
Off we went by train for a few days in Paris.  We spent the first day at the Orsay Museum, which had been closed for renovations the last time we were in Paris.  The Orsay is an incredibly beautiful old train station that had been remodeled to be an art museum that includes many classic paintings, art deco furniture, large and small sculptures to give you an idea as to what we saw.  It is incredible to visit and time just flies as you wander from floor to floor and room to room.  We really spent the whole day there and were feeling pretty overwhelmed by the end of the day.

Day two was a very long walk, about 8 kms along an elevated former train pathway.  This gives you a really nice look of Paris streets and changing neighborhoods. See pictures in link below

We walked back along a boulevard and did some window shopping.  By the time we got back to our hotel, it was time to take a quick break and then off to Caravalet Museum.  It is located behind our hotel, so easy to visit.  We had spent a bit of time here at last Paris visit, but there is so much that we had much more to see.  Lots of Paris history is here to see.
Unfortunately by the end of the day, my hip seemed to become more and more painful, feeling like bone rubbing on bone.  By the end of the evening I could barely walk.  Thought that a good nights sleep and a bit of aleve would relieve my problems, as it had always done in the past.

Next morning, I could barely get moving to get dressed and go down to breakfast.  So, we had to change plans and watch the parade on TV.  Well it turned out to be great, because most of the parade either flew overhead or went down the Rue Rivoli right in front of our hotel. I could watch both out the window and On TV, while Fred was on our little balcony taking pictures. It was great!  The afternoon was spent napping and recuperating.

Managed to hobble to dinner at Boffinger, an old alsacienne brasserie near the Bastille.  Dinner was really good, but i have to admit that I was really happy to hobble back to bed.

Next morning, I was able to lock my knee painfully semi rigid to keep the leg going along to the Gare de Lyon.  We were heading out of Paris for some much needed R&R with cousin Francine.  What a delight to visit with her and her partner Norbert, a retired pharmacist.

While there, they took us off to see some sights.  First on the list was Guedelon, a medieval castle construction. The site began in 1997 and opened to the public for visits in 1998.  It is being built using 13th centrury tools and methods, on the site of a stone quarry.  Reduces the need to move so much stone too far.  Quite a site to see!  Laborers were busy making morter, hoisting large rectangles of stone up into place using manual hoists.  We saw rough rock being cut into rough shape and then chisled smooth to make the walls.  The beginnings of a small village was around the castle, to be expanded later. Expectation is that the castle will be completed in 2023.  Once the castle is completed, Michel Guyot, the driving force for the project, plans to start construction of a cathedral!

Next on our tour list was Chateau de Saint-Fargeau, a 10th centrury castle.  It started as a hunting lodge, then added on in the 13th centrury was converted into a pentagon castle. Later in 1652 Louis 14th banished his cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orleans to this castle since she was an active member of the revolt against him.  She was known as the "Grande Mademoiselle"  and also did much to change the original look of the castle. During WWII the Germans took over the castle as a headquarters for themselves.   There are many areas of the original castle that one can do a self visit,  including the whole attic that goes around the whole castle.  It was truly incredible to walk all around the castle by going along the attic.  Fascinating!

Of course Francine and I spent lots of time talking about family and sharing pictures.  I had taken some with me to see if she had some idea as to who some of the folks were.  We shared lots of wonderful information.

Our visit included incredible cooking by Francine and wonderful salads, since she continues to grow some veggies and lettuces in a small home garden.  Looking back, my memory of dinners each night, were at least 3.5-4hour affairs.  Quite an affair!  This more relaxed time allowed my hip to pull itself back into reasonableness- whew! went too fast for all of us and suddenly it was time to go back home.  We have promised to visit again next year.  We headed back to the Gare de Lyon and took our TGV (speed train) back to Cannes.

Will try to get the next blog out soon, since all of this is already 3 weeks ago....time flies when you are having fun on the Riviera!

Michelle and Fred
Traveling in France so you don't have to!