Friday, July 1, 2022

Duo Does Dordogne

June 15 we saw Rebecca and Penelope off to the Gare du Nord and the Eurostar to London, finished packing and cleaning the apartment, then took the RER to CDG to pick up our rental car. The plan, for the next 3 weeks, was to tour the Dordgone and Lot valleys, in southwestern France, staying in Sarlat-le-Can├ęda, then Cahors, and then Toulouse, but spending most of our time visiting the many beaux villages in the countryside. It was a good plan, and we stuck to it mostly. But...

Vicki began having symptoms at CDG, then tested positive for COVID that afternoon. We were crushed, having been the most vaccinated, masked, and distanced people in France, and England too, nearly always eating outside, masked inside, etc. We continued on to Sarlat, where we extended our apartment reservation to more than a week to accommodate a self-quarantine. Her symptoms never got worse than a very sore throat and bad cough. No temperature and O2 normal. I didn't have any symptoms for another couple days, allowing me to visit the nearby Carrefours for a week's worth of groceries and other necessities. And my symptoms were very mild, the worst mainly waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. It never did. But I tested positive too eventually. We hunkered down, and, other than being sick, and concerned, enjoyed several days completely off. The main disappointment was that Rebecca and Penelope also tested positive and lost their Harry Potter visit reservations; but they recovered quickly enough to make the rest of their London visit worthwhile. And Jeremy never was infected. 

Eventually, we altered our outings accordingly, some days staying in, avoiding people, some days going out to the villages that most interested us but still staying outside, masked, etc. Masked even at the outdoor markets we got to. In any case, I'll be blogging about all the visits, and beaux villages, and Sarlat and Cahors, in due course. 
I never, ever, in my entire life, thought I'd be driving a Citroen;
but I did; it was fine; and French roads, compared with the ones
across the Channel, were a joy

For a pit stop before Sarlat, we stopped in pretty
Salignac--not officially one of the beaux villages,
but beau enough for me--and had a nosy; most
everything I saw 14th century

Inside the parish church

Hall near the abbey

Looking up toward the chateau

Thus; we proceeded on

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Last Days In Paris

Our last days in Paris were relatively slower-paced, mostly just visiting some favorite sights, nothing too intense.

After doing the Egyptian bits at the Louvre, the girls met
me for a walk on the Left Bank, just to take in
some of the ambience; this of course included ice
cream at Place Saint-Michel

And a peek inside St. Severins

Its palm column

Numerous capitals

And gargoyles

There was actually a line to get in Shakespeare's

Work coming along slowly, but at least she got to
see the west facade and towers

Next day we took the bus to Place de la Concorde
and walked, past Maxim's, the Madeline, and many
famous stores, to the most famous one, Galeries

Relaxed on the rooftop terrace

Then, after a prolonged visit at the Galeries Lafayette
food hall, we walked along Boulevard Haussman,
had a picnic lunch, and enjoyed some sights along the way

Not least the wonderful toy store in the Passage Jouffroy on the
Grands Boulevards--above and below, all items for doll houses

Maman had returned that afternoon and we met her at the Ici
bookstore, then walked back to our apartment; and then, after
a rest, had dinner at a favorite creperie on Rue de Charonne in
the 11th--some of our old stomping grounds

And then, we made our way to the Champ de Mars
and a closer look at the Eiffel Tower

And a final selfie, capping a great week in Paris
for the grandparents and for Penelope

Versailles, The Garden And Fountains, 2022

After the palace we were in need of some air, some light, some refreshment, and thus spent the next few hours in the gardens, especially seeking the fountains at play. We had made advance reservations for the garden tourist train--to save ourselves some steps--but it was a hop-on/hop-off affair, with long waits, and the reservations effectively meant nothing. A waste of time and money. Oh well.

Personally, I like my gardens a little less organized, a lot more lush
and varied...

Looking back at the palace; actually it was a much more crowded
day than appears

Grand Canal, etc.

Us, there

We had dejeuner at a rustic place out in the forest; note the Ionic
capitals...those would have been so cool at our log home in Montana 

Apollo Grotto

Along one of the many boulevards

Approaching the grand finale, the Neptune Fountain


End of show
Another productive day, and the good fortune of finding seats
on the RER back to Paris

Vigee Le Brun At Versailles

We first noticed Elizabeth-Louise Vigee Le Brun's work at the National Gallery, then began seeing a good deal of her work at the Louvre. She was reputed to have been Marie Antoinette's official portrait painter, and certainly was one of the great portrait painters of her time. Her interesting time, as they say. As the Revolution came, she had the good sense to get the hell out of Dodge, so to speak, and to visit a variety of European capitals during those years. She returned to Paris when Napoleon crowned himself, as did most of the other emigres. The sweetness and tenderness of many of her paintings, the color, the realism, all are the things we like. Aeon magazine recently had an article on the emergence of the smile in modern painting and cited Vigee Le Brun as the first painter to show teeth in a portrait. In any case, we were astonished to see an assemblage of her paintings at Versailles, mostly in the Captain of the Guard's quarters, and a few in Marie Antoinette's rooms. They are instantly recognizable. All were in rooms one merely walked past, with no opportunity to get up close nor account for angle nor light. Still, they were a treat to see.