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France - rolling trip report (in other words, Dear Diary)

Arrived In Paris yesterday, noonish. Walked to the Parc Monceau. From paintings I’d seen, I somehow expected it to be dark and gloomy, or at least somber. But no! It has to be the most fun park I’d ever visited. There were tiny children riding ponies, older children fiercely playing soccer, teenagers doing martial arts, an older couple walking their cat (very successfully), a retro wedding, and on and on. Even in my jetlagged state, it was a blast. I hadn’t intended to visit any museums that day, but there was the Musée Cernuschi (Asian art), it was free, so in I went, and it was lovely. I also located the Musée Nissim de Camondo for later in the week. Then, I walked Avenue Hoche down to the Arc de Triomphe. Large. Very large.
Today: visited the Palais Garnier. I hadn’t realized that the Chagall mural was in the auditorium, occupying most of the ceiling. I enjoyed that, and also the grand salon along the front of the building, and the library. Glad I saw the place, but may have fulfilled my grandiosity quota for the week. Then headed south, went around the Louvre, took the wooden footbridge across the Seine. That may have been my ‘I’m really here’ moment. The river looked glorious, and there were a couple of tour boats going through, one of them blasting a famous aria. Then visited the Luxembourg Gardens. Ahhh! Enjoyed the Medici Fountain, the sailboat pond, the lavishly planted lawns, on the sides… might need to go again. Then visited the Musée de Cluny - very wonderful, and the Institut du Monde Arabe, which I enjoyed a lot, albeit with insufficient understanding of what I was seeing. Wanted to see the Stravinsky Fountain at the Pompidou, but it’s closed for repairs. I should mention that this was all on foot. I’ve inquired about bus logistics for future reference. Paris - very big. Very confusing.
For tomorrow, my plans include Sainte-Chapelle, l’Orangerie, the Tuilleries, and I’ll take it from there. To be continued…

Posted by
8671 posts

Wow you’ve done a lot already! Hopefully you’re taking it all in, not just seeing places.

I use Google Maps in Paris for busses, métro and walking. Super helpful.
Some people like CityMappers app.

Posted by
1211 posts

You are covering a lot of ground and visiting my favorite places in my favorite city!
Enjoy!!! And please keep posting.

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 3: tried to take the bus to near Sainte-Chapelle (allowed an hour for the trip), but it had been rerouted due to road work, I didn’t have a handy way to find it, so I walked awhile, then took the metro from Sainte-Lazare to the Orsay. If it weren’t for the spectre of COVID, I would have felt fine about the metro, but it was awfully sardine-like. I just kept thinking ‘I’m wearing an N95, I’m quintuply vaxxed’… Still a 20-minute walk to Sainte-Chapelle, but enjoyably so, along the river. I hadn’t realized that there is so much Seine-side book selling - how charming is that? Anyone know how that tradition came to be? Anyhow, I was 45 minutes late for my Sainte-Chapelle reservation, so I just got into the non-reserved line, which wasn’t too terrible. It looked much worse later. Sainte-Chapelle really surprised me. It’s much smaller and more intimate than I expected, and having to climb the skinny spiral staircase up to it gave it a secret treasure feeling for me. Has anyone been to one of their concerts? Bet the acoustics are amazing.
After that, walked back along the river to my new favorite bridge, the wooden one behind the Louvre. Then went into the Louvre’s courtyard, and had fun people watching and photographing the pyramids, etc. Then continued on to the Tuilleries, and had my second installment of eating lunch in a park (yesterday’s was in the Jardin Luxembourg). I love that there are all those chairs in the parks, so people can plant themselves in front of their favorite thing to look at. My favorite discovery in the Tuilleries is that they’re doing special Bicentenary gardening in honor of Jean-François Champollion, who discovered how to read Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822, and subsequently founded the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre. The colors of the plants are reminiscent of depictions in Egyptian art works, and there some actual Egyptian plants included (I spotted some papyrus). I think this might be city-wide; I spotted similar plantings at the Jardin Luxembourg yesterday, and will keep an eye out in other gardens. I love it when people are honored for fairly obscure things. EDIT: Read up further - actually, the celebration is nation-wide. Also, what I really love is that Champollion’s accomplishment is not considered obscure in France.
Final big event for the day was visiting l’Orangerie. The Waterlily paintings rocked me to the core. Tears were shed. A lot of people were taking dopey selfies, which was annoying. I found myself looking for how to really absorb and appreciate the paintings, and then I saw a man walking slowly around the entire perimeter of the room next to the safety railing, looking at every detail of all the paintings. So I tried that. Yes. The thing is, according to conventional wisdom (especially if you’ve seen ‘Clueless’), that’s much too close to be looking at Impressionist paintings, and I used to think that, but not anymore after today. Or rather, there’s definitely a place for both near and far viewing.

