A Travellerspoint blog

France

Paris Half Marathon and some more touring

6 March 2011

sunny 45 °F

A crowded subway ride was just the beginning of the Paris Half Marathon. I dont' want to spend much time on it because 1 - I wasn't so impressed and 2- I forget the battery for my camera so there are no photos. I should say though that the route did not offer any kodak moments anyway so I didn't miss anything. It was the most crowded run I have ever done with not even a hint of elbow room from start to finish. The route didn't seem to pass anything important although it did run along the Seine for a brief period. Luckily Catherine was watching for me and found me at the end where we shuffled through the crowd to turn in our chip and get some snacks. By now you can guess that the food offerings were not the greatest but we did hit up a french fry stand before getting back in the subway.
Notre Dame window

Notre Dame window


Catherine needed to check the block on the Notre Dame so that was our first destination today. IT is gorgeous and HUGE inside so we spent a bit of time taking in the beautiful windows.
Notre Dame candles

Notre Dame candles


Looking back across the river also gives a good and different view of the huge cathedral.
Notre Dame with river

Notre Dame with river


Not far away was the torch that is replica of the one that the Statue of Liberty holds. It is on the street in the middle of a random road but is easy enough to get a photo of regardless.
The Torch

The Torch


It seems by now we should have seen all the markets paris has to offer but there was one left and my favorite - the bird market.
bird market

bird market


Bird market merchandise

Bird market merchandise


I had never been to anything like this before. It was more of an animal maket. I got a little shirt for Bella and the guy who sold it to me had a rat sitting on his shoulder. He tried to put in on me but when I wasn't a big fan he set it on Catherine instead.
Cat with Rat <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Cat with Rat :)


She didn't seem to mind.
my pink car

my pink car


OUr time was growing short so we consulted the map on how to get to Rhodan's thinker statue. On the walk there I spotted this lovely car I would have bought on the spot.
Parisian bridge

Parisian bridge


We also got a nice view over the river on our walk there.
thinking hard

thinking hard


It was our lucky day - the outside monuments were free today so we got to walk in, snap a few photos with the thinker and walk out - sweet!
The thinker

The thinker


Having checked off everything on our lists we set out for dinner again. Our goal was a tapas restaurant but it was closed so we hit the next thing we saw - Le Square trousseau. The waiter was very nice and helped us while speaking English. I got shrimp Risotto that was really fabulous and a good ending to the weekend.
shrimp risotto

shrimp risotto


The purpose of the trip was to run the half marathon which ended up being the most disappointing part of the trip. Catherine and I had a blast hitting the markets and tourist sites which made the trip worth it in the end.

Posted by ErinDriver 02:10 Archived in France Comments (0)

Can't do Paris without the Eiffel Tower

5 March 2011

sunny 45 °F

Catherine had not been to Paris before so I was pretty much letting her take the lead on what she wanted to do. We spent the morning at several different markets taking in meat, vegetables and flowers being purchased by locals.
Parisian market

Parisian market


At a flea market I was excited to get a crystal dog that could hold peanuts or jelly beans, etc. The bad part was now I had to lug it around all day. Another market was very bohemian and we spent quite a bit of time at a shop from india. An antiques market was ater that and then I was begging Catherine to let me eat lunch. We stopped at one of those places that looks super tiny from the outside but keeps going and going once you are inside. It was crowded which we took as a good sign. We split a pizza to get us some energy to tackle....
Tower from the front

Tower from the front


....of course the Eiffel Tower. As you may have guessed by now I had to take a photo from every angle :) The trip up the elevator was not on our agenda but we did spend some time pretty much walking all the way around it. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
The tower==Your heading here...==

The tower==Your heading here...==


Eiffel Avenue

Eiffel Avenue


Catherine and I at the tower

Catherine and I at the tower


Eiffel tower with flowers

Eiffel tower with flowers


After this walking I was starving once again so we found the closest restaurant that might have some pasta for us to fuel up for tomorrow with and dived in. A good night sleep was in order since the race started pretty early in the morning.

