Canada, France · 34 Days · 254 Moments · September 2016

France 2016

16 October 2016

En route to YVR. Meh. A la prochaine, Paris et la France. Je t'aime.

15 October 2016

Happy place. ❤️
The perfect picnic spot. Médici fountain. Jardin du Luxembourg.
A stroll through the Luxembourg garden. To a favourite spot. Médici fountain.
Place Furstemberg. Pretty square.

14 October 2016

Pont Alexandre III. In the rain. Romantic.
Petit Palais. French art. Free! Oui!
Petit Palais. Bonjour to my newest Parisian favourite...... Architectural jewel. Feminine. Sensual. Ouiiiiiii !
Le Penseur. The Thinker.
Rodin's Gates of Hell
Musée Rodin.
Loveliness at the maison Ralph Lauren.

12 October 2016

Karl Lagerfeld. Of course you can't tell...... But as we exited the Ritz who was crowding our path?? None other than the Monsieur of Chanel himself... It was a photoshoot and Karl was the one taking the photos. Or, more accurately Karl stood by in his sunglasses and crisp white collar whilst the model (Kristen Stewart), lighting and camera were all set for him. And voilà, Karl clicked the shutter.
Ritz Paris. When you pop in to the Ritz you don't take a photograph. Except when the Madame is ringing in your bill and you steal a snap of the haute arrangements des fleurs. Fantastique ! Ten years to the day from our Imperial Suite wedding, I finally secured the famous Ritz apricot terry bathrobe I've been pining over since I wore it that day...... Yay! And a bottle of Ritz Rothschild Champagne to accompany us. Parfait ! {Bathtub photo from 2006. Wearing said iconic robe. Happy memory!}
Dani Roses. Always an eyeful. Overflowing rose opulence.
Place de la the city lights switch on for la nuit. Enchanting.
Harry Winston. Yes please.
Hotel Plaza Athenée. Made even more famous by Carrie staying here in the series Sex & The City. Abundant flower boxes!
The terrace café at the museum is closed for renovation. But! It's on the list for a return visit to sip a boisson and admire the view.....
Scale models of particular Haussmann buildings. This one is at 1, Blvd St Michel.
Plans for Paris that never (thankfully) transpired.
Excellent vantage point of the Eiffel Tower from the Architecture Museum.
Architecture museum.
Architecture museum. In the palais at the Trocadero. Full size castings of thousands of important architectural pieces.... From complete cathedral portes to statuary and also scale maquettes of entire structures. Incredible. How did they ever take the moulds??? It is an astonishing amount of labour ....three sets of moulds, ten painting it to look like stone. Of course, now the museum serves a critical role should any of these ancient buildings suffer damage. There's a copy to reference!
Musée des Arts Decoratifs. Brimming with beauty from the decorative arts.... Furnishings, artworks, accessories, housewares..... Eye candy.
Pont des Arts as the sun dips...... Best. The willow tree at the very tip of the Ile-de-Cité has grown! It was freshly planted the year we were married ❤️ 2006. Now, at ten years old, she cascades to the river Seine and sways in the breeze. Lovely.
At Paul on the rue de Buci. Monster macaron..... With powder sugar as decorative touch :)
Marché de Buci

11 October 2016

A la carte custom shoes. Parfait !
le Moulin de la Galette
Strolling the *butte* of Montmartre. Home base for les artistes. Le Consulat. Place du Tertre.....
Dans le Metro. Astonishing how many subway tiles there must be throughout the whole system of tunnels.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Hello little friends. I cannot and do not support game hunting. I do, however, support learning about our fellow creatures. Life is a paradox, non?
Hipster heaven.
Print shop with a window contrasting the old with the contemporary. Mechanical vs machine. Rather different.
Lime. Glazed loaf. Pretty.
Merci, street front café.
Inside *Merci* concept store.
The happy courtyard of Concept Store *Merci*. What a fun shop. Filled with carefully selected goods.... From tiny cuff links to tailored shirts, 100% linen linens ;) to wool coats, enamelled crockery, jadeware, and a café for a Croque Monsieur. A treasure.

