July 14th is Bastille Day in France which commemerates the storming of the Bastille with the ending of the monarchy and, eventually, the beginning of the Republique which exists today. It’s similar to the Fourth of July celebrations in the States. I used to miss the Fourth like crazy, along with Thanksgiving, when I first moved to Paris but those feelings have faded with time.

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Our Bastille Day actually started on July 13. We went down the beach and had a huge drink with the sun shining on the water across the way. We went to the casino in town too and lost twenty euros in the slot machines.

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That night we saw the fireworks which were just across the beach in the harbor across from our apartment.

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They were very impressive.

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The next day there was a huge military parade (the largest in Europe) in Paris. My favorite part is when the jets fly over with red, white and blue smoke behind them. As you can see, I took this photo of it on the TV.

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The fireworks at the Eiffel Tower were just fabulous with special lighting that made it look like the tower was dancing and fireworks coming out that made it look like the tower was swishing her skirts or twirling a scarf. The fireworks must have lasted at least thirty or forty minutes and there was great music that played along too. One of these days I may get there in person although I hate crowds. We saw them from Montmartre once but it was too far away. This photo was from the TV too and doesn’t come close to showing how spectacular it was.

Thank you, everyone, for the very nice comments on Lisa. Maurice and I went to the memorial service at Pere Lachaise to say goodbye to her. There were many people there, many Americans who met Lisa through blogging, and family of Georges and friends of his as well. I shouldn’t be surprised by how many people Lisa had touched either with her blog or in person. She really reached out to people and was involved in their lives.

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Pere Lachaise

I have to say the memorial service in a beautiful room at the crematorium at Pere Lachaise was very difficult. All of us were crying before we even entered the room. At one point I sobbed as I was telling Aimee Osbourn-Gille (look at her wonderful tribute to Lisa on Facebook) how great her photo of Lisa was, and the photos she took of Georges and Lisa when they first fell in love. I saw them as I was looking at Lisa’s blog and the photos in a frame were a Christmas gift to Georges from Lisa and as I tried to say this my throat shut down and I could hardly talk. It was hard to see her coffin, her mother, sister and niece trying to hold up and, of course, Georges. Two of Lisa’s friends gave really great talks about Lisa and how much she meant to them and Georges also spoke.
I hope the heart will go on, the soul, the essence of Lisa. I believe we continue on after death. I would love to get a sign from Lisa that she’s there. I hope Georges and his children will feel her presence too. Life goes on even when a hole is left when someone leaves us.
Here is something perfect: Lisa’s ashes will be scattered in two places. First on “Melon Beach” where Georges proposed to Lisa in Saint Raphael and secondly on the water under the Pont des Arts where Lisa and her friend got the “love” locks removed. So fitting. I will think of Lisa each time I see a bridge in Paris.

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This wonderful photo of Lisa was taken by Aimee. I think it shows the essence of Lisa-her kindness, her contentment with life.

Maurice and I once again rented a boat and headed over to Ile de Ré, the beautiful island near us. While I really enjoyed our time on the boat and getting there I have discovered that the tide is a really big problem as the water is fairly shallow in this area so a low tide makes it impossible to leave a harbor so by the time we reached our destination we only had a short time before we had to leave or we would have been stuck there for hours waiting for the tide to rise again. So I don’t know if we will be doing much more boating, but, in any case, here are some photos I took of that day.

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Going under the bridge that links the mainland to the island.

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We had never gone there from the water before so kept our eyes open for this light house that is at Saint Martin, the main village on Ile de Ré.

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The entry to the little harbor.

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This map of the island is on a wall there.

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As we were headed back and crossed under the bridge again I was taking a photo and didn’t even see this sailboat until I snapped the photo. A lucky accident.

I became friends with Lisa Taylor Huff through our blogs. Hers was called The Bold Soul. I’m sad to say that Lisa passed away yesterday after a very short battle with cancer. I still can’t believe it. She was living in New Jersey and had long had a desire to try living in Paris and made it happen. She was lucky enough to be able to work with a computer so she could live anywhere. Lisa came to visit us in Provence in the beginning of her time in France and I remember rolling along in my car showing her the lavender as we sang along to Celine Dion’s Love Is On The Way and I think it must have been prophetic because not long after that she met George, the love of her life. They married in New Jersey and they had a party in Paris to celebrate the marriage. I still remember that the bath tub was full of ice and bottles of champagne and the pretty green dress she wore, the same one she had been married in. So she became a wife and stepmother, happily going about day to day life in Paris. She even eventually became a French citizen.

