Our itinerary so far…

Since we have retired there have been many places we traveled to and more place we want to go.  This will be a way of keeping a record, of keeping in touch, and of exchanging experiences with family and friends. Pitch in…

Sunday 25 May 2019 – Leave Ohare and fly to Amsterdam then off to Budapest.

Monday-Thursday – getting over jet lag and touring Budapest. We board the MS. Treasures Thursday afternoon.

30 May to 13 June — we will be on our river cruise.


13 June to 16 June — disembark ending our cruise  and we are off and on our own. This segment we are in Amsterdam to visit Anne Frank House, Windmills and wooden shoes.

16 June to 19 June — Travel by train to Brussels. In Brussels we are planning to do day trips to Ghent and Brugges before picking a rental car.

Europe Road Portion

19 June – 21 June — pick up, our rental car and driving to Luxembourg City. Along the way visiting Waterloo, Hannut, and The Bastogne battlefields. Will, spend a day touring Luxembourg before heading off to Sedan.

21 June — On our drive to Sedan and the historic battlefields of 1870, 1914 and 1940…  we will head south to Metz, the American WWI battlefields of Meuse-Argonne, and the the iconic battlefields of Verdun … Dani will be so excited…

22 June — spending the day on a tour of the Sedan before heading to Reims for the night.

23 June — Mass in the cathedral at Reims in the morning then to see the American battle fields of WWI in Belleau Wood and Chateaux Theiry area. Will complete the French WWII battle of France in the forest at Compiegne. Stopping in Amiens for the night. Off to Amiens

24 June – 26 June Bayeaux and the Normandy Beaches. Will stop in Honfluer, Caen, Rouen along the way. A day at Mont St. Michel and our area site seeing.

27 June — Drive to Chartres while meandering in the Normandy countryside, and possibly stopping in Giverny.

28 June — Return our car and take a train to our Paris apartment

28 June to 10 July – on foot in Paris…

July 10, 2019: Au Revoir, Paris! Hello, Everyone at Home!

This morning was, again, a beautiful sunny and warm day in Paris! But…there would be no touring, no flaneur-ing today! Today is the day we fly back to ORD, HOME!

BUT…WAIT! One more of those wonderful Parisian croissants for breakfast, s’il vous plait! We showered, dressed, and took off on foot to purchase some croissants from La Maison d’Isabella, about two blocks away, to bring back to our place for breakfast! This small boulangerie/patisserie proudly exhibits a sign above the entrance: 1er Prix for the best croissant in Paris and the local region! Let me tell you: we completely agree! Large, still warm, crispy outside, soft buttery paper-thin layers on the inside…a hint of sweetness, but it’s probably just the butter….in our limited experience, EXQUISITE! We will miss these morning croissants (and some of the most delicious baguettes for later on)! I will have to figure out how to make these things at home.

I was fortunate to make a last trip around the corner to check on Shakespeare and Company and Notre Dame. The first was already bustling with customers and coffee seekers. The second was humbly, yet majestically, accepting the restorative efforts of the brave folks working way up toward where the roof once was. It’s interesting, because I wonder if any visitors to Paris have stayed away due to the fire having temporarily rendered touring of Notre Dame impossible. there is never a moment when I have past by that people were stopping to look at her, to take photographs of her, to take selfies with her…. The building and the towers are still in place and quite beautiful as they are. The spire is missing, but I wonder just how much it really adds to what we see right now. The roof is gone, yes, and there is scaffolding where it once was. Many of the stained glass windows closer to the roof are now replaced with clear but patterned windows. But…the rose is still there–dark from the outside, but we all know that’s only temporary…and because…. With so many, if not most, of these old Churches currently undergoing maintenance and restoration, Notre Dame does not look as if it’s all that different–from the outside. And…perhaps that is the major disappointment, I.e., although one can still walk about the other Churches with work in progress, it is still unsafe, and therefore impermissible,for anyone to walk through Notre Dame.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport b6 11:45. This airport is gorgeous! We walked beneath domed ceilings as if we were inside huge tubes. The domed ceilings are solid, but the rest of the buildings are clear glass. They are bright, clean, and they have little play structures (like an Eiffel Tower slide contraption) for little ones to explore in some of the waiting areas. Some of the bathrooms are fantastic! For example, I went into one that was decorated in white, bright red, bright orange, and bright pink, with silver and gold-speckled tiles on the floor and all around. There was silver/chrome trim all around. Everything was push-button or motion-sensored, i.e., the toilet flusher, the faucets, the soap dispenser, and the hand dryer. Above the sink, next to the hand dryer, was a three-item scale with buttons corresponding to graphics for us to indicate if we were satisfied.