10 October 2016

Le Notre Dame. Standing gracefully under a waxing moon.
Centre of France. Point Zero, in front of le Notre Dame cathedral. The spot from which all road distances are measured in France.
Raining when you make a purchase from a reputable shop? Do not worry. Equal care is taken in ensuring the packaging is preserved. Merci, Longchamp Paris.
In the Cave des Vins at le Bon Marché. These printed concrete tiles are *de rigueur* and everywhere in France right now. Upon closer inspection these blue beauties are a heavy weight printed vinyl -- temporary.... whilst the fashion lasts. Clever Devils. Love it. True tiles like this would be lovely on a sunny loggia.
And taking the sun in the day. Les Deux Magots Café.

9 October 2016

Les Deux Magots. Iconic literary café on the Left Bank. Still buzzing at night.
Louis Vuitton window display at St. Germain des Près....... Floating spheres painted in a planetary style. L'arte !
Most snazzy little garçon ever. Look at this kid. Vermillion cords, proper tweed jacket, perfectly tied scarf, super sharp haircut, trendy spectacles, and wonderfully tidy shoes. At the flea market. Love it.
Trolling the Paris flea market Les Puces. Easy to understand why it is known the world over...... Beautiful antiques, bric-a-brac and such. Massive: it covers multiple city blocks. ......Never seen anything remotely like it! Big smile!

8 October 2016

A whole store for Moleskin. :)
Bonjour Paris, I've missed you ❤️
En route to Paris

7 October 2016

Black marble road curbs. Yes.
Crêperie Louise. A crêpe parfait. Avec roasted chicken, pommes de terre, and a lovely sauce fromage. Recommended!
Bibliotheque. We returned to the library today to peek inside. Art Deco delight! I can easily imagine Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot investigating theses rooms.
Fun brightly coloured trams zip along the cobbles or on grassy boulevards.
dp Home by Flamant. Concept store. Most best. Awesome. Favourite. Brilliant. Want to live inside this store. Masters at their art of interior architecture & design. I finally found the taxidermy peacock I've been visualizing. They have all kinds of bits. Accessories. Textiles. Furnishings. Curious items like moss under a microscope, nautilus shells, taxidermy birds, crystals, lighting, interior paint, table wares. Weeeeee! This building is one of only 70+- that survived the war unscathed, so it is a rare gem. With original wood floors, plaster mouldings, pretty doors and hardware. Each room presents curated items..... Like a most wonderful residence. Yes!!!

6 October 2016

Château de Boursault We stopped in to their Bureau ..... For a tasting. Bought a bottle. The young man offered to let us walk the grounds and peek around the château. Private château not open to the public. But! According to the young man, it can be rented for <les fêtes>. Hooray!
We spied this château from the other slope of the valley yesterday....... We googled. We drove here today to investigate. Oh, what a treat. Château de Boursault.
Art Deco masterpiece for their public library. Closed for lunch. :( Boo for me, awesome for them.
The city of Reims has fun colours for their trams and buses. Hot pink. Turquoise. Green. Lavender. And best of advertisements.

5 October 2016

Valley of future bubbles.
A few famous plot stones here and there. Moët & Chandon
Toodling along the Route de Champagne..... Through historic little villages and rolling hills covered in a patchwork of glorious green vines. Love this land.
Down in the chalky cellars and tunnels of Taittinger Champagne. -18 meters. Millions of bottles ageing. This small cave with the sign..... Holds 72,000 bottles alone. Wowsa. Their 2016 harvest is done. 800 hand pickers. One week. Lots. Of. Grapes.
Cathedral getting a little work done..... The scaffold is mind bogglingly tall..... Hoisting up and down building materials via rope. Good lord. Bless this work.
Reims Cathedral-- where all the kings of France were crowned. Fancy schmancy towering architectural wonder. We walked the aisle and received our crowns, too. Except ours were invisible to most ;)

4 October 2016

Popping in to Dijon...... to eat our homemade sandwiches somewhere new and interesting en route to Champagne region.
Cistercian abbey. Monks always knew how to make the best wine.
A little *French Breakfast* before heading north to Champagne.