Posted by ErinDriver 02:01 Archived in France Comments (0)

On the way to Paris

4 March 2011

sunny 45 °F

The train was our chosen method of getting to Paris for my frined Catherine and I. We were attempting to make it into town for the Half Marathon expo. The bags were dropped at the hotel and an immediate departure was made via the subway. IT has to be one of the worst I have ever been on. A collection of tickets for 10 trips could be purchesed for something like 7 euro but then half the tickets didn't actually work. At one point I was trying to explain to the woman who worked there that my ticket didn't work and she told me to speak french.

At any rate eventually we arrived at the park where the expo was held and students had used all teh folaige and fallen branches to make large spiders out of the refuse. OUr little group seemed to be the only ones enthralled with this.
Spider in the park

Spider in the park


The expo was quite a disappointment and that should have been the first clue. There were not really any interesting stands and when we got our goodie bag we had to show our passport. The woman threw it back at us and said, Ughh, American. She still gave us the packet but without a smile! Even the shirt was sad in bright orange with a black screenprint on the front with some runners.

NOw we had plenty of extra time for plan b which turned out to be shopping. Paris seems to have an individualized store for everything. The fondue shop made out on us and we got samples. Everybody was happy! I got a yorkie tea pot and Catherine got some stuff for Nate.
Wine bar

Wine bar


Our fuel was low and we had spotted Le Porte Pot which I just now realized sounds like porta potty. Anyway it was good and we put away some wine, cheese and risotto. We took some time to recover before we attempted to find our way back to the hotel.

Posted by ErinDriver 01:51 Archived in France Comments (0)

Marseille and Avignon

28 August 2010

sunny 75 °F

old port of Marsaille

old port of Marsaille


Our excursion today started on a bus with a drive past the Old Port in Marsaille. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to get out a take photos because it looked adorable with a local fish market. Our first stop was the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde.
view over Marsaille

view over Marsaille


The views over Marseille and the harbor were gorgeous but incredibly windy. I spent most of the time trying to keep my dress from flying up over my head.
Chateau d' If

Chateau d' If


There is also a view of the Chateau d' If which is the jail in the Count of Monte Cristo. I spent like a month reading that book because an excursion was offered to the prison. When we got on the ship this trip was cancelled :(
offerings in cathedral

offerings in cathedral


The Cathedral was actually quite interesting with ships hanging in succession from the ceiling. These ships along with plaques and photos were donated by fisherman, for example, who the Lady of the Garde had protected. It is considered a Neo-Byzantine church by the architect Esperandiu between 1853 and 1864.
bridge in Avignon

bridge in Avignon


Next we were on to Avignon which was approx. 1 hour drive. This town is a walled city with the Rhone river right outside the wall. This bridge is a famous one in this town but stops halfway across the river.
elephant art

elephant art


For some reason there was really weird art all over the place, including in the palace.
outside palace of the popes

outside palace of the popes


Our tourist site here was a tour of the Palace of the Popes. For several years the Pope actually lived in France. They were convinced to move to Rome but some did not want to leave. For this reason several years passed with a Pope in Rome and one that was recognized in Avignon.
courtyard of palace

courtyard of palace


This is more like a fortress because the Pope’s were so afraid of attack. The windows of the building are very tiny and high which caused greater protection.
pope's window

pope's window


This was the window that the Pope would use to speak to his people in the courtyard below.
doors at Palace of the Popes

doors at Palace of the Popes


I just thought these doors were pretty neat - and huge!
Lunch was on our own so we went very French and had pizza and pasta at an outdoor café. A little time was left to walk around the town and have some of the best soft serve ice cream I have ever had.
ruins in Avignon

ruins in Avignon


We passed these ruins in our walk but other than this it was mostly the same shops you see most everywhere.
After the tour we prepped for our dinner and the Michael Jackson tribute show. Apparently they really like him in Europe. Since he was American I figured we had to go.

Posted by ErinDriver 05:02 Archived in France Comments (1)

Paris!