Our flight is international, and it was boarding at 1:50 for a 2:45 departure! Well, we stood in line to board for about two hours, and we were told that our plane had a technical problem and we would have to take a different one. From K33, we were re-directed to K48. We waited there for about 45 minutes, and we were told that our plane was on the other side of the airport and we should now move to M48. Big groan from everyone waiting to board the plane. We all trudged across the airport to a people mover and got to a point where we could see signs for our new gate. BUT…we had to go through full security all over again in order to get from here to there! For us, it was just a lot of standing and waiting. But…parents with small children had hungry mouths to feed, active little bodies to set free, tired tantrums to soothe, and diapers to change–not to mention all the accompanying gear that goes along with traveling with little ones! All of our luggage, which had been loaded onto the original plane had to be de-boarded and re-loaded. Finally, we were able to board our plane, and we left Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 5:30. Somehow, though, they tell us that this flight will get us home close to the time we were originally due back, in spite of the delays. Instead of 5:30-ish, we would be home around an hour-and-a-half later than that. It is what it is, it will be what it will be, que sera sera. So far, service on this plane has been absolutely wonderful! We were fed a full dinner, with wine, champagne, beer, coffee, soda, whatever we wished–at no additional cost! The seats are comfortable. Everything is super clean, we can watch movies on our screen, we were given fancy headphones, and we have pillows and blankets to keep us comfy and warm.

My flight tracker says that we are flying over the Atlantic just southeast of Greenland. We are just about half-way to HOME SWEET HOME!

This has been a fairytale trip in so many ways! We will never forget this experience we’ve been so lucky to share together. But…now…it’s time. It’s time to come back home to be with our loved ones where we belong!

There is NOTHING so precious as being able to hug, and be hugged by, those we love the very most! So happy to have arrived safely home with each and every one who makes our heart beat!

July 9, 2019: Last Full Day in Paris—Les Deux Flaneurs Once Again—Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation; and Eglise-St.-Gervais-et-St.-Protais

Today is another beautiful, sunny, crisp day, with the sun warming us up nicely in the afternoon and keeping us a little chilly during morning and evening hours. After considering how we would spend the last day in Paris, we decided that we would once again be flaneurs for the day, this time in the Ile-St.-Louis and St. Germain areas, right next door.

CATHEDRALE-NOTRE-DAME-DE-PARIS: We have been checking on this beautiful Church every day, at least once if not more often per day. Today, we spent some time watching the huge crane work ever-so-precisely to position a huge metal splint into one of the flying buttresses. The work had to have been done artfully because the huge splint had to be placed in the hollow part of the flying buttress without inadvertently whacking the concrete and causing more damage. With a team of workers operating the crane, on the bottom of the buttress, and at the top, this heavy metal piece was positioned within, then secured to, the concrete flying buttress. Two more were already in place, so this was the third on this side. There are at least two more to go on the south side, and we think that most, if not all, of the buttresses all around will ultimately require such splinting. John believes that the splinting is necessary to support the roof posts as they expand and contract with the changing seasons. If one looks at many of the windows, that were probably originally stained glass, one can see through them to the other side. We think that the stained glass windows were removed and stored for safety (hopefully) while work on the Cathedral is being done. The poor Lady is definitely injured, but I am confident that she will rise again in glory within the five years Macron has estimated! Go, Notre-Dame-de-Paris!!!!!

THE BUSY RIVER SEINE: It IS summer, after all, and the weather couldn’t be better…for a ride on the Batobus on the Seine! We considered taking it, but it was going to about nine stops along the Seine, and we had seen most, if not all, at least once. As for cruising on a river, we decided that we had already done plenty of that while on our river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. So, we watched some of those Batobus go past, people on them taking photographs and waving as they went by. But…we decided that we would skip that for today.

MEMORIAL DES MARTYRS DE LA DEPORTATION: We had already stopped here several days ago and toured the gardens and whatever was available for us to see. Today, though, the monument was open, and we were able to enter the memorial and tour it fully. This is a monument to the 200,000 people who were deported from France to the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. These people included people of all ages, French citizens and strangers living here, mostly Jewish people, and people of different sexual orientation, gypsies, and so on who did not fit the ideal Aryan concept and/or who were considered to be threats to Hitlerian strategy. We found out that stumbling stones are not permitted in Paris for some reason. Most of the Parisian monuments are to the French soldiers and resistance fighters who died in the Revolution, WWI, WWII, and so on. So, this monument is that much more necessary and meaningful to honor innocent victims of the Nazi regime in France. Additionally, these atrocities were facilitated by the French Vichy government at the time, which made it even more hurtful and offensive to these French people who were victimized. The memorial is built on what used to be a morgue, ironically just behind Notre Dame. Most of the memorial is underground, where there is no window for light, in concrete tunnels. A brochure described this as “hollowed out of the sacred isle, the cradle of our nation, which incarnates the soul of France — a place where its spirit dwells.” The powerful memorial stops short of listing names of everyone who died. Nevertheless, this is a monument that can easily be missed because most of it is underground and because the eye is drawn on the more prominent structure of Notre Dame de Paris. But…it is definitely a place that must be seen, just as the other monuments to people lost during official wars with France. For more information, please see pictures from the first entries on this subject and/or the Galerie at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mémorial_des_Martyrs_de_la_Déportation and https://www.onac-vg.fr/hauts-lieux-memoire-necropoles/memorial-des-martyrs-de-la-deportation.