3 October 2016

Burgers. Assembled. In the grocery store. Yuck.
Château de Pommard--from a distance across the vineyard.....and in the courtyard. Lovely feeling, so well cared for. Had a tour and tasting.
The Cook's Atelier. Delightful kitchen to table philosophy with cooking workshops on market days (Wednesdays & Saturdays). Such a great vibe. And brilliant marketing.
Rock shop in Beaune. Too bad our hours didn't line up..... looks like they have some big juicy crystals!
Hôtel-Dieu -- A hospital for the poor since 1442...... In continuous service for 500 years. Incredible. Founded by a visionary, big-hearted, well-funded man - Nicolas Rolin. Bless him.

2 October 2016

La Rochepot - castle tucked into the gentle slope of the Cote d'Beaune countryside and vineyards.
Around town. Wonderful antique mirror restoration shop.... Antiques......Gigantic hanging flower baskets ...... Colourful French bulldog installation at the carrousel......
Town gate -- Beaune. From 16th century. And some snapshots from around the ramparts of this lovely little gem.
Little courtyard of our home.

1 October 2016

Heart of Burgundy. Evening stroll around old town centre of Beaune to get our bearings...... This is our roost for the next few days.
Delightful countryside en route to Burgundy.
Gardens of Fontainebleau
Artistry in the details. Patterns. Colours. Shine & matte. Curve & straight. Soft & sharp. Fontainebleau.
Throne room with original furnishings. The only such room in France. Fontainebleau
Now that's a library.
Sparkle at Fontainebleau
We don't do it like this. Details details. Everywhere. Fontainebleau.
We don't do it like this. Details details. Everywhere. Fontainebleau.
Gallery of Fontainebleau. The wood paneling and frescoes and paintings do combine to lovely effect.
Fontainebleau. Because Napoleon babies *needed* excessively decorated cradles. Of course.
Napoleon fancied rocks, evidently. Table inset with all kinds of crystals and stones.

30 September 2016

Rosy. Shop dog. Stoic guard at first...... Utter her name and she sweetened and came for a snuggle.
Gardens of Château de Cheverny
Château de Cheverny Good feeling here.... That of a family home, despite the scale.
Château de Cheverny interiors. Somehow, despite the grand details, it feels warm and real in here, like a Home. Not austere, but livable ❤️
Marzipan edible artlettes (I'm pretty sure that's not a word, but it is now: art + little/cute= artlette).
Here, when they have "exposed beams" it's a centuries-in-the-making story......and we call it a design *feature*. What a treat.

29 September 2016

Château de Chenonceaux..... From the footpath on the opposite side of the river Cher.
Château de Chenonceaux Approach.
Break for a boisson.
Acres of gardens to observe nature.
Clos Lucé kitchen. Leonardo was a vegetarian.
Hologram movie of da Vinci explaining his 'new' painting. (A copy, obviously)
Da Vinci's study. Cabinet of curiosities filled with all sundry of items.... Shells, crystals, machines, bones, taxidermy, Platonic solids....... Happy discoveries. An invitation to creativity. On the shelves - his atlases and dictionaries, manuscripts. And what an excellent desk!
Atelier (studio & workshop) of da Vinci
Minou of Clos Lucé
The bedroom of da Vinci and where he passed on. Perhaps the cat could tell us more..... Snoozing on a "Do Not Touch" velvet chair.
Clos Lucé -- the house of Leonardo da Vinci for his final three years. Patron King François I invited him to carry out his art and engineering without worry. Dream. Do your work. Brilliant.
Maison dated 1646. -- Amboise.

