I went to France and England earlier this month with Gene and Lydia. (I must acknowledge here how privileged my life is. It amazes me sometimes how easy I truly have it.)
I went for two weeks and I visited amazing places and I was in the midst of true history and I tried not to worry too much about money (but that can’t really be helped, now can it?).
We started in Paris, France and ended in London, England. We went to Mont Saint Michel and Dinan in France and we went to Port Isaac and Broad Chalke in England. We ate a lot and we almost never stopped. We encountered obstacles which led us to meeting some very nice people. It was exhausting but exhilarating. The memories and happiness that came out of it were worth every sore muscle, every bit of stress, and every penny.
If I were to write about the many things we did, even if I just stuck to the main attractions, I would have some very long blog posts. So long that I can’t imagine anyone would read them. So I will try to be brief and hit on topics that I do not have pictures of in my google plus albums (France and England).
Gene and I arrived in Paris Sunday morning. We found our hotel, checked in early, and then walked around for a bit with not much of a plan. I was jet lagged and therefore sleepy and sluggish so we took a one hour nap back at the hotel before heading out to look for an open air bird market. The market had pretty much closed by the time we got there but I did get to see a few birds and some great looking succulents.
The next day we met up with Lydia at the house boat, our new home for the next few days. It was a lot of fun to live on a boat, although it did rock a bit vigorously from time to time. So many tour boats drove by that the waves were almost constant. Still, it was a great way to experience Paris and having a kitchen meant a break from restaurants, making the boat worth it. And now I can say I’ve spent time on a house boat.
We were in Paris for Bastille day, the holiday that celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution. Although we didn’t get up early enough to get a good spot for the parade, we had an amazing view near the boat for the fireworks show in the evening. It was the best fireworks show I have seen. The show lasted for forty minutes with minimal pauses. Fireworks were being shot off of the Eiffel Tower as well as over the river. It was fantastic.
During the rest of our stay in Paris we saw Napoleon’s tomb (the thing is huge, is he compensating for something? ;P), went to the Louvre, looked at all of Paris on top of Montparnasse, and walked through the Luxembourg Gardens.
The Luxembourg Gardens were one of my favorite parts of France. I love the gardens and parks of Paris. The majority of them are free and they are filled with flowers, green grass, and trimmed trees. I love the fact that people utilize these spaces as well. There is always someone walking around or eating lunch. The Luxembourg Gardens are part of the Luxembourg Palace, a palace that Marie Medici (widow of King Henry IV) had built for herself. The palace is surrounded by flowers and is near a little pond where children rent boats and push them around. It was a lovely place and I wish we could have stayed there longer but vacation does not lend itself to much rest.
We had to leave Paris at some point so we rented a car and made our way to Mont Saint Michel, an abbey and small “village” (aka tourist stores and restaurants) on a hill on a small island. We stopped at Monet’s gardens and house beforehand, which is another of my favorite parts of the trip. The gardens were breathtaking. It might have held the most variety of flowers I have ever seen in one place. I really liked the bamboo forest there too. His house was neat in itself as well, especially his kitchen and dining room which were blue, yellow, and filled with brass.
Monet’s water lily pond
We made our way to Mont Saint Michel where I was greeted with a lovely view of the abbey and surrounding buildings. The view is impressive and a bit daunting.
Mont Saint Michel at night
We slept in a hotel right below the abbey and were therefore able to take a tour of the impressive structure right when it opened the next morning. The abbey is impressive, but what’s more impressive is that one can walk through a great portion of it. It does cost money (what doesn’t in France) but for the amount of the building you can see, is well worth it.
We ended our day in Dinan, a fairly large town in the Brittany region of France. It was very cute and had many old and interesting buildings. We found ourselves at an art showing of some sort and wandered around paintings and photographs. We got a chocolate chip cookie before finding a restaurant for dinner. And in the morning we walked along an old fortress wall where I attempted to open the door that led to Rapunzel’s tower but sadly was met with failure.
From here we got on a plane and made our way to Southampton, England for the second part of our journey.