Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today is our last day in Villefrnche and we are told the entire town dresses for Halloween, it sort of an annual Ball. We have dinner plans for 7:30 PM and than early to bed for our train trip to Paris for our flight home on Monday.

We spent a relaxing morning and completed our walk of the town, getting to know our way around and where to buy the best food and wine. I have been drinking a lot of "house vin" and it is very good and a great deal less expensive than by the bottle.

The weather has turned cool, and in fact they are predicting rain for tonight and tomorrow, but what the hell we are leaving. It is nice to think of home but at the same time it is hard to leave this storybook town and the friendly people.

But tomorrow night it's the Paris Hilton and than on to SFO.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Another boring sunrise in Villefranche and the start of a perfect day. We went to Italy today to a huge market with all kind of stuff. The market was soooooo large that we spend almost the entire day walking the many shops. We also learned that Italian police officers do not like having their pictures taken.

We had a wonderful lunch of pasta and pizza looking over the Sea. However, the trouble started on the train ride back to Villefranche. The French labor strike caused the train to operate with limited service, and our train was packed - I mean packet. The pushing and shoving was horrible and we felt like cattle. This labor stuff is starting to get to us. I guess we are ready to come home, three weeks is a very long time. But tomorrow is our last day here in Villefranche and we intend to take it easy and rest for the trip home.

We had dinner last night with the daughter of a friend of Tom's and she has been living in Villefranche for the last 15 months. Her name is Kate and she is a very lovely woman. We enjoyed a great dinner and great company. She gave Marcella the tip on the shopping in Italy.

Another day in Villefanche................

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today is a day of rest after walking all over Nice yesterday. We visited the Port and the Museum Mattise, and the markets. Quite a place, and very different from Paris. The bus ride was easy, but we are having to wait as the national strike has slowed everything including the buses and trains.

We plan on spending some time in the sun today, and complete our walk of the entire town of Villefranche. Last night we had a great dinner at Le Serre, a small restaurant that is heavily influenced by italian cooking. We plan on eating light today, and keep with our schedule of dining out and eating in.

Again, Villefranche is very relaxing and the people very friendly. The french get a bad rap for not being friendly, everyone and everywhere we have been have been nice and helpful.

Go Giants..........

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well another excellent day in Villefranche and we spent most of yesterday walking around the town and taking pictures. It is lovely and some very comfortable. The only draw back is we only get internet in the morning at the Cafe. But, perhaps that is good, we won't spend much time on the computer.

We got up early for the sunrise, and it was very impressive, we had the whole area to ourselves and a young lady from Seattle.

Today we are headed for Nice on the bus, and some shopping and site seeing. I believe Marcella is interested in several places.

The weather here in Villefranche is great, lots of sun and we even hope to relax by the sea on Thursday and travel it Italy on Friday. This is the life.........

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, VillaFranche sur Mar

We arrived in VilleFrance sur Mar yesterday afternoon. This is the apt of the Briggs family who
live in Sebastopol. Scott works for the county. This little town is simply picturesque and charming. Will take lots of pictures here for sure! Steps, steps, climbing and more climbing.
The buildings are old of course with housing and stores, shops, restaurants, dogs running around playing with tennis balls. Today we'll explore the town and inhale the beauty of its uniqueness.
Le Cote de Azure.

The train ride from Paris was an amazingly easy and comfortable ride. Someday California will have one similar. Oui.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23, 2010

Today is very cold and rainy. We took the metro to the Bastille area and walked up to the square built by Henry IV, Place des Vosges. A very beautiful square with many shops and cafes. The shops were very upscale expensive boutiques, men and women. We tried to get in one side of the Hotel Sully, but were turned away as there was a demonstration happening. Police surrounded some protesters sitting on the pavement while others chanted and threw pink confetti on the police. Continuing on through the rain and cold we spotted Notre Dame and knew we were close to our apt. Crossing over two bridges and the Ile de la cite (island) made it up to the Latin Quarter and waited for the hour the French eat midday. I have to say I've never seen so many beautiful stylish clothes, shoes, boots, (even for infants/children), anywhere in my life!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today was another cold morning, and we started out with coffee and a pastry early and than on to the Museum Marmottan Monet, which houses the world's largest collection of works by Claude Monet. The museum was outstanding, and so very well done, however the various paintings and works of art were only in French, no english translations. But we were very impressed with the collection and especially the painting entitled "Impression Soleil Levant" and this painting was Monet's work that started the Impressions style of painting.

