June 21, 2014: Back from France!

Greetings!

Our vacation in France was truly wonderful.  Al and I, traveling on our own, not on a tour, managed to handle every challenge visiting a country in which we don’t speak the language.  I’m sure it helps that French culture is basically similar to ours. The only really nerve-wracking part was returning the rental car to the airport at the end during which time we briefly got lost driving through Paris.  We are slowly recovering from the jet-lag and getting back to normal life.

I took lots of photos and plan to share some on this blog over time, but it’s going to take a while for me to organize my thoughts.  I did get some sewing done on the trip, but not a lot – will show pics next post.  For today, I thought I would just share a few details about the trip and some photos, just to get back into the swing of blogging!

Our trip was divided into 3 parts; one week in Paris, one week at a house in Beynac in the Dordogene Valley in southwestern France from which we explored the surrounding area, and 3 days in the Loire Valley.  We had great weather for the entire trip!

Paris was all about walking and enjoying the beauty of the city and the architecture, eating good food, and appreciating the art.  I went to the Louvre twice where I concentrated on looking at the Dutch and northern European masterpieces as well as the French art prior to the nineteenth century.   I adore the early landscape paintings and still lifes of those countries; artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, VanRuisdale, Hobemma, Corot, Boucher, etc.  I spent several hours at the Musee D’Orsay with the huge collection of impressionist masterpieces on display there.  I went to the L’Orangerie and saw Monet’s 4 huge waterlilies paintings displayed in the circular room, each one varying because of the changes of light during different times of the days and also saw paintings of Renoir and Matisse there.  And I saw special exhibits of paintings by the Swedish master, Carl Larson, and of Art Nouveau masterpieces from the 1900 time period at the Petit Palais.  We stayed in an apartment in the Latin Quarter and we spent time exploring the Marais and Montmarte areas.

62014 Notre Dame

Notre Dame, of course.

62014 Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur.

62014 Al with view of Paris

Al looking out over the city.

62014 Louve

 

The Louvre and the Seine.

A few favorite works of art (more in future posts) – click on them for closeups:

62014 Dutch masters

 

62014 Renoir

62014 Lacemaker pic

62014 Night scene pic

 

An incredible lemon tart – the thong part of the sandal is green chocolate and the decoration on the top is edible.  The taste was also out of this world!

62014 Lemon tart

Fantastic markets!:

62014 Market 62014 Market #2

For the second week we stayed in a several hundred year old stone house in Beynac, a town built on a limestone cliff with a medieval castle at the summit with incredible views of the Dordogne river and valley.  Here are just a few pictures to give you an idea:

62014 Beynac from a distance 62014 Castle view from River #2

The view of the castle as you approach is dramatic!

Here is the house we rented and me reading on the little porch:

62014 Me reading on porch

 

Closer:

62014 me reading #2

Here is a street in the town that was used in the movie, “Chocolat”:

62014 Me on Beynac street

And here are a couple of views from the top of the hill – a steep climb but we did it several times!  The first morning we walked up we were lucky to see hot air balloons!

62014 View with Balloons

62014 View from castle tower

Our typical breakfasts in Beynac – fresh croissants and strawberries!  How about the view from the porch!!

62014 Beynac breakfast 62014 Beynac Bkfast #2

 

From Beynac we made excursions to see other castles and towns in the area and we went into a cave to look at actual pre-historic cave paintings that are > 20,000 years old; the area is famous for the Lascaux caves where these paintings were first found.  Lots of history from medieval and renaissance times.  I hope to show more pictures in the future.

Then we spent the last 3 days in the Loire Valley which is much flatter than the Dordogne area. Whereas the latter is known more for its medieval castles, the Loire is known for its Renaissance chateaus.  We visited 3 of them in depth (interior as well as outside):

Aizy Le Rideau:

62014 Aizy le Rideau

Villandry (with magnificant gardens):

62014 Villandry

and Chennonceau (many consider it the most beautiful of the chateaus because it straddles the river.):

62014 Chennonceau

I have some great pictures from the interiors which I hope to share in the future.  In fact, I have much, much more to share – “pattern” was everywhere; everything in France is decorated to the hilt and there is lots of inspiration for ideas for designs that could be used in quilts.  Even the arrangements of stones in the houses, tiles on the roofs, shadows on the buildings, stained glass windows in the churches could inspire quilt designs.  Will share these in the not too distant future.

I think that is enough for today!  Next post will update you on my quilting projects and I will try to gradually share more about the trip.

Thanks for visiting!

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