Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Encore France: Day 15, The Sights You See

It was lovely to have spent the night in a big, soft, comfortable bed. The only trouble was that the apartment has window shutters. I lived in Germany for some years when I was younger, but had totally forgotten how wonderful shutters are at shutting out the noise and the light. The consequence of that was that we slept so much later than we had intended, having woken a couple of times to a room in total darkness and gone back to sleep again, assuming that the day hadn’t yet arrived. Well, of course it had – and had been hanging around waiting for us for quite some time. 

After breakfast we set off for the day, firstly catching a bus to take us to Tour Montparnasse, that giant, dark edifice which sticks up like a Gallic finger across the road from Gare Montparnasse. Now, I know that there are people – purists, those who care about whether or not a building “fits” its surroundings – who absolutely hate the Montparnasse Tower.
The big, black Gallic finger.
We are not amongst those. Sure, it does stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, but it also provides fabulous views over Paris, views which allow you to actually view the sites you normally view the rest of Paris from, views that offer great photo opportunities, a la –
Sacre Coer from Tour Montparnasse
The Dome, les Invalides, from Tour Montparnasse
We enjoyed a tasty lunch up there in the clouds, and managed, of course, to pick up a couple of little somethings to bring home, my favourite being a delightful tiny glass owl. I think he hails from the Bordeaux region because he certainly looks as though he has been on some potent red for a few hours, being rather off to one side and decidedly giggly looking. I love that he is a “chouette”, a word that can describe my lovely little owl or which can be used to say that you are feeling pretty cool, happy, pretty laid back. It’s perfect for him, so much better than the serious label “owl”.

And the best view of Mr Eiffel's Tower, with the Trocadero behind it,
from Tour Montparnasse

After lunch we walked - never wandering lonely as a cloud because it would be impossible to feel lonely in a city you love – up and down side streets, admiring apartment buildings and florist shops, delighting at little private parks, until we made our way back across the river and to the Madeleine, or La Madeleine if you like, or, to give it its correct name, l’église de St-Marie-Madeleine, that beautiful church just along the road from Place de la Concorde and which I really love. What a bonus! As we entered we were blessed with the most heavenly sounds. We discovered that our timing was just perfect as there was a visiting youth choir, from Portsmouth in England, who were filling the building with their wonderful voices right at that very time. We sat, enraptured, and listened until they came to the end of their lovely performance.

The heavenly sounding Portsmouth choir at La Madeleine

What more was there to do this day except to wander off, with an even lighter step, up to the stunning Garnier Opera House to feast our eyes again on its magnificence. This time we didn’t bother taking any photographs but just spent time marvelling at its beauty and enjoying some quiet moments sitting on marble benches in its lovely corridors while others, perhaps first-time visitors, ooohed and aaahed over the décor which itself is an opera.

Love this statue of Edward VII - oops, French, please - Edouard VII,
outside l'Hotel Edouard 7, Avenue d l'Opera.

Back out in the street, we let our feet take us in whichever direction they wanted, and so we became blissfully lost, pausing once at a little bar for some wine and later, somewhere in the 1st arrondissement, for an absolutely delicious meal. As the sky over Paris darkened we found ourselves spotting a familiar sight – the Louvre, of course. They say all roads lead to Rome. I tend to think that all roads start at the Eiffel Tower and end up right in front of Mr Pei’s wonderful Pyramid and all that it draws you to. 

Just a couple more of my favourites taken from the Tour Montparnasse

Another wonderful day in a wonderful city. What will tomorrow hold?


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What a Job!!!

As some of you know, recently all my photographs on this and my other blogs were "deleted" by Google for some reason. Oh, I wasn't singled out; it happened to zillions of people. Suddenly, lovely scenes of the idyllic French countryside, or Hong Kong Disneyland, or the Eiffel Tower were gone and in their place was a threatening looking black circle with an exclamation mark or, more recently, a triangle with an exclamation mark.

Why did it happen? Nobody has been able to provide any real explanation. It happened, and that is that. I did look at other blog platforms, but not being a computer whiz I came back to the lovely simplicity and user-friendliness of Blogger.

So, I guess all that is a long way to say: please be patient. I have so much to share with you, more trips to France with more leisurely cruises through the countryside, a visit to the stunning Norfolk Island, a return trip to Hong Kong, a day in Brussels, and - most recently - a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong. However, I am slowly working my way through my old posts, beginning with the first trip to France, reinserting photographs and trying to do so with the care that I devoted to it the first time round.

I guess these things are sent to try us, aren't they. And, boy, are they trying, and so am I - trying my best to catch up, so please don't desert me. Check back regularly as bit by bit the photographs are coming back, and I will soon take you by the hand to share my travels with me.

Bye for now ... Me

The closing of the day near our home - often the loveliest sights are in our backyard.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sooo Cruisy

Have to interrupt the French trip to mention that we recently went on a cruise, a Holland America Line trip from Singapore (one of our favourite spots in the world) to Hong Kong (another favourite), and, while I have no intention of spending the rest of my life cruising, it really is such an amazingly relaxing way to vacation - being totally spoilt, looked after, pampered, fed delicious foods, and doing as little or as much as you want. All that with some really interesting port visits, not to mention some wonderful sunsets.
Hm, might be up for one or two more cruises in the not too distant future.