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    • Day 11

      Last day in Paris

      May 15 in France ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

      We had a beautiful last day in Paris! We started off at the Lourve followed by a walk through Montmartre. We had lunch at Cafe Des deux Moulins which is famous for the movie Amélie. We then walked up to Rue de L’Abreuvoir which was as beautiful as promised. Next we went to the Basilica of Sacré-Couer de Montmartre and walked back down to the Moulin Rouge. By then we were exhausted so we grabbed a bottle of real Champagne and relaxed at the hotel (after our free happy hour drink of course!)Read more

    • Day 10

      Paris Day 2

      May 14 in France ⋅ ☁️ 59 °F

      Tuesday was very rainy day which limited us a bit. We attempted to visit Musée d’Orsay, but there was an hour wait (in the rain) so we decided to grab some croque monsieur to go and head over to the Catacombs of Paris. This was a real highlight of the trip! After the catacombs we were hungry so we headed over to the famous Cafe de Flore for some delicious salads. In the afternoon we walked around Notre Dame and visited the mahJ (Musuem of Jewish art and history) before a Moroccan dinner!Read more

    • Day 9

      Paris Day 1

      May 13 in France ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

      After a very late night with a delayed flight and waiting for a cab for 45 minutes we slept in today! We’re staying at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine which is right in the heart of Paris so we saw a lot today already! Lunch was at a cute cafe called Le Ponthieu. We walked along the Seine (a lot) and saw the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Grand Palais, and Parc Monceau before taking a rest. We walked down to our last Michelin starred meal at Tomy & Co (we had pigeon!!) followed by a stroll under the Eiffel Tower.Read more

    • Day 62

      CINQ FOTOS- Day 3 Paris

      June 14, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

      We started the day with another wonderful breakfast prepared by our hosts. The feature pastry was a clafoutis, a rich cherry cake.

      When we booked our travels to Paris, it was a bit of an afterthought. We realized that the proximity by fast train from Amsterdam made an easy trip. We also knew that it would be impossible to select too many attractions in such a large city with so much to do.

      Our learning in two months on the road is that some of the most priceless adventures have been to just wander and explore. This was one of those days as we had the opportunity to meet the mother and her husband of one of our good friends back home, Judith and her husband Chris and our friend Khoa later in the day.

      Judith proposed that we meet in Place du Trocadero, a plaza and gardens with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower. After a warm greeting, we enjoyed our walk near the tower and the adjacent greenspace. Judith told us about the different neighborhoods that we were ealking through. We had a leisurely lunch at a classic French restaurant, and we enjoyed our conversation. After our farewells, we returned to the flat, and I took a very long nap. I had been up late after Moulin Rouge realizing that too much Coke Zero at dinner meant Sleep Zero due to excess caffeine consumption.

      Our friend, Khoa, who we've known for about ten years offered to meet us for drinks and dinner. It was fun to visit with him to catch up as we last hosted him in our home in 2018.

      The restaurant was also a traditional French Restaurant, and I enjoyed the lamb. While Jim C enjoyed the baked Camenbert cheese with fries. As we were leaving the restaurant, we met Khoa's partner and exchanged greetings.

      We decided to skip the metro and make the two-mile walk home on a beautiful Parisian night. The temperature was perfect, and we enjoyed the walk. It looks like Paris is going to heat up to about 38°C this weekend, and I'm glad to miss it as I really don't like the heat.

      When we returned to the flat, our hosts Stephan and Stéphane were still awake. We had a great conversation about politics in our respective countries, while sampling their offerings of home-made apertífs.

      I think some of the best parts of our trip have been sharing times with the new people we've met as well as enjoying adventures with friends and family.

      We will have a bit more time in Paris tomorrow before we return to Amsterdam. It's been a wonderful visit. Ciao!
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    • Day 61

      CINQ FOTOS-Paris Day 2

      June 13, 2022 in France ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      We woke up this morning to a generous breakfast made by our hosts to start the day.
      I managed to sleep in a bit, and I'm grateful for the rest before an eventful day.

