October 3, 2001
I took 3 friends I have met on the Internet with me in my first trip driving by myself . We made a great trip to Giverny. I have been there in the Summer before and had read that Autumn is a great time to see it too, with new bloomings. We had a hard time getting out of Paris and the heavy traffic, but made good time once away from the city. We got there just after the gardens opened and hot footed it over to the bridge. I was determined to miss the bus loads of people that arrive here and wanted to get a picture of the famous curved bridge without crowds of people there. We were successful.
A view of the peaceful pond
The bridge with no people!
Afterwards, we stopped in a little nearby town called Vernon which turned out to have a great old chapel and lots of half-timbered buildings, one which seemed to be leaning out into the street.
We had a great, leisurely lunch here and then fought the traffic back into Paris. It was a great day. Giverny had a wonderful relaxing air about it, the air was cool, Monet's house was delightful. What a great country France is!
October 12, 2001
I have been so busy with my French class, and my new social life, that I hardly have had time to update my journal. Everyday after class I either meet new friends I have made from the Internet or do something with new friends from my class. Tonight Maurice and I go to dinner to Katherine's and her husband for dinner. She is from Australia and she and I struggle through our French class.
The weather has been incredible here the last few weeks. I'm sure a long and gray winter is ahead so I try and get out often to enjoy the blue skies and sunshine. Near my class is St. Sulpice church and a large fountain in front that is beautiful in the sunlight when the water is turned on.
Note the blue skies
The last few nights there were incredible sunsets. I wasn't in the right place to take a picture for the best skies, but did get this view of Sacre Cour with a pink sky from the terrace of the Printemps Department Store.
Cranes are in every picture
I'm having a great time right now with new friends. I'm excited about getting some articles put up on an Internet magazine called Bonjour Paris, and they have been using some of my photos, too. It keeps me excited to keep my eyes open as I explore Paris.
October 20, 2001
I have had a busy week going to my French class, studying, taking photos for Bonjour Paris. I didn't do anything that unusual this week. I took some photos of a Canadian Sports Bar called The Moosehead. On Sunday nights they show American Football games. I'm going to have to get Maurice to go with me some night. I will have no trouble as he loves any kind of sport.
The temperatures continue to be wonderful, in the 60's and 70's, although we have started to get rain, which cuts into my photography. I went to 2 different ethnic restaurants this week, one an Indian, the other Iranian. Azita, an Iranian women in my French class took us there. It was really good with kebabs. We all tried various appetizers before which were good and there was a yogurty type of drink I didn't like. We had a great time. What a great bunch of ladies.
I wish I could say my French is improving. I'm hoping that I'm like a sponge and that it's all going in somewhere and one day will start appearing. We will see.
Here are a few Autumn pictures.
This is in Bois de Vincennes near our place
Our French class had a walking tour of the Marais area, an old part of Paris that didn't get mowed down by Haussman when he was making all of those wide avenues. It's very charming and full of narrow streets and old buildings. We visited St Paul St Louis Cathedral where the hearts of both Louis XIII and Louis XIV had once been until the revolution. Who knows where they ended up?
We then headed toward the Picasso Museum. On the way we passed an art gallery and I got a real shock when I saw a huge painting of NYC with the WTC towers burning. The artist had been in NYC for 2 years painting and I guess he really loved the city and did this painting, as many artists did, to work through his anger and grief.
Here's a poster of his work
The manager of the gallery was so nice and gave me this poster for free to take home. Unfortunately, I messed it up pretty badly on the way home when a stupid man exposed himself to me on the bus and I used the rolled up poster to bash him repeatedly over the head.
I did go into the Picasso Museum. It's in a beautiful building used to house a lot of Picasso's works which I read he donated to the French government to cover a lot of unpaid taxes.
The stairway going up to his paintings
I'm not much for Picasso's paintings. I don't like to see all sides of a face squashed into one plane. I like his earlier works better. Here is one of his modern ones.
See, both side of the face and front view all at once
Yesterday I went with a friend, Chris, on what turned out to be a 7 hour stroll through parts of Paris, looking for photo ops. I'm looking for pictures of dogs right now and not having a lot of luck, which is strange as they are seen every where along with evidence on the sidewalk that they have been there. We walked through Luxembourg Garden which is so beautiful with golden trees, leaves on the ground, and Mums everywhere. We found a church I had read about but found out it is now a hospital and we could only go in the chapel on Sundays due to increased security, mainly because it's a military hospital.
We then went to the Latin Quarter and went into the Pantheon which I had never seen. It was once a cathedral but is now mainly a burial spot for some of France's famous people, such as Victor Hugo. It was also the place where Foucault did his experiment with the pendulum to prove that the earth rotated. There is a replica of the pendulum there now.
A shot of the interior
Near by is a beautiful church called ST Etienne du Mont which I enjoyed walking through. It has the only roodscreen in Paris which is a sort of balcony that the priest did his sermons from. There were no photos allowed, but I did get one, quietly, of the screen.
We next walked along St Germain de Pres and went to an interesting store that sells or rents stuffed animals. It was once where people went to look at natural science, the actual thing, such as a lion or a butterfly, before the days of TV and computers and were found in many cities. We also passed many shops displaying Halloween decorations in their windows. This is a holiday that 10 years ago was not celebrated in France. They do take flowers to graves on November 1st, All Saint's Day, but now have adopted the American decorations of pumpkins, witches, bats, and the rest. Being French, they have added a touch of class to the holiday. Children are starting to wear costumes and go out for treats, and bars are all having special Halloween parties. What it comes down to is that stores and bars can make more money doing this, so it has spread. I think the original idea started when a lot of pumpkins were put at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and it rolled on from there.
Here is a pumpkin in the Godiva store, which also sold incredible pumpkin candy in chocolate.