Posted by
1994 posts

Janis, thank you so much! Learned a new word (bouquiniste) and such wonderful history!

Posted by
5008 posts

Thanks for sharing your trip adventures with us!

It sounds like you hit the ground running, especially on your day of arrival.

I’ve added Parc Monceau to my list as we missed it the last time we were in Paris, thanks!

I don’t quite recall which app we used for getting around Paris but I think it was this one
ratp.fr

One day my daughter and I were tired of walking, so we ended up taking a bicycle taxi, it was fun!

Have you eaten some chocolate croissants, baguettes, or Berthillon ice cream?

Check this post: Best ice cream in Paris

Will continue following you along!

https://www.ratp.fr/en/itineraires

Posted by
1994 posts

Priscilla! Thanks for the ice cream ‘scoop’ (ha ha)! I was on the Île St. Louis, and didn’t actually spot Bertillon, but it seemed that at least every other restaurant had a sign bragging that they serve Berthillon ice cream.

Posted by
8155 posts

If you have data on your phone, CityMapper is by far the best, as it will notrecommend routes where buses (or metros) are not running due to temporary construction -- or due to any other difficulties, for that matter.

Posted by
1994 posts

Thanks, Kim. Unfortunately, my phone is not smart, doesn’t work in other countries, and stayed home. I did bring my iPad, but only look at it back in my hotel room.

Posted by
1994 posts

Hi again, Kim. I just realized I can use CityMapper on the iPad (duh), and it’s fantastic! Thanks!

Posted by
8671 posts

I tried CityMapper this last trip and could not figure it out 😆 So good you had no trouble figuring it out!

Posted by
1994 posts

Hi, Susan,
I Googled CityMapper Paris, and it took me right to it. (Haven’t downloaded the app, at least not yet). To use it, I put in the start and end locations I was interested in, e.g., Place de Clichy, Eiffel Tower, and it came up with all the possibilities, metro, bus, RER. Then you can click on the transportation mode you want, and it shows you the details, including a map. Very cool.

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8671 posts

Thanks Inbsig, I’ll try it again. When i tried using it i was out and about in Paris trying to get somewhere and it didn’t work at all like you describe, so i just defaulted to GoogleMaps which i know how to use.

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1994 posts

Installment 4: took the bus to the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower. Experienced life on that part of the Seine. Walked the quays, criss-crossed on the bridges. No booksellers (bouquinistes), but lots of interesting boat activity. Popular place for school groups, and people getting their steps in. Saw a fashion shoot and a wedding shoot. Located the Musée Quai Branley - maybe see it later.
Went over the Bir-Hakeim bridge to the Passy area, and over to the Marmottan museum. They are having a special exhibit ‘Face au Soleil’ honoring the 150th anniversary of Monet’s painting of sunrise over Le Havre. In addition to that painting, it shows others that demonstrate the artistic response to scientific discoveries about the Sun.
As for the Monets in the basement - I was particularly intrigued by a set that was a bequest of his son Michael. There were some from places I hadn’t realized that he had worked - Norway, the Netherlands.
Ate salmon and spinach mini-quiche in the Jardin du Ranelagh. Plainest of all the parks I’ve seen so far, but still nice.
Walked to the Musée Guimet, but alas it’s closed on Tuesdays. (Pre-trip, I wrote down all the hours of everything I wanted to go see, but must have gotten bum information about the Guimet). Will try again tomorrow.
Walked to the Arc de Triomphe, then the Parc Monceau, then back to hotel for long nap.
Oh, yeah - celebrity sighting: Sting. Mostly the back of Sting’s head.

Posted by
8671 posts

Sting!! Wow. Very cool Inbsig! Was he alone?

Posted by
1994 posts

No, he was surrounded by selfies-with-Sting takers. Had just come out of fancy hotel, did the selfies, then got into a limo.

Posted by
1230 posts

@inbsig, I am enjoying your report.
I was in Paris from Sept 2-15th. I also walked through the 16th and the Jardin du Ranelagh on my first day in the city. I also enjoyed a quiche (Aero restaurant) and the Marmottan museum. Paris will be the first European city that I will visit a second time.
Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
5008 posts

Sounds like you’re enjoying your time in Paris.

Looking forward to your next update.

Enjoy every moment!

Posted by
1994 posts

Hmm, vandrabrud, sounds like I’m following you.

