Macarons - No, it isn't misspelled

Fabulous, fragile, flavorful. Macarons are French through and through. Little discs of delightful decadence.

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Images of a Sunday in Paris

Paris on Sunday. Quiet images of a bustling city on the day of rest when almost nothing is open.
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Location:Paris France

Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, Jardin de Luxembourg, and the Pantheon Equals a Heck of a lot of Walkng

Two Heineken and three aspirin later and I'm beginning to feel human again after hoofing the hills and cobbled streets of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, and then bussing back to the Latin Quarter and visiting what must be the most beautiful public space anywhere, The Jardin de Luxembourg. And, because we just don't know when to quit, we threw in a visit to the Pantheon, too.

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Have I said that I love Paris, yet? We are staying in the Latin Quarter this year, and it is boisterous and active, and colorful. The streets are lined with sidewalk cafe after sidewalk cafe with cuisine from all over the world tucked into every nook and cranny.

But, Paris is also the Montmartre. And, here it has the feel yet of the small village that it once was before it was swallowed up by the continually expanding Paris. And, of course, Sacre Coeur majestically sits at the peak of Butte de Montmartre with all of Paris spread at its feet.

Paris isn't all sweetness and light however, as we experienced today. The famous Moulin Rouge is in the Pigalle district of Montmartre and we decided to walk to it and see it for ourselves. Pigalle is historically the red light district of Paris and the boulevard we walked to get to the Moulin Rouge was lined on both sides with sex shops. Kind of tawdry.

Fortunately, the day ended with the beauty and grandeur of Le Jardin de Luxembourg. A crowded, and, yet tranquil, oasis several blocks from our hectic Latin Quarter area.

After 7 hours on our feet, we didn't for a minute think that it would be a good idea to sit at a cafe and rest a bit, oh no. Marching down the many blocks to the Pantheon we went. As we approached, we saw there was, because of the Bastille Day celebration, a military display in the plaza in front. As is the case in most national celebration, a shiny brass band was playing national songs.

We tore ourselves away from the music when we noticed that there was no line waiting to enter the Pantheon. Once again, we were fortunate to have a monument to ourselves.

There was a staircase at the end of the exhibit, a spiral staircase descending into the crypt, and since Arnie just loves going down small twisting staircases, down we went to the tombs. There in the alcoves were such French notables as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie.

As we get closer to our return, it seems that our appreciation of Paris continues to grow. We find ourselves wishing that we could remain here.

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Location:Rue Saint-Séverin,Paris,France

Giverny, Waterlillies, Claude Monet, Bicycles, and No Rain

Life was good today! Giverny is where Claude Monet chose to live out the last half of his life, and "We Were There" to paraphrase Walter Cronkite.

As luck would have it, we enjoyed a nearly perfect day on our bikes. We sprang from our hotel this morning at 8:00, and as we made our way along St Germain de Pres we spied, a Starbucks! The clouds parted with a glorious chorus of angels as we entered into Nirvana. (Ok, Ok, maybe overstated a wee bit, but it was nice to have a mocha after almost a month.)

Duly fortified, we set off for Gare Saint Lazare, one of five huge train stations here in Paris. We decided to walk there from our hotel, no surprise, eh, a 5 kilometer hike.

The bike tour to Giverny, began with a train trip to Vernon, which is only a few miles from where Arnie lived in the early to mid 1960's. It was almost a homecoming. There bright banners flying and everything! Oh wait, that was for Bastille Day on Saturday. Never mind.

This old mill balances on what is left of a crumbling bridge. It was built in the 1600's and was a very successful business supplying ground corn and wheat up and done the Seine and beyond.

Tourelles castle was built in 1205 to defend Normandy from the English.

Monet's garden and home were lovely, and we found some flowers we really would like to add to our garden, if we can find them when we get back, but was too overcrowded with people to suit Arnie.

After a full day on our bikes we were back on the train by 6:40. A highlight for Arnie was figuring out the bus route to the hotel. We found our bus, after a bit of fretting, and after a leisurely, and uncrowded ride from the station, we were delivered to within a couple paces of our hotel! Arnie was beside himself with this traveling success.
As it was by now raining once again,we decided to spend the evening in the hotel restaurant. What we did not know was our hotel has an excellent one. We relaxed and shared bites of Eggplant Parmigiana and Spinach Ravioli, and topped it off with a great Tiramisu.
I think it is safe to say that we had a gloriously successful day!
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Location:Rue Saint-Séverin,Paris,France

Paris, Love it, Love it, Love it!

Arrived in Paris today. Was kind of sad to leave Provence, but when we got out of Gare de Lyon, our faces immediately lit up! The color, the action, the people, it is a smorgasbord for the senses.
We got in about 1 in the afternoon, and after seeing the line to get a taxi, an expensive option to say the least, we opted to walk to our hotel. A great decision, I might add. It was only a bit over a mile to our hotel in the Latin Quarter, and it gave us a chance to stretch our legs and get a feel for the area we are staying in.