28 September 2016

Final burial place for Leonardo da Vinci. -- (Or so they claim). Regardless, this chapel, St. Hubert, is brimming with da Vinci energy. Beautiful. Curious. Awe. And filled with the scent of white lilies. Abundance.
Long and mesmerizing views from the château's Italian gardens. Great balls!
Château d'Amboise in the setting sun.
Hello from the Château d'Amboise! The Loire river is looking rather regal this golden evening. I'm sure the ballooners up high are enjoying a magnificent flight.
Mr. Boots and the king's throne. For reals!
Hot air balloons over Amboise. -- On the list for next time! Surreal.
Trying to determine what *century* our building is from..... The clock tower dates to the 1400's. We are on the original street leading up to the château...... How many hooves, how many carriages and kings have passed through here!? Fascinating. Amboise.
Amboise. Our next roost. Ambient. Ancient. Lovely!
Massive. Grand. Regal. Inviting. Ancient. Wise. -- Cedar of Lebanon. Notice the scale.... The trunk makes the vehicles look miniature. Incredible.
Town Hall, Tours.
Cathedral, Tours. Extraordinarily luminous.

27 September 2016

Very good friend patiently awaiting a little snack upon our return this afternoon.
Towering ancient trees. Oh how glorious they are! Hello friends! !
Château Azay le Rideau
Château Azay le Rideau
Under (re)construction. Up in the roof.... Look at the scale of those beams! See the master carpenter at work. This makes me SO HAPPY. Giddy, hand clapping for me!! Some people might be upset to visit a landmark and see it under renovation and scaffold.... Not me. I am thrilled! Doing the work! Mastery. Craftsmanship. Carrying on long held and high functioning tradition. We don't have this in Canada, do we? Master slate roof tilers? No. Charpentiers protected by UNESCO? No. This is brilliance. -- Château Azay le Rideau
Château Azay-le-Rideau
Château de Villandry -- Yes there are fish in the moat-- those big fat kind with the round mouth, who come up to the surface and seem to gasp for air.... The interiors are not over the top, but rather, a "family home" ;) It was the colours and fabrics and patterns and floor parquets that most intrigued me. Why are we so often so boring in North America?
Black pearl poivre-peppers. Incredible.
Magical garden goodness. -- Château de Villandry
Jardins of Château de Villandry
Goofs. -- Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry -- château & Jardins
There are fresh flower (& veggie) arrangements throughout the château as you tour.... All 100% real and all 100% mind bogglingly beautiful.
Château de Villandry. -- Interiors

26 September 2016

Two of my most favourite new friends ❤️
Château de Brissac
Arrival on the lawn whilst we toured. Quite handy to be able to land your helicopter at your front door.
Château de Brissac. Portrait gallery. The scale is just massive, massive.
Interior garden. Notice the family's pup. This is a private "house" still lived in by the same Brissac family for centuries.
Interior. Salon, old kitchen, salle a manger. Incredible chandeliers! Amethyst on the dining room fixture. Weeee!
Knock knock.
Château de Brissac Tallest château in France..... With a lovely 'parc' and great big trees
In Brissac-Quincé..... Pretty combination of ivy, geraniums and trailing vines.
Abbaye de Fontevraud cloister.
Entering the cloister. They call it the inner garden, representing the centre of the soul. Sacred.
Master stone carving.
Quartz staff (copy) that the founder man used. Yahhhh!!!
Abbaye de Fontevraud
Abbaye de Fontevraud. Founded in 1100 by a chap named Robert but always lead by..... A woman! The Abbess. Excellent.

25 September 2016

Helpful friends.

24 September 2016

Stone cottage for the next few days. Loire Valley.
Fields upon fields. Grateful. Necessary. And a drive in my prairie homeland :) -- except for the road trees.
Bon matin, grapes!

23 September 2016

Château de Tertre
Château de Tertre
In the 'loo...... Should one need to take a moment's pause. ;)
Château de Tertre, a grand cru classé Margaux...... Our roost amidst the vines for the night.
Bordeaux historic centre-ville. So chic.
Rental car had a warning French. Hertz sent us to a garage..... It needed a diesel additive, Adblue. The helpful Speedy Monsieur took care of it. En route encore.

22 September 2016

One of our windows flung open for the evening air. Ahhhh yes!
St Émilion grand cru classé -- Stone walls divide the cru. Grapes are still on! Car temp showed 31C today. Warm and sweet up those grapes!
St Émilion
St Émilion
St Émilion. It's like browsing the shelves of a fine wine shop...... The village seems to be in the middle of nowhere, and yet upon entering the town walls, tourists abound! They scuttle around like chickens in a farm yard...... Except these ones are clucking quite a lot, are a pinch too loud, wearing too much makeup and have stiletto heels(!?!!!).
la belle vie.
Le bon, bon matin.