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 5: took bus to the north end of the Alma bridge, near the Eiffel Tower. Walked Avenue Président Wilson to the Guimet museum of Asian art, then was temporarily waylaid by a really excellent outdoor market in the median of the Avenue. Lots of gorgeous fruits and vegetables (including white asparagus), prepared foods, clothing, etc. I got a veggie mini-quiche to supplement my breakfast, which had theretofore consisted of a pear, and also got a couple of nice scarves as souvenirs. If it’s chilly at the Honfleur harbor, I’ll be ready.
Was quite impressed with the Guimet. It’s collection is very wide-ranging and nicely displayed. Interposed with the antiquities, they’re showing works by contemporary artists. One I found particularly moving was a Buddha-like figure, very plain and minimalist- the artist had used the materials to make him look drenched, with beads of water on him. It was a memorial to those who died in the 2011 tsunami in NE Japan.
Afterwards, I walked up to the Parc Monceau again. I think it’s become my Paris happy place. I should mention that in addition to all the fun stuff going on, it has really beautiful trees, some very old, and interesting architectural and water features. Arcadian, it is. It also has very good refreshments (enjoyed some Grom hazelnut gelato with Chantilly cream), and decent restrooms :). En route, at the Arc de Triomphe, I saw a woman and a person in a dinosaur suit, crossing the street, holding hands. I got a picture.

Then, I visited the Musée Nissim de Camondo. It’s so beautiful, yet unbearably sad, knowing what happened, which I did, having read the Edmund deWaal book recommended to me here.
After a pit stop at my hotel, I ventured over to Montmartre. Walked and walked and walked and walked, and somehow found myself at the base of the green with Sacre-Cœur at the top, looking gorgeous in the late afternoon light. Took lots of pictures. Fun people-watching. Saw a boy log-rolling himself down the grassy hill, and a tiny toddler girl following a pigeon all over the place.
Tomorrow, looks like it’ll rain a lot, so a good Musée d’Orsay day, I’m guessing. Will report back.

Posted by
5008 posts

I love outdoor markets in Europe!
I always end up buying some fruit, or nuts, and a scarf too.

Thanks for posting, will continue following your adventures!

Posted by
8671 posts

Really enjoying your reports Inbsig. I love the Nissim de Camondo. But yes, a very sad ending. The Luxembourg Gardens are my favorite place on the planet so i understand how you feel about Parc Monceau, good that you found it!

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1994 posts

Installment 6: walking all day. Really feeling it (woof!). Am finding, though, that the distances are manageable as long as I don’t get lost, and purchased a much better map than the hotel one, so there’s that.
Got a late start - woke up at 9:30, but hey, I probably needed it. Walked down to the Musée d’Orsay via the Place Vendôme. This involved another wooden footbridge over the Seine, this one much larger and more elaborate. On the way, went into a bakery and bought my first pain au raisin, and my umpteenth pasteis de nata (have visited Portugal). Ate them in the Tuilleries, just as the rain was starting. Very tasty.

Got into the Orsay much more speedily than expected. Spent most of the time on the fifth floor with the Impressionists, Neo-Impressionists, and Post-Impressionists. It was so interesting to make comparisons with how different painters tackled similar scenes, or how different painters handled a particular style. One pairing I noticed was two scenes of sailing at Argenteuil, one by Monet and one by Caillebotte. Apparently, Caillebotte was an enthusiastic sailor, so he featured the boats, but Monet was all about sea and sky. As for the latter, it was very intriguing to go around the Pointillism room. I usually just think of Seurat, but there are several more Pointillists, all taking the style in different directions. On the first floor, there’s a set of three Kehinde Wiley pieces, a painting and two sculptures, all monumental. I skipped the Edvard Munch exhibit. I was taken to the Munch Museum in Norway at age 10 - scarred for life.

After the Orsay, I revisited the Jardin Luxembourg (the rain stopped just as I got there) and the Tuilleries (rain started again). Enjoyed strolling around admiring the special plantings again. I do think the Jardin Luxembourg is participating in the celebration I wrote of earlier, although the plant selection isn’t exactly the same.
I really enjoyed looking in the windows of art galleries, of which there seem to be many in that area south of the river. Also been thinking about particularly fun stores I’ve run across in my wanderings, although buying anything is highly unlikely. There is: a Le Creuset store, a Happy Socks store, a button store in Montmartre, occupied by a pretty little black and white dog, a store full of elegant 18th century clocks…
Question for all of you onlookers- tomorrow, I have an 11:00 reservation for the Louvre. Should I aim to get there right at 11:00, or would earlier be better? Thanks!

Posted by
2651 posts

I am loving your trip report/diary. I have always wanted to visit the Nissim de Camondo museum.

I can't believe you got to see Sting IRL!

FWIW, I would get to the Louvre early because every place where I have ever had a timed admission, let us in early.

Posted by
1994 posts

Thanks much, Estimated Prophet. I’ll aim to do that.

Posted by
5008 posts

Thanks for continuing to take us along your trip!

Please tell us where you've gone for lunch or dinner.