25 May 2009

sunny 70 °F

The last day of our trip is spent on the bus with a couple stops to increase our circulation. The first stop was the Pegasus Bridge which is also seen in the movie The Longest Day.
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It was a crucial bridge to both sides during the war and we ended up with it.
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The new bridge is being used by vehicles to cross the river. The actual bridge from 65 years ago is part of a museum and monument.
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We didn’t go to the museum but we could take pictures from outside the fencing.
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After a few more hours we hit Paris. The bus tour gave us an “orientation tour” which means we looked at things out the bus window. We did get to see The Louvre, arc de Triomphe, Napoleons Tomb and drove down the Champs-Elysees.
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We had a ten minute stop at the Eiffel tower to get photos and try some trick photography:)
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A three course meal was served at Escarmouche which had an atmosphere like the beer kellers here in Germany. We had wine, shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon and a dessert like flan. The shrimp cocktail was more like a cold shrimp salad than what we think of as shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce.
After lunch we headed home watching Saving Private Ryan on the way. We finally returned home at 0200 in the morning. Quite a long day!

Posted by ErinDriver 12:52 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Mont St. Michel

24 May 2009

sunny 75 °F

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Today I am the most excited about seeing Mont St. Michel.
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This has been an abbey for over 1,000 years and has been one of the top four pilgrimage sites in Christendom through the ages.
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The island is connected to the mainland with a two-mile causeway surrounded by a vast mudflat.
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The walk up to the abbey is through a very touristy and busy medieval street full of shops and restaurants.
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The abbey tour consisted of a audio tour that we could do at our own pace. The building is huge but very plain made from granite stones with no decorations.
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We were lucky enough to see some monks worshipping in the church section. The monks were to pray 8 hours each day. The church was built on top of this rock so the monks could be as close to heaven as possible.
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The cloister are is a peaceful zone where monks could meditate, read the Bible or tend their gardens. The windows were of no interest to them because the more isolated they could make themselves the closer they were to God.
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The abbey had a huge dining hall where the monks would eat in silence. The only talking was from one that would read passages from the Bible.
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They did have a Guests Hall which held decorations for the VIP visitors.
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A portion of the crypts collapsed in 1421 and was replaced with immense columns measuring 15 feet around.
The Abbey was once used as an alcatrez type prison where inmates used a huge wheel to pull a cart with supplies up the building.
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A walk thru the garden takes you out of the Abbey and back to the Grande Rue or tourist strip. We had a quick lunch before heading back to the bus and on to our next stop.
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The town of Bayeux and its famous tapestry was the next destination. The tapestry is 70 yards of wool embroidered on to linen cloth and tells the story of William the Conquerors rise from Duke of Normandy to King of England. Another audio guide leads you down the tapestry explaining the pictures.
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The town also has a beautiful cathedral but being Sunday not much else in the town was going on.
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Back on the bus again we set off for the German Batteries.
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You could walk up to the guns and obviosly Curt had fun with it.
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Some guns were in better shape than others. The rumor about this one is that it got hit with mortar fire.
There were four batteries set in a row and one at he cliffs by the water.
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This one near the cliffs is the one used in the Longest Day movie.
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Stairs were required to climb into this bunker.
Before reaching the hotel one more stop was made at the Mulberries in Arromanches.
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Mulberries were made by sinking 17 ships bow to stern. Then 115 football field size cement blocks (mulberries) were also sunk creating a four mile long breakwater.
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All over Normandy were fields of these little yellow flowers that are used to make canola oil.
Dinner was nothing fancy (McDonalds) because we were tired and could walk there.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:55 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