21 September 2016

Sunset deluxe.
Happy happy happy beautiful happy happy!! The macaroons match the historical toile! Parfait. Château de Mirambeau
Arrivée ! Château de Mirambeau Happy happy people!
Very excellent reward after trés boring long drive ❤️ Château de Mirambeau
Boring 5 hour drive to Bordeaux. . . .
Goat and ram ;)
From the tippy top of the castle keep...... Fort la Latte
Fort la Latte
Fort la Latte. A proper castle on cliffs, towering above the sea. Complete with draw bridges, dungeons, gardens, chapel, castle keep, aaaaand.......chickens & goats! Yay!

20 September 2016

Seaside agrumes & croque Monsieur :) Most. Best. Ever.
Swimmers and tiny ships plying the sparkly waters of the tidal pool. Fun!
Dans la ville..... St Malo
A little info plaque (which I failed to photograph) tells us this is likely the oldest maison in St Malo.
Toodling in the Intra Muros (inner walled city) of St Malo. And yes, unicorns are real. Finally, a town that recognized the facts.
Peek a boo
St Malo. Parfait. Helpful little info:
Ahhhgck! It is divine! St Malo, we loves you! The sea shifts colour from turquoise to emerald.... the sand is perfect sable.... Mon dieu !
Looking back across the bay to Dinard.
On the ramparts of St Malo. The light is luminous milky gold! Happy happy!
Approach from the sea to St Malo
Sailing to St Malo
Taking the Corsaire foot passenger ferry across the bay to St Malo. What a magnificent morning!
Texture in Dinard.

19 September 2016

Evening stroll in Dinard......noticing well-to-do Brits around here. They've got this figured out. Such a great seaside town!
Dinard seafront: Tidal public pool. Simple genius.
Belle Époque real estate, anyone?
Checked in at our (French hipster?) hotel St Michel in Dinard, across the bay from St Malo.... For exploring a demain.
Fuzzy friend. "Minou minou !"
Feeling light! Le Mont St Michel
Le Mont St Michel !
St Michel abbey interior. The single arched massive room is the Refectory, where the monks dined. Stunning slivers of stained glass line the walls (only visible straight on, thanks to the incredible depth of the stone walls). The room with all the columns and gothic arches is the Scriptorium. Yes! The SCRIPTORIUM! Some of the more ancient/spiritually inclined of you may have an affinity for this space 🖋📖🖌
Abbey -- Inside the Abbey at St Michel. The cloister has an mesmerizing sea view. Built up over centuries, the church is a melange of architectural styles. And the pilgrims continue to come.......
Le Mont St Michel !
First sight of le Mont St Michel..... Off in the distance. "There it is!" I gasp and point like an excited little child. View from a public garden in Avranches.
Fuzzy baby.

18 September 2016

Shells, anyone? There are a few here. Port-en-Bessin, la plage.
Seaside glide.
On the cliffs at Port-en-Bessin -- oh, what a luminous evening.... Especially for the paragliders who swoop and roll on the cliff winds. They glide over us several times, like a gull checking to see if you've got any French fries. We wave. They wave back. It's a happy close to the day.
Evening stroll round the port. The inner harbour is locked at high tide, trapping the water for the big boats to keep afloat. Timing is everything.
Château de Vaulaville....... A few minutes up the road from our roost at Port-en-Bessin. We drive up the long tree-lined lane. Alas.... C'est privée.
Carentan -- There is something magnificent about this place. I don't know what it is. I don't know the history of this town... But it feels good. I turn the corner and see a plaque on a house. It recognizes literary great Honoré de Balzac.....who wrote Le Requisitionnaire here in 1822. Maybe that has something to do with it.... Note to Self: Research on Carentan is necessary......
St Mere Eglise
LOVE blast at Utah Beach. Big beach. Big devastation. And so... Big Love was in order.
Utah Beach, Normandie
Utah Beach Museum
Angoville au Plain A heart wrenching and heart warming story unfolded in the church as D-Day and the days to come unfurled. I shall not retell it here, but suffice to say it reaffirms one's belief in the goodness of humanity. Bless those men!
Friends in the countryside. Cattle are ubiquitous in Normandie. I've never seen so many cows. No wonder Normandie is famous for its fromage! They graze on rolling green and are of every colour and size. We stop to tell them hello.
Sunday marché. Beautiful. Wonderful. Delightful.

