S: LOIRE VALLEY, MT ST MICHELLE, NORMANDY, MONET, PARIS, ROME
BC: Mont Saint Michel
FC: FRANCE - LOIRE VALLEY CHATEAUS & VINEYARDS, MONT SAINT MICHELE, NORMANDY, MONET, PARIS, & ROME, ITALY MAY 21 - JUNE 3, 2011
1: Bonjour!! We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport to begin our two weeks of adventures with friends, Leigh & Dan Turben, Dayton, OH. Week one, we toured sites B thru O. Week two, Leigh & Dan head south to Avignon, France; we spend the weekend in Paris with friends and then, four days in Rome. On Friday of the second week, the four of us toured Paris, ending the two weeks with an evening cruise on the River Seine, viewing a "Sparkling" Eiffel Tower ... Merci!!
2: Gothic Chartres Cathedral, largest cathedral in France, up the hill in Chartres. Many quaint outdoor restaurants nearby ... Very scenic!
3: La Heraudiere in Tours -historic "country look" family home in the city turned B & B ...our favorite ...beautiful roses ...our bedroom Breakfast - baguettes from the bakery ...with homemade jams and yogurts ...and French- pressed coffee ... Excellente' Our first purchase of 1 Euro ($1.44) bottle of tasty, restaurant-quality wine ... nice selection..in a grocery store...
4: Chateau Chambord ... No. 1 of 3 top-toured chateaus in Loire Valley, southwestern France ...Unique symmetrical architecture ...Beautiful landscape We did "drive-bys" of other "lesser known" chateaus
5: Chateau Chenonceaux...No. 2 of 3 ...Beautiful entrance, gardens ...Interior - rich furnishings, adorned with fresh cut flowers ...Kitchen was well restored ...Outdoor lunch in the town of Bracieux
6: Vouvray vineyards ...Vouvray Caves (learned about wine processing ...wine tasting ...Roger with bottle of Vouvray Wine - more than 1 Euro per bottle, for sure.... ...Pringles and Merlot -So French! ...Roger & Dan buying more bottles of the 1 Euro wine at Simply Market - with"vintage labels on the bottles
7: Leigh's birthday Dinner @ Les Linottes in Tours ...Waitress with Leigh's translation book, translating French to English to assist us with ordering dinner ...Group toasting Leigh's birthday ...Two of the (nicely-presented) desserts
8: Enroute to St. Malo, toured Azay-le-Rideau Chateau ...No. 3 of top 3 ...Chateau was built on a lake, appears to be "floating" on water. ...Interesting gardens and furnishings
9: Lunch break enroute to St. Malo ...Traffic signals, also, at "eye level" for drivers of small cars ..."Roundabouts" on the highways, instead of interchanges and stop signs ...Theme roundabouts, this - a chair, representing local chair manufacturer. Our Hertz rental auto used diesel - 1.42 Euros per liter ($8.07 per gallon) ...Rental had GPS, which kept us on track; don't vacation in France without one!
10: St. Malo is known for its crepes; so dinner at Le Mole's Creperie ...Passing a toy store on the way .. and a case full of French confections ...Photo of "Galette" - buckwheat crepe filled with savory ham, eggs and cheese. Other crepes ordered include salmon, shrimp and beef...and sweet dessert crepes, of course! ..."Chef" at the Creperie gave us the evil eye for taking her photo!
11: On the way to Mont St. Michel, stopped in small town of Sains for the "usual" breakfast - baguette, butter, jam, & "French-pressed tall coffee." (McDonalds do not open until 11:00 am for lunch) ...Flamboyant person serving breakfast ...Alas! our first sighting of Mont St. Michel - with sheep in foreground
12: Mont Saint Michel ...We made it!! Roger's "Bucket List" has one less entry / place to see ...Yahoo!!
13: Mont St. Michel ...Shops, restaurants & hotels ...After a long walk up the steps to the Abbey, we were in the church, with Mass in progress ...stained glass ...gargoles
14: Mont St. Michel ...at the top of the Abbey, was a garden, looking out to the water below, along with a statue of St. Michael, the Archangel
15: Sights of Dinan, a walk on top of the walled city (bottom photo).. ...Always a church stepple...Manequin being sold at an auction. Everyone likes ice cream.
16: Above, Leigh's father was in St. Lo, during WW II and had seen the bombed out Notre-Dame church in the 1940's ...Some repairs have been completed since the war, but a lot of war-torn statues remain...Leigh leaving the church's entrance. | Lovely harbor town of Honfleur ...Nice Sculpture ...Stripes are in this fashion season....