EGLISE ST.-GERVAIS-ET-ST.-PROTAIS: In our experience, it does not appear as if one can walk very far in Paris without coming upon another beautiful church! Today, while walking through the St. Germain neighborhood, we came upon this gem. Largely because of the artwork, the interior was reminiscent of an Eastern Orthodox Church, but it is, indeed, a Roman Catholic Church. There are some huge white (marble?) statues, and some very dark tarnished (bronze?) statues. There are some very dark wooden walls, furnishings, and even statues. The seating for the congregation is composed of individual wooden stool-like seats rather than the typical pews. As such, one could sit facing the main altar or facing the large organ toward the opposite entry way (with back toward the main altar). The Main altar was rather dark, sort of understated by comparison with altars we’ve seen in other major churches. There are various styles of stained glass windows: some with the typical gothic geometric designs, but clear; some with typical colored stained glass design; and others that were painted more recently by Sylvie Gaudin and Claude Courageoux. The Church architecture appears to be at once gothic and at other times more on the baroque side. The columns have a hint of romanesque. The various chapels within the Church, some behind iron gates and some not, are enclosed within arched walls (except the transept chapels). There is one large organ and two smaller ones on each side of the Church. The chapel to Mary is spectacular: large, beneath a beautiful dome and a large crown for Mary’s Queenship. The main organ is along the upper wall above the entry of the Church. The Couperin brothers once served as organists at this Church, playing on this same organ during the 17th century. The present Church began construction in the 15th century. It was bombed during a Good Friday service in March, 1918, killing 91 and injuring 68. The Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem calls this Church their headquarters since 1975. For more information, please see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/St-Gervais-et-St-Protais.

This was another lovely day in Paris! It seems as if we have seen just about everything we care to see for the time being, and we enjoyed just flaneur-ing about, exploring treasures just outside our own front door! It’ll be sad to say good-bye to Paris–to this fairy-tale trip that we will soon be concluding; and we will be simultaneously excited to hug our family when we will shortly return home. Home is always where the family is!

July 8, 2019: Deux Flaneurs en Paris (Two wanderers in Paris)—Les Jardins Cluny; Statue of Montaigne; La Sorbonne; Marche Huts on Boulevard St.-Germain; Les Deux Magots; Eglise St.-Germain-des-Pres; 56 Rue Jacob; and Conciergerie Clock

Today is among my favorite days on this trip so far. It is different in the sense that we do not have to be anywhere at any given time. We are in total control over how and where and when we move about the city of Paris. And…we are doing it on foot–together–and we BOTH want to do it! So…on this beautiful, sunny, comfortably-warm day with a refreshingly cool breeze, we set off on a walking exploration around the fifth arrondissement where we are staying and into the St.-Germain-des-Pres (next-door) area to see what we could see.

LES JARDINS CLUNY: Actually, we passed by these gardens, but we could not go in. The gate was still locked…. The gardens are somehow affiliated with the Museum of the Middle Ages, and they were built on the ancient Roman thermal baths. The plants we’re supposedly grouped according to the medicinal function that they served. But…we only saw the plantings along the sides of the walkway to the gate….

STATUE OF MONTAIGNE: We passed a large statue of a man calmly pondering something…. Tourists were stopping to take photos with him, and, more specifically, they were rubbing his right foot. I noted that the right foot was much shinier than the other–golden rather than dark bronze-ish–probably due to the continual rubbing over time. It turns out that students at the Sorbonne (just down the street) rubbed his foot, hoping for good luck with their exams. So, this poor guy used to be in white marble, but, because of this rubbing tradition, the statue degraded in appearance. In 1989, it was re-built in bronze, ready to withstand repeated rubbing by students and tourists alike, not complaining about his shiny right shoe. Oh…I rubbed it, too. For more information, see https://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-insolite/statues-porte-bonheur-paris.