17 September 2016

Pointe du Hoc. -- Cliffs scaled by US Rangers. Unthinkable.
Pointe du Hoc
Relieved to be back out on the natural beach.......
American Cemetery -- Again we walk to the farthest corners. I try my best to speak to each soul but something is off. The wires are crossed. There is static. In the static I hear "This is not who we are". It is too much, this place. Honour is quiet. Yet this place boasts. It is a risk to say so....but it is my truth. The service these men gave is obscured by the glossy presentation. I thank them. Each one. In my own way. Clinging. I find myself 'brushing imaginary baguette crumbs' from my sleeves, off my chest, away from my shoulders and back. It is time to go. I have to go away from here. I tell them all, "We are free," and we go.
American Cemetery -- It is vast. Manicured. A stage. After visiting the Canadian Cemetery, the difference in approaches to this sensitive history is fathoms apart.... I am grateful to be Canadian.
Juno Beach. German bunkers. Beneath 2-meter-thick walls. Mind your head. Mind your emotions.
Juno Beach Centre -- We retuned this morning for the guided tour of the bunkers and tunnel. The building shimmers bronze under the morning sun. We head to the beach and meet our guide (from Regina, Saskatchewan) at the entrance to a bunker.
Good morning. At our port.
Bon matin !

16 September 2016

As we retire to Port-en-Bessin for the evening, the clouds part and gold shines on the church. A perfect, beautiful close to a formidable day.
Series of battered gun batteries at Longues-sur-Mer. Three of the four German casemates still have guns intact--they are the only coastal artillery guns remaining in place in the D-Day region. Our guide book tells us these guns, set 300 yards inland, could fire with sharp accuracy 12 miles out to sea. --- I shudder.
A reprieve from the heaviness. Here, at the edge of Arromanches, an architectural jewel keeps watch over the sea.
Sherman tank overlooks Arromanches and Port Winston.
Port Winston at Arromanches. Ruined pieces of the artificial harbour.
Overlooking the town of Arromanches & Port Winston's ruins out in the sea. Our guide book tells us, "500 tug boats towed 115 football-field-sized cement blocks called "phoenixes" across the channel. These were sunk creating a four-mile-long breakwater 1.5 miles offshore. [We can see several still out in the sea....] Finally, engineers set up seven floating steel pier heads with extendable legs; they then linked these to shore with four-mile-long floating roads made of concrete pontoons. [The metal spans look like individual bridge decks and we see the remains of several] The port was the size of Dover, England. Within just six days of operation 326,000 troops had disembarked here." -- It's impossible for me to truly take in the scale of this operation..... The planning, the materials, the engineers, the diesel pipelines, the artillery, the troops..... We stand in the sharp wind. In disbelief.
Port Winston. On the beach at the artificial harbour created by allied forces.
Canadian Cemetery. Sovereignty.
Canadian Cemetery -- Normandy Subtle. Humble. Steadfast. Silent courage. First I weep. Then I wail deep in my bones. I walk to the far corners and speak to every soul. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I am you. I am the eternal one. The gentle Quiet comes. Peace. Peace.
Juno Beach -- The weather is unforgiving. Rain drives horizontally from the west. The wind forces one to walk at an acute pitch else risk being blown aside. Sea salt and sand stings our eyes. Rain is in our ears and up the nose. We walk the beach anyway. Our jackets are useless against the elements and I soon feel the water running down my arms inside my coat. We are pierced. We walk the beach anyway. I blink and blink again. My hair whips at my cheeks. The sand stings and stings. The camera stops working. The phone camera stops working. We walk the beach anyway.
Juno Beach Centre. Waves of emotion have been washing over me and through me since our approach to the coast yesterday, outside Caen. Here at the Canadian museum we go slowly. We read. We look at scores of photographs. We hear Hitler's voice through an antique radio. We listen to Churchill give his country the grave news that, "We are at war." We see news clips of Canada declaring war on Germany two years before the Americans do. We see up close the gear and the uniforms of our men. Every fibre in the fabric holding a story. We see helmets. Helmets punctured. Helmets of the dead. My lungs tighten. Breath stops. I try not to cry. No. Wait. This is exactly the place to cry. Salty tears drip. I have no tissues. Certain objects send me to alarm. I strain to steady my breathing. Weeping. It's my pain. It's his pain. It is his mother, his comrade, his brother. We weep together. Surges of pride move through us. Effort. Shock. Adrenaline. And we dig deep and carry on. Together.