D-Day Beaches

23 May 2009

rain 65 °F

Guess what we did today……rode on the bus some more!!! :(
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But honestly we hit a lot of WWII sites today. First was the German Military Cemetary.
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It holds 21,000 German soldiers with 2 soldiers per grave site.
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The cemetery has groups of five black crosses grouped together with a huge mound in the center of the site.
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This mound holds 300 soldiers remains and is decorated with a statue of a mourning mother and father.
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Next stop was Saint Mere Eglise where the church is famous. Paratroopers landed off target in the middle of town and one soldier got his parachute caught on the church spires.
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Private John Steele got stuck on the spire and dangled there playing dead to avoid being captured. Today they have a replica soldier hanging from the church.
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This town has an airborne museum that we spent some time in looking at memorabilia from various airborne units.
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Utah beach had a replica of the boats the soldiers assaulted the beaches in.
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These metal crosses were in the water to keep the boats from getting close to shore.
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The beaches were surrounded with barbed wire.
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Our guide Kyle promised us a picnic on Utah Beach but the weather was raining so we only spent enough time to take pictures of the monuments and walk on the beach.
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It is so peaceful and quite now its hard to believe what happened almost 65 years ago.
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One grocery store was closed due to a demonstration so we had to chose another but got to go in and have our guide help us pick out some wine. Normandy is also famous for its cider so we grabbed some of that too.
The picnic ended up being at Pointe Du Hoc under the overhang by the bathrooms. Never the less we had bread, camembert cheese (famous here), wine, salami, pickles and crackers.
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Since it was raining on D Day it almost seemed fitting to walk around in the rain.
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The Pointe Du Hoc is where 300 US Army Rangers assaulted the cliffs using grappling hooks and ladders. They were fighting against the most heavily fortified German position. Only about 1/3 of the Rangers survived this mission.
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The area received 10,000 tons of bombs on D-Day and it is still evident today with the pock marks in the ground.
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Curt is standing in one of the holes made by artillery.
Omaha Beach and the American Military Cemetary was the last stop.
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As opposed to the german cemetery this site is covered in white crosses and a pool that resembles that of the Washington Monument.
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These soldiers forever look out over Omaha Beach.
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The 65th Anniversary of D-Day is next week so all the stone are decorated with flags.
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We were there at 5:00 so we got to see them taking down the American flags.
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Dinner was a short drive to Juno Beach at a place called La Pecheri. The menu was set with smoked salmon, chicken and an assortment of desserts. The restaurant did a wonderful job serving all 50+of us very quickly. The arrival to the hotel was about 2200 and it was still light outside.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:44 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Monet's Home and Gardens

22 May 2009

70 °F

Today started very early and involved A LOT of riding on the bus. Our one big tourist site for today was the Monet house and gardens in Giverny, France.
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Claude Monet spent 43 years living in his pink house. The whole area is packed with tourists and nearly impossible to get a photo with no other people in it.
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The gardens in front of the house is a wild area of flowers in all sorts of colors.
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The house is overgrown with vines and very colorful inside. Every room is a brilliant color and nothing is left plain.
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Across the road is his Japanese garden with his famous lily pads.
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The walk around is quite peaceful even with all the other people.
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Some more driving followed Monets house and eventually we landed at the Mercure hotel in Caen (kahn). What I can not believe is that we ate dinner at a restaurant called the Buffalo Grill!!! We were in france and ate steak with names like the Texas special!!!!
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Posted by ErinDriver 10:22 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

From Sun to Snow

16 February 2009

sunny 50 °F

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We started the day in Sunny Nice!
Another antique market goes on in Cours Sayela on Mondays so we went down to check in out. Our thoughts were that it was rather like a VERY expensive flea market. It didn’t take long for us to realize we didn’t want anything bad enough to pay those kind of prices. The rest of the morning was spent shopping and having lunch at a doner place. We had sandwiches along the street in the sunshine of Nice!
From there everything went downhill. We reached the airport alright but the flight was delayed due to bad weather in Munich. Luckily it left only 40 minutes late. We were home and back in the snow by 2400!
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We ended the day in snowy Germany!

Posted by ErinDriver 04:25 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Citrus Festival in Menton

15 February 2009

sunny 50 °F

I saw an article in National Geographic Traveler magazine about this place in France where they make huge sculptures out of oranges and lemons. It just so happened to be occuring over a four day weekend for us so that is how we ended up in the French Riviera this weekend.
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The bus ride to Menton was about an hour but we stopped in Villa Franchese for an antique market. We only lasted about 20 minutes there because there was nothing less than 100 euros.
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Menton was very crowded and their sculpture park was full of people trying to take photos of all the art. The theme this year was music but it was anyones guess what some of them had to do with music.
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Anytime this kind of thing is going on on sunday inEurope you can expect it to be crowded. It was craziness and we could't bring ourselves to stay for the parade. We hit it back to the bus for fear that if we waited longer they would be too crowded.
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We relaxed on the pebbles of Nice beach after lunch. Dinner was the same place as last night because we loved the crab salad and creme brulee so much. ( Blog of yesterday still to come - I haven't had a chance to get thru all the pictures :)
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Posted by ErinDriver 00:06 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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