LA SORBONNE: As a French major in College, I had heard quite a bit about the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Although we could see the dome of the Sorbonne Chapel and the Sorbonne’s green observatory tower from where we live, basically, we finally walked down to see the grounds by heading to the Place de la Sorbonne. First of all, the international cafes in the plaza and the surrounding area, the stores, the book stores in and surrounding the Place de la Sorbonne, and so on, invite geeky tourists like us and other higher education students from different parts of the world to come and take a closer look. We could not go into the Sorbonne; there were armed security officers at every door for some reason. We did see a long, big building with La Sorbonne engraved on it. But…the Sorbonne is pretty spread out. We also saw signage on some of the buildings attesting to its affiliation with the University of Paris. In 1257, Robert de Sorbon established the College de Sorbonne as one of the colleges in the University of Paris. It was the site of French Revolution aggression but ordered reopened by Napoleon in 1808. In time, it became known as a theological studies institution, even though there were other disciplines taught/studied here. In 1968, it became the site of a large and violent student protest versus the police in Paris. Students were protesting the closure of the University of Paris campus at Nanterre. Ultimately, the students declared the Sorbonne as an “autonomous public university.” It is officially known as the Universite Sorbonne-Universite. In addition to the library and disciplinary faculties of study included in the Sorbonne, the university also claims the Sorbonne Chapel on site. For more information, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbonne.

CUTE MARKET HUTS ON THE SIDEWALK OF ST. GERMAIN-DES-PRES: As we walked, we came upon a row of little “houses” along the sidewalk that sold all sorts of items, from fresh seafood, to leather purses and attaches, to mechanical puzzles, to jewelry, to silk scarves, and so on. We looked but did not stop to buy. They just caught our eye because of their uniform appearance as roofed huts.

LES DEUX MAGOTS: John found this place, actually, and proposed it for today’s lunch! He knew that we would both like it–and we did! Not only did we get to eat lunch at an establishment that was regularly frequented by some of France’s most notable philosophers, artists, and writers, but we were also able to finally eat a simple baguette with cheese (for me) and with roast beef (for John)! We had fries (actually called French Fries on the menu–the first time we encountered this along our trip), but we chose to share a dessert later on closer to where we live. So, this place used to be a store on this spot in 1873. By 1885, it started serving alcohol somehow. In 1933, famous emergent artists, writers, and thinkers were coming by pretty regularly, such that the Cafe introduced the Prix des Deux Magots (the name just refers to a statue on its premises) for literary excellence/fame. And…lo and behold…all sorts of famous artists/writers came by on a regular basis. Who might they be? Well, do names such as Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme,Triolet, Aragon, Gide, Giraudoux, Picasso, Leger, Prevert, Hemingway, Breton, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir…sound familiar? Today, the little cafe was pretty crowded, as we squeezed onto two small flimsy cane chairs around a 24-inch-in-diameter round table. We could literally rub elbows with our next-door neighbors if we wanted, that’s how close we were to one another. Still, to this day, artists come to relax and/or dine here, and so do fashion designers, political figures, and, of course, tourists–like US! For more information about this cafe, see http://www.lesdeuxmagots.fr/en/history-restaurant-paris.html.

EGLISE SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRES: This is THE oldest church in Paris! It dates back to 543, and it has survived, unsurprisingly, a tumultuous history: 886: Destroyed/burned by the Vikings; 1,000: Re-built; 1794: Part of the Church burned due to an explosion from stored gunpowder therein; mid-1800s: Part of the Church chopped off by Hassmann’s orders in order to make room for the Blvd. St-Germain. Building the Blvd. was part of the plan for renovating Paris….. EVEN SO, the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres managed to survive as one of the very rare Romanesque Churches in Paris. The St.-Symphorium Chapel immediately to the right as one enters through the main Church doors, is pretty naked in appearance: stone walls, flat wood ceiling, one small stone statue of Mary holding Jesus, and modern numbered tile markers for the Stations of the Cross. There is an altar and a cross. Some of those stone structures, though, date way back to the 11th century ! As for the main Church: There is ongoing renovation going on with all of the stained-glass windows (they are covered up completely, so I assume they are stained glass, but I did not see them first-hand); there is clearly a mix of artistic styles due to the continual renovation efforts across time/artistic preferences; one can see some romanesque and some gothic styles; the stained glass windows we do see are actually 19th-Century reproductions of the originals, which are in the Museum of the Middle Ages…. AND, this Church is beautiful in its own way! The blues, golds, reds, greens, creams in the domes and in the Romanesque columns are stunning. The tops of the columns are sculpted in ornate golds, greens, and reds. The columns themselves are decorated (crosses, stripes, and so on). Toward the main altar is a white stone-looking statue of Mary. It looks as if She was planning to hold the Child Jesus in her arms, but one does not know for sure. Mary is leaning over to one side toward [the Baby Jesus], and she is SMILING! This is pretty rare in Churches I have seen–Ever–and signals, perhaps a philosophic turn in how saints and holy figures were perceived at the time that this statue was being sculpted in the 13th century. So, why the partial statue? Well, the sign in the Church suggests that it was being sculpted from some stones from the nearby street but was never finished. The paintings and frescos are stunning. Some of the chapels seem to be enclosed within stone archways, also suggestive of the romanesque style. Then, again, white angel wings–two sets–modern-looking–stand in stark contrast to the reeds, greens, golds, creams, columns, and domes surrounding them. The pipe organ covers the entire area over the main entry to the Church. Lucky for us because there would be an organ recital this evening in this Church by Dr. Edward Maki-Schramm (an American) st al., and he/they must have been practicing while we were visiting. Our visit to St.-Germain-des-Pres was accompanied by the rich sounds of this 19th-century organ!

