FC: Barbette | Goes to France
1: Dedication This book is dedicated to my lovely niece, Jessica Szpila , Who, after doing a school project on Paris, Fell in love with the Eiffel Tower Love, Aunt Christine Layout and editing by: Jessica Koenig Photography by: Uncle Ed
2: My name is Barbie. (Barbette in French). I am so excited. I am going to France!
3: We just arrived at the airport and I am celebrating in the Sky Club Lounge with my very first glass of champagne. | Our flight number is called and before I know it, I am buckled in my seat ready to take off. | I am supposed to sleep during the flight, but I don't think I can.
7: Seven hours later we arrive in Nice, France which is located on the French Riviera. It’s something like the Jersey shore but much fancier. We picked up our BMW and drove off to a small town in the hills, St. Paul de Vence. It’s a medieval town surrounded by walls. Now it’s an artists’ community filled with art galleries. It was fun walking the cobblestone streets looking into the shops. There was even art outside. There was a sculpture of a man diving off one of the walls; another of a man riding a swing over a deep gorge. At night, when we came into town for dinner, there was very little light. It was very quiet. So quiet you could hear the sounds of your own footsteps echoing through the narrow streets. | The view was amazing! | Suspended Sculpture!
8: After a few days, we were off to Provence in southern France to visit friends. Their house was like an estate with high walls and an iron fence. It was called “ La Bastidiole”. The driveway was lined with fruit trees and lavender. It smelled so pretty. We stayed in the guest house. I was happy that they had grandchildren because there were plenty of toys and books for me. The first morning we woke and walked to town to the Boulangerie. It smelled heavenly with all the bread and pastries. We bought some bread and ate it for breakfast along with Madame’s jams made from the fruit they grow. There was a beautiful pool. Even though it was too cold to swim, I sat by the pool enjoying the sun and the view.
10: We took so many gorgeous pictures!
13: It was sad to leave “La Bastidiole” and Madame and Messieur Vallis, but I was also anxious to start our journey towards Paris. During the next five days we traveled around southern and western France. The land was marked by deep gorges, high mountains and vineyards. There were ancient forts from the Hundred Years war and beautiful old castles. The roads were narrow and windy. My uncle likes to drive fast. At first I was scared, but I got used to it. We got to places faster. | He really liked the car
16: One day we drove to Monte Carlo. It’s in a small country called Monaco which is only one square mile. It’s ruled by a Prince and Princess and some of the world’s richest people live there. I had the best chocolate pastry there!
17: Monte Carlo Casino
18: While most people in Europe have small cars, my uncle’s car was big. It was hard parking and the garage was so small that all the alarms in the car went off because we were too close to everything. It was embarrassing, people stared at us.
19: SEEING THE WORLD ONE CITY AT A TIME. | The first castle we stayed at, Le Roc sur L’Orbieu, was an old ruin. The owner spent 25 years trying to rebuild it. It was so bad that she couldn’t live in it until nine years ago and she still has lots of work to do. She made dinner our first evening and we met people from England and the Netherlands. She wasn’t a very good cook, so we went out to a nice restaurant the next night. There were no lights on the road. My uncle took a wrong turn and we ended up in a pasture filled with donkeys and horses. My aunt and I laughed so hard. While there we visited many small, pretty towns. One was Grasse where much of the world’s scents are made into perfume. I bought some souvenirs but they made me sneeze when I got them home.
20: The next day we were off to stay at another castle, Les Vieilles Tours, outside the town of Rocamador. This was the best castle hotel so far. They had great desserts for dinner and a cheese named for the town. You know how much I love cheese! | I could not believe the town and couldn’t understand how anyone could build it. It looked like it hung from the side of the mountain. The stairs to the town started low in the valley and rose up until you reached the cathedral at the top. | Pilgrims would come from all over Europe and climb the stars on their knees to visit the shrine of the Black Madonna at the Cathedral.
21: On our last night before leaving for Paris, we stayed in the most beautiful castle. It was called “Chateau de Cotignan” and we had a suite in the turret. I felt like Rapunzel! The castle was empty except for us, which was a little creepy. At least there was a knight in full armor just in case I needed to be rescued. | There were pilgrims in the church when we visited but I don’t think they climbed to the top on their knees. We were able to get closer and see the cathedral and walk some of the alleys of shops descending down the mountain. I bought a medal for my Mom at the church.