      First on the agenda this morning was a trip to the Louvre Museum. Our hosts sent us tram connection routes, and it was a crowded, but easy ride over.

      The tram stop was very close to the Louvre, and we walked over to get in line. Although we had a timed entrance, getting into the Louvre still required a fairly long wait before getting into the museum.

      It was interesting to see additional Greek antiquities and compare them to our travels in Sicily and the Museo Archaelogico in Naples.

      We decided to explore the Islamic exhibit, and it was really quite beautiful. I admittedly hold some deep prejudices about some Islamic countries, particularly as it applies to horrible treatment of women and GLBT people. The exhibits were beautiful, particularly the pottery.
      Jim C offered a poignant reflection that it was a missed opportunity to create displays of artwork on a time continuum rather than socio-political divides. I'd further offer the thought that the creation of art in all forms is an opportunity to demonstrate commonality rather than differences.

      We did see all the popular attractions at the Louvre. The Venus de Milo was incredible, abs I enjoyed getting close to the Mona Lisa. It's smaller than I expected, but I still thought it was cool to see it in person.

      In some of the Biblical portrayals, I find it interesting, and a little creepy, that there is "spoiler alert" foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Christ. One such portrayal is of Jesus and John the Baptist playing together as toddlers under the watchful eye of Mary. John is holding a small crucifix in the painting.

      Once we witnessed some of the popular pieces, we talked about how downplayed the fact that the Louvre was once a significant palace. This contrasted our experience at the Hague where both Escher's artwork and the palace were acknowledged and celebrated.

      When we left the museum, we walked near the adjacent garden with several sculptures. There were also a couple of small reservoirs with chairs and reclining chairs around the perimeter. It was a beautiful day, and many took the opportunity to bask in the sun and chat.

      When we left the museum and gardens we looked for a place to grab lunch. We found a great outdoor café and we split a dish of croque monsieur, a ham and cheese grilled sandwich that was grilled and smothered with gruyere cheese. It was quite rich and tasty with a glass of Chardonnay.

      After lunch we went to the Opera House which inspired the writing of the "Phantom of the Opera". The hall was beautiful and ornate. We thought how fun it would be to see a performance in the Hall like we did in Barcelona's Palau de Música nearly twomonths earlier.

      We returned to our flat and we enjoyed sums relaxation time. We made plans to go to dinner at a restaurant close to Moulin Rouge, at the recommendation of our hosts. We had the added bonus of joining a couple we met online, and we were reminded of our "small world" as we have many friends in common in New England and the Pacific NW.

      We wrapped the evening with a very late-night performance at the Moulin Rouge, a performance hall dating back to the late 1800's that has witnessed performances from the likes of Edith Piaf, and Collette, a performer who almost caused Moulin Rouge to be closed when she gave a lengthy kiss to one of the other female performers.

      We were seated next to a couple from New York who had recently married and were on their honeymoon. We enjoyed our conversation with them, and we compared some of our favorite European experiences.

      It was noticeable that the women performed with very little clothing and the men, in contrast were fully clothed. Similarly, the women often made many sexual gestures, and the men's dancing was a bit sterile in comparison. There were some unusual circus type acts including a woman who swam in a water tank with pythons, as well as amazing balancing acts by men. A big hit with the audience was a couple who did amazing choreographed maneuvers on roller skates. The show concluded with a rousing performance of the Can Can

      We made the most of our first full day in Paris, and we look forward to time with friends tomorrow.
      Bonne nuit, amis et famille!
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    • Day 60

      CINQ FOTOS-Paris Day 1

      June 12, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

      We bid a temporary farewell to Amsterdam as we will return later this week. We had an easy fast train trip to Paris, and we passed through a few major cities in Belgium on the way. With the exception of the cities, we mostly appeared to travel through farmland. We arrived in Paris a little before 3 pm, and we made our way to the room that we are renting.

      I do think this is one of the nicest weather days that we've had since we left Portland in April. It was dry and sunny with a slight breeze.