56 RUE JACOB: John had read that the Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed at the York Hotel, 56 Rue Jacob, in Paris. He also knew that the hotel no longer existed but that there would be a sign/plaque where it once was. The significance of this place is that it was here where the war between Great Britain and the United States was officially terminated. Therefore, it was here where the United States were officially declared independent from Great Britain! Alas, there was no plaque to read. There is the Typographie de Fermin Didot in the place of the Hotel York, and a square brown perhaps-this-is-where-the-plaque-might-have-once-been on the side of the exterior wall. I think that sign should be replaced, don’t you? After all, it is about Independence Day for the United States of America!

CONCIERGERIE CLOCK: I had read that a very old beautiful clock was atop the Conciergerie but that most people passed it by because they did not know to look up to notice it. So, on the way back to our apartment, I checked it out. It IS gorgeous, and, to me, Louis XIV is ever-so-evident by all of the gold and glitz of its appearance! The clock was originally built in 1371, and it is visible to the public passing by. Since 1371, many different kings have left their marks on the appearance of this clock–and so has the French Revolution. Henry the II, III, and IV had the greatest impact on this clock. The French Revolution just about destroyed it. In 1849, it was re-built, according to how it looked during the time of Louis XIV (1686). The colors on the clock are red, blue, lots of gold, some black, and some white. The clock face is white with black numbers and hands. There are two statues, one on each side of the face: one is law, and the other is justice. There is an inscription at the top of the clock; and there are two gold crowns at the very top to represent France and Poland, which composed the realm of Henry III. The initials are contested: Are they for Henri (II) and Catherine DeMedici, or are they for Diane de Poitiers (Henri II’s mistress)? Or? The enigma rages on….

LE PETIT PRINCE: So, I finally purchased a copy of Le Petit Prince from one of the green-box sellers along the Seine this afternoon. This version was only six Euros vs. the $10 or more through Amazon or even at Shakespeare and Company (around the corner here). It is NOT the official original version in French as de-St.-Exupery wrote it. But….alas, trying to purchase the original would be extremely costly, so…at least, I have this version, it is in French, and I can compare it with the translation of any English version I will ultimately buy. I have always known that translation is really an art–not just linguistic knowledge. One has to be able to pick up on context and nuance, for example, on idioms, expressions, the vernacular, and such. So, I am waiting to see which translation to English turns out to be the most authentic–and affordable. For example, I was looking for the Katherine Woods translation from the 1940s, but it is not longer available in book stores. It can be found/had–if only I one were willing to spend hundreds-to-thousands of dollars for one copy! Meanwhile, I will continue to read reviews on the various translations and the articles on authenticity in translation for this classic, which intrigue me, anyway.

All in all, this was a most enjoyable day, with just enough flaneur-ing and relaxation. We will head for coffee and/or some light dinner in one of the many eateries in the Latin Quarter just outside our front door. It is hard to believe that our time in France is drawing to an end (we leave for home in just two days). But…we are ever-so-grateful for what we have had so far, everything we have been so fortunate to see and do, and we look forward to a full day in Paris again tomorrow.

July 5, 2019: Fountain at Viviani Square, Paris; Place de la Bastille; Place des Vosges; Eglise de Sts. Peter and Paul; and la Tour St. Jacques de Compostella en France, Paris

Today, we had the third of a three-day bus/RER (local transit) pass to use, so we decided to combine use of that ticket and use of our own feet to become “flaneurs” (wanderers) around some parts of Paris. This was another beautiful, hot, sunny, and clear day, so what better to do than this?

