Monthly Archives: May 2016

Paris, The Last Stop

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We’re back in Paris for our final few hours.  I found our accommodation onAirbnb, and it’s just a few hundred meters from Gare du Montparnasse.  A small grocery is nearby as are about 50 restaurants of every ethnicity. The Air France bus to CDG is a 5 minute walk (for those who have two good ankles!🙁)

Once again, I think I hit the jackpot.  This place is as big as most apartments and has a full-size, complete kitchen, living room, eating area, large bath, and king size bed.  I wouldn’t hesitate to call this place home on a subsequent trip.


My turned ankle is a nuisance but didn’t keep us from our plan, which was to visit Montparnasse and Sacre Coeur.

I’ll tell you, it was sunny ( finally) but COLD!!!  Next time we travel in May I’m taking heavier clothes! 

But never mind.  Sacre Cour has a beautiful interior but after Chartres, how can anything compare?

We did the tourist thing, bought those warm toffee peanuts, bought a Heineken ( doesn’t everyone sell beer on the steps of a church?!) and sat there overlooking Paris.  We listened to a guitar player and watched this stunt man show off on a light post.



Telma, we passed  a Kiehl’s store and I went in to pick up a few travel sizes.  I’m in love with these products!!

With a sore ankle we opted for the funicular, which for the price of a metro ticket you get a 60 second ride!


But it’s better than walking all those steps–with a sprained ankle !!

Time for some sleep before our travel day tomorrow.🛌🛌

The FINAL Daily Don

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What started quite by accident and then became the daily headline is now sadly at its end.  Today we find Don sitting in an egg, perhaps preparing for a rebirth??  At any rate, today Don says au revoir to this adventure as he prepares to break out of the egg and wing his way home!!

Chartres continued

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After the terrific tour of the cathedral, we window-shopped and were well-behaved by not buying anything!  Oh, but what beautiful chocolates, linens, and interesting pottery. At this point we’re getting a bit weary and decided to find the wine bar. We had two choices and we definitely chose  the right one! Franz, The owner, is passionate about wine. Every week he features five wines so we asked if he could set up a tasting for us with all five. Since we were the only people there he was very happy to oblige. 

As he poured each wine he told us about the grape and showed us in a book where the wines came from. He also was very familiar with the Vivino app when I took photos of the labels! 


Of course we needed some charcuterie to fully enjoy what we thought was going to be just an appetizer before we found someplace else for dinner. But lo and behold Don saw a familiar face coming in the door. It was Gaël, the guy who’s place we had gone to for lunch. He and his partner Lionel were coming there also some wine and charcuterie.

 So as things progressed, the four of us began chatting more and more, discussing places in the US, travels in other parts of the world, wine, food, etc. etc. We became instant friends!

At some point, Don and I ordered another round of charcuterie and cheese and realized that this WAS our dinner. We talked long  into the evening and before we knew it it was nearly 10 PM and time for the start of the nightly sound and light show throughout Chartres.  We said our farewells, exchanged addresses, phone numbers and emails, and promised to visit each other’s homes at some point. We also learned a bit of a local gossip and that is that Gaël and Franz will join forces in the next few weeks and Franz will move his wine business to Gaël’s location. Gaël will be doing the lunches and Franz will be doing the wine business in the evening.  When we told our hostess Carol that bit of information, it was news to her!

Now, about that light and music show. The city Chartres  has nightly illuminations from April through October. There are about 20 locations throughout the town that are illuminated. We saw probably the main one at the West Portal of the cathedral. Take a look at some of the photos I was able to snap, even though I was gaga over the whole performance and could barely take my eyes off the moving lights!



It was really spectacular.

All too soon it was time to say farewell to Chartres. In planning this trip, I had tried to figure out a way to stay in Chartres for two nights, but it seemed difficult to piece together how to get from there to the airport for our flight on Sunday morning. I now realize that it would have been possible, so that’s just good information for another time.

Carol served a lovely breakfast in the amazing top floor of her B&B.


At the train station we were surprised to see lots of families packed up for overnight camping trips for the weekend. Let me tell you, the weather is only in the mid 50s here and we saw shorts on people from eight years to 80 years old! We commented that we could barely even imagine American families with backpacks on their backs and kids as young as eight or 10 carrying their own sleeping bags, bed rolls, and supplies.


So it’s farewell to Chartres this time but I would like to think that we could come back and enjoy this lovely city at some future time.

Chartres-a magnificent town!  

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Sometimes you can get a welcoming feeling from the moment you enter a place.  Once we found our way out of the train station in Chartres, that’s just how we felt.  A free shuttle took us to the walking district where we found our B& B… L’Escale en coleur.


Carol, the owner greeted us and we  felt right at home.  She suggested a small spot for lunch, Chez Gaël, and little did we know the introduction to Gaël would play a role later that day.


Chartres is a pedestrian-friendly town, with much of the central area designated as walking area.  We browsed the streets and made our way to the magnificent Chartres Cathedral.