We dodged several rain storms by visiting street side cafes. The last one at around 5pm was a cozy pub serving quiche Loraine and salads. As we people watched and munched on dinner we also kept up on the tour de France on a very large screen tv.

Tomorrow we are visiting Giverny to bike ride through Monet's gardens and see his house, have a picnic lunch and a tram ride to and from Vernon and Paris. This sounds great so keep your fingers crossed that the rain does not become a factor.

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Location:Rue Saint-Séverin,Paris,France

Bound for Paris on the TGV. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a Locomotive

This morning we hopped aboard the TGV in Avignon, and about 2 and a half hours later we were in Paris. This is so much better than flying. It's easier to get to the train station than an airport. And, at two hundred miles an hour you can't beat it. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom!

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Location:Rue Saint-Séverin,Paris,France

Arles, France

Arles, possibly best known as the city where Vincent Van Gogh had his most prolific period, and where he cut off an ear, is full of ancient Roman architecture and history as well as mediaeval lanes and buildings. Throw in an open air market, as this was Wednesday, and, of course, as you already know, we are in heaven.

It is hard to comprehend history as old as what is represented here. There are dates from before the birth of Christ. The Amphitheatre in Arles has been built, ruined, rebuilt, fallen into disuse, remodeled, and now is going through another phase of renewal with workmen slaving away in the hot sun regenerating this awe inspiring monument.

Today was our last day in Provence. We are sadly saying so long to lavender, sunflowers, towns perched precariously on rocky hilltops, and people that we have come to know and like over the last 5 days.

The owners of the Chambre d'Hotes that we stayed at in Saint Siffret, were gracious, generous, and truly friendly. I think Jodi and I would like to consider them as friends, and not just hosts. Pascale went out of her way to accommodate our needs. We have stayed in many places and never have sat in the garden by the pool until 10:30 in the evening talking with the people that run the place.

Our time was shared with Simon and Pauline, a couple from Cheshire, England, who, as it turned out, have been in education as well. We had a great time solving the education and social ills of the UK and the US.

We have truly loved being here and will miss the friends we have made here in the south of France.

And, I hope we can say, À bientôt. See you soon.

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Location:Arles, France

Orange & La Roque Sur Ceze, France

Any citizen of ancient Rome would have felt right at home. The buildings they would be familiar with are represented in Orange, the only difference is that the scale is smaller to accommodate the small numbers of people.

Most impressive is the ancient theater, still used to this day. The acoustics in this 2000 year old place are astounding. Another example of Roman magic.

The city of Orange was colorful, bustling, and fun. We strolled through the many plazas with their colorful awnings and umbrellas, and the busy lanes lined with shops and crowded with shoppers going about their lives.

La Roque Sur Ceze took up our afternoon. Since we hadn't done any climbing since oh, yesterday, it was time to scale the steep cobbled streets of this cute place.

I was hoping it would be dull and not worth the effort so I could suggest we head back to the car since the temperature was nearing 100 again today, but each bend in the road brought another picture perfect sight.

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Location:Provence, France

Triple Play - Orgon, St Remy de Provence, and Les Baux de Provence

Orgon, St Remy de Provence, and Les Baux de Provence, towns all with different character. Today we bit off more than we could chew.
We took in three towns on a day of 100 degree heat. Two of them required lots of climbing. They book-ended St Remy de Provence which was a stylish town where many of the people on the streets and at the cafes were very well dressed.

Orgon, our first stop of the day was quite rugged and less refined than the other two. The ruins here were a bit too rustic for us and a bit to far off the beaten path, but since we had not acted like billy goats in the last few days we did some major climbing to the top of the hill to the ruin over the city. Along the way are shrines to keep your interest. One thing we have not mentioned is the noise of the cicadas, there is a constant loud clatter of these bugs as we trudged along the path. I wanted to run to the chapel doors just to escape the never ending cacophony of sound.

Where we felt the heat of the daytime most was during our visit to Les Baux de Provence. The sun ricocheted off the white stone walls and paths giving an oven effect with little breeze to cool you down.

Man has occupied this land since pre-historic times. If you look closely at the stones you walk on you can see fossilized shells proving how the earth moved and rearranged this very high semi mountain from sea floor. There are troglodyte houses carved out of the rock close to the ruined castle. At different times in history powerful kings had this castle demolished because of it's defensible stronghold on the area. So there were times of building and tear continuing to today. The biggest problem the people faced in the past is lack of water, it had to be hauled up by donkey cart.

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Location:Rue du Soureillan,Saint-Siffret,France


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