Also I’m wondering if you’re planning to visit any of the covered passages while in Paris:
Paris info.com

We didn’t get to visit them on our last trip but they look like great places to window shop, eat and stay dry on a rainy day in Paris!

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 7: went to the Louvre. Estimated Prophet, you were so right - a little after 9:00, I showed my 11:00 reservation to the man looking at reservations, and he waved me right in. (Well, first he said “Ooh la la”, then waved me in 😄). Per my plan, headed straight for the Islamic Arts wing. Very wonderful. It made my ceramics- and calligraphy-loving heart so happy. There are two levels - the upper level, the most ancient pieces, is under a tent-like canopy. One piece I particularly enjoyed was a bowl with a picture on the inside of a camel suckling her calf.

Then, went through a sculpture wing - Michaelangelo’s Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave made a big impression. Then, the French and Italian painting. I really enjoyed the early Renaissance Italian painting. There was a really wild one of a Saint emerging from a cloud to release people from prison, except it looks more like he’s jet-propelled. Only got a glimpse of the Mona Lisa - wasn’t up for battling the throng. However, I did get up close and personal with two other da Vinci paintings, Mary, Jesus, and St. John the Baptist in a grotto, and Mary, her mother St. Anne, Jesus, and a lamb. So, didn’t feel da Vinci-deprived.
Got kinda agoraphobic trying to get out of the Louvre. Had no idea there were all those fancy stores down there - it’s like a very highfalutin airport. When I was finally freed, headed to the Jardin des Plantes. Lovely place. If ever in Paris again, would like to go when it’s not raining.
More cool store sightings (out in the world, not in the Louvre): A model train store, the front of which is made to look like the side of a train car. A really spectacular flower shop, north side of the Seine.
Wanted to add: noticed today that people posing for pictures at the Louvre are making it look as if they’re grasping the top of the pyramid, much like people posing in Pisa try to make it look like they’re holding the Leaning Tower up. Aww.

Posted by
5008 posts

What a nice day you had!

I forgot to ask you the other day when you wrote this:

There is: a Le Creuset store, a Happy Socks store, a button store in Montmartre, occupied by a pretty little black and white dog, a store full of elegant 18th century clocks…

Do you recall the name of the street where you saw the button store?
My mom has been a dressmaker all of my life and I’ve always been fascinated with beautiful fabrics, lace, ribbons, thread, and buttons!

Looking forward to your next installment😉

Posted by
1994 posts

Hi, Priscilla,
I don’t know the name of the store, but I think it was either on Rue des Abesses or Rue d’Orsel. Those were the main ones I took in Montmartre.

Posted by
1994 posts

I should mention that the bracelet scam guys are still active around Sacre-Cœur in Montmartre.

Posted by
8987 posts

Priscilla, the button store is indeed on rue d'Orsel between rue Dancourt and rue de Steinkerque.

I had photos of it with timestamps/maps. It's an amazing place to visit.

Posted by
1994 posts

Oh now, EP, I’m sure you’ve been right before…

Posted by
1994 posts

Wow, Bets, I’m glad you’re familiar with that store! I not only recall the dog, but also that the buttons are grouped by color.

Posted by
5008 posts

Thanks Inbsig & Bets for the information about the button shop!

Those bracelet scammers seem to be in many cities.
Back in 2014, my mom and I had just arrived to
Piazza del Duomo in Milan and we were so mesmerized (and distracted) by the majestic cathedral that we didn’t notice the man with the string bracelets approaching us! It took him a second to tie that string around our wrists and then requesting a euro!
As we proceeded to walk towards the cathedral, there were other men with the bracelets and my mom and I showed them our bracelets and just said no.

Posted by
5405 posts

Priscilla, it may have been worth a euro to be able to ward off other scammers!

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3373 posts

I decided to go to one of my favorite local coffee shops today and have a nice quiet lunch after a super busy week. I spent my lunch reading this thread. Much enjoyed!

Posted by
182 posts

We were in Paris almost a month ago.The Kehinde Wiley sculptures in the D'Orsay were among my favorite. Then I learned that Wiley did Barrack Obama's portrait for the White House. Barrack is much more tuned into artists than myself. We both loved the sculptures. I think I did a video walking around them.