I’m curious about these wonderful plants we saw in the small gardens in front of the west entrance. Can any friendly gardeners help me out??


Words can’t describe the magnificence and astounding history of this cathedral.  We hired Anne Marie, the English-speaking guide from Chicago, and for 2 hours she wove stories of the ancient beginnings as early as 100-300 AD to the current restoration.  


Because we were on a tour and because no baptism, funeral, or pilgrimage was happening today, we were able to visit the crypt .  Now I always thought a crypt indicated graves. However, that is not accurate. A crypt indicates an underground chamber with no windows. The crypt at Chartres is very much alive, with no graves, and through the years windows have been added. The crypt is better known as the underground chamber and it’s used for many services.


In 876 the cathedral received a gift from Charlemagne’s Grandson, the veil purported to have belonged to Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. During the French Revolution the veil was torn into pieces, and the photo above shows a small bit that currently resides in the crypt. A larger section of it is housed in a side chapel in the main cathedral.


As we questioned Anne Marie about its authenticity, she said that scientists have done studies and dated it back to 100 to 200 A.D., and the thought is this,” if it didn’t belong to Mary, it probably belonged to one of her girlfriends!” As we learned before in other tours, it is very difficult to really authenticate religious relics.


The stained glass windows at Chartres tell biblical stories as do others of Medeival times. This particular one that shows the Madonna and Child, is one of the original pieces and this is held as the standard Chartres blue.  We learned that most of the stained-glass windows show the “signature” of the guild who sponsored it, perhaps weavers or stonemasons or money changers. There is one interesting window that tells the story of the prodigal son, but does not have a “signature.” If you think about the story of the prodigal son and know that he spent his money on wine, women, and song, until he had nothing left, even the clothes on his back, it may be given to give you a clue as to what group might have sponsored the window! This group also asked to have a window installed in Notre Dame in Paris but was denied. Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally, the window of the prodigal son is directly above the confessional.


Anne Marie was excited to see that the scaffolding had recently been removed from a section of the choir screen. it’s easy to see the difference between the cleaned section and the dirty section. The dirt and grime is a result of the candles, oil heat, and human wear and tear. She told us the process for cleaning the sculptures and pillars throughout the cathedral involves small hand vacuums, toothbrushes, scrapers like the dentist uses, and interestingly for faces, a latex mask similar to the kind you get at the spa! When the mask is removed much of the dirt comes with it.  A 30-year-old woman from California heads up the restoration team.Edit


I can’t remember much about the magnificent sculpture on the altar of the cathedral. Suffice to say, it’s beyond beautiful!! 

So I’m going to stop for now, because we are actually in Paris and getting ready to go to Montmartre . More later.

But here’s why we’re taking it a bit easy this afternoon and I can catch up on some blog writing:


Yep… Missed a very small step coming out of the lunch restaurant today and went right down, twisting my ankle on the way.  Totally stupid.  Luckily I travel with an ankle brace, so with ibuprofen, ice, and the brace, I’ll be fine!!  

Le Mans , part 2

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About the rental car:  there is absolutely no reason to get a rental car in Le Mans. My thinking went something like this: “We’ll get a car, drive to the museum, which is a bit out of town, as is our apartment, then drive the course.”  Wrong on both accounts .  Everything, and I do mean everything, is connected by tram.  Sure, we drove the course, but it wasn’t worth the cost of a one day rental.  We parked the car at the house and took the tram!  €1.50 each for one ride!

(OK, I wrote this entire blog and then had difficulty uploading it and saved it as a draft. Now on my iPhone I can’t seem to find the draft! ! So, I’ll wait until I get back to the US and my computer, Find the draft and publish it then.)

Le Mans

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Just in case we didn’t get enough classic car gazing yesterday, today we headed for Le Mans, home of the 24 hour race.  First things first, we found our Airbnb accommodation after picking up a rental car ( more on that mistake later).  

As you may have seen in the headline news for this trip, The Daily Don, we’re staying in a treehouse!  Yep, the Studio in the Trees is the perfect description for this funky, upcycled domicile.


Richard and Marie, former and current hippies,  have created an amazing enchanted little house, cozy and just big enough for two.  Let me show you a few crazy inventions:


Bedside table lamp, formerly a motorcycle headlight.


Soup ladle clothes hook.


Bicycle axle TP holder.

And look at these fanciful garden critters!


And these garden gates:


Richard and Marie also provided us with everything we’ll need for breakfast tomorrow morning, including a big jar of their homemade honey and jam from their garden berries.  (And what if I told you the cost of this spot is under $50.)

So after settling in, we drove our white Opel to the Musee des 24 heures.



I’ll just show a few of the many cars we saw:


One of Don’s faves, the Ferrari Dino.


My fave, a 1938 Rosengart.

There was lots to see and wonder, Why?


After chatting with staff there we decided to drive part of the route.


So, OK, done that and now it was time to explore the old part of town, Le cite Plantagenet.

To be continued….