I knew better. I know better! I should have been adding to this every day of my 2 trips – Ireland and Toulouse. But I didn’t, so now I must pay the price. And if you choose to slog through these next few of updates, so will you!
Ireland was fantastic. I spent the first 5 days of the trip with my friend,Michelle Larkin, who graciously schlepped me all over the place, and showed me some wonderful sights. Highlights?
Michelle’s mum (a real firecracker!), her garden, Michelle’s kitchen window view, a beautiful bay I can’t remember the name of but lots of famous people live there, and Dunne’s Stores – think Target at its best.
Powerscourt – a fabulous stately home with unbelievably beautiful grounds. Here are some pics of Powerscourt.
Then my sister, Marian, arrived, we gave Michelle a break, rented a car and got down to some serious sight seeing in Dublin and environs.
But before the car, we took the Big Red Bus Tour of Dublin. the only way to get the “lay of the land” in a new city. We declined the Guinness and Jameson tours.But enjoyed the Book of Kells at Trinity college. And, yes, the sky was that dark!
Then we went to Glendalough – a very beautiful historic site and grounds boasting a very well preserved round tower.
After this we hit the road. Next posting – Killarney – The Ring of Kerry.
Arrived Tuesday afternoon, and apparently I singlehandedly brought sunshine and semi clear skies! Unintentional, I assure you, but the break in what has been a completely rainy summer so far is appreciated.
Michelle is beyond the hostess with the mostest. I have been toured, fed, shopped, toured and shopped again. The woman is incredible. Had a lovely dinner at her Mom’s house the first night I was here’s – cooking that so reminded me of my grandmother. Yesterday we had High Tea at the Sherbourne Hotel where we ate until we just about popped. THEN we had to go to another dinner at a friend’s house. I thought I was going to burst.
Today we skipped breakfast altogether, had a late pub lunch and will forgo dinner. I have to fit into my jeans!!
My sister, Mimi, comes tomorrow, and Sunday we are off in our travels to Kerry and Dingle.
More as we go.
There is a breathtaking little church in Chartres, hiding behind the magnificent cathedral, just waiting to be discovered.
The outside is obviously old, not particularly in great condition, but OH MY, when you open the door! It took my breath away. Here is a blurb from the web on the history of the church:
Saint Aignan Church was first built around year 400, in the era of pre-Romanesque, by the bishop of Chartres – later his name has given as the name of the church. In its history, the church has suffered from several times fire in 12th, 13th and in the early 16th century, that rebuilding the edifice had become necessary,
The main portal in the center of the front facade was the only part of the church that preserved for the new church. The church also suffered several times of change function during the French Revolution – it was once served as a military hospital, then once became a prison and even as a fodder shop.
It finally returned as a worship place in 1822. the polychromy painting was done in 1869 by Emile Boeswillwald, a French architect born in Strasbourg on 2 February 1815.
My photos do not do it justice.
A professional pic
Yesterday, as my friend Mary and I were wandering around the streets surrounding the American Cathedral (waiting for the 6pm service to start), we stopped in front of a restaurant called La Fermette Marboeuf. There, across the street from each other, were two perfect examples of Hausmann buildings – 6 stories, businesses on ground floor, apartments above, second floor (we would call it the thir floor) balconies fancier than all the rest (Deuxieme Etage was for the wealthier folks).
While I was regaling Mary with my smattering of knowledge about the architecture, a waiter who was setting up the outside tables for the evening asked us if we knew about the buildings? We said we didn’t, and he proceeded to give us a little lesson in 19th century Art Nouveau. Mind you, this was all in French, and while I confess to smiling and nodding a few times when I had no clue what he was saying, I did understand most of it. AND I could speak back to him!! sort of.
Waiter – these buildings were built in about 1850 and are on the National Register as historic buildings.
Me – What I wanted to say – How beautiful! They are amazing!
What I probably said – Good things! It is fantastic!
After I impressed him a few more times with my French, he asked us if we wanted to see inside. I figured, hey – it’s a restaurant. How special could it be? But we accepted his kind offer.
I amazed!!!!! As we turned a corner into the room below, he explained that this part of the restaurant is original, making it over a century old. Mary and I about fell over. I couldn’t breathe for a minute. It was overwhelmingly beautiful.
As you can see from the pictures below, it was spectacular! Stunning! Breathtaking. And, yes, fantastique.
Two posts in one day! Unheard of.
Wednesday, it being Vacance Printemps or Spring Vacation, Aidan, Angèle, Suzanne Yoder (good friend here in Paris) and I took a trip to the southwest of Paris to an amusement park called France Miniature. Didn’t know quite what to expect, but I had been told that you can see all the important sites in France in one day. Everything from the Alpes to the Ile de Rey is in miniature, and I have to say it was amazing.
Of course, it rained.
But we all had umbrellas and capuces (sp?) (the equivalent of hoodies), and it didn’t POUR, so we happily wandered all over France. The detail was incredible. Kids were fascinated and Suzanne and I had fun recognizing things we have already seen and noting the places we haven’t that looked interesting.
Pictures are worth bunches of words, so here you go:
Well, it is almost time to elect a President of France, and no matter who you are rooting for, observing the French election process is pretty interesting and very different from that of the US.
As in the UK, there seems to be a relatively short “I am running for…” time compared to the campaigns in the US which start almost as soon as the elections are over. I have to say I find that very civilized and a huge relief from the relentless primaries, commercials, and fundraising in the States. I always get to the point where I almost don’t care who gets elected – just get it done, for crying in the sink!
One thing I think is brilliant over here – the way they handle campaign literature during election time. About three weeks before elections at each school and Mairie (City Hall), they put up a “wall” of metal upon which you can hang posters. These are the only legal places you can do so! Graffiti is at a minimum, and except for the occasional mustache, the posters remain untouched. For a city where dog poop litters every sidewalk, it is kind of strange to me that campaign literature is so purposefully kept off the streets.
Last Monday I went with my friend, Michelle, to the Parc de Bagatelle, a beautiful park alongside the Bois de Boulogne. Bagatelle is a smaller parc, but beautifully landscaped – here’s what their website says about its history:
Marie-Antoinette waged that the Count of Artois, who had bought this property in 1775, could not turn it into a park in 64 days. Belanger designed it and Thomas Blaikie built it, to the day’s in-vogue anglo-chinois taste.
Bagatelle park and chateau only barely eluded obliteration during the Revolution, but a string of owners altered them considerably. The orangerie, gates and stables date back to 1835, and the guard’s lodgings were built in 1870, along with the Trianon and the two terraces.
The City of Paris bought this gem in 1905 and entrusted its head gardener, Jean-Claude-Nicolas Forestier, with the restoration work. He set out to turn these gardens into a botanical domain without upsetting the harmony that the existing layout had already established. He turned the subsistence crops into showcases for collections of roses, irises, perennials, clematises, peonies and other flowers. The well-known Roseraie de Bagatelle (rose bed) which has hosted an international competition every year since 1907, is also the work of his hand.
Well, it was stunning! The bulbs were in full bloom, the peacocks were displaying like mad, trying to impress the ladies, and the day was beautiful.