As we were walking through Tuileries Gardens we butchered the name as 2 Larry's. Once you say it that way we could not go back to the French pronunciation. We always chuckled if one of us brought up 2 Larry's

Thanks for the tour

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 8: delayed a bit due to lack of Wi-Fi in Giverny. Day of travel to Giverny was… challenging. Had my first Paris laundromat experience, which went great. No humans to advise, just buttons to press, but I figured it out. Then, there was my first French train experience, starting at Gare Saint-Lazare, which… yikes. Tried the ticket machine, which kept rejecting my credit card, and finally ate it, I think. (I was mistaken, though - must have dropped it on the floor. However, I contacted my credit card company, and they took care of it completely). So then I had to inflict my unfortunate French on a very kind security guard, to try to find out where to buy a ticket with cash, which I pantomimed by waving a 20€ bill, and finally he realized that I wasn’t asking for food, and took me to the Normandie ticket office. There, a very nice ticket agent (who looked a bit like Sting, come to think of it-see how this story all fits together?) talked me through the process. Then, after a long wait at GS-L, I was on the train to Vernon-Giverny. There, unfortunately, having been misled by my online map into thinking that it would take less than an hour to walk to Giverny, I set off on foot. TAKE YOUR ONLINE MAP ADVICE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT, FOLKS! It took 2 1/2 hours. After 2 hours, I asked directions from two college-age women, and they sprang into action, looking the B&B up online and also calling their parents. Turns out one of their moms is friends with the proprietor. Then, they walked me there. It was so extraordinarily kind of them, and I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. Thank you again, Chloe and Margaux!
Next installment: Monet House and Gardens, etc.

Posted by
1994 posts

@Mark McG - there are several Kehinde Wiley paintings at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which made it particularly exciting for me to come across his work at the Orsay. And, I hadn’t realized that he also does sculpture.

Posted by
5008 posts

Oh, my goodness, Inbsig!

Sorry to hear about the challenging day you experienced on your day of travel.

I think the days of travel were the most stressful for me (especially when solo), even without any of the issues you ran into.

You may consider booking your tickets online, and then asking the hotel to print them for you.

Were you able to retrieve your credit card?

The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing!

Looking forward to reading about your next adventure!

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 9: Giverny. Set off walking towards Monet’s house and gardens. There were scads of runners out on the Rue Claude Monet. It seemed like a special occasion, as they were dressed very similarly, but, as often happens in other countries, I never figured out what the deal was. They were a friendly bunch of runners - exchanged a lot of ‘bonjours’.

I’ve had people tell me the Gardens are better in the Spring, but I loved how they are now. ‘Hot’ and ‘cool’ color palettes, both very exuberant. Trees with fall foliage, reflected in the water lily ponds. I had no complaint. Various things I really loved: the streams feeding the lily ponds, and the meadows beyond them; the fall crocuses; the nasturtiums crowding into the central walkway to the house; the coreopsis against the sky; and on and on.

Now for weird lnbsig personality trait: I really dislike the travelers’ custom of having their picture taken in front of things, but only for myself. I never want to be photographed in front of things. However, I really enjoy it when people ask me to take their picture while they’re standing in front of things, I always agree to do it, and try to do a good job. I hadn’t been asked in awhile, I guess with the advent of selfie sticks (bleah). I was asked three times while at Monet’s lily ponds.

Anyhow, I went through the Gardens, then the House, then the Gardens again, and was very happy. I loved seeing the House as well. I love how it welcomes in the outdoors, how it hosts various art collections (the Japanese prints! The Cezannes!) I also don’t think I was the only one in awe of all the copper-clad cookware in the kitchen. I also stopped by the Church of Sainte Radegunde, and was able to look inside, which I gather doesn’t usually happen. Then saw the graves of Monet and his family.

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1994 posts

Installment 10: learned some things from travel day experiences described in installment 8, so it went more smoothly today, but learning French train travel is still a work in progress. It helped that the proprietor of my Giverny B&B very kindly drove me to the station. I had fretted about getting the bus from Le Havre to Honfleur, but that turned out to be a piece of cake. The bus station is right outside the door of the train station, the bus destinations are clearly marked, and we were underway almost immediately. Tomorrow, I’m going to go over to the Honfleur bus station and investigate how feasible it would be to take the bus to Étretat. EDIT: The bus trip involved crossing the beautiful Pont de Normandie, located just before the Seine widens out into the ocean, and the view was fantastic. ANOTHER EDIT: It was just before the bus strike happened (the lady working at the bus station told me about it), so I decided Étretat was too iffy.
After checking in to hotel, took a long walk around Honfleur. Admired the reflections in the Vieux Bassin. Sat in St. Catherine’s Church (the wooden one with the ceiling that looks like upside-down boats) and listened to some beautiful singing. Enjoyed looking in the windows of the various galleries and shops. There’s one shop that sells various kinds of salt, pepper, and mustard, and there was a big bowl of a type of pepper that looks like beads of coral. Located places I want to visit later, including the Musée Eugene Boudin and the Maison Satie.

