Archive for the ‘France 2012’ Category

Chateau d’Amboise

Wildflowers near the road on way to chateau

Last Saturday, I spent the day traveling to three different Chateaux. I was on the train and several different buses but managed to make it to all of them. It was a 16 hour day but well worth it! They are all located in the Loire Valley which is southwest of Paris, if you are looking at a map. The Loire Valley is called the “Garden of France,” because of the abundance of vineyards, orchards, flowers, asparagus and artichoke fields. There are over 300 chateaux in this region!

The first place I visited is called Chateau d’Amboise.  It is the place where Leonardo da Vinci was invited to join the French court at the age of 64.  He was given a salary of seven hundred gold crowns. He spent his time teaching, drawing, and urban planning…in 1516! He died here in 1519 and was interred at the Chateau d’Amboise, according to his wishes.

St Hubert Chapel where Leonardo da Vinci is buried

Chateau d'Amboise from the garden

The grounds were very beautiful.

Around the chateau - beautiful grounds!

Grounds around Chateau d'Amboise

Arc de Triomphe

Looking down the Champs-Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe

The first day I was here I walked down the Champs-Elysees and got my first glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe way at the far end. I was so excited to see it again that I walked an hour from my apartment in horrible shoes to reach it, then realized that I had obtained some very painful blisters. Guess what? It then occurred to me that I had to walk back because I had absolutely no money with me for the Metro or a taxi. I hadn’t planned on walking to it that day, but in all my excitement I just took off and headed that way. Live and learn, right???

 

View across the street from the Arc de Triomphe

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The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of the Champs-Elysees. It is the world’s biggest triumphal arch! It is 161 ft. high and 144 ft. wide.  There are a dozen streets that radiate from the center of the Arc, which makes it Paris’s busiest traffic hub! The roundabout has been called “vehicular roulette” by many. It is quite a site to watch people driving in this area. They just drive all over…swerving in and out of traffic. There are no lines (as you can see in pic) on the streets around this area (or in most of Paris for that matter) so people just go like crazy. It is entertaining to say the least!

Looking up at the Arc de Triomphe

 

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his Grand Armee. It wasn’t completed until 1836.

To reach it you have to walk through an underground passage.  No pedestrian traffic is allowed to cross on the street. Trust me when I say that you would not survive!!

Underground passage to the Arc de Triomphe

More info & pics- Mont-Saint-Michel

The abbey church at the very top

The architecture of the abbey is unlike any other monastery in the world. The builders were constrained by the pyramidal shape of the location so they wrapped the buildings around the granite rock. The abbey church is located at the very top and stands on crypts that created platforms to hold the weight of the church. I will stop with the architecture lesson ; ) after I tell you one other piece of information. The architectural mastery that was needed to succeed at perching the equivalent of a 3-storey building that was approximately two blocks long (in the 11th century) is mind boggling to me. This took unbelievable precise and technical calculations. Seriously jaw-dropping stuff when you think about it!

Oh, as a side note…if you ever plan to visit France, seriously start climbing stairs and I mean LOTS of them months before you arrive! They love spiral staircase and many buildings still do not have elevators. This is why they can eat bread and pastries and still be thin! They walk, walk, walk and climb lots of stairs everyday! Just a friendly FYI ; )

Abbey church at the very top of Mont-Saint-Michel

Flower garden and walkway at the top

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel

I have wanted to return to this place since I saw it for the first time…over 25 years ago!! The history of this place dates back to 708! That is not a typo either. There was a sanctuary built on Mont-Tombe nearby and soon it became a focus of pilgrimage. The Benedictines settled in the abbey and then a village grew up around it.

It is quite an astonishing sight to see! It is still amazing to me how some of these places were built so long ago.  They truly are works of art.

And YES, I did walk all the way to the top!!! = )

Another view heading to the top

View from top. When the tide is in, Mont-Saint-Michel is surrounded by the ocean.

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur

Sunny day at Sacre-Coeur

 

 

 

The view from the butte where the Sacre-Coeur is located offers an amazing view of Paris! On a clear day, you can see 30 miles in the distance. It is quite the site! On a rainy day you can barely see past the hill where it sits. I have experienced both occasions. In reading about the Sacre-Coeur, I discovered that it has been the subject of much controversy here in Paris. Some people believe it is a beautiful, sacred church while others have called it “a lunatic’s confectionary dream.” Here are the pics. You decide?!

 

 

Cloudy, rainy day at Sacre-Coeur

 

 

View of Paris from the steps at Sacre-Coeur

View of Paris from Sacre-Coeur

More pics inside the Centre Pompidou

Art in the Centre Pompidou

 

Additional pics…took lots of pics here!

Ok, I have to admit...I was feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland with this one! = )

In the National Museum of Modern Art

 

Inside views – Centre Pompidou

Sculptures in the Modern Art Museum (rooftop)

Pics from the Musee National d’Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art) in the Centre Pompidou. Some interesting stuff in there…

Painting by Picasso -hmmm...interpretations welcome : )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Escalator in the Centre Pompidou

Outside views – Centre Pompidou

One view of the Centre Pompidou

I remember visiting this place 28 years ago on my first trip to France. I seriously can’t believe it has been that long ago since I was here for the first time!!!! Where does the time go??? By admitting that I was here that long ago…I guess that means I can no longer lie about my age either…sigh! ; )

It is currently raining (actually pouring) outside as I look out my window, so I guess that gives me a while to post some pics and get some work done.

So this is what I know about the Centre Pompidou…it reopened in 2000 after much restoration. In the 70s it was considered “the most avant-garde building in the world,” and was the dream of former president Georges Pompidou. It has unique exoskeletal architecture. You will see the brightly painted pipes and ducts on the outside of the building – green for water, red for heat, blue for air, and yellow for electricity. It houses five attractions: National Museum of Modern Art, Public Information Library, Center for Industrial Design, Institute for Research & Coordination of Acoustics/Music and the museum’s forecourt which is basically a free entertainment center. You will see musicians, mimes, dancers, etc., here all day long! It is a very interesting place to visit but remember…it is modern art!

Opposite side of the Centre Pompidou

Another view of the Centre Pompidou

Interesting sights in Paris

Rue du Chat-qui-Peche - narrowest & shortest street in the world

There were some interesting places on this outing that I have to share. Some are not necessarily known to people, others are well known. The first place is Rue du Chat-qui-Peche. This is said to be the narrowest (only 6ft wide) and shortest street in the world. There are no doors and only a few windows on this street. The second interesting find was the narrowest house in Paris. It is located in the Latin Quarter, 22 Rue St-Severin. The third thing that I will mention is Shakespeare and Company. This is the most famous bookstore on the Left Bank. It is located on rue de l’Odeon. Frequent patrons included Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald and Anais Nin. I will include other interesting places I visited in the next post…stay tuned!

Shakespeare and Company - famous bookstore

Narrowest house in Paris- it is the little place between the two buildings. It was many stories high but so narrow!

Orchids for Ashley

A store full of Orchids...very expensive Orchids!!

Ashley! These pics are for you! I took them through the window so they are not great. It was an entire flower store with ONLY Orchids. You would have loved it! = )

 

Plant & flower market nearby the Orchid store

 

More Orchids

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