• Tag Archives Paris
  • Paris to Rouen to Cabourg (Normandy)

    Tuesday September 4, Cabourg, Normandy, France

    Monday we left Paris after renting a car and buying the obligatory baguette in Paris. First stop was Rouen, a little over an hour outside of Paris. It is the capital of Normandy and is known for its half-timbered houses, Astronomical Clock (Gros Horloge) and the Rouen Cathedral (among many gothic cathedrals in the city). Victor Hugo called it the town of 1000 bells for the many cathedrals and I now understand why!

    We drove to the city center and walked by the Rouen Cathedral of Notre Dame (which was closed to entry when we were there; they don’t open till 2pm on Mondays). The cathedral is also famous for having been painted by Monet several times; several of the paintings are in the Musee d’Orsey in Paris.

    Then we walked around the old town which is full of half timbered houses, some dating back to the 15th century. Most have been restored…there are over 2000 in the city. They are vividly painted and the old city is charming. Also in the old town is the Astrological Clock which is quite ornate.

    After leaving Rouen (well worth a trip and maybe an overnight stay), we headed on to Cabourg where we have a French/US International Club match later in the week. After checking into our hotel (which has some half-timbered features and is near the hippodrome, a big race track for horses) we set off the find the tennis club. There was some driving in circles but it ended up being quite close and we hit on the red clay courts which were very nice, and there were lots of them (and very few players).

    We ended the day at a creperie which was excellent. Potatoes, cheese, ham and egg…simple but delicious with a fantastic salade verte.

    More tennis today and some exploring of the town which is right on the ocean.


  • Paris! Bon Jour and Au Revoir

    Champs d”Elysee ✔️ Eiffel Tower at night ✔️ Notre Dame at sunset ✔️ Arc d’Triomphe 7 Walk to Roland Garros ✔️ Bois de Boulogne ✔️ Moules Frites ✔️ Carrot Salad ✔️Baguette

    And then there were two…Erika Smith and I, who are playing an IC (International Club) match in Normandy next weekend, took the TGV from Munich to Paris early Saturday morning. It was a direct train and speeds reached well over 200 kph as we raced between the cities. Paris is west of Munich and the weather here is perfect; it was rainy and cool Friday and Saturday in Munich. The trip took about six hours.

    On Saturday we walked to Roland Garros and saw the cranes there working on Ct. Philip Chatrier and then took the metro to the Champs d’Elysee where we walked down the broad boulevard to the Arc de Triomphe. There we walked up to the top of the Arc, where there were panoramic views of the city. The Arc is at the center of a big spoke with tree-lined streets poking out in all directions. I could see the Sacre Cour, the Eiffel Tower and in the distance, the giant cranes working on Roland Garros and beyond it, the Bois de Boulogne, an enormous park twice the size of Central Park.

    After the sight seeing we went back to the area near our hotel and found a restaurant we’d walked by earlier which served “moules frites” (mussels and French fries) and I had some haricot vertes (green beans). Everything was delicious as French food should be.

    Today we had a bit of a late start. I went to the small gym and then we tried to find a tennis court to play on but they were all either private or needed a log in to a general reservation system. (I tried that but the email said I’d be confirmed within 7 days). We gave up and did a bit of running in the park across the street instead.

    After lunch we went to the Latin Quarter and past the Sorbonne, to the Parthenon, a beautiful building which is the mausoleum for important French people such as Madame and Monsieur Currie, Voltaire etc. The building itself is gorgeous, built as a symmetrical cross in the Greek fashion with paintings on the walls.

    After leaving the Parthenon, we visited the small but beautiful church associated with the building and then walked into the Latin Quarter which was buzzing with people at cafes and enjoying live music. We walked down to the Seine from there and again, music was everywhere and people where dancing on the side of the river.

    Our next stop was Notre Dame, where the evening light hit the front facade and it was beautiful, it’s called the “golden light” for a reason.

    After leaving the “Cite” and Notre Dame we went to the Eiffel Tower and walked around it till it lit up…literally. It was lit in golden light as well and at 9pm the lights flashed for about 5-10 minutes. It too was lovely. Paris is a beautiful city.