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1994 posts

Installment 11: spent most of the day wandering around Honfleur, doing photography, making discoveries. It rained last night, and was beautifully foggy in the morning, so I did foggy harbor and boat pictures. Later, it was partly cloudy, with a good bit of sun. One of the boats I found particularly photogenic turned out to be a mini-restaurant- you can sit on board and eat oysters and drink wine. I also studied the carousel at the Vieux Bassin in depth. It’s just loaded with all sorts of images. Around the top, there are paintings of various places. At first I thought they were all in or near Paris (Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Moulin Rouge, Sacre-Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, etc.). Then I thought they were at least all in France (Étretat, Chenonceau, etc.). But then I saw one that I swear is the Golden Gate Bridge (!!!), although as usual I could be wrong. I also came across a traffic circle with a sculpture of three women harvesting mussels by hand, which was a very tough and dangerous occupation - new technology enabled it to be phased out in 1970. Speaking of mussels, I decided I had to try the famous moules frites while in Honfleur, so experienced my first restaurant meal. Since early 2020. They were in onions, white wine, and cream, and were quite delicious.

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1994 posts

Installment 12: went to the Musée Eugene Boudin. On the way, saw seafood sellers at the harbor. I liked the museum - it was interesting to see various artists’ interpretations of scenes around Honfleur. There was a very early Monet painting of Étretat. There was also some sculpture, including some wood carvings of animals. Boudin himself was all about those Honfleur skies - there’s a cabinet full of his sky studies in pastel. On the third floor, there’s a big window with a splendid view of the Seine and the Pont de Normandie. On my way back towards the harbor, heard some dynamic accordion music and followed the sound. It was live, and was part of a really sweet outdoor market in front of the St. Catherine’s Church. There were tables for fruits and vegetables, oysters, cider and cheese, and baked goods. The baked goods lady was making galettes, so I got one, and also some Normandy cider. Good lunch. That accordion player was really excellent - towards the end, he was just shredding some Scott Joplin. Went into the church again. Could probably go more times and notice different things - today, it was the many (and lovely) model boats up by the altar, and the World War I memorial. I located the Satie museum for tomorrow.

Posted by
8987 posts

The model boats are what is called a votive offering. These are given in thanks for having made it somewhere safely, such as surviving a storm or accident while out on the sea.

Posted by
1994 posts

Thank you, Bets. I kind of thought it was something like that, but wasn’t sure.

Posted by
5008 posts

I’m back to catch up on your latest adventures.

It’s good to know that Monet’s gardens are beautiful even in the fall.
You must be a gardener since you know all the various types of flowers growing there!

How kind of your B&B host to drive you to the train station. What’s the name of the B&B?

Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time
exploring Honfleur, and enjoying some great food!

Posted by
1994 posts

Hi, Priscilla,
Re: Monet’s garden: I should also mention the dahlias, asters, salvia, and others I recognized but whose names elude me. The B&B is Les Buissonnets. The proprietor has been helping Ukrainian refugees, so yes, an exceedingly kind person.

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 13: last full day in Honfleur. It appears to have rained a lot last night, and rained a little off and on this morning, which made for very dramatic skies. I was photographing the Vieux Bassin against those skies, when a rainbow 🌈 appeared, got more and more vivid, then faded away. After a happily photographic morning, I headed for the Maison Satie, picking up and eating my first ever macarons on the way. (You would think that a Great British Baking Show devotee such as myself might have tried macarons sooner, but no). They were intense, and very pleasing. The Maison Satie is wonderfully strange, or strangely wonderful. I’m not sure whether to call it a museum, or an immersion experience, or what. Certainly glad I went. Then, I walked out to the Plage du Butin, Honfleur’s beach, then backtracked to the Jardin des Personalités. What a great place! It’s a large, beautiful park with lots of views of the Seine. Scattered around are hedge enclosures in the shape of boats. You can walk into them, and they contain a plinth with the bust of an Honfleur luminary, a plaque with biographical information about the person, and some pretty plantings. The purpose of it is to teach the children of Honfleur, and newcomers, about the history of their town. I was glad to have gone when I did, because I recognized people I had encountered previously, e.g., Eugene Boudin and other artists whose work appears in his museum, and Erik Satie. Claude Monet also has a fairly large pond in his honor, and his hedge, bust, and plaque are on a little island in the pond. A day or so ago, saw loons diving in the harbor. Today, saw loons diving in Monet’s pond.

