Wednesday: Paris

Today, our last day in Paris and the last day of our trip, we walked to Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur church and to wander around the neighborhood. Then we walked around the city for hours, checking out the store windows, having lunch, and doing a little shopping.

We leave for home in the a.m. so it is over and out for my blog for a while.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous year ahead. I’ll be traveling in 2020 so I’ll check in from time to time.

Thank you for reading my blog.

photos: some of the freelance artists in the square in the Montmartre area of Paris today; a nativity scene protected from the elements; paart of the 300 stairs to get to the highest point in Paris

Tuesday: Paris

Today we went to the Museum d’Orsay, the French museum with artwork from the 1840s to about 1914. It is housed in an old railway station and is huge. Because of the transportation strike here in Paris, the museum was free today. That meant that lines to get in were very long. It was worth the wait, of course.

After lunch we shopped at Galeries Lafayette, along with it seemed about half of Paris. We walked back to where we are staying, grateful for warm weather our last days here.

photos: from the rooftop at Galleries Lafayette; the huge tree at the store; a painting that is part of the Degas Opera series being shown at the Museum D’Orsay

Monday: Paris

We went to Museum L’Orangerie this morning and viewed the eight Water Lillies murals by Claude Monet. I never realized these paintings were so huge, and so dark. It was nice to spend time looking at those and some other exhibits at the art museum.

We had lunch in a pub in the Tuileries/museum area, then walked over to Notre Dame, where a tragic fire in April destroyed part of the roof and the spire, among other serious damage. There is a fence around the cathedral because construction and restoration is going on, and there is scaffolding all over the building.

From there we went to the iconic Shakespeare & Company – an English language bookstore in a charming shop with many small rooms. It was not crowded but I can imagine it can be claustrophobic with many people browsing.

From there we walked across the bridge to the Ile Saint-Louis, an island with a population of about 4,000. It has a nice city center. We stopped for coffee and then began our walk back. Public transportation is still very much on strike so the car traffic is a mess.

photos: the Seine today; Notre Dame; traffic standstill in Paris

Sunday: Paris

It is the last leg of out trip. Today we drove to Paris to drop off the car we gave been driving for the past many weeks. That went smoothly mainly because it is Sunday and there are few cars on the road. During the week traffic amid the strike is said to be extremely awful. We will deal with that in a few days.

For now, we are enjoying Paris. We walked around this afternoon, found an open restaurant and had a late lunch, and went to one of the many Christmas markets in the city, this one by the Tuileries Gardens. There were crowds of people there but it seemed everyone was having a festive time.


photos: Paris this evening; a deluxe Christmas tree; a deluxe Christmas window

Saturday: Sens, France

Saturday is market day in Beaune, so we walked up to the center of the city this morning before driving north.

Part of the market is indoors where there are refrigerated cases although most of it is outside.

Aside from a wide assortment of bread, pastries, meat, fish, and produce, there were oysters and snails galore and of course many varieties of cheese.

We got some baguettes and a few kinds of cheese for lunch later, and I wandered over to a part of the market where there was live entertainment. A woman was singing holiday songs and it was delightful.

We left for Sens in the late morning and arrived at about 1pm. The holiday market was going on – it is just today and tomorrow – so we took our time checking that out and then scoping out the town. Tomorrow we drop our car off in Paris.


photos: local celebrity singing Christmas songs at the Beaune holiday market this morning; snails for sale, the real deal; oysters were plentiful

Friday: Beaune

We spent this rainy day in Beaune and got organized for our trip home in a week. This took a while since we have been tossing things into our rental car without thought about whether it would eventually fit into our luggage. Consolidating took some time, but I am relieved that is done.

We did some Christmas shopping in town and had a delicious lunch. Later we walked up to the small Christmas market which really doesn’t get into full swing until Saturday. It was nice to hear holiday songs and check out what they were selling.

Tomorrow we leave Beaune and head toward Paris, staying about an hour away. We drop our car at the airport on Sunday and then stay a few days in the city before our flight back.


photos: €20 Christmas trees for sale in the city (a bargain); a street in Beaune; Athenaeum – a store that is the best of two worlds; a bookstore and a wine cellar. Plus great gifts.

Thursday: Dijon

Beaune (pronounced “bone”) is a terrific small city, with shops, restaurants, and plenty of vineyards outside its walled center. It is a quiet place to stay in the Burgundy area of France.

From there we drove to Dijon today and took the back roads to enjoy the countryside almost completely filled with vineyards. Each looked busy, with workers pruning vines as far as we could see.

We stopped for lunch along the way in the small town of Nuits Saint George, then drove around Gevrey-Chambertain, another town known for its Burgundy wines.

We got to Dijon and first checked out the entry area at the Musee Rude, an art dedicated to French sculptor Francois Rude. We walked around the very busy city center and went into some shops.

We wanted to go to the holiday market and walked in that direction but a few hundred protesters were marching and set off some kind of explosive device near where we were. Police were all around and were putting on their riot gear. So we walked back to the car and left, disappointed to miss the market.


photos: vineyards in the Burgundy region; the entry lobby sculptor at the Fracous Rude Museum in Dijon; protestors in Dijon today

Wednesday: Beaune

We left Vichy at about noon and drove to Lyon. There we picked up our daughter who flew from London to go home to the U.S. for the holidays.

The drive was about 2.5 hours, but with pouring rain it took longer. It also took longer because we tried to find a pack-and-ship place so we could send home one big, heavy box so we wouldn’t have to lug it home. We were not successful – the one we found just took prepaid packages – and we may just check it with our luggage. Meanwhile, we were thankful that her flight was on time.

From there (still pouring rain) we drove to Beaune, about two more hours nearer to Paris. We will stay there tonight. So – it was a day in the car, but necessary.


photos; The Christmas tree at Lyon airport; ancient bridges oureside Lyon; the end of the day, in Beaune

Tuesday: Vichy

We had a relaxing Tuesday in Vichy. After a couple of raisin pastries and coffee at a patisserie in the city, we were off to the Hall des Sources. This 1903 building is where the medicinal Vichy water is sourced. The water is said to cure all kinds of ailments and to be good for overall health. There are a few different thermal springs in the city and sourced in the building, but only one of them is accessible to the public. The others are only available with a doctor’s note.

We tried the water. First you have to buy a cup from a machine. It is sort of funny to insert €.25, press a button, and have an empty cup drop out, but that is what happens.

The water is from an ancient-looking faucet and tasted slightly salty, not refreshing. I had read that people fill up bottles there, and they must be forcing themselves to drink the water because really, it was not good.

Next we checked out the old opera house. The building is beautiful and used for all types of performances now. There is nothing scheduled until a dance troupe this weekend.

We had lunch and walked around the park, then went back to where we are staying so that I could attempt to consolidate some of our luggage.


photos: on the doors of the opera house; the Hall des Sources; holiday stars in the park

Monday: Vichy

We drove four hours northwest to Vichy today, a step toward Paris where our car is due back in a week. The massive strikes throughout France leave our exit plans somewhat questionable.

Regardless, we stopped in the town of Vienne, France for a long lunch and then drove on to Vichy – about three hours from Paris. We will spend a few days here and see how things go. The city is busy and nicely lit up for Christmas. We walked around a bit but since it is Monday most stores are closed. We will check them out tomorrow.

photos: Vichy’s entrance to a paet of the city; Vienne, where we stopped for lunch; interesting Julius Caesar chocolate heads being sold in a bakery in Arles this morning.