    And that was Paris for this trip. Next stop…Normandy.


  • Jeu de Paume, St. Chapelle, Wandering Paris

    I had an earlier start today (which means I made it to breakfast before they stopped serving at 10:30..jet lag is real). Fortified by eggs and pain au chocolat, I went first to the Jeu de Paume, a photography museum, where there was an interesting exhibit of the photographs of  Albert Renger-Patzsch titled “Les Choses” (The Things”). It was black and white from the 20th century and quite interesting, lots of use of geometry, repetition of mechanical things, lines in landscapes and contrast of past and present (light post on an empty street). 

    After the Jeu de Paume, I took the Metro to a shopping area near the Cite in the center of the city, and wandered around, looking at the shops. There seems to be a trend here towards patent leather tuxedo type shoes with bows, though I’ve only seem them in the shops…everyone else is wearing boots or sneakers, which are often black leather.

    I headed next on foot to St. Chapelle, which is near the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is next to the Palais du Justice and the signs are right next to each other. I got in what I though was the right line and asked the people next to me, who were British, if it was the line for the church or the palace. They were also going to the church and it was good I asked…we were all in a long line for the wrong building! The St. Chapelle is a beautiful church, not huge but very colorful. The top is all stained glass windows, each panel of which tells a story. It was built in the 13th century and was built in the courtyard  of the Royal Palace.

     

    After seeing the church, I wandered through the Latin Quarter where the creperies were vying with the gyros restaurants to see which was more prevalent…gyros I think. And everywhere there are fruit stands which offer squeeze your own orange juice…even the convenience stores offer it. I also have seen two competing bike share companies which are like Lime Bikes…leave them anywhere. I was tempted…but I walked. 

    I took a couple of trains back to see the Printemps department store, a big one like Galleries Lafayette, but more refined (no fun Christmas tree in the middle of the store!). However, it was fun to wander around and people watch.

    And that’s a wrap on Paris this trip.

     

     


  • Paris: Museum & Wandering

    Today I had a plan to go to the Musee d’Orsay and to find a Christmas market. I took the slow way to the museum, getting off the Metro about a mile from the museum which allowed me to wander past the Place de la Concorde (which has a huge Ferris Wheel now along with a column) and the edge of the Tuilleries gardens and walk across the Seine en route to the Musee.

    The Musee d’Orsay is a portrait and sculpture museum. It’s not a modern art museum, but instead has rooms of Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Pissaro and much more. I liked a lot of the paintings and spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around the building. The building used to be a railway station and the big clock and curved ceiling reflects that. It was busy but the wait to buy a ticket was short and other than the Degas exhibit, the rooms were not overcrowded. 

    After I left the museum I walked to the Les Halles area, past the Louvre (which is huge!) I was trying to find a Christmas market and eventually I did. It wasn’t really all that impressive even though it’s apparently the largest in Paris. It had the usual stalls of food though with a French flair, which meant lots of cheese stalls, and not too many sausage and no gingerbread stalls that I saw. It was decorated nicely with twinkling lights above and on the Christmas trees, and there was a path lined by white trees leading to Santa (or so I assumed, I didn’t follow it).

    After leaving the fair, with some nice Tomme de Savoy cheese, I wandered around the Forum des Halles which is pretty much in the center of Paris. It was a bright and cheery mall with a Monoprix (sort of like a Target but with better food). I bought chocolate…Lindt, though Swiss, is featured predominantly here and there are lots of flavors one doesn’t see at home (pistachio, roasted sesame, etc).

    It was a pretty fun day and the weather hasn’t been too bad, in the 40s. Tomorrow I hope to get an early start for more museum going and shopping, the holidays make it very festive.

     

     


  • Paris!

    I arrived in Paris early Monday after a couple of uneventful flights (the best kind). I took the bus from the airport…in retrospect I’d advise the train, I always forget how bumpy bus rides can be, but  ended up at the Gare de Lyon and taxied from there to my hotel.