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1994 posts

installment 13: Spent the morning saying goodbye to Honfleur. (One thing that helped was finally remembering that hotels will hold luggage for you after you check out - it’s sure been awhile since I’d gone anywhere). Anyway, it was ‘bye, Honfleurian skies, tinged with the dawn… ‘bye, Vieux Bassin, with beautiful reflections… ‘bye, carousel, with happy little kids and their happy parents… ‘bye… Final act was going into one of the better marine gift shops and buying a compass as a souvenir.
After that, there was what felt like a comedy of errors getting to Chartres, but actually it was probably fairly efficient, and I got here ~6:30. One weird thing was that the person who sold me my Le Havre to Paris ticket asked for my passport, and told me I had to scan the code on the ticket when leaving the train, but I looked and couldn’t see how to do that, so I just left. Anyone know what that was all about? Anyhow, I sure hope Interpol isn’t after me now… It felt as if I had the Le Havre to Paris train all to myself - not quite, but it was very sparsely populated. Then I took the bus to the Gare Montparnasse, the one that goes through the Louvre, so that was fun to glimpse again. On the train to Chartres, I accidentally pressed the ‘help’ button with my knee, and a fellow passenger had to tell me to stop and then she explained over the intercom what was going on (oblivious American tourist alert). Finally, when I got to Chartres, I did one smart thing, which was to take a cab. Must of learned something from my Giverny B&B experience. [Update: upon leaving Chartres, I discovered that it’s actually a quick (10-15 min) and easy walk between the Hôtellerie St. Yves, where I stayed, and the train station - it really helped to have studied a map.] I just ventured out to see the light show on the surface of the Cathedral. Oh my.

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1994 posts

Installment 14: a day in Chartres. Walked over to the Maison Picassiette. It was the home of Raymond Isadore (1900-1965), a foundry- and cemetery-worker, who covered the house, a lot of the garden, and even the furniture with mosaics he made from broken plates and other found objects. It was just overwhelming and extraordinary. Wept buckets. Took pictures, although it was hard to do it justice. Bought a book. On the way back, stopped in a lovely small park beside the Eure river. On the other side of the river, there’s an enthusiastically used foot- and bike-path. Visited the Cathedral, paying a lot of attention to the Renaissance sculptures on the choir screen, depicting the life of Christ. Went to the stained glass museum - great education in how stained glass works. Room with images of the Cathedral stained glass, explaining what’s going on in each panel. Did laundry. Might go see the light show at the Cathedral again in a few minutes, if I can stay awake. (Went). Chartres is currently hosting a big mosaics conference, with exhibits all over town. The place I’m staying is hosting scads of mosaicists attending the conference. I just saw a lady in a mosaics sweater.

Posted by
5008 posts

It sounds like you really enjoyed your time in
Honfleur, and will be missing all those wonderful places you visited.

Glad to hear you made it to Chartres!

Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Posted by
1994 posts

Installment 15: first day in Chantilly. Excellent day. On the way to the Chateau and the Horse Museum, I walked by the Hippodrome. It seems to be a favorite place for people to walk their dogs. While waiting to get in, I saw a boy dropping pieces of bread into the moat, so I looked over to see a writhing mass of catfish eating the bread.

If I understand correctly, the art works in the Chateau (Musée de Condé) do not travel, and do not get moved around on the walls. The place is a testament to the taste of Henri d’Orléans, and how he arranged the paintings and sculptures works just fine. Some very memorable pieces in there. The library was particularly special for me. It’s a beautiful one to look at in and of itself, and then there are the manuscripts in cases. The star of the collection is Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. I’ve read that it is very seldom on display, since it’s so valuable, so people have to make do with an interactive computer thingie, but as I was going through I turned around, and there was the real thing! It was opened to images of the meeting of the three Magi, and the Adoration of the Magi. It was thrilling to get to see it. There was also an interesting display about the library itself. One thing I especially liked was a display of the elaborate stamps used for stamping identifying marks on the books in gold leaf.
The grounds and moat are also quite beautiful, and occupied by swans, Canada geese, and gulls. There was a herd of sheep off in the distance. Lots of venerable sycamore trees.
The Horse Museum visit starts in the Grand Stables. I would have liked to have been a lot taller for that one, in order to see the horses better. Did better with the donkeys and ponies. Then, it goes through the history of horses in relation to human life. Got to see a trainer in action with three ponies. After the training, she was handing out pony food to the little kids so they could do some pony feeding.

Posted by
2855 posts

I accidentally pressed the ‘help’ button with my knee, and a fellow
passenger had to tell me to stop and then she explained over the
intercom what was going on (oblivious American tourist alert).

I don't know how I missed your trip report entries until now. What's catching my attention are your comments that have nothing to do with the sites but with everyday life while travelling. Thank goodness for the kindness of locals to set you straight when things like this happen.

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2855 posts

Now for weird lnbsig personality trait: I really dislike the
travelers’ custom of having their picture taken in front of things,
but only for myself. I never want to be photographed in front of
things. However, I really enjoy it when people ask me to take their
picture while they’re standing in front of things, I always agree to
do it, and try to do a good job. I hadn’t been asked in awhile, I
guess with the advent of selfie sticks (bleah). I was asked three
times while at Monet’s lily ponds.

