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Paris and Normandy

This April (2013) I hosted a group of South Carolinians on a ten-day trip to Paris, down the Seine River and then to Normandy.  We flew to Paris then met up with a some folks from California.

Headed East at 500 Knots

We spent several days in Paris and saw some amazing sights.  Of course we spent some time in one of the most famous museums in the world, The Louvre.

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The Louvre is home to so many famous works and artists.

At the Louvre everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa, DaVinci’s most famous painting.  It’s behind special plate glass and you’re welcome to take photos.  The Louvre actually means “a camp near wolves” and the name dates back to the late 1100’s.

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

We went to several museums and then headed to a museum of another sort, The Moulin Rouge, we had very good seats.

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Dance halls don’t come any more well-known than this one

And what trip to France would be complete without taking in that famous landmark?

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Of course we went to the Eiffel Tower

After we left Paris we headed to Rouen by boat.  Rouen is such a charming city and while we were there I was able to show my group the finest chocolate and pastry shops in the city.  The French adore chocolate!

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We happened upon this macaroon cookie vendor with the impeccable name of Jeanne 😉 This is in downtown Rouen, Vieux Marche, the old market square, not far from The Cathedral of Joan (Jeanne) of Arc. The cookies, candies and chocolates were wonderful.

The weather in Paris was a bit cloudy and when we got to Rouen the weather cleared up for us.  We sailed down the Seine and stopped in the lovely city of Honfleur; this town has such a renown history of offering inspiration to many of the most well-known Impressionist painters.

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A day time excursion in the town of Honfleur along the Smuggler’s Harbor near the Seine River. As you can see the weather was a bit chilly but still gorgeous. We traveled through this lovely area that was a favorite of the Impressionism movement. Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, etc. This is the Vieux Bassin, the most frequently painted scene in this town. Diane and Patty are all smiles.

 The Seine moves at such a leisurely pace and there is inspiration around every bend.

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The Seine is full of bucolic sights. The water is so still you can see the reflection of this farm house in the water. This is a scene that still influences artists today. This really is an extraordinary way to see France. The pace is leisurely, the service impeccable and the food is  everything you’ve dreamed of

While sailing we were treated to several guest performers.  Our first night a string quartet charmed us with some wonderful classics.  Another night we had a guest speaker, an ex-pat that now lived on a farm in France and he had actually been to Greenwood.

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Cathedral of Notre Dame taken from a sight seeing vessel. From this angle you can clearly see the flying buttresses that supported this amazing structure. This cathedral was celebrating its 850th anniversary.

This is the ruins of the Chateau Gaillard, near the town of Les Andelys in Normandy.  The castle was built in 1196 and at one time was a stronghold of Richard the Lion Heart who was King of England at the time the Robin Hood legend was born.  Gaillard has been home to Norman, English, French and Scottish rulers.

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We had a short hike to the castle with our South Carolina contingent of Jerry, Susan, Jimmy, Margaret, Moi and Diane.

King Richard’s castle was built from hand-carved rock by some six thousand laborers.  After leaving one famous stronghold it was on to another, Omaha Beach in Normandy.  This is a recent addition to Normandy; this modern sculpture represents the chaos of the Allies landing on June 6th, 1944.

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And this modern sculpture is in Normandy.  Just behind it is the Monument to the Allies.


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This is a German fortified gun emplacement on Omaha Beach. The marks in the concrete were made by American shells fired from British and US Navy destroyers during the D-Day landings.
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As we walked through the Omaha Beach graveyard I found a soldier from South Carolina and I laid this rose on his tomb. Thank you Private Bates.

 A tour of France offers many rewards for one that knows how to travel at a relaxed pace.  The art, the culture, the food, music and the countryside are so luscious.  France also has such an amazing sense of history and it has seen many conquerors and liberators.  Normandy and Omaha Beach are breathtaking, seeing it in person really makes the history of the greatest generation come alive.  Now on my next trip to France I think I’ll visit…

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Smiling Faces

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