Andy Newbery


Andy Newbery

Retired educator.

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Versailles May 2nd 2013

Versailles. Back on the bus we were joined by a local guide who would take us to Versailles, a trip I was eager to make. In a lecture in his series "A History of European Art," Professor William Kloss gives a very interesting review of the history of the creation of the Palace of Versailles. Typical of much of the bizarre antics of French royalty – which eventually led to their extermination – this was a story of deceit, corruption and egomania. It appears that Louis XIV, the Sun King, had a Superintendent of Finance named Nicolas Fouquet. Using finances of questionable origin, Fouquet decided to build for himself the extravagant “Grand Chateau Vaux de Vicome,” using the finest architects, landscapers and interior decorators in France. He hosted a grand housewarming to open the Chateau and ... read more
The Hall of Mirrors
Traffic along the Seine

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris May 2nd 2013

Paris – The Eiffel Tower. This would be our last day with Trafalgar Tours and the prospect of saying goodbye to new friends was not a happy one. Meanwhile there were two major attractions on today's agenda and so we were to be ferried by bus about four blocks up the Quai de Grenelle to that most famous of Parisian landmarks, the Eiffel Tower. It was just after 9:30am when we arrived at the Tower. The day was heavily overcast and quite cool. Crowds were lined up in serpentine fashion waiting for an elevator ride up the Tower. It looked like at least a two-hour wait for them. For us, however, tour group passes took us to the front of the line and we were on the second level of the Tower in about 15 minutes. ... read more
Looking Upwards

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris May 1st 2013

Paris – Montmartre. The drive into Paris was uneventful. We were warned that there might be noisy demonstrations underway in celebration of the May 1 national holiday. In fact the only thing we saw was a group of a couple dozen grey-bearded motorcycle riders who were trundling more slowly than necessary over a bridge, going in the opposite direction from us. For those who reside next to the Town of Port Dover, Ontario, that sees over 20,000 motorcycles every Friday 13th, this was pretty tame stuff. One item of interest: Paris is legendary for its impossible driving customs. Although I have seen plenty worse in a general way, in Athens and Rome for example, nothing prepares one for the anarchy that is "Le Etoile" circling the Arc de Triomph. Designed to be a grand promenade for ... read more

Europe » France » Upper Normandy » Giverny May 1st 2013

Giverny. May 1 is the French equivalent of Canadian Labour Day, only more so. Cindy noted that the French inclination toward the dramatic meant that such occasions are marked by much marching, protesting and general ballyhoo. She warned that France would be closed today and we could expect massed gatherings in Paris. Happily, our morning's destination was Giverny, site of Claude Monet's home and garden estate, where he spent the last 43 years of his life, and where he painted some of his most beautiful and famous works. The estate is now a private business focused on tourism and, therefore, not affected by the otherwise general shutdown of the Country. Giverny is an ancient town which straddles the Seine, about 60km downriver, as the crow flies, from Paris. History tells us that artists in the late ... read more
Across a Lily Pond

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Port-en-Bessin-Huppain April 30th 2013

Juno Beach, Port-en-Bassine. Another drive of an hour and a bit toward the northeast took us to the American memorial site at Omaha Beach. While it would have been interesting to see this site, time was limited and we would be pushed to get to Juno Beach. Over the last few days we had discussed our intention of making this tangent to the Trafalgar tour with our fellow Canadian travellers. To our delight, they decided to make the journey with us. We were honoured to have them along. Cindy had organized a five-passenger taxi to take us to Juno and from there to the Canadian War Grave site at Beny-Sur-Mer. Somehow we were all able to squeeze into this little wheelbarrow and our driver, Jerome – not the same guy as on the bus - took ... read more
Canadian War Graves, Beny-sur-Mer
Clifford Jackson

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Mont Saint-Michel April 30th 2013

Mont Saint-Michel. Our first stop on this day was to be Mont Saint-Michel off the coast of Normandy. This would be followed by a visit to Omaha Beach, site of the American Forces D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. I was excited at both these prospects. Pictures of Mont Saint-Michel had always struck a chord of wonder, rising, as it does, pyramid-like out of the sea to a perfect pinnacle formed by the spire of the abbey. What was exciting about Omaha Beach was that it was just down shore from Juno Beach, where Canadian troops had landed. We were on a special mission related to Juno Beach. The drive to Mont Saint-Michel took about 3 hours and went through rolling Normandy farmland featuring a lot of canola and flax. Cindy drew our attention to the ... read more
Mont Saint-Michel

Europe » France » Centre » Chenonceaux April 29th 2013

Chenonceaux. I was sorry to leave Bordeaux. There seemed to be so much to see that was unavailable to us on this trip. An excuse for a return, if we needed one. Today would feature another 300km ride north, with a non-remarkable pit-stop or two, heading for Tours. The Chateau Chenonceau straddles the Cher River, near the town of Chenonceaux, about 30km east of Tours. Dating to the 1400's, it was the private residence of a wealthy miller but over the course of history came into the possession of royalty. Cindy detailed some of the amusing, amorous escapades of some of the royals which led to various chatelaines and other occupants over the centuries. Simply put, it served as the personal residence of five French queens, including infamous Catherine de Medici, with whose affections one was ... read more

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Saint-Emilion April 28th 2013

St. Emilion. Continuing eastward through the Dordogne Valley we arrive at the Chateau Soutard Grand Cru Classé (winery), just north of the village of St. Emilion. All the Chateau wineries throughout this region are considered "high end" and the Chateau Soutard was no exception. We were given a tour of the estate and had several samples of their products, which we pronounced as “good.” Carrying on to the village itself we were led through the ancient, cobblestoned streets and entered the Cave of Saint Emilion. Our local guide told us that Frere Emilion took up residence in this cave sometime in the 8th century. His plan was to live a simple ascetic life. Gradually his presence became known throughout the region and pilgrims would visit him for his blessings – or something, I really have no ... read more

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Libourne April 28th 2013

Libourne. On Sunday morning we drove through the vineyards to the village of Libourne, a wine-making centre on the Dordogne River, about 30km east of Bordeaux. The Sunday market was in full swing in the main square and the in streets leading to it. These markets are wonderful, with produce, cooked and raw meats and fish of every description, baked goods, clothing and crafts and just about everything else you can think of. My French professor was probably turning over in his grave as I carried on a quasi-intelligible conversation with a fish monger about the origin of his goods. Throughout France we found the citizenry helpful, patient and more than willing to assist the buyer in making a purchase.... read more

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Bordeaux April 28th 2013

Bordeaux. The final leg of today's adventure took us north, about 200km to the City of Bordeaux. Along the way, Cindy advised that we were going to drive through the longest stretch of pine forest we have ever seen (she has never been to New Brunswick.) This was where I discovered the remarkable application of a beret over the eyes as a mobile sleep aide. Bordeaux is considered by many to be the wine-producing capital of the world. It lies along the Garrone River, almost 100km up-river from the Atlantic, but has a major sea-port presence. The twelve deck residential ship "The World" was tied up alongside the Bourse while we were there. During the war Germany kept a fleet of submarines in Bordeaux from whence they would transit to the Atlantic to harass allied shipping. ... read more
Off to be Married!

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