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Friday, January 09, 2015

2014 Paris

 Paris (18 nights)  27 August - September 8th

We travelled by train from London, after saying goodbye to Arron and Ming, who were off in the other direction, to Poland.
Arriving,we took a taxi to our apartment in Montmarte,and I must admit that our initial reaction to the area, was not totally favourable. Lots of tourists and numerous tacky Shops. I had booked through House Trip and our host sounded reliable and friendly . . .  
... But after finding our apartment building, we opened the door to a very huge, clean marble entry, where a small but new elevator took us up seven fights of stairs to our roomy, bright apartment.......with views to Sacre Coeur cathedral, all lit up, looking spectacular and only a stone throw away......we were sold. 

Despite it being after 10 pm, our lovely host met us, walked us around the neighbourhood, organised to take us to Chantilly Castle on Thursday, and then left us with numerous suggestions and reading material.

After he left us, We ventured straight back out to procure groceries and take another look around the neighbourhood ... But already being after 11pm, we didn't stay out too much longer.

Our apartment - building on the left, top floor . . .

Today we explored our surroundings . . art galleries, clothing shops and interesting cafes.
Late in the afternoon we meandered up the road, visiting the small shops.... And of course we found the most delightful shop with designer jewellery ... 


Brianna found a Lea Stein Red fox brooch to add to her collection and I could not resist a very beautiful red dragon and a wise owl . . .
However, the funky necklace by Marion Godard was the icing on the cake . . .

Walking Paris wearing Marion Goddard

Then we caught the fermicular up to Sacre Coeur. There was a puppet show and man playing guitar, and singing to hundreds of people sitting on the stairs and grass. 

As night arrived, the building looked majestic all lit up, with the city twinkled down below.. 

We enjoyed a very late night out, having a delicious meal, at a restaurant our host recommended....while I recounted the story I am currently reading called, 'The hundred year old man who climbed out the window, and disappeared', by Jonas Jonasson - we laughed and laughed!

Today we tackled the Lourve. What a shambles. It is an enormous building so full of stupendous works of art that it has been said, 'that if you spent 3 seconds in front of each work, you would still not be finished viewing everything after three months.' I believe it. I was granted a viewing, up close and personal, to the Mona Lisa. One on one...incredible! (Why I was so very privileged is a Long story....) Quite a lady is Mona! Especially when you are only a little over a meter away.


After lunch we did the river Seine cruise before returning to Montmarte, for a wee bit more shopping, and a meal at a French restaurant.....recommended by the French. 
  We are enjoying this apartment. Initially we intended to split our time between here and another place . . .so pleased we stayed. We love coming back to the high wooden beamed ceilings, two roomy bedrooms, both with large windows, wooden floors, Turkish carpets, and a high level of comforts. . . . 

 Next day saw us taking the metro to the Clignancourt markets. Once again our initial reaction was one of disappointment, but after walking through a few blocks of rubbishy nick nacks, we hit the antiques ...      

Had an enjoyable lunch . . . bought a few smaller items . . and found some things we loved.

Cameron was soooooo pleased we are some 9000 miles away and I could not ask him to lug home the 12 Foot, solid olive wood, 400 year old table. ... Art Deco lighting and 7 foot tall Venetian mirror, that were amongst the items I coveted. 

As most galleries are closed on Tuesdays, and there was a slight drizzle, we ventured to Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

What an incredibly impressive structure. 

After looking inside, I was deposited at a cafe to enjoy a cafe latte and a crepe with Nutella and Chinchilly cream . . . while Brianna and Cameron made the climb to the top of the building.

I was envious of their ability to see the view of Paris from such a height, but not prepared to climb the 387 steps to join the gargoyles and Quasimodo.

Now it is 11.45 pm and we have arrived back at our apartment, to sip our Baileys over ice cream, and watch Harry Potter, in French ..... Very amusing!