After visiting the museum, we walked to the Trocadero Square with the best view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. We than took the Metro back to the apartment, and later tonight we went to dinner at a wonderful restaurant near the Sorbonne, the University of Paris' Humanities Department. This school is very popular for many families that send their daughters to study.

Once back into our Paris home, we settled down for another good night sleep.

** Just a short note - The strike and protest are not a real problem, but do cause delays in the opening of many museums and shops, and a few lines at gas stations.

More tomorrow.......

october 21, Versailles

Today starts off very well with a Fat Tire Bike Tour of Versailles. We find the office, get our bikes, meet other folks from, U.S. and St. Helena. We are off in Paris traffic!? No worries Ned, from South Carolina, is in charge. He has been doing this tour and others for a while. He says,
"Stay in a group, herd, pellaton, as much as possible, as we need to dominate the street." We did sort of, there were some trying moments especially for the french drivers, who had to be very patient with us. So, we get to the station and a challenge for Ned presents itself. No trains running this a.m. due to the strikes. We have to go another station that required another half hour of riding through rush hour, adrenalin pumping, Paris streets. There are bike lanes, although they are for bus and taxi as well. So we make it and have to pick up our touring bikes and haul up stairs, two flights. Finally we arrive in Versailles. Speechless at the beauty and splendor of the royal living palace, I had to take a moment to imagine and transport myself to that time period.
Lavish, Lavish, Lavish.... pictures do not do justice. We got back just fine as Ned was in communication with headquarters and found out the original train was running. The return ride on our touring bikes was much less stressful. Pat yourself on the back Ned. And us too!
All in all the day was GREAT! The weather could not have been better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20, 2010

Today we were out early to walk the Champs-Elysees and view Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe is truly a magnificent work and memorial to French history including a remembrance of the unknown soldier. At the end of Champs-Elysees we viewed the Petit Palais and Grand Palais. These were not open to the public as they were preparing for a new art exhibit. Rue Cler was our next stop buying souvenirs (Truffles Mom!) and lunch at Cafe du Marche. Having more time on our hands we (lost time looking for it) found the Bon Marche, the oldest department store in Paris. Found nothing there but next door at La Grande Epicerie we were blown away with the amazing food/gourmet items from around the world. Bought more gifts to take home and items for our dinner. The vegetables, being beautiful in and of themselves, and being displayed so beautifully caught the eyes of some men (spaniards). I understood them to remark on the amazing color,size, freshness, etc., and they took a picture! We spent some time there just looking around discovering every fine food you could imagine!! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today was a day of rest, the weather is wet and we needed a break. Went to "farmers market" and bought veggies and other snacks. Just cooling our heels until we visit the Arc de Triomphe and walk the Champs-Elysees tomorrow. Nothing new today.........

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010:

Another wonderful day in Paris. Today we Metro'ed to the Eiffel Tower, but prior we had a Ham & Egg Crape made on the street. It was outstanding!

Once at the tower, we enjoyed the view, it is really something. The sheer beauty of the structure is amazing. We than boarded Bus #69 for a cheap trip across Paris from the Tower to the Bastille.

We finished the bus trip with a stop at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery where many famous people are buried. We was the graves of Jim Morrison, Fredic Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and many others.

We finished the day with a marvelous dinner at the small Cafe next to our apartment, it is called Les Fetes Galantes, and it was wonderful. All in all, we had a relaxing day, and are prepared for the rain tomorrow.

We booked a trip to Versailles with a company called Fat Tire Tour Company. On Thursday, we will take the train to Versailles and ride bikes all over the palace. We are looking forward to that adventure.

Thats all for today..........

