Monday, June 5, 2017

~Paris 9 May 2017~ DIJON

I  hope you aren't getting bored of hearing about Paris.  We decided on this visit rather spur of the moment. Woody had been checking airfares and when he showed me the price, I said "That's a no-brainer!"  So we are off on adventure #9.   Our stay was for 2 weeks~ May 11 to 26, one of our favorite times to go.  Spring and fall are the best.

We chose to stay in the 7th arrondissement again.

There is access to many of the iconic landmarks.  Our apartment is near the river and next to the Invalides.
(It is right under the "U" of Universite, right below the Quai d'Orsay.)  We had access to 10 bus lines. (That's a priority on our list now, right under an apt with elevator.)

I'll show photos of some of the highlights of the trip.  We took a 2 day side trip to Dijon, in the Burgundy region. We had a great tour of the wine growing area.  Evan, our guide, worked at a vineyard and is a wine connoisseur; we learned SO much. We also took a day trip to Rouen. Lastly, we attended an exhibition at the Grand Palais, titled Jardins.  I ventured out by myself one day and found the Musee Bourdelle.  It is the atelier of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.   I loved it and couldn't believe we hadn't been there before now.

So, let's start in Dijon.
We stayed at Hotel des Ducs which was in a prime location to see most of the sites in this town.  Our room could not have been smaller, but it was designed very efficiently and we had everything we needed.  Having a map, we headed out to find something to eat. We did not choose a great restaurant and had a very unmemorable meal.  We searched out Rue des Forges which is supposed to have many timbered houses...and it does!
You really feel like you are in Medival Europe walking down these cobblestone streets.

You can see the distinctive colorful ceramic tiled roofs found in the Burgundy region.  They were a status symbol when the buildings were built.  The designs and colors are striking.  We weren't far from the Notre Dame so we stopped there to get out of the rain.

This church dates to the 13th century.  The photo below was taken within the central portal.  The building has both Romanesque and Gothic features.

Unfortunately the interior was very dark.
The weather didn't help either~rain and low light.

Woody tried and tried to get some decent stained glass photos; but without a tripod they did not come out that well.

The Magic Owl of Dijon
It is not known when or who carved the owl into a corner of the church. It is dated to the 15 or 16th cent.
It is well worn because of a superstition that if you rub the owl with your left hand you will get your wish.   I didn't know  this until after we left Dijon.  I rubbed with my right hand.  The owl serves as a symbol of the city.  There is a self guided walking tour called the Owl Trail.   There are 22 plaques embedded in the walkways baring the image of the owl which marks a historical site.

In the center of the town there is the very large Place de la Liberation in front of the Palace of the Dukes. Built in the 14th century it was the seat of Burgundy power.  Today it houses the office of the Mayor of Dijon and also the Museum of Beaux-Arts.                              The guys in the photo are playing with the fountain; when they stand on one water spout, the water level in the others goes higher. Surrounding the Square are many cafes, great for people watching, and a few shops.
One day there was an environmental demonstration going on. They were mostly demonstrating against Monsanto.

The Musee des Beaux Arts has a large collection of Medieval Art and the entry is free.
I asked Woody to stand next to the swords to give perspective to their size.  I can't imagine how anyone could lift one of those. (I'm not sure what's going on with his expression.)

 The halberds were evil looking.  How many ways can you slay an enemy?  They looked like implements of torture and death to me.

Medieval Religious art has never really interested me, but these carved and gilded altar pieces were magnificent.  The detail in the intricate carving is unbelievable.

I took this photo because the piece was Limoges.  The colors were so vivid.

This is a replica of the Tombs of the Ducs.

The museum was interesting, well laid out, but due to extensive renovation many of the exhibits were not available for viewing.

Next we will be going on our Burgundy Wine Tour of the Cote d'Or and Cote de Nuits. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

~Beehives in the Garden~

Jardin du Luxembourg

While researching and planning this year's trip, I read about an apiary in the Jardin du Luxembourg.  The bees and the beekeeping school have been in the garden since 1856.  Since we usually spend time in the gardens each time we visit, I added the bees to the "to see list", wondering why we hadn't seen them before.

 This is a perfect place for the bees as there are many flowering and fruit trees in the garden.  There's an extraordinary orchard next to the apiary.

The antique bee boxes are under the gazebo; the bees now make their home in the newer 'pagoda-like' houses.    The fountain in the middle of the apiary is especially for the bees.  The colony thrives as Paris is a pesticide free zone.

We entered near the Luxembourg Palace built for Marie de Medici in 1615.  It currently houses the French Senate.

We couldn't have been further from the apiary, which is in the southwest corner of the garden near the Rue de Fleurus entrance; an entrance we've never strolled by.

The Medici Fountain, a beautiful,quiet place to sit and enjoy the moment..

Walking along the Luxembourg Palace, the flowers are gorgeous.
The lovely white statuary circles the parterre garden.  They are all women, many Queens of France

French gardeners love their Dahlias.  They were spectacular!
Always reminds me of the dahlias my Mom grew in her garden..