22: Every morning, my uncle and I would walk to the boulangerie. There was always a long line of people waiting for fresh bread and pastries. The aromas coming from the bakery were wonderful. Everything we bought was warm from the oven and it was hard not to eat it all on the way home. My favorite was a breakfast pastry filled with chocolate. Sometimes we would stop at the cheese shop and the fruit stand and get delicious cheese and melons to go with our baguettes. | Finally, we are going to Paris! We took the train from Clermont-Ferrand. French trains are wonderful. They are clean, fast and have a steward that serves snacks, CANDY and drinks. We arrived in Paris in no time at all. | Instead of staying in a hotel, we rented a penthouse studio. It was in the 14th arrondisment, near the artists’ quarter called Montmartre. Through our window, we had a beautiful view of Sacre Couer, a church that took 40 years to build. It would get thousands of visitors each day. Even though we were close, it looked like thousands of multi-colored ants
24: Good times | Making memories. | PARIS | FRANCE | We were in Paris for nine glorious days. We took the Metro (Paris subway), so it was easy traveling around. We went everywhere. My aunt and uncle wanted me to get some culture. We went to the Louvre and we entered the museum through the glass pyramid. My head was spinning there was so much to see. I remember the painting of the Mona Lisa and the sculpture,” Winged Victory”.
25: Then we went to L’Orangerie, a museum, in the Tuilleries Gardens. Before the French Revolution, the gardens belonged to the queen of France but are now public. L’Orangerie has huge paintings by the Impressionist artist, Monet. He liked to paint his gardens and his water lily pond. These paintings were as long as my house. I really liked them because they were in my favorite colorspink and purple. After that, we walked through the gardens. There is a large fountain where kids can rent sail boats. You get a stick so you can push your boat if it gets stuck. It was so much fun running around with the other kids playing with our boats. The sails really worked and a gust of wind would send them straight across to the other side. My favorite museum was the Musee D’Orsey. The building used to be a train station. It was beautiful and they had a special exhibit. There were paintings of women by the impressionist artists in lovely gowns. Next to the paintings were the actual dresses. I would have loved to touch them. Better yet, it would have been great to try them on. We had lunch in the museum dining room. I have never seen a room like it. The ceiling was twenty feet high and was covered with paintings and gold decorations. It almost looked like the ceilings of churches. | EIFFEL | PARIS | TOWER
29: Every day we walked to different parts of the city. We strolled the Champs Elysee, Place de la Concorde and saw the Arc de Triumph. We went to concerts in the Cathedral of Notre Dame and Eglise Saint-Ephrem. We sampled Parisian street food. The crepes are delicious, but messy. My aunt and I had chocolate filled crepes. The chocolate was warm and oozed out all over our faces. We looked like chocolate clowns! Of course we went shopping! We went to the Marais district which has all the up and coming boutiques, to the Rue St. Honore with one designer store after another and to the Place Vendome with more jewels than you can imagine. Then we went to the unbelievable Gallery Lafayette! It was the most beautiful department store I ever saw. You look up and there is a glass roof! We looked at everything.the shoes, French designer outfits, the bridal boutique, the perfumerie. It was here that I was transformed into a French fashionista! I bought a beautiful outfit.dress, shoes and handbag. Plus, I had my hair styled at the spa. I had so much fun. It was a great day!
30: We spent our last day in the neighborhood around the apartment. We went to Sacre Couer and to the artist’s square in Montmartre. Artists have gathered and painted there for centuries. Some artists were sketching tourists, others painting with oils and watercolors. I was excited when I found the perfect watercolor of the Eiffel Towermy favorite thing in Paris besides shopping, eating pastries and cheese. That evening we took a ride on the Seine River on a Bateau Mouche. Many of the most beautiful buildings, bridges and monuments in Paris are along the Seine and are lit up at night. Of course, the most beautiful was the Eiffel Tower. It glimmered in the darkness. What a wonderful way to end my visit to Paris! All of a sudden, vacation was over and we were on the plane back to the US. I was happy to get home to my family, but I can’t wait to visit Paris again. A Bientot, Paris! Barbette