15 September 2016

Port-en-Bessin -- our port side nest for the next four nights. At the heart of the D-Day landing beaches.
Honfleur -- the old harbour. The maisons are 7 stories high and yet the harbour retains its human scale.... Intimate. An embrace around the calm 'bassin'. Little moments unfold. An old man bails water from his small sinking vessel. Petits chiens walk on leash with their masters. Tourists drink wine and eat moules et frites at the water's edge. Charmed.
Étretat -- le vieux marché (old market hall)...... Another architectural wonder.
Ethereal Étretat
Stepping into a painting.
Étretat -- Long admired via photographs.... though I'd never made the connection that it was THESE very cliffs that so inspired all those impressionist artists... The Alabaster Coast. Luminous. And it's doing something to my cells. Electrifying and soothing them all in the same moment. Yes.
Étretat -- Manoir de la Salamandre -- a textural architectural wonderland. It might be worth staying the across the street so one could admire this gem. Fascinating.

14 September 2016

Du bière ? Oui, bien sûr....
Evidently, not all Tourist Information offices are created equal. Here, the Rouen office is a delightful ancient masterpiece.
Golden morning light.

13 September 2016

HISTORY Out for a walk. Sleeveless warm evening. Let’s try the little walking tour in Rick Steve’s book. He tells us a story about Jeanne d’Arc and how they burned her here in the place Vieux Marché (old market square). She was only 19 years old. There are ancient ruins—the foundations of thick stone walls—but Rick doesn’t tell us what once stood here. Maxine’s HermitGuides walking tour would’ve told us, had there been one available for Rouen. The value of history, of knowing the story, is making itself known. I want to know the story. I take it all in with my cells. The air is warm. My headache begins to ease off. We walk east down Rue du Gros Horloge without knowing the story.
L'HEURE BLEU The clock tower I always see on Pinterest appears. The sky is about to turn magic blue, but not yet. We walk under its carved stone arch. Further along the rue, a lacy, pierced, pointed arch appears. It must be the cathedral. It is light and airy yet carved of stone. Impossible and wonderful. The narrow street opens up to a broad square at the foot of the cathedral. This summer, each night at 21:30 there is a projected light show on the cathedral’s façade. We sit on the low stone steps. Illumination.
Arrivé. 31°C in Rouen. Bright gold September sun. Melting. Off the train… a short walk south on rue Jeanne d’Arc to the square Vieux Marche (Old Market). Half-timbered buildings. History wrapping all around and up the cock-eyed ancient walls. A garden marks the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. I can feel it in my bones even though they ache from our 16 hour journey. Around the corner we find our hotel. It honours author and literary great, Gustave Flaubert, of Madame Bovary fame. It has a 500-book guest library. Luggage dropped. A shower. Some water. A now-warm apple sauce stowed from Air France’s breakfast service. An ibuprofen. A short rest. An iPhone alarm so we don’t sleep the afternoon away. Beep beep beep. Off to walk in history.
Touched down in Paris. Now en route again... Train from St Lazare station to Rouen

12 September 2016

Awaiting our Air France flight out of YVR Vancouver