I won't get into reasons, but my wife and I are the opposite about taking a photo of ourselves in front of things, and no, we're not influencers or bloggers. However, like you I enjoy being asked to take photos of others. I must take it too seriously for some though because I'll ask questions and look for light and angles to get the best possible shot and its sometimes not appreciated.

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1994 posts

Hi, Allan, yes, thank goodness indeed! Getting from Gare du Nord to Chantilly yesterday was a total nightmare of American tourist ignorance of how to do it, but many fellow passengers were really kind to me, which helped a lot.

Posted by
1994 posts

Hi, Allan, yes, I’m like that about the photos also. One thing I learned was that people REALLY want that famous wisteria-covered bridge at Monet’s pond in the background, so I did my best.

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1994 posts

Question - at what time of night does one switch from ‘Bonjour’ to ‘Bonsoir’? I say ‘Bonsoir’, ‘cause it’s dark out 😳, but get ‘Bonjour’ as a response. Am puzzled.

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8987 posts

When it's dark out, and when leaving. No rule really, just what feels right. We could continue saying bonjour even after dark when arriving and opening a conversation. You could also say bonsoir. But once the sun is setting, and we're leaving, it's bonsoir or more commonly au-revoir.

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1994 posts

Installment 16: last full day in France (Chantilly). Walked next to the Hippodrome some more, enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, photographed an equestrian statue of Henri of Orléans against the sunrise, saw horses running what appeared to be practice races. Saw one of the same ladies walking her dog as I did yesterday. Noticed backyards of houses backing on the Hippodrome. Then went to the Potager des Princes. Pretty formal garden with statuary and a fountain, water features with ducks and swans, various farm animals. There was also a deer living with four goats, peacefully as best I could tell. One of the ducks was sporting a Lyle Lovett-style clump of feathers on his head. Every so often, a flock of bright green parrots would emerge from the parrot house and go flying around freely. There was a really adorable rabbit village, but I only saw two rabbits. There was an enclosure with several garden gnomes. One thing thing I found incongruous was that the place was decorated for Halloween - hadn’t realized it was observed in France (Bets?). Just took Covid test - negative - WHEW! I realize that it’s no longer required before a flight, but felt honor-bound to do it anyway. Once again, WHEW! Going back outside to make more discoveries. And how. I visited the Pavilion de Manse. In the olden days, it handled the hydraulics for the Chateau, including some truly spectacular water features for the gardens. The Revolution did all that in. Later, it was used for much lesser water features, and laundry, but fell into disuse and disrepair. A society formed that revived it. There’s a video using CGI to show how the Chateau gardens used to be, and how the machine that ran them was restored. So, any of you engineers out there, if you’re ever in Chantilly, you’ve got to see this. After my visit, I walked the foot-, bike-, and horse-paths along the canals, along with many other folks. One of many things I’ve enjoyed about France is that people really appreciate their waterways.

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8987 posts

Halloween isn't observed, but stores have begun selling little decorations and some people just want something fun. Instead of the eve of the 31st, November 1st, Toussaint or All Saints Day, is observed with visits to the cemetery, putting pots of chrysanthemums on the graves (don't take mum's to a living person as a gift). November 1 was the important Celtic holiday of Samain.
It's also a fall vacation weekend. A lot of outdoor dining and shops in the south, touristic areas close for the season on November 2, after people head home after the November 1 holiday. Just like Halloween, it's definitely a time marker, a countdown to the holidays (solstice).

Posted by
5405 posts

no, we're not influencers or bloggers

Allan, I suspect you don't realize how much influence you have on this Forum. I myself am always delighted when I see you've posted a new thread, and I know I'm not alone in that.

In addition, your scrapbook certainly influenced me, and when my husband expressed some doubt about that tour (Loire to the South of France), I showed him your scrapbook. He was on board instantly.

And I believe I took your advice about a hotel or B&B once, and loved it. Venice? or Chartres? Venice, I think, and we are grateful for the recommendation.

So thank you for all your contributions to the Forum.

Insbig, I don't mean to hijack your thread, but I couldn't let Allan's comment go unremarked upon. And thank you for this great trip report.

Posted by
1994 posts

Thank you, Bets. Very enlightening. And thank you, Jane. Don’t worry about a bit of highjacking - I was really glad to hear from Allan also.

Posted by
8155 posts

One of the ducks was sporting a Lyle Lovett-style clump of feathers on his head.

This must be one of the best sentences ever to appear on the Forum.

Seriously inbsig, thank you for your wonderful trip report. What a lot of thought and care you put into what you wanted to see, how you observed it, and how you wrote about it. A real pleasure to read.

Posted by
1994 posts

Thank you so much, Kim! It means a lot to me to read that. Writing up my day most nights has really been a boon to me, and will help me remember. I hope it might also steer some folks towards things they might not otherwise go see. And it was so great to have the company of the Forum community. Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement.