S: Paris & the Heart of France
BC: I was just looking forward to seeing Rick Steves in person at the reunion but it was like a dream come true to even talk to him, dance with him and have a picture with him. Thank you Rick! | Mark, Bob, Betty, Toni, Jim, Bev, Acela & Cliff With Nina Bernardo, our Italy quide in 2007 | Toni, Cliff, Acela & Rick Steves | Seattle, WA-we attended the 2010 reunion in January 2011 and had a wonderful time!
FC: Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days a Rick Steves' Tour By Cliff & Acela Baker
1: Learning from our prior Rick Steves' tour, we decided to arrive a few days early. This gives us a opportunity to get used to a new time zone, to orient ourselves to new surrounding, and maybe even see things that are not on the tour. We departed Phoenix, Arizona on 18 Sep. 2010, and arrived in Paris, France on the 19th. After checking in to our hotel, our first stop - Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris to attend Sunday Mass. This was a dream come true!
2: Central Portal - It is the end of the world and Christ sits on the throne of judgment. Beneath him an angel and a demon weigh souls in the balance; the demon cheats by pressing down. The good stand to the left, gazing up to heaven. The bad ones to the right are chained up and led off to hell. The lower panel shows Judgment Day, as angels with trumpets remind worshippers that all social classes will be judged.
3: Notre-Dame Cathedral The center of France | Mary in Rose Window | Kings of Judah
4: Notre-Dame Cathedral at night | The "flying" buttresses support the roof by pushing back inward. | Gargoyles-these grotesque beasts sticking out from the pillars and buttresses represent souls caught between heaven and earth. They also function as rainspouts when there are no evil spirits to battle
5: Monday morning (20 Sep. 2010), we started exploring the streets of Paris and we came across this boulangerie; bought some pastries and coffee and found our corner in a park (Saint Jacques De La Boucherie park). Cliff took his first bite and said "hhummm...nothing can be this good. Just the pastries alone is worth the trip!"
6: This afternoon we have a date with Tour Eiffel, but we still have plenty of time before our 16:30 appointment, so we decided to see Paris by boat. This gave us an idea of how close the different sites are - the museums, churches/cathedrals, monuments, the parks, oh...and the Tour Eiffel.
7: Eiffel Tower There is no question that if you have the time and you're in Paris, you have to go up the Eiffel Tower-you will not be disappointed. This 1,000-foot-tall, (7,300 tons of metal and 60 tons of paint) hunk of steel is worth the trouble.
9: Cliff Baker - guard on duty (20 Sep. 2010) 16:30
10: This is the 1st gate | Tuesday, 21 Sep. 2010, we took the train to Versailles - the ultimate royal palace, every king's dream, Versailles was the residence of French kings. Louis XIV spent half a year's income of Europe's richest country to turn this into a palace fit for a divine monarch.
11: This is the 2nd gate...really!
12: Royal Chapel | King Louis XIV "The Sun King"
13: Hall of Mirrors-250 feet long with 17 arched mirrors and 17 matching windows looking out on the royal gardens. In another time, this was also the room in which the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I. | Hidden escape door used by Marie-Antoinette during the revolution
14: Marterre du Midi (South Parteirre) | Bassin et Parterre de Latone (Latona Fountain and Parterre) | Orangerie (The Orangerie) | Bassin du Char d'Apollon (Fountain of Apollo's Chariot) | The Gardens
15: Domaine de Marie-Antoinette - built by Louis XIV to escape from his escape.
16: Day 1 - 21 Sep. 2010, Orientation-we met our guide Toni Clark and most of our group members for the first time. Toni just gave us a few rules to follow: (1) no grouches allowed and (2) be happy. We followed that rule for the rest of our trip and if there was ever a time we started feeling tired and grouchy...we keep reminding ourselves about the golder rule - no grouch allowed and be happy! It worked!!! | Bonjour!
17: Le Bosquet First group dinner
18: Sainte-Chapelle - built by St. Louis in mid-thirteenth century in the heart of the royal palace to house the relics of Passion of Christ. There are fifteen high stained glass windows. | Day 2 - 22 Sept 2010 Change of plan...due to a planned strike the following day, we had to re-arrange our schedule & include the Louvre tonight so we won't miss it (thank you Toni!). No complaints here. Today we also get oriented to take the Metro train.
20: For lunch, we got a couple of sandwiches & drinks, picked up 2 chairs, sat and ate with this great view all around us!
21: Musee Du Louvre Europe's odest (16th-century palace with 20th-century glass pyramid) and the largest museum in the Western world | If you're a museum lover and have a few days to spend in Paris, get one of these Museum Pass, good for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days
22: The Lacemaker, J. Vermeer | The Louvre, the largest museum in the Western World, has three main wings - the Richelieu, Sully and Denon. We could have spent a day in each wing and not get bored but I guess we'll just have to come back and do that another time. Hopefully, next time, there won't be any strike. Just absolutely amazing!
23: Mona Lisa, L. de Vinci | The Winged Victory of Samothrace | Aphrodite, known as the "Venus de Milo"
29: Arc de Triomphe
30: Chateau de Guedelon A medieval castle being built using only the tools, techniques and materials available in the 13th century
32: Chambord Biggest chateaux in the Loire with 440 rooms
34: Kristine & Sally Olson, Matt & Annie (our bus driver couple) | Andrea & Marilyn Houghton, Marcia Bednar | Bev & Jim Mauser, Sarah & Tony Schuler | Jim Bednar, David & Susan Yount
35: Kristen Lindstrom, Acela & Cliff Baker, Rebecca & Greg Loesche, Trish Casey, Catherine O'Keefe, Walter & Carolyn Zibas, Carol Lindstrom | Bob Arnone., , Frank & Rebecca Riggie | Toni Clark (guide), Bob Stothfang & Betty Huck
36: It was crowded...lots of people...yet there is also peace surrounding you as you walk along this path...it is just beautiful | Chateau de Chenonceau Day 6- 26 Sept 2010 - 16th-century Renaissance palace arches gracefully over the Cher River, impeccably maintained, with fresh flower arrangements all year long
37: We love this Chateau. We agree with Toni when she said that Chambord is a "he" castle (structure and decor feels masculine) but Chenonceau is a "she" castle - very feminine, not too big, not too small either. Just perfect.
40: Mont St. Michel
41: What a beautiful and peaceful place especially at night when all the day-tourists are gone...
45: Its Day 9: Wednesday 29 Sept 2010. Today we get to meet our local guide Ellwood who takes us on a journey to Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Normandy's D-Day Beaches (Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc & Omaha Beach), Airborne Museum and the American Cemetery. This day is so powerful and moving that the general comment among the group is the hope that the American people will never forget what our soldiers have done so that we can have peace.
50: Day 10: Thursday 30th Sept. 2010 Today we visited Claude Monet's house & garden in Giverny. It is another must-see places to visit in France. This is were Claude Monet spent his last years, in Giverny
51: How can you not be inspired to paint if you have a garden as beautiful as this? We can't paint...but we sure can take photos to remember how beautiful Claude Monet's garden is in Giverny. | The Orangerie Museum houses Claude Monet's six-foot-tall canvases of water lilies (nympheas in French).
53: Flowers, flowers everywhere...it was beautiful! A dream garden...it was just heaven to sit and smell the flowers....hhmmmnnn...
55: Our last dinner as a group at Nabuchodonosor was both a sad and happy one. Sad because its time to go back home but happy for the new experience, new found friendship and great memories to treasure. This is our 2nd Rick Steeves tour and we definitely plan to do another one real soon. Thank you Rick Steves, Toni Clark and staff for another very memorable trip! | Toni's farewell speach
56: Place de la Concorde
57: Day 11: Friday 1st Oct 2010: Our last day in Paris. Since our flight is not till the afternoon, we've decided to visit St. Sulpice Church, give thanks to the Lord for a wonderful trip and ask that He keep us safe as we journey back home.