So, to date, I am seriously impressed with Paris, and full of high expectations for the next two weeks.....

What a glorious way to spend a day. . . . 

 Chantilly Castle is a fine example of 18 th century architecture, with lavish interiors and an extensive art collection. Works in the art gallery (many of them are in the Tribune Room) include Sassetta's Mystic Marriage of St. Francis, Botticelli's Autumn, Piero di Cosimo's Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci, Raphael's Three Graces and Madonna of Loreto, Guercino's Pietà, Pierre Mignard's Portrait of Molière as well as four of Antoine Watteau's paintings and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's Le concert champêtre. Other paintings in the collection include works by Fra Angelico, Filippino Lippi, Hans Memling, 260 paintings and drawings by François and Jean Clouet, Veronese, Barocci, Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, Salvator Rosa, Nicolas Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, Van Dyck, Guido Reni, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Joshua Reynolds, Eugène Delacroix, Ingres, Géricault.

So why is this place not better promoted, I do not know ... But on a purely selfish note, I was secretly pleased, as we had an almost private tour.

Then we meandered throughout their gardens to settle in the hamlet of houses built for Marie Antoinette. We indulged in Chantilly cream with Apple pie, Chantilly cream with fruits and Chantilly cream with Chantilly cream .... Yah! I hear you, but when in Chantilly . . . .

Then to wear off all that cream we meandered around the gardens, did some dancing and fed the swans, until they kicked us out at 7 pm. A short taxi ride and then train trip and we were back in Paris in time for dinner .....

We all agreed, that for us, it was a highlight of our France/Paris trip. Delightful! 
Thank you Olivier.
Today saw us taking the metro to the heart of Paris, to the Tuileries Gardens, to the Musée de l'Orangerie, which offered us a poetic and artistic presentation of two prestigious collections .... To everyone of you who insisted I must see this, and his garden ... You are so right!

Water Lilies (Les Nymphéas)
And then, as if that is not enough .
We viewed the Walter-Guillaume Collection
This collection was the intellectual project of art dealer Paul Guillaume and his wife Domenica. It is a unique collection illustrating the creative work of the first decades of the 20th century. A friend of Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob, he provided support to Picasso, Soutine, Derain and Marie Laurencin as well as taking an interest in their predecessors, particularly Renoir and Cézanne. Guillaume's premature death in 1934 prevented his dream of transforming his private collection into a museum of modern art from being realised. His wife completed and modified the collection, reorganising it around works representing modern Classicism and Impressionism, before transmitting it to the French State in 1960. An interesting collection.
Wait there is more ...
 Then we walked along the Seine river, to the Eiffel tower, where we sat on the grass having a picnic of French delicacies, until just before sunset, and then ventured up to the top. . . . What a view!
We stood mesmerised as we watched Paris glow by sunset, and then made our way back down in time to see the lady lit up by thousands of twinkling lights.

We got a taxi back to Montmartre in time for Brianna to join her friends for an evening drink, while we wandered off for a romantic meal, finished off with glasses of rich ice cream with Baileys poured over top....... Good for the digestion!

A very Magical way to end another incredible day!

Next day Versailles.

Roaming through the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, you do feel an incredible sense of history and ... So very insignificant. We kept commenting ... 'No wonder the people rebelled!' And then, 'imagine how gorgeous it would have looked full of people opulently dressed!'

Sooooo much excess. . . Though, admittedly it makes a gorgeous museum and tourist attraction. The gardens are immense and heavenly, with the flowers, sculptures and pipped music. You could spend a portion of each day to explore the individual garden rooms, and still find something new to discover.  

I thought Brianna was appropriately attired to dance through the rooms and halls. . . If not in full excess of skirts, at least in colour!

The fabrics were amazing - A hang of curtains would be at least 18 feet ... And they were no ordinary drapes!


Then to top it off, we ventured through to Giverney to Monet's Home and Gardens. WOW! 

