Blogs from Île-de-France, France, Europe


Europe » France » Île-de-France July 18th 2021

Before we left home, I’d read about buying picnic stuff on Rue Cler, a pedestrian street then taking everything to have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. Zaya was so excited about doing this after I told her about it. We had to 1st get our Covid test before entering the UK so had found a place for walk-in testing. We got our tests then hopped on a bus to the Eiffel Tower. The Rue Cler was within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower. We found a fresh baguette, cheese, meats, salads and wine. The meats looked like salami but we were sternly advised that they were not salami, but rather sausages! As we had brought our picnic supplies from home: plates, flatware, a table cloth and cloth napkins, we were set for a proper picnic. ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France July 17th 2021

One last day to pack, go have coffee and have some food then it would be off to Paris. We had planned to go to Paris by train but then decided on Ryan Air. I’ve flown on it before and know that it is like a cattle car, that and flying in and out of inconvenient airports, but that was what we decided to do. It actually cost about the same as a train ticket and after calculating the time involved from start to finish, the time was about the same. But then on the plus side we went to Venice (the island) and gave Zaya the gondola ride she’d wanted. 1st thing in the morning we had tickets for the Louvre. I’d thought that with the crowds down, maybe we could see the Mona Lisa ... read more
Neopoleon's living room
The Dining room
The Mona

Europe » France » Île-de-France June 26th 2021

To honor the start of the Tour de France on Saturday, here is a silly little email I wrote back in 2013. I was just starting to get serious about cycling, bought a carbon fiber road bike, and decided cycling would be my main form of exercise. Fast forward to the 2021 race, the defending champion is a Slovenian, Tadej Pogacar (pronounced Po Ga Cha). He is only 22, weighs a mere 146 pounds, but proved to be the best in 2020. My personal favorite is the sprinter, Peter Sagan from Slovakia. You can see he is built for sprints, not the long haul. Perhaps I will attend one of these years? Or take a cycling trip on parts of the TDF route? I really meant "Tour de France", the world's most famous bicycle race. Now ... read more
Points contestant, Peter Sagan

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris February 6th 2021 6th February - The Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe A wet and dreary Saturday afternoon but that didn’t stop our tour guide Florent and a whole lot of Parisians taking a stroll down The Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe Nearly 2 kilometres in length, this historic thoroughfare runs from Place de la Concorde to the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Whilst it has become ‘the world’s most beautiful avenue’, the Champs-Élysées was once a swamp. In the 17th century André Le Nôtre, gardener to the Sun King traced its original path. And a legend was born. The avenue has only become more beautiful with every passing decade. Once the famed meeting point for politicians and intellectuals, the stylish cafés have given way to a generally commercial atmosphere with enormous stores and even a McDonalds ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris January 30th 2021 30th January Montemarte - Paris The city of Paris is a mosaic of densely populated neighbourhoods, known as arrondissements, which spiral clockwise like a snail shell from the Left Bank and Right Bank of the River Seine right up to the périphérique that encircles the city. Each arrondissement has its own distinctive personality & today with its cobbled streets full of charm & perched on the top of a hill we are in the 18th arrondissement Montemarte! With Florent. Picasso arrived in Montmartre in 1900 & rented a studio but in 1904 (aged 23), he moved into the Bateau Lavoir. Pablo Picasso was soon joined there by the artist’s model Fernande Olivier. She became his muse and subject of many paintings of this period. The original Bateau Lavoir, nicknamed 'boat washhouse' after the building's boat-like ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France January 24th 2021 24th January Our tour started started on the Right Bank outside the Louvre Museum. We saw two contrasting Metro station entrances, an art Nouveau style that I had seen on a previous virtual trip and a very colourful one that was created to mark the metro’s 100th birthday in 2000. It is an arched structure, composed of many strands of differently sized and colored glass beads. How cool is that ! A gem if a treasure often missed is the Palaiss Royale, Created by the Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, the Palais Royal and its gardens, just a short walk from the Louvre, housed royal families up until the Palace of Versailles was built. Despite its name, the Palais-Royal was not the official residence of the kings and queens of France. The palace was built from ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France January 23rd 2021

9th January On a grey frosty day here I have enjoyed a winter sunshine walk in Paris. Virtually of course. Florent was our guide today - We started on the Pont des Arts - a pedestrian bridge which crosses the River Seine, it links the Institute of France and the central square Louvre Palace. Couples have flocked to the bridge for several years to attach a lock with a message to represent their mutual love, often throwing the key into the river for good measure. In 2014 a large section of the Pont des Arts' steel veranda collapsed into the Seine through the weight of the locks. In 2015 workers armed with bolt cutters closed off the bridge & removed all of the locks - 60 tons ! As we walked beside the Seine with the ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France January 20th 2021

Saturday 14th November 2020 What a wonderful way to spend a wet dreary afternoon here in England - take a virtual trip to Paris and enjoy a walk around the iconic Eiffel Tower with local guide Patrick Herpe. The weather was fine as we started in the plaza, then crossed over the bridge to just below the tower as Parisians passed us by. So many interesting facts in just 30 minutes. Just a few I recall There are 10 other replicas around the world, including one in Las Vegas and one at the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen, China. The names of engineers, scientists and mathematicians are engraved on the side of the tower, each of whom contributed to its construction. Repainting the tower, which happens every seven years, requires 60 tonnes of ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France January 20th 2021

19th November - 2020 Another virtual trip - This time the subject was about the city’s Art Nouveau architecture. We started at one of the many metro stations, Parisian architect and designer Hector Guimard had a vision for gates shaped like tropical flowers with curved vines and tendrils. The stem-like lamp posts joined by an arch is topped with a glowing orange light reminiscent of a flower bud. The design on the railings was to depict an owl with the M of its mouth representing the mouth (entrance) to the Metro. Next we walked a couple of blocks passing beautiful Art Nouveau buildings with their curved architecture, archways and windows. Castel Béranger was the first residential block in Paris to be built in the Art Nouveau style. A beautiful door and our guide gave us a ... read more
Art Nouveau - Paris

Europe » France » Île-de-France July 16th 2020

Though I rarely feel self-conscious when I travel, I am certain some people do. I figure it is fairly obvious what I am to natives, so I don't really worry about it. But people do seem to ask about my ethnic heritage, when they see me, and hear perfect English. The question becomes, "What are you?" When I say I am an American, they ask further, "No, what are you, really?" Invariably, I have to ask them what an American looks like. Then I further confuse them by saying that they look like an American! Whether I am in Europe, Africa, or South America, I tell them that Americans look like just about anyone. But are we that obvious when we visit some of these countries? There might be some stereotypes among us. (Some ... read more
Backwards bb cap
Cell phone face

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