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.

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: Bordeaux

We had an early flight to Paris this morning, so were on the hotel shuttle to the airport at 4:30. The shuttle runs 24/7, about every 25 minutes. I was glad we just had a five- minute wait.

The Dublin airport was wide awake even if we weren’t, and we got to our flight and on to Charles de Gaulle airport quickly (or maybe it seemed that way since we mostly slept for the 90-minutes).

Once through French immigration, customs and baggage claim, we figured out how to get the leased car from Citroen we will use to drive around France and beyond. We set off for Bordeaux, six hours from the airport, during a rainstorm.

We finally made it to our destination. After our hosts greeted us, I took a quick picture of our castle lodging before we set off for dinner. Long day and we are very hungry.

photos: dinner in Bordeaux

the castle where we are staying.

vineyards as we drove