ST. JULIEN FOUNTAIN AT VIVIANI SQUARE: Literally just beyond our apartment in Paris is the Viviani Square. This is a public park now, just next to Eglise St-Julien-Le-Pauvre. I have already written about this Church as well as about the oldest tree in Paris, which is found in this same park. This tree, by the way, continues to amaze me because it is supported by concrete splints. The poor thing has had its top blown away by bombing in WW I, and yet…it blooms every single year! The park today was peaceful and shaded–a welcome place for a hot sunny summer day. People were lying on the ground sleeping (Why? They just slept all night, for Pete’s sake. No?). Some were writing in journals, sitting on the lawn (no blanket beneath them necessarily). Someone was rehabilitating with his trainer. A group of art students were working on images of Notre-Dame-de-Paris, spectacularly across from them. Their teachers was guiding them as they drew. And then…this fountain! No water was flowing today. At first sight, the fountain looks like a dark shad of metal with people holding some other people who look dead. The fountain spigots were either bucks or deer of some kind. My understanding is that this fountain was built in the 1990s, inspired by the story of St. Julien Le Pauvre. I have already written about the legend of this poor man. However, for more information about this fountain, this park, especially “the legend of St. Julien the Hospitaller”, please see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_René-Viviani.

We hopped off Bus #69 at PLACE DE LA BASTILLE. Given that we are fast approaching July 14, Bastille Day, i.e., a BIG day for people in Paris and all of France, we could not leave Paris without taking a good look at the Bastille memorial monument. The Bastille was a prison in the 1700s until it was destroyed between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790. Nothing of that prison remains. The memorial tower is officially called the July Column. For more information, please see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_de_la_Bastille.

PLACE DES VOSGES: The Place des Vosges was originally the Place Royale. It is the oldest planned square in Paris, dating back to the 1700s. (As such, it is reminiscent of Disney’s Celebration in Florida to me). It was also an expensive and trendy place to live during the 18th and 19th centuries, suitable most comfortably for royalty. It was built to celebrate the engagement of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria in the 1600s. No royalty ever lived in the Place Royale, though, with the exception of Anne of Austria for only a short while. The Place Royale introduced a type of construction that made all house fronts in this square the same in appearance. The square is composed of a lovely park, with greenery and trees today. Richelieu ordered the erection of a large bronze statue of King Louis XIII. That statue is still there. There are four fountains, one per quadrant. Everything is orderly and symmetrical in appearance. Several important people called this community home, such as Victor Hugo, #8 (where he wrote much of “Les Miserables”), and #21, Cardinal Richelieu. Construction was happening today in front Victor Hugo’s house, but he occupied the first four windows on the first floor. There is a restaurant and a gallery where Richelieu’s house once was. There was a sign by the École Maternelle (like a pre-school/day care) still operating within the complex. It was dedicated in memory of the many children who were deported from there during the Nazi occupation and who were transported to the concentration camps: “only because they were born Jewish…and with the complicity of some French people.”

EGLISE ST.-PAUL-ST.-LOUIS: The bright red doors of this TALL structure caught our attention. They were wide open, beckoning us to enter and take a look. This was, once again, a BEAUTIFUL church, with deep domes, the deepest being the one over the main altar. This Church dates back to the mid-600s in its earliest forms and has had a tumultuous history. It did not start out as being called the Eglise St.-Paul-St.-Louis. Louis XIII proclaimed in the mid-1600s that the St. Louis Church should be built for the Jesuits. Cardinal Richelieu was the first to celebrate Mass in this Church, and great orators, including Bourdaloue, Fléchier, and Bossue. It did not become the St.–Louis-St.-Paul Church until the 1800s, around the time of Napoleon I. This Church is bright inside, unlike many of the old churches we have been visiting. The windows are tall and huge, with little color in the stained glass in deference to clear designs. The paintings and sculptures were completed by prominent artists, the holy water fonts (those that look like sea shells) were given to the Church by Victor Hugo, and Victor Hugo’s daughter married in this Church. The interior architecture appears to be a blend of styles. All in all, this Church is another must-see in the Parisian landscape.

We happened in front of a beautiful gothic tower called the “ST.-JACQUES-TOWER” (aka the St. James’ Tower). The tower is the only thing that remains from the original Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (St James of the Butchers), built in the 16th century. The Church itself was destroyed in 1797, falling victim to the French Revolution. The butchers of the vicinity funded this lavish tower. Dedicated to St. Jacques the Greater, this tower received pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. (Remember those little seashells embedded on the sidewalks mentioned in the Brussels segment of this blog? Well, this tower is one of the checkpoints along that route to Spain). This tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The top of the tower sports a “meteorological laboratory” and the base exhibits a statue of Blaise Pascal. Some would claim that Pascal might have run some of his experiments “on atmospheric pressure” here. Others might question that. For more information about this landmark, please see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Jacques_Tower#The_Way_of_St._James.