      We were greeted by Stephan and Stephane, two very sweet men who welcomed us with hibiscus tea and a fruit galette. They live on a spacious 5th floor flat, and we have a very nice guest room. They gave us many recommendations of walks to take, and we enjoyed learning about the highlights of the city through their eyes.

      I shared with them that my actual surname should have been Fortin. Although, I have very deep French-Canadian roots, we located the areas where my French ancestors lived not too far outside of Paris.

      We decided to head on a walk near a canal towards the gay district. As we crossed the River Seine we caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower an impressive figure in the distance and the visual reality check that we were really in Paris and not Las Vegas.

      We stopped by the gay district for a drink and then we strolled the streets in the area without a set destination. We did find Notre Dame which is still closed and under reconstruction after the devastating 2019 fire. The construction site has very detailed panels about the efforts to rebuild and replicate what was lost.

      We ended the evening with dinner at TaTa Hamburgers, and I had probably the best hamburger that I've had since time in the states.

      We retired for the night, and we look forward to our first full day tomorrow.

      Bonne Nuit!
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    • Day 2

      Auf Entdeckungstour

      June 4, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

      Halbwegs von der kurzen Nacht erholt, wachten wir gegen 07.30 Uhr auf. Dann gab es erstmal ein gemütliches Frühstück in einem typischen französischen Café.

      Dann ging es zu Fuß weiter zum zwanzigminütig entfernten „Sacé Cœur“. Noch regnete es, doch der Himmel riss auf und die Sonne kam langsam heraus. Vorbei an den kleinen Läden und den gemütlichen Restaurants entdeckten wir die nähere Umgebung.Read more

    • Day 3

      Le TGV

      September 20, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      We are on the TGV to Bayonne. Travelling at 186 MpH! Update, the train seems to have peaked at 198 Mph!

      We made 3 Camino friends in the train station, people seeking out fellow travelers in backpacks.

      Fran, a woman from Rockville Maryland. She is meeting a friend in Saint Jean.

      And Kevin & Patsy from Portland ME. Kevin is a recently retired Firefighter from Auburn ME. Kevin told me Malden Firefighters let him park at the station in Malden whenever he goes into Boston on the Orange line!
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    • Day 50

      Toad’s tidbits debut!

      February 25 in France ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

      While on the phone yesterday with mother, I came up with a grand idea. In one of my favorite French movies, the main character Amelie kidnaps her father‘s beloved garden gnome and makes it appear as though it is traveling around the world, sending him commemorative postcards at each destination. I don’t have have a garden gnome, but I do have a small stuffed toad (from the frog and toad series) that my mother knitted for me. I figured might place him in silly destinations around Paris, with a snarky caption, as a small creative project.

      While taking this first series of pictures at my favorite local grocery store, Auchan, I noticed something peculiar. I often struggle with social anxiety in public places, particularly in Paris where it’s crowded and I don’t speak the language very well. But the act of doing something small and ridiculous (and ultimately harmless) in a public place, accompanied by my pet toad, made me feel strangely relaxed and unbothered by the prospect of being judged. It was really cool. I think I will take him to more places soon.
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    • Day 51

      Hoppy birthday Sigrid!

      February 26 in France ⋅ 🌬 6 °C

      Hi everyone! Nothing special on my end but certainly for my lovely mother, who is turning an undisclosed age today. How she has managed to keep it together for this long baffles me. Alas I do not have the funds to send her France‘s best wine, chocolate, macarons, and yarn, which is everything that this incredible woman deserves and more. My mother is the person who most encouraged me to come to Paris and to write a penguin post every week sharing my life. She’s the person I call when I’m sick, tired, lonely, and homesick. Her patience with my whining and petty problems is (almost) infinite. Without her it’s safe to say, I’d be very lost, and not the sort that google maps can help you with. So my trusty toad and I got together and decided to make her this little birthday card. We hope she likes it as much as we do. Happy birthday Sigrid! 🎉🎁🥂🐸Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Département de Seine-Saint-Denis, Departement de Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, Sena Saint Denis

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