Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Hostel

Our little group of artists continued disbanding on Thursday morning, as several more headed for home.  Kim, Joan and Vera returned to Boston, and Karen and Lizz to Los Angeles.  And then there were 8.  After having a yummy breakfast at the hostel of corn flakes and cocoa puffs, French style, of course, we did a little exploring in the neighborhood.
Laura and Julie in front of the Hostel chalkboard
It was just a short walk to get to a large number of steps that led us up to Sacre Coeur, and a spectacular view.  Along the way, I liked this photo I snapped on the street of a man admiring a lovely French woman.

A fashionable French woman catches the eye of an admirer
Sacre Coeur
As usual, there was gorgeous architecture everywhere, and I liked this building detail below.

Many awesome sculptural building details
We returned to our hostel and checked out around 11:00, hailing a taxi for the second part of our adventure in St. Germain.  The traffic was crazy and the ride thrilling, especially when the Eiffel Tower came into view.

Interesting clock scultpture in central Paris
The Eiffel Tower comes into view
Lani, Laura, Lynn and I checked into our hotel in St. Germain, the Hotel Le Clement, and then headed right off to the Musee D'Orsay, where the plan was to meet up with the others (Iren, Julie, Karla, and Cate) at 12:30.  When we got there, we had a pleasant surprise because the museum was free that day because of the train strike.  We were really hungry and 4 of us ended up having lunch in the dining room at the museum.  Consequently, our little group ended up disbanding, and I spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the Musee D'Orsay, and then St. Germain, with Cate.

Detail of restaurant ceiling at the Musee D'Orsay
We discovered that St. Germain is an area filled with galleries, and this one had some art that we especially took a liking to.

One of the many nice galleries in St. Germain
A favorite story that Cate and I told later was about our visit to Laduree, the famous macaroon shop on Rue Bonaparte.  The cookies are so colorful that they are a veritable feast for the senses.  You can't help but want to take a picture.  And as soon as you do, someone comes up to you and says "madame, no photos please".  Groan.  Then once we bought our macaroons, we went to sit down at a little table in the next room.  The same woman came up to us and told us we couldn't sit there, because it was only for patrons that were dining in.  Groan.  But no matter how rude they were to us, we just could not resist getting  back into line and getting MORE macaroons.  At about 1 euro a piece.  They were that good!

Going through the line for a second time at Laduree
There are a lot of nice bookstores in this area, but our very favorite was right down the street on Rue Bonaparte, called Librairie F. De Nobele.  They had wonderful art books in a variety of different languages, and Cate ended up buying a book that she truly treasured.

Art Bookstore in St. Germain
Strolling back towards the hotel there was a lot of fun window shopping.  I loved this display for men's leather goods where even the name of the store was embossed in leather.

Even the word "Berluti" was in leather in this gorgeous men's window display
We were pretty tired from a full day of walking, first in the morning in Montmartre, and then the afternoon in St. Germain.  Cate and I met up with Laura, Lani and Lynn and had dinner near the hotel, where I had a surprisingly delicious chicken and mashed potatoes, along with a well earned glass of wine.  Cate went back to the hotel she was staying at in East Paris, and the other 4 of us headed back to the Hotel Le Clement, for a good night's sleep in preparation for our last full day in Paris.

Absolutely delicious chicken and mashed potatoes, French style
The place I will call home for Thursday and Friday night

Friday, October 1, 2010

Packing it up and heading to Paris

Nestled between the camera bag and the laptop, I was determined to protect the new beret I bought on the next leg of the journey!

Okay, so it's been over a week since I've posted, and I'm back home from France.  Once we left Frontenay and entered Paris, it got a little more difficult to keep up the blog, but I'm back now to finish the story!  So let's pick it up where we left off, which was leaving Frontenay.  Everyone was busy bustling around the house, wiping, mopping and scrubbing.  As the official blogger, I felt it my own personal duty to walk around and both document and supervise the cleaning effort.  But feeling a little guilty, I offered to help, and Julie gave me the job of stripping her bed.  As I was lifting her pillow, I was greeted by a 4 inch spider of yet another French variety.  First I yelled "SPIDER" and my knees started to shake.  Then I ran for the camera as the little devil scurried across the bed and headed up the wall.  Julie, by the way,  seemed totally unaffected by the whole episode.  Although there's no point of reference in this photo to give you an idea of size, let's just say I could have put a little leash on him and taken him for a walk around the block.

That 4 inch spider
I then went upstairs to say good bye to the bedroom I called my own for the last 8 nights, where I did all my blogging while burning the midnight oil.  Remember this photo because the accomo's change tonite!
My cushy bed
Here's a picture I wanted to share of the challenge that Kim faced in her bedroom as a tall person.  Once again you can see that some of the doorways in France were made for small people.  Although Kim's forehead and the beam collided more than once, I never saw her lose her cheery disposition!
Kim in the doorway!
We certainly did enjoy our wine while we stayed at the house.  Here's a sample of the remains before they hit the recycling bin.

Wine bottles
And of course, there was that challenge of fitting 13 people and their luggage..... including their PAINTING luggage back into the three rental cars.  But somehow it all fit, and we started off on our journey to the Poitiers train station, where we would board the TGV for Paris.
Karen and Cate work on fitting it all BACK in the cars
As we drove away, Tant Robert and Christiane came out to bid us a fond farewell.

Tant Robert and Christiane waving goodbye
It was evening by the time we arrived by taxi at the hostel in Montmartre that we would call home for the night.  As you may recall, we traveled to Paris a day early because of the impending train strike on the 23rd, and we were lucky to find accomodations for 11 people on such short notice.  We had 3 rooms.... one with 6 beds, one with 4 beds, and one with a double bed.  Kim left us at the train station to spend the night with dear friends who live in Paris, and Iren headed off to stay in a hotel near the Louvre.  13 artists present and counted for.
Montmartre with Sacre Coeur Cathedral in the background
Motorcyles in Montmartre
Although we were tired from a full day of cleaning, packing and traveling, it was dazzling and exciting to arrive in Paris.  We took a walk to a local bistro for wine and dinner, and then retired to our rooms to get some rest for our first full day in Paris.  Here you can see the cozy room that I slept in.  Stay tuned because next I'll share with you some of the beauty I was lucky enough to take in over the next two days in Paris.
Time to hit the hay in our hostel!