THE HOMELESS CONUNDRUM: Every day, I see homeless people around the city. They are typically seated on the concrete walkways, beneath the gargoyles of an old Church, on the stairs of the majestic Opera House, or of a Church…. Sometimes, there is evidence of alcohol consumption nearby, and sometimes not. Sometimes, there are entire families sitting in the same spot day in, day out. Sometimes people walk about, asking for some money. Yesterday, a little girl, maybe around eight years old, motioned to me that she wanted to go to the restaurant across the street. Her mother communicated that they were hungry. Someone said that many are immigrants, with nothing to sustain nor shelter them, with no right to employment, and no right to schooling for the children. The lives of these people must be so difficult! I do not believe that anything will ever change in this world until each person accepts that he or she is responsible for the well-being of his or her brother, too. NOONE should be in this condition! This earth has plenty for all of us to thrive. But…it cannot be just one person here and there trying to make a difference, although that certainly must be done until a better more collective system comes along. This problem is so challenging–and complex….

All in all, this was a wonderful day in the local environs of Paris! We feel as if we’ve seen so many buildings, so many important memorials, so many beautiful Churches,….;and we have helped to shape HUGE crowds on some of the streets of this beautiful city! And…it has been on the HOT side during the day. Coming home to our air conditioned apartment is so very, very welcome!

July 3, 2019–English St. Julien LePauvre; Elise de Notre Dame de Clignancourt; Sacre-Coeur (Montmartre); Place Tertre (Montmartre); and Mur Je t-Aime (Montmartre)

This morning, we were able to sleep in for one of the first and only times since we’ve been on this trip. It is another beautiful sunny day in Paris, and the sun promises to add some heat as the afternoon wears on. No matter, though, it has typically been warm/hot by day and cool by night. Beautiful, if you ask me!

We have been walking past the EGLISE-ST.-JULIEN-LEPAUVRE since we’ve been in Paris because the church is literally just around the corner from where we are staying. Today, we walked in to see what it looks like. Tourist groups come past this corner many mornings, so we had to see what they must know.

This church seems dark and small from the outside as well as from within. It was built in the late 12th century, and since 1889, it has been a Greek Byzantine Rite Catholic Church. St. Julien-le-Pauvre, aka St. Julien-l’Hospitalier (Hospitalist), was once hunting for deer, when the deer spoke to him, warning him that Julien would eventually kill his parents. Julien, aghast at the prospect, ran away from home but left his wife behind, evidently. His parents were worried about him and set off looking for him, beginning with his wife. She kindly offered them a place to sleep at her house. When Julien returned home, he saw someone sleeping in his wife’s bed and immediately concluded that he was sleeping with his wife. So…you guessed it…he killed them. Well, with that, Julien was beside himself! He left everything behind and went on to live as a hermit. Nevertheless, at one point, he picked up a leper and carried him in his boat. The leper soon developed a halo around his head, and Julien discovered that the leper was really Jesus Christ. Jesus symbolically forgave Julien for what he had done. The present Church was actually built upon an older Church that was built in the 600s. The Eglise-St.-Julien-Le-Pauvre was built at about the same time that Notre-Dame-de-Paris. Among its components is a stone from the original Lucretia road that connected Rome and Orleans. The Eglise-St.-Julien-Le-Pauvre has flying buttresses, too. It is built in the Romanesque style, with columns, arches, and arched windows. The stained glass is not as focal as it might be in other churches. In true Byzantine style, this Church has a beautiful wooden iconoclast by the altar, along with other icons. Interestingly, I sought an informational brochure from a person in the Reception area. He could only speak French. He said he did not have any in English–only in French. Then, he said something about the Angelus and walked toward a beautiful painted icon of Mary and the Baby Jesus. I commented that the painting was beautiful, especially the eyes. He nodded in agreement, and continued to pray. It dawned on me that it was noon, and it was time to pray the Angelus! There is a plaque on a different building nearby depicting the leper-boat-Christ scene in the story of Julien-le-Pauvre. Although this Church looks like something that probably would not be open for services and longer, a closer look inside reveals the opposite. In its simplicity, it is still a place of more subtle beauty and deep reverence. The courtyard holds the oldest tree in Paris, “the Lucky Tree,” which is said to bring good luck to anyone who gently rubs its bark.

On our way to Montmartre’s Sacré-Coeur, we came across the EGLISE-DE-NOTRE-DAME-DE-CLIGNANCOURT. Once again, it did not look like much from the outside, but because we had been so pleasantly surprised by St.-Julien-Le-Pauvre just earlier today, we entered this Church to take a closer look. This church, from the inside, was huge. It was built in the 19th century as one of three churches erected to care for the religious needs of a growing population in the 18th arrondissement of Paris (just by Montmartre). It is decorated in the Neo-Romanesque style, still maintaining its arches inside and framing the windows. The choir is absolutely gorgeous, reminiscent for me to the ceiling of the Ste. Chappelle. The interior of the dome brings together arched gold-trimmed trimwork, with green-and -white-dot-patterned surfaces in-between the arcs. Beautiful frescoes and statues, including one of the Pieta, still wow the visitor. There is a faint-colored round window, but it is not the typical rose window one sees at Notre-Dame-de-Paris, Sacre-Coeur, and many other Churches. The stained-glass windows are composed of bright colors. The Church has an area commemorating names of the dead from WW I, and it has a large sculpture of the Pieta. All in all, a beautiful church!