No wonder the man was happy to paint the same vista over, and over again. 

At each step, and every glance a new spectacle awaited.

I wished to stay and paint ..... And stare, and stare and then maybe paint some more. Mmmmm heavenly. I said to Cameron, Why can,t our Dam at the Roo look like that? He made some dry comment about insufficient water .... Excuses! Excuses!

We visited a quaint French restaurant for tea, and then wandered home via Sacra Coeur. I do like the cobbled, winding roads, and the interesting architecture. 
 Today we wandered the streets of Paris.
Finally as Paris got dark, we disembarked, to watch the Tower sparkle, and then, for the final time, we left the bus near the Opera area - to hear the night concert, and then walked the streets . . until I could not take another step and needed a taxi home to bed.
On the walk, we called in at The Lindt cafe .... Oh! Another couple of pounds .... Then tried to work it off by walking, until I could not take another step. Taxi home.... Had to drink some more baileys, as had two large bottles, and it had to be over ice cream . . 

 Today we ventured through the Musee d'Orsey.  

Another great meal .... I am sooooo enjoying the carafes of house red, served in ceramic jugs ... The food I do not have to cook .... And the desserts!. My God! the French know how to end a meal in style ... Oh! And the glasses of liqueur, as a digestive, at the end ....

I think There is an awful lot to be thankfully for!

Today saw us in the cemetery, and though that may sound morbid Yah! And maybe it is.?   But - It was fascinating. 

We spent hours meander throughout the myriad of pathways between tombstones, which were more like sculptures. It was peaceful and intriguing. I could not resist taking some photographs, with slow exposure, into the tombs ... And was amazed at the furnishings 
inside. Beautiful!

We then made our way by, tube/metro, to Luxembourg gardens for the afternoon, where it was so much the opposite... Crowds of People playing, laughing, playing music, drinking and eating. We pulled up chairs in front of the fountain pond awash with sailing boats, in hearing of the orchestra, and ate our picnic of delicious confectioneries and pastries.  


Then onto the Hop on - Hop off bus.... We boarded early to get front seat on upper deck, with uninterrupted views. Did the four separate areas with periods off the bus for lunch at Notre Dame, where they make the most incredible crepes . .. We then walked along the Seine on the small Island, explored the Latin Quarter and then at 7 pm when they kicked us off, we made our way back to Montmarte, for another delightful meal.  How can each day be sooooo gorgeous.  
Thank you to my wonderful family for bringing me here, and to Paris for her glorious weather, and many delights, and to The French people for being so delightful . . . .  

Bri had a full day wandering the streets looking into the small Parisian shops, while I dragged Cameron through more galleries. . . . And then we met up for a lovely 'last'evening meal, full of sadness that she was leaving us, but happy that we had shared such an incredible time in London and Paris together . . .
Cameron and I feel so very fortunate, to be able, to share this magical time, with both our adult children .... What memories! Beautiful! Thank you, to both of you. Xxx

We have wandered around the Streets of Paris .. Stopping in to see Saint Chapelle ...

It is incredible! You walk in on the lower floor and go WOW! ... But then you walk up the stairs ... All 32 steep, winding steps, and there she is in all her glory. (Thank you Ann for insisting I 'must' see her.)

 Yet again we boarded the Hop on - Hop off bus.... getting off to revisit the places and sights we have enjoyed.                                  

Now today we will meander the streets of Montmartre. . .call into our favourite bakery for a leisurely breakfast, then onto our lovely Jewellery man, to pick up earrings, we ordered to be made, (Bri, I did not forget yours!) We looked at the work in the small Ateliers high up on the hills above the village and eat gelato .... And then did the very French thing of sitting in a cafés people watching ..... As you do, in Paris.

Yes! We will be sorry to leave Paris .... But, on the other hand, Greece does look like it should be OK! .... And to be honest, I think Cameron has had just about enough of the Impressionists . . . . .me, never!