                                                             More of the parterre garden

The Palais Luxembourg~now housing the French Senate.

We are slowly making our way to the other side of the garden, enjoying all the beautiful plantings.

Soon we came to a very large boules area.  There must have been a dozen games in progress.  These men are obviously friends and quite competitive.  They do have fun and we enjoyed sitting and watching.

Next to the boules courts was a very large play area.  This is a serious playground!

Now we are close to the bees!   The sign says; "Don't walk on the grass. Danger Bees"

I am so glad I read about this part of the garden.  Those bees have some luxurious housing.
The area near and around the apiary is quite beautiful as well.

Such a beautiful walk.  This area will definitely be on my "must do again" list.

This is the walkway from the south entrance to the gardens.  I love how the gardens are maintained.
Returning to where we began, we pass the large pool.  On weekends, there would be kids sailing boats.

The Jardin du Luxembourg is on every Paris 'must see' site list.  I've shown photos of the garden from every one of our Paris visits. I hope you don't ever get bored with this beautiful retreat.  I know I won't.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

~Our 2016 Paris Holiday~

Our 8th trip to Paris began in Orlando; taking Icelandair to Reykjavik, Iceland for a brief stop before continuing to Charles DeGaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris.

Our plane in Orlando
The airport in Reykjavik is very small and does not have enough gates or jetways yet to accommodate the increased traffic.  When we arrived, we had to de-plane on the tarmac and were then transported to the terminal by bus.   When we reboarded, we followed the same routine.  On arrival, it was cold and raining. Since Iceland was the first stop out of the country, we went through customs there.

We arrived in Paris at Terminal 1 which we hadn't done before. We found the taxi stand eventually.  It was quite a surprise to see that the fare to Paris was a set fee (55 euros). The result of Uber competition.

Our apartment was located on Avenue de La Bourdonnais, in the 7th arr. This was the view from our 6th  floor apt window; as you can see we were quite close to the Eiffel Tower.  We stayed in this same area the last time we were here, so everything was quite familiar.
We were so fortunate to find this apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower.  Usually the apartments with a view of the ET are booked way in advance.

We have apt hunting down to a science now.  Having a set criteria is the most important aspect in the apartment search.  For us, #1 is an elevator.  The closer you are to the central part of the city, which is the oldest, the harder it is to find apartments with elevators.   Then we want to be close to transportation.  We no longer use the Metro because I have difficulty climbing stairs.  Using the buses is so easy; being in the vicinity of a larger correspondence makes traveling to various parts of the city convenient.

The first surprise when we arrived was finding the elevator landing between floors.  We try to avoid stairs.Christophe, the landlord, greeted us at the apt and showed us around and answered all of our questions.  He lives above us and was available if there were any problems. (There were a few.)The apartment was full of light.  The living room faced the street which was only a problem when the windows were open.  The double-paned windows really reduce the street noise.   The owner of this apartment probably lives here at times because it was filled with personal and family possessions.  The furniture was a bit 'tired' but certainly adequate.   I loved the small roll top desk.  I hooked up to WiFi right away.

The kitchen was narrow but well equipped with a full refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher (which we did not use), stove, oven and microwave.  It was well stocked with pots, dishes, glasses and utensils as well.

Woody spent more time in the kitchen than I did.  My job was to wash the dishes.
French bathrooms are not the same as American bathrooms.  This room which included, tub/shower, sink, bidet and washing machine was connected to the bedroom.  The toilet is in a separate room, the water closet (WC).  It was adjacent to the bedroom.
I'm not including a photo of the bedroom because it was a bit 'messy', but there was SO MUCH storage!  More than we've ever had in any previous apartment.  They are quite resourceful when creating storage space.  The bed was queen sized but the pillows were flat, hard and square; very awkward and uncomfortable.  I bring my own little memory foam pillow so I wasn't as uncomfortable as Woody.
View looking South towards the Champs de Mars
Walking along Avenue de La Bourdonnais.

You are going to see many photos of the Eiffel Tower, it seemed to be everywhere.  Even after 8 visits, I do not tire of looking at it.

After arrival, our first task was buying some staples (eggs, milk, bread, raspberry preserves,paper towels and Coke).  The Franprix, the local supermarche, was only 2 doors from the apt...very convenient.  Since it is on 2 floors, it seemed very roomy.  There was an elevator to the lower level, which I never saw.  My job was to get the items on the upper floor and Woody went down.   We have our own tote bags for carrying the groceries to the apt.
After Franprix, it was off to Rue Cler for the fruit and pastries.

I love the produce stands. Everything is arranged so creatively.  We got some fresh squeezed orange juice and bananas.  Then bought our pastries across the way at the boulangerie.  I eat Pain au Chocolat (flaky pastry with bits of chocolate inside) and Woody usually gets Chaussons aux pommes (an apple filled beignet).

Having our chores done, we rested a bit before going out for dinner. Our routine includes a walk after dinner, usually down to the river.
This is the view of the  Eiffel Tower from the promenade along Quai Branly; the perfect ending to our first day in Paris.