SACRE-COEUR BASILICA, MONTMARTRE (PARIS): At the top of a steep-ish hill, accessible by foot or even by funicular, is a stunning white-light-gray Church. The Church sits at the top of the highest point in Paris; so, the view from the entrance area, for example, is spectacular and far-reaching on a clear day. For example, one can certainly see the Eiffel Tower, the golden dome of Les Invalides…. The decoration is mixed. It has arched stained glass windows, and they are composed of vivid colors. There are multiple roses, also of different colors. The dome is TALL, and it has several smaller companion domes. The choir is surrounding by a beautiful and HUGE fresco in blues and whites and golds…. The Church is dedicated to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and It is held in a stunningly beautiful silver monstrance that just glistens from a distance. There are statues, paintings, and other artifacts in more modern art, created in multi-media forms. Surrounding the dome of the main alter are statues of the four archangels. From its inception, the Church also served a political purposes, supposed to have been erected in penance for the moral decadence surrounding the French Revolution and the evidence of punishment, the loss of the French in the Franco-Prussian War. The Church was completed in 1914 in the Romano-Byzantine tradition to counter the blatant glitziness of Garnier’s Opera House, for example. The Holy Sacrament is exposed and venerated non-stop since 1885. The Church was also consecrated to the adoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Signage suggests that visitors must consider this a place of reverent worship first and foremost and must, therefore, dress appropriately, act respectfully, and refrain from taking photos or moving about in the sacristy where only those wishing to pray are permitted to enter. When we left, several clergy members knelt before the Blessed Sacrament to pray in what sounded to us as Polish. The Church houses an exquisite organ, and five bells, one of which is the largest in France. It is known as “the Savoyarde.” It ranks fifth in size, immediately following the Petersglocke of Cologne, GErmany. However, it does not appear to ring any longer due to a crack that appeared in the 1990s. For more information, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacré-Cœur,_Paris.

PLACE DU TERTRE, MONTMARTRE: Just a little bit away from Sacre-Coeur is the Place du Tertre. This used to be part of the Abbey on Montmartre but was turned over to public land in the 1600s. Today, Place du Tertre was teeming with rows of colorful umbrellas providing shade to artists busily working on their pieces or talking to customers, trying to make a sale. Restaurants operate unobtrusively around these artists. The atmosphere today was festive.

As one descended Montmartre, away from Place du Tertre, one was treated to a display of street art on the various buildings, for example. Additionally, today there was a young man in a square inviting lookers on to try to form transparent bubbles with simple rope and two wooden sticks.

Just a short distance from the Place is the statue of the CHEVALIER DE LA BARRE. It appears as if the poor young man (he was only 19) this statue commemorates was tortured and murdered around here just because he was perceived to have shown disrespect to a clerical procession. According to the plaque by the statue standing basically at the foot of the Cathedral, De La Barre was tempted to sing improper songs and not take off his hat during a clerical procession. For this transgression, he was sentenced to removal of his tongue, cutting of his hand, and additional torture before beheading him and then burning him on a slow fire. He supposedly was burned with the dictionary of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary. (Voltaire often spoke out about religious judgment and violence toward people who did not behave according to their wishes/dicta). This event happened in the 1700s. For more information, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/François-Jean_de_la_Barre.

In a small park at the foot of Montmartre, just below Sacre-Coeur, is a large black shiny plaque that says, I love you, 311 times in 250 different languages. It was created in 2000. Many people were taking photos/selfies in front of this wall, especially if they could pose in front of their own language’s way of saying, I love you. This is officially called Mur des Je t’aime. For more information about this wall, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_Love.

Because we stopped to eat a light lunch at LE COQUELICOT in Montmartre, we opted to skip a full dinner this evening. Lunch was good, but I have been craving a good Parisian baguette with some kind of white soft cheese–like Brie–, for example. Instead, I received a decent–not great–baguette with something like Swiss cheese! NO! We are in PARIS now!

After a short rest and bathroom break in our room in Paris, we left again for a stroll around our place and a quick snack-like dinner with a good glass of wine in an outdoor cafe across from Notre Dame Cathedral. We shared Camembert roti with candied sliced onions and boiled yellow potatoes. These were served with chunks of French bread. WOW! We were going to have this snack plus a dessert of some kind, but we skipped the dessert and ordered another Camembert roti!

All in all, today was a beautiful day in Paris! We negotiated our way through RER train and bus, utilizing one all-day pass for each of us. We’re getting pretty good at this!