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Last Thanksgiving we had invited Lisa and George over for lunch. The night before she called to cancel. She ended up in the emergency room with what they first thought was a kidney stone, which she did have, but it turned out that she also had kidney cancer which had eaten its way through her kidney and filled her abdomen with blood. Eventually her kidney was removed but the cancer had spread. They started her on an oral chemo treatment that she didn’t do well on, and then another. We were at our beach place when I saw on Facebook that she was in the hospital so we started exchanging textos. They were concerned with her blood work and trying to normalize that and she was also anemic so she was having blood transfusions. She didn’t go into detail but I think she was also there to get a catheter put in for more intensive treatment of her very aggressive cancer. She didn’t tell me this, just mentioned “other things” going on. I never talked to her as I think it tired her out but I sent her a little photo each day and a short message. Then last week I sent a photo of a flower and she just sent back a smiley face, an emoticon. The next day I sent a photo of a sunset but got no reply. I thought maybe she was busy going back home. The day after that I texted again and Georges said to call him. She was in an induced coma after a shut down of her respiratory system during the short procedure to put in the catheter. If she was able to start breathing on her own, she would only have a month or two to live due to the cancer now in her liver and lungs. She died without really gaining consciousness the next day. Her family from the States were with her as was George. It was such a shock-she was so young with so much to live for. Just heart breaking. She and a friend were responsible for the No Love Locks movement getting the tons of locks removed from several bridges in Paris and starting a movement across the world. She truly was The Bold Soul. I’m so glad she got to have the years that she did in Paris and that I got to know her. I want to be inspired to do the same, to make every moment count. Rest in Peace, Lisa. You will be missed.

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We haven’t done any thing of interest or taken any little trips to speak of although there are a lot of things I have on my list in the area and we have company coming so we will be showing them around. I have been walking around our little village and up and down the beach so here are a few photos of anything I found interesting.

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A look at the water at high tide one morning as we walked along the beach.

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This is why I don’t get into the water, although Maurice does. It is some sort of jellyfish and it is almost a foot across. There are always a few to be found washed up on the shore.

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Fish for sale at our little local market.

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We have had a few very hot days recently (and there is no a/c at our place)and a nice way to deal with the heat is a glass of rose with ice.

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Look at this label. Do you see the words “ice tea” anywhere on it? I don’t either but you never asked for thé glacé in France but ice tea. Just something I find sort of strange. I even got two cubes of ice the other day. It isn’t unusual to get none, just a glass. Life in France.

I’m always very excited when I get to review a book and such was the case when I found the very beautiful book, Bridges of Paris, being delivered to my door. Like most people who know Paris, I love the bridges that cross the Seine. They add so much to the feel and look of Paris. I don’t think I am familiar with the bridges on the outskirts of Paris although I’m sure I have passed them all at one time or another. They can’t compare with the bridges of central Paris, so beautiful and unique. I think the fact that the Seine is a wide river helps too as we noted when we were in Dublin. The bridges there were more workaday too without that elegance and sophistication found in Paris. I loved looking though Bridges of Paris, at the stunning photograpy as well as the history of each bridge.
The author, Michael Saint James, a Californian, lived in Paris for a year going out each day visiting a bridge, rain or shine, in each season to find the best light and view. There are thirty seven bridges crssing the Seine and the author says he is reluctant to name a favorite but finally settles on the Petit Pont which sits on the site of the first bridge in Paris. It’s tiny but timeless.

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The cover of the book.

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Here’s a lovely photo of Pont Mirabeau. I remember the first time that I saw it I wondered why it wasn’t more famous as it is really lovely. One reason, of course, is that it isn’t central but a downstream bridge. Michael gives the interesting history of the bridge including information on a plaque found on the bridge with the first stanza of a well known French poem by Apollinaire named Le Pont Mirabeau. The plaque was pointed out to the author by a charming lady who crossed the bridge every day and who was proud to point it out to him.
So if you are a lover of all things Parisian or know someone who is, this would be a perfect gift, a coffee table book to grace your life. It’s full of history and interesting facts-I love things like that-and the photography is just stunning.

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