    The sun was peaking out here and there and it was in the 40s so I decided to go to Notre Dame and try to climb to the top, which I hadn’t done before. After viewing the interior which is always awe inspiring (this was built mostly between the 1100 and 1300s with everything done manually), I got in line to climb up. The lines are short in December, though the wait was chilly. There was a lot of groaning about how many steps there were (maybe they were expecting an elevator?). The young woman with the gold high heeled shoes was especially vocal. It wasn’t a bad climb and the reward was a panoramic view of Paris. The buildings in Paris aren’t tall in the city center and I could see Mont Marte, Montparnasse and the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, as well as a close up view of some of the gargoyles. There was a second climb to the top level then a spiral staircase back down.

     

    Next stop was Galleries Layfayette, a huge department store. Inside it had an enormous mechanical Christmas tree which rotated and had flying presents going up and down. It was really cool. From the rooftop terrace there was a good view of the Eiffel tower and city.

    Jet lag caught me and that was the end of day one in Paris for me.

     


  • Biking the Loire, Chartres Cathedral, Dinner in Paris

    Tuesday was our last day in France and it was another busy one. We started with breakfast at a patisserie, followed by a bike ride about half as long as the one Monday, on the opposite side of the Loire. We wanted to try and view a chateau we’d seen from the opposite bank, up close. The ride was nice, not too many people and most of the way, no cars either. We passed by a cemetery, where many of the graves had ceramic bouquets and a parcours course with rowers and ellipticals in a small park.

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    We found the chateaux and an old wall but the chateaux was private, though a historical monument. The chateau as viewed by the opposite bank is below. I only had a small view of it up close.

     

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    We rode back to Blois, had lunch at the same patisserie and returned the bikes. I had the idea of touring the Blois castle, but we ran out of time, it is much larger than we realized. We saw only the exterior of the castle, below.

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    We drove to Chartres which is renowned for it’s gothic cathedral, with flying buttresses (developed to hold up the wall so a very high ceiling could be built), the largest gothic cathedral in France. It’s also known for it’s beautiful stained glass windows which I found the highlight of the cathedral, they were gorgeous. We walked around the outside of the cathedral which had pedestrian streets, the centers of which held outdoor restaurants, with shops on either side.

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    Our next stop was Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris. We successfully returned the rental car and checked into our hotel (in reverse order), then took the bus into Paris for dinner. We ate at a hole in the wall near the Opera House, an Asian noodle house which also had the best potstickers I’ve had. Hannah lived in Paris for a semester and had eaten there frequently. We had to wait in line for a table…at 9pm! It was worth it and a nice way to end the day and the trip.

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    And that’s a wrap on this trip to Europe. It was fun despite some bumps along the way, most of which will be quickly forgotten (other than the state of the “deluxe” apartment in Bordeaux…that will just become one of those funny stories we’ll retell).


  • Paris!

    On Wednesday in France, Susan Wright and Kathy Vick from the USA Bueno Cup team arrived in Paris at about the same time…at which time they realized both had sent me their arrival information…but not to each other!Fortunately Kathy was in the baggage claim area and literally ran into Susan. After a long taxi ride (traffic, Paris, rush hour…) the taxi driver dropped them off at the end of the street since a truck was blocking it. Susan was very relieved when the code to the keypad worked. They got settled in our very small apartment (a loft bed, a basement bathroom and a fold out single bed…a very compact place with barely enough floor space for our bags.

    We went off touring, starting with the Arche de Triomphe. We decided to climb up to the top from which we had a good view of Paris and you can really see how all the main boulevards spoke out from the Arche. We could see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and of course the  Champs Elysees. We wandered down this grand boulevard then walked to the Eiffel Tower where we met up with Susan’s daughter, Jaime, grandson Dominic and Jaime’s friend Roxanne who were In Paris for a few days. The tour of the Eiffel tower was interesting. It was built for a Worlds Fair back when that was a big thing, and you can see a lot from the second level. the top level was pretty much too crowded to see much, plus there were a lot of bars in front of the viewing area. We also learned that in Paris there’s a rule that no building now can be more than seven stories high, made after the Montparnasse Tower was built, as the City government decided it was too ugly for Paris! Since the tour was during the French Open, there was a big tennis ball saying “Roland Garros” hanging from the middle of the tower and on one space below the tower we could see the back of a big screen with hundreds of people in front watching Nole and Rafa at the French Open.