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010:

Today we ventured to the area of Paris called Montmartre which is where early monks stomped grapes and used windmills for that purpose. It also was the area populated by Parisian liberals, painters and struggling artist, poets and drunkards (Tom's felt right at home). The nightclub Moulin Rouge and other sexy clubs line the street, but there is also many small winding street full of lovely shops and Marcella found a perfect "cookie" shop. We visited the homes of many artists who lived here during their early years, including Renoir, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and many others.

The district was also the area that US GI's visited during WWII to seek out entertainment and working girls. In fact, the small town of Pigalle became known as "Pig Alley" by the GI's.

We again walked a lot and the weather is cold, but refreshing. We took many photos and enjoyed a coffee at Starbucks, yes that Starbucks.

Tomorrow we are going back to the Eiffel Tower during the day, and book out tour to Versailles. We also intend to ride Bus #69 which our guide book states is the cheapest and best full tour of Paris for the price of a single Metro ticket.

More later.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16, Saturday

This a.m. we really stopped being so American, trying to rush around and see everything.
We took some time and just walked around today and found the first Paris Cafe opened in 1686,
Cafe Le Procope. The French discovered coffee and people flocked to be together to have conversation and coffee and plan the revolution. We had lunch at the Indiana Cafe. You could get hambergers, nachos, burritos, their way of course. I had the Italian burger, Tom a cheese burger. Nice pictures of Native Americans all over the place. On to the Luxembourg Gardens which were beautiful, beautiful. We got a little rain on the way to the Musee de Cluny Roman, Middle 12th century collections. I added some photos to facebook. We are finding a definite taste difference
in fresh celery and carrots compared to home.

October 15, Friday

. Back at the Louvre for renaissance and medieval art. I've never seen such hugh
paintings. The day was overcast but not cold. We strolled along the garden of Tuileries to the
Orangerie. We did find the Orangerie open. Monet, Renoir and learned about Modigliani's
tragic life. Did we mention the bicyclists riding through all traffic at all hours. Men in busisness
suits, women in skirts, dresses and no helmut. They flow with traffic with no fear. They are
older adults even our ages. Very french. Some use the bikes that are for rent. They are in
rows in several places, using a special membership card to use them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 3

Today we took the metro to Orangerie Museum but was closed (maybe in support of the protesters) not sure. People were lined up in hopes it might open later. We moved on to the Rodin Museum a little walk further and found it closed as well. We were told it may open at 11:00. So
we walked around some more trying to find the sunshine. When coming back around there was
a much longer line including young, young children (kindergarten), who were very excited singing and full of energy. We were let in and explored along with the children. Wow, talk about an art education. They had adults to help but they had to identify/locate with pictures in hand, some
of Rodin's pieces. It was an amazing show of Rodin's works. The Orangerie was still closed when checking again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 2

Today we spent the entire at the Louvre Museum and we were extremely impressed by the number of pieces of art and sculptures. From early antiquities (greeks-romans-french-egyptian) there was something from everyone of the ancient world. Just to name a few were The Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and many, many more. There were also a excellent selection of paintings, including the famous Mona Lisa. We were very surprised by the size of the work and the crowd of people trying to get a photo of the painting. We took lots of pictures and will post some tomorrow and also the Eiffel Tower and Norte Dame.

Today was also another day of strike by French workers and this made the ride home from the Louvre very packed with folks trying to get home from work. Marcella and I were very glad that we are fairly tall and felt like sardines.

More tomorrow.......

Tom & Marcella

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our 1st Day

Today was our first "real" day in Paris, having slept most of Monday getting back into shape from the flight. We visited Norte Dame, my what a wonderful and large site. We toured the interior of the cathedral and took lots of pictures. After we walked the Historic Paris Walk from Rick Steves' new book. This is a old and interesting city. Dating from 250 BC to present day, Paris is truly without comparison to anywhere we have been prior. Many grand building, and parks (gardens), and many, many shops.

Tonight we are headed for the Eiffel Tower, and the surrounding area. We are eating well, and the French wine is excellent, even coming from a Sonoma County wine lover. But the best thing is the cheese. Wow, it is truly excellent. Our first batch came from Laurent Dubois and it is beyond compare.

Have met several folks from the USA, a couple from Michigan and today a lady from San Diego, who is here writing a book. Marcella and I thought she was french, but from California.

More later...........