Wednesday, May 21, 2014

France - Cruising to Vernon

Hi, After learning about Van Gogh, we spent the afternoon cruising to Vernon.  We found the Seine to be a very interesting river with many towns and small cities along its banks.  Below are a number of photos taken from the top deck of the ship as we sailed down river.

At various points the river was lined with rock out crops.  They looked like limestone to me (above and 2 below).

We stopped to view the ruin of the Castle of La Roche-Guyon, built in the 12th century.  Most of the castle was dug into the hill side.

A manor house, protected by the castle, was built in the 14th century.  Irwin Rommel's headquarters was here as he prepared for the liberation of Europe by the Allies.

One house along the river had a thatched roof, something we were very surprised to see in this area.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, May 19, 2014

France - Auvers-sur-Oise, Van Gogh

Hi, Our first stop after leaving Paris was Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent Van Gogh spent the final 2 months of his life.

We began our visit at the statue of Van Gogh.

Van Gogh died in this building.

Here is a print of one of the 70 paintings done by Van Gogh while he lived here and

here is the scene today.

The village was very picturesque (above and below).

Van Gogh painted this church

from this perspective.

This road leads up to the famous wheat field he painted and

then to the cemetery where he was buried.  His brother died six months later and was buried beside Vincent in 1905.  Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

France - Paris 3

Hi, On our second evening in France the crew had a special treat for us; a dinner cruise up the Seine.  We would come down river after dark.

Just up river from where we were docked was a small Statue of Liberty.

Some of the modern architecture is quite different.

We passed this old mail boat.

One of the buildings had this wrap on it.

A number of buildings along the river were lit up after dark.  This former railroad station is now an art museum.

The Eiffel Tower also is lit.  Every hour a series of strobe lights flash for five minutes.

On our last afternoon in Paris we visited the Louvre.  The small pyramid is inverted into the lobby.

A store on the edge of the lobby had this changing display.

Of course the Venus de Milo was a must see.

The art extended up onto the ceilings.

Huge works hung on the walls.

The Mona Lisa is kept behind a plastic shield.

Students come and sketch the paintings.

Here is a view of the small Arch de Triumph looking through it at the large pyramid.

The large pyramid is surrounded by fountains.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, May 12, 2014

France - Paris 2

Hi, On the afternoon of the second day we took an optional tour to Versailles.  It was interesting to compare this palace to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.  I thought the Hermitage was more ornate with more things inside.  It clearly is much larger.

The entrance to the Palace courtyard is surrounded by a gate covered in gold.

Behind the palace are gardens with many pools (above and below).

As with most palaces of this era decoration is extensive right up to and including the ceiling (above and 2 photos below).

Chandeliers were used to provide general lighting.

The most famous room in the palace is the hall of mirrors (above and below) with one long wall of windows facing a long wall covered with mirrors.  The mirrors were used to provided more daylight and to make the room seem wider.

At the end of our tour there was an opportunity to photograph the courtyard with very few people.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

France - Paris 1

Hi, Ruthe and I departed on March 28 for a 2 week trip to France.  During that trip we spent 10 nights on a river boat on the Seine and 4 nights in hotels.

We arrived in Paris late on March 29 and immediately were taken to the ship.  That afternoon we had a walk around the dock area so we would know where we could find a grocery store, ATM, and public transportation.  We also began to learn about life in Paris.

Bicycles are positioned at many locations around Paris by the municipal government. For a payment of 20 Euros per year an individual may take a bike from any rack, use it for up to 45 minutes, and return it to any rack without charge.  For times over 45 minutes the charge is modest.  The city monitors the racks and moves bikes from racks with an over supply of bikes to ones where demand is heavy.

Charging stations for electric cars also are located around the city and the cars can be rented by the hour.  Again, they can be picked up at one location and left at another.

In addition to the ship's walking tour I wandered around the area on my own 3 times.  On one of these walks I photographed some of the river traffic.  This boat with a car aboard, probably the captain's, caught my attention.

I found this scene interesting as it juxtaposed the boat with buildings typical of the older parts of Paris.

A building with awnings and a terrace with flowers yielded a burst of color.

Taken from across the Seine, our boat was docked (the dark one) with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

The day after our arrival we had a driving tour around Paris; including two stops.  The first stop was at the Eiffel Tower for photos.

During our drive we passed Notre Dame  Cathedral and

what some call the Little Arch de Triumph.  This arch is located across the street from Louvre.

We made one more stop, at a park called Jardine du Luxembourg.  It was interesting to people watch.  The ladies above were part of an exercise group.

This gentleman just laid back and took a nap.

The garden is home to the Luxembourg Palace which houses the French Senate.

It was spring and love was in the air.

The real Arch de Triumph as seen through the front window of our bus.

Thanks for looking.