     

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    After the tower tour we went our separate ways, as it was late for Dominic. Kathy, Susan and I decided on crepes for dinner down by the Seine, and sat on the railing and enjoyed watching the people walk by. The crepes(egg and cheese) were very good. Then we took some photos of us the Eiffel Tower, and an hour long boat ride along the Seine, which we all enjoyed, even though Kathy and Susan spent some of it napping. We were walking back to the Metro and decided to wait for the 10pm light show on the Eiffel Tower which was really nice.

     

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    It was a short night as we needed to leave around 8 to meet Susan’s family at Versailles. We were a little late starting but made much later when the train was blocked one stop before Versailles by a strike we think. Another passenger from the USA, a Chinese national from Bejing, Yun,  asked if we wanted to share an Uber car to get us to Versailles, so we did, and we invited Yun to hang with us during the day. We got there so late that Jaime, Dominic and Roxanne were done touring the inside. Versailles was very crowded (lots and lots of school groups in addition to tourists), but it’s still amazing. The detail of the ceilings and crown molding, the chandeliers, fabrics and the size of the rooms. We also walked much of the gardens which are gorgeous and extensive, and visited two other residences, the Grand & Petit Trianon. It was less crowded on the grounds, or felt like it and we made a day our of the trip. We had dinner at a French cafe and got ready for our trip to La Baule the next day.

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    Paris is really interesting. I’d have liked to have gone by the Louvre & Notre Dame (though we did go by it on the boat) but a day and a half isn’t enough to see everything!

    Au revoir, a bientot.


  • Roland Garros

    Tuesday I was lucky to be able to attend Roland Garros via a friend of a friend. It was definitely on my bucket list for many years to go to Roland Garros. I love red clay, tennis, Paris, French. I went with three other people, two of whom were guest of my host, as I was. The grounds of Roland Garros are quite small compared to the other slams, only a few acres and it was quite crowded even though there were few matches in the outside courts other than junior and senior events.

    After a cup of tea in the lounge, we separated till lunch and I went to watch some American juniors. I saw Taylor Fritz, who lives near me, practicing, then watched the first set of Michael Mmoh’s match…he was the 6th seed. Taylor was the second seed and is in the final, his first final in a junior slam. Mmoh meanwhile reached the semis along with a third American boy.They are coming!

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    After an elegant lunch…three courses…(the lemon cake was divine) we went to watch the first match, a quarterfinal between Svitolina and Ivonovic. Our seats were courtslide and one row up…I had red clay from the court all over my clothes at day’s end! It was super windy but Ivanovic powered through the wind and played great. There was one critical rally early where Svitolina tried to break down Ivanovic’s backhand, couldn’t and Ivanovic then went on a roll. Her team was loudly encouraging here, but never were called for coaching violations.

     

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    The Nishikori/Tsonga match was next and started as a dud…Nishikori seemed flat footed and frozen, but the wind changed all that…it blew down a part of the scoreboard and there was a 40 minute delay while the area was evaculated, cleaned and made safe…only one person was hospitalized though. When the players returned to court, Nishikori or Tsonga was a chaned man…but by then I was watching Federer/Wawrinka. Wawrinka played great, and was able to power through the wind, and overpowered Federer, who hung in gamely in the third, but was outmatched in the tiebreak. Federer was really struggling hitting into the wind.

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    When the match ended, I went back to the main court, Chatrier. I was surprised the match was still going on, but as I arrived, Nishikori was close to taking it to a fifth set, which he did. The fifth set though, the crowd was amazingly…good for Tsonga and bad for Nishikori. It was like there was a third person on the court and he wasn’t helping out Nishikori…the crowd pulled Tsonga through that match.

     

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    Watching a French player play a fifth set at Roland Garros was fantastic, even though I was rooting for Nishikori. The energy was huge.

    It was a wonderful day.