montmartr France

Our travels actually brought us to France twice. The first time was when the ferry docked in Calais on Bastille Day, July 14, the French national holiday. We passed through this seaport on our way to Belgium.

The second time, we traveled from Italy and Monaco. Our daughter had the opportunity to return to France for two weeks as an exchange student in April, 2001, so I have also included photographs from her trip.

France is the largest of the European countries. It is a republic, and the current president is Jacques Chirac. The national language is French. The currency was the French Franc, worth about one sixth of a dollar.

We stopped in the village of Eze where we toured a perfume factory and watched them making soaps.
We climbed a steep hill to the nearby botanical garden where we were surprised to see cacti growing.
There was also a chapel on the hill where a wedding had just ended.
The views from the garden were spectacular.
Nice is located in the French Riviera, a region known as the Cote d'Azure.

The beaches are covered with smooth rocks and no sand.

Parasailing is a popular sport here.

We took a day trip to an artist colony known as St. Paul De Vence. There were many small galleries and other shops.

From the top of the hill there were some beautiful views including this cemetery where the artist, Marc Chagall, is buried.

This is a very old village with a common washing area where women used to wash their clothes.
The walks are paved with small stones which have been placed in various patterns.
France is known for its cuisine. We dined on Beouf Bourginon, pommes frites, escargot, and steak au poivre.

We had just an overnight stay in Lyon, but it was the site of the French Exchange. Their tour of Lyon included the Celestin Theatre, the third oldest in France, the train station, a Roman fountain, and a communications tower made to look like the Eiffel Tower.

Fourviere is a hill which was the site of a Roman amphitheater.
One of the industries of Lyon is silk production. Colorful silk is woven on the looms of La Maison des Canuts.
A daytrip from Lyon brought the students to Courzieu, a wildlife refuge where they saw wolves and birds of prey.

They also visited the French Alps in Saint Hilaire and rode a funicularire to the top.

They had a chance to explore a cave called Choranche where the stalactites are hollow rather than solid. Amphibians, similar to salamandars, called protees live in the waters of the cave and are untouched by evolution.
We rode past many vineyards in the Loire Valley of France.
Regions such as Chablis, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne lend their names to the wines.
The Exchange Students visited the Beaujolais Region and toured a chateau where they saw two old wine presses. The first is called an American press because the large screw is measured in inches rather than in centimeters. The second is called a squirrel press.

We passed by fields of sunflowers which are grown to be used as cut flowers or are dried so that the seeds can be used to feed birds or crushed for their oil.

The wine village of Beaune was a delightful stop on our trip from Lyon to Paris.

There is a charity hospital there which has a lovely tiled roof.

We stopped in Cannes where the famous film festival is held each spring.

Around the theatre are tiles with hand prints of many stars, such as Mickey Mouse.
Cannes is also a lovely resort area with sandy beaches. The sand had to be brought in, however.

We toured the town of Avignon, which was once a papal residence.

This bridge, which was never completed, is the subject of the popular French children's song, Sur le Pont D'Avignon.

The French Exchange toured several places to the northwest of Paris that we did not have a chance to see on our trip.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a large hill off the coast of Brittany.
At the top of the hill is an abbey, the steeple of which is topped with a gold statue of Michael the Archangel.
At high tide it becomes an island, but at low tide the road reappears.

This field of mustard flowers in Normandy will be harvested to make Dijon Mustard.

Oysters are cultivated in Cancale. There is a fountain in the square of ladies gathering oysters in baskets.
Pointe du Grouin is a lovely seaport with rocky cliffs.

The students visited the Cathedral of Saint Vincent in the village of Saint Malo.
The light shone through the stained glass and dappled the columns with color.
The houses along the waterfront were very colorful.
The sunset over the water was magnificent.

They visited the Medieval village of Dinan and saw a bridge built on Roman aquaducts.
Giverny was the home of the Impressionist, Claude Monet. The gardens were in full bloom in April.

This bridge was the setting for his beautiful series of waterlily paintings.

King Louis XIV built the lavish Palace of Versailles to the southeast of Paris. He lived in it with his wife, Maria Theresa and their sixteen children.

This palace was also the home of King Louis XV and his great grandson, Louis XVI.

The Hall of Mirrors was a ballroom, filled with reflected light.

There are lovely formal gardens and fountains behind the palace.

Many of the original furnishings no longer remain in France because they were auctioned off at the time of the French Revolution. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette met with the guillotine during the revolution.

Paris is known as "The City of Lights". We were treated to a bateaux-mouche down the River Seine after dark.

The Eiffel Tower sparkled with lights for the millenium. The city of Paris is a sea of jewels when viewed from the Eiffel Tower.
The Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral could also be seen along the waterfront.

On our daytime tour of Paris, we once again viewed the River Seine.
L'Arch de Triomphe commemorates the victories of the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.This is a statue of Joan of Arc, the patron saint of France.
The Paris Opera House had just received a facelift for the Millennium.
We ate dinner at a cafe on the Champs Elysee.
Paris was especially lovely when the students visited in the springtime.
Des Invalides was built during the reign of King Louis XIV as a hospital for French soldiers.
This beautiful building is now a military museum and houses the tomb of the Emperor Napoleon.

Paris is the leading fashion city of the world. Here you can find the Houses of designers of haute couture such as Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, Herve Bernard, and other haute couturiers.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame has been recently sandblasted to clean it of an accumulation of soot.
We learned that the statues in front had originally been painted.
This gothic style cathedral is known for its vaulted ceilings.
Here you can see the beautiful Rose Window.

Probably the world's most famous art museum is the Louvre, which was originally built as a palace by King Louis XIII. The museum is nearly a mile long altogether with its two wings.
There are ancient Greek statues such as Winged Victory and Venus de Milo.

Here you will find Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa, as well as paintings by French painters such as Neoclassicists Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Romanticist, Eugene Delacroix. The Louvre's collection ends in the mid 19th century.
The paintings of more modern artists, including Impressionists,
Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh; and Pointilist Georges Seurat are housed in the Musee D'Orsay.

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We rode in a funiculaire to Montmatre which is an artists' area of Paris.
We toured the beautiful Sacre Coeur which was built as thanksgiving for surviving the plague.
We ate lunch in a creperie.
No visit to Paris would be complete without ascending the Eiffel Tower. This tower was designed and constructed by Gustav Eiffel for the World Exposition in 1889 commemorating the centennial of the French Revolution. It was not intended to be a permanent structure and it caused a great deal of controversy when it was built. The tower provides panoramas of the city in all directions.

Flaky croissants and pains au chocolat were served at breakfast. Crusty French bread called baguettes made wonderful sandwiches, which we ate at an outdoor cafe. Their best known sandwich is called Croque Monsieur which is grilled ham, cheese and tomato, served with an egg on top. Delicious cheeses such as Brie and Camembert come from France.
The Moulin Rouge is immortalized in Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings and posters. Composer, Jacques Offenbach celebrated the famous dance, the can-can in his Overture, Gaite Parisienne.

Our final evening in Paris was spent in one of the cabarets for which Paris is famous.

We departed the next afternoon from Charles DeGaulle Airport and made the six and a half hour return flight to Logan Airport in Boston.

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