17: On the way to Claude Monet's Home & Gardens in Giverny, we got lucky at the Le Terminus Restaurant and Hotel, and had our FIRST "American" breakfast with bacon, eggs, bread, coffee, and a pound of butter, and, a plate of assorted salami to share - for 10 Euros each ...Black Great Dane met us at the front door -Party of 4, please!! ...Rental car, a VW Passat station wagon parked next to smaller French cars. With the price of fuel, high miles per gallon...vip...
18: Claude Monet Home & Gardens in Giverney ...Ellen with an artist of miniature art items
19: Near Claude Monet's Gardens, a professional photographer hired three actors to dress in period costumes. The actors also posed for the tourists - at the chagrin of the photographer ...Timing is everything!
20: Every French city has a major church: In Rouen - Notre-Dame Cathedral; In Pont de l'Arche - Eglise Notre-Dame des Arts with cute Gargoles ...Dan & Leigh ready for dinner ...Next morning, in the car heading for Charles DeGaulle Airport, ending week one of the two week trip
21: Weekend in Paris ...delightful, with grand boulevards and outdoor cafes in the neighborhood near friends, Liza & Franck Guellerin's apartment. We were their guests for the weekend. Pictured are Liza, left, sister Greta Szmaj, far right & Greta's daughter Katia, center. Great reminiscing about earlier times in Dayton, OH
22: Main gate of Roland Garros, French Open Tennis Tournament ...No tickets ...However, friendly security staff allowed us to enter to have a photo taken with a junior player and her mother ...Will investigate name of player - Maybe a world class tennis star in the making.... ..Nissan dealership (our son's US employer) ...Bike rentals through out Paris
23: Rome for four days... B & B in a commercial building ... Around the corner - Piazza Vittoria Emanuele, with restaurants, delis, shops & Walmart-type "super" store ...If you are in the crosswalk, cars will stop for you, but - be alert, as lower left photo shows ...Gay pride festival in our piazza in the evening..."unusual" to some!
24: The Coliseum was awesomely Colossus. ...The interior seating and the sub floors under the main floor indicate a complex structure.... The night scene, also awesome...
25: Sights of Rome ... Lower left, Roger buying an "All Day" Metro pass for 4 Euros, good on the subway and bus system ...Piazzas (mini shopping and apartment districts) were throughout Rome....Have your future read with Tarot cards in 3 languages...Each piazza was unique, a tourist magnet.
26: Escalator down into the subway system. Riding the subway system for 4 Euros per day ...Open air cafe, with waiters in waiting ...Dog or small lion? ...Bicycle tour group riding through the Piazza....
27: ...Open air cafe ...Public water fountain for a quick drink ...Gelato (ice cream) - refreshing ...Real Italian Dinner, with pizza and minestrone soup ...Italian Navy Officer Convention
28: Vatican City... St. Peter's Basilica & Square holds 260,000 people ...Unexpected adventure - walking up 320 steps to the Cupola (top of the Dome; see arrow, center top photo) where our photo was taken
29: St. Peter's ...Ellen walking down the narrow 320 steps from the Cupola ...Photo of St. Peter's Square taken from the Cupola
30: St. Peter's Basilica ...Looking up at ceiling & down to main floor thru metal fence onto main floor ...
31: More ...St. Peter's Basilica & Square
32: Piazza Navona ...Happening place with the Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers.. Market Place & Art for sale...
33: Basilica Pantheon | More Gelato!! | Trevi Fountain (As in "3 Coins in the Fountain")... | Street Performers ...Real People | Bus to Rome Airport ...Mirror view photo - see us? | Nice Convertible!!
34: Back in Paris ...Visit to Eiffel Tower - four-hour wait to go to top level; Plus, high wind warnings at the top, we decided not to wait.
35: Montmartre in Paris ...visit to Sacre-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) ...Roger lighting a candle for his nephew, newly ordained Fr. Ignatius ...Sports car on display in Montmartre
36: Sunset Evening Cruise on the Seine... Norte Dame on lower left
37: Evening Cruise on the Seine ...On the boat for the 9:30pm cruise ...Saw many historical building during the cruise ...Most speculator was the Eiffel Tower as a "Sparkler" on the hour ...Awesome finish to a great two weeks with friends .... Back to Nashville, USA !!! PS. Leigh, Thanks for all the pre-planning.....
39: Prior Trips with Leigh & Dan Turben....Club Med @ Columbus Isle, San Salvador, 1995...Cairo Egypt and Red Sea, 2000...and China, 2008 | Club Med San Salvador | Cairo Egypt & Red Sea | China & Hong Kong