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Trip Report Trip Report - Paris, Bayeux, Provence

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We’re back from our wonderful 2 week trip to Paris, Bayeux, and Provence, and I just wanted to thank everyone so much for all their help. I know my trip report will be very similar to so many others, but I know it was so helpful for me to read how others organized their time -- so here goes, for what it’s worth.

Unfortunately, we lost a day when our flight out of Chicago was delayed and we would have missed our connection. It would have been too depressing to turn around and go home so we stayed in a hotel next to the airport. The night before, I packed wearing a headlamp as our electricity went out during a storm. Add to that several last minute health issues for both myself and our dogs and you could say it was a rough start to the trip.

I had originally planned a very relaxing first day in Paris, but since we lost a day and I could barely fit in everything I wanted to see as it was, we hit the ground running. Neither one of us was able to sleep at all on the flight, but the adrenaline kicked in and I’m amazed at how much we were willing and able to do the first day. We were staying at Relais Bosquet in the 7th. I bought a carnet of tickets at the nearby subway station and we took the 69 bus to St. Chapelle. The line wasn’t too bad, and we were rewarded with the sun shining through the beautiful windows. We walked over to Notre Dame and then to Berthillon for ice cream. This was a Thursday so Musee D’Orsay was open late. We walked over and toured the museum from top to bottom until closing. Not bad for the first day. I think I fell asleep before my head ever hit the pillow. Not to sound corny, but I fell in love with Paris.

My original plan for the next day was to take the first train to Giverny to avoid the crowds. Needless to say, that was so not happening. We slept in, had breakfast at the hotel and took a late morning train. It was raining and overcast, but honestly it only enhanced the beautiful colors at the garden. I had bought tickets ahead of time online so we were able to go in the side entrance ahead of the crowds. I thought the rain would keep the crowds away, but it was still very busy. We spent about 3 hours there and then spent the later part of the day in Montmartre. We did a combination of Rick Steve’s walking tour and another one I found online and greatly enjoyed walking up the quiet back roads, seeing all the sites. It was quite a shock when we reached the top and saw the circus act that was on the other side. It was a very nice view, but we got out of there pretty quick.

I had bought tickets ahead of time to tour Opera Garnier, which we greatly enjoyed. Absolutely beautiful and we had a wonderful theatrical guide who was very passionate about the theatre. Afterwards we quickly popped in to Galleries Lafayette department store to see the spectacular glass dome. We had lunch at Le Souffle, sat for awhile at Jardin des Tuileries, and visited Musee L’Orangerie. We were approached twice with gold rings, which we thought was hilarious. That evening we picked up food at Rue Cler and had a picnic dinner at the little park in Il de Cite before taking the 10:30 Verdettes du Pont Neuf cruise. The lights were just starting to come on and the timing was perfect. Unfortunately, we had a loud, obnoxious group who ruined it for everyone. That was one thing I greatly admired about the Parisians. They are very thoughtful about not disturbing other people.

We did the Rick Steves self-guided walking tour of Pere Lachaise. We took the 69 bus, yet again, which takes you to so many of the major sites. We thought it was a lot of fun taking the bus, looking at the scenery, feeling like one of the locals. As if. Before I even opened my mouth, the Parisians would talk to me in English. I wasn’t wearing jeans or gym shoes. They just know. I highly recommend the Rick Steves tour as he made it very easy to find all the major sites quickly and with nice explanations. I’ve heard that it can be very find to find everything just by using a map. Afterwards we went to Marais and did the Paris Walks tour, which was wonderful. We had an excellent guide. We also greatly enjoyed Place des Vosges where they had opera singers singing outside Victor Hugo’s Mansion. We had dinner at L’as du Falafel, which was the best falafel I’ve ever eaten.

We took the train to Bayeux and visited the tapestry museum. We also spent time at the beautiful church. We stayed at the Churchill Hotel with a beautiful view of the church which we were able to watch light up at night.

We did an all-day tour with Overlord Tours of Omaha and Utah Beaches. There’s nothing I can add to what’s been written already. Quite an emotional experience. Took the 6:00 train back to Paris

I had bought tickets ahead of time for Versailles, but as many people advised me, I saved it for the last day “just in case.” I’m glad I did. There was still too much I wanted to see in Paris so we decided to just forfeit the tickets and enjoy our last day in Paris. We slept in and then walked over to the Rodin Museum, which we greatly enjoyed. From there we went to Luxembourg Gardens, where I had a crepe at the little booth and then watched the kids playing with the boats. It was so much fun to watch the kids having such a great time doing such a simple thing. There were kids of all ages and nationalities, running around with their sticks. I could have sat in that beautiful park all day. From there we went and took in a couple of the “Passages” just before they were closing. We saw an adorable old candy store, which I can’t remember the name of, and ended the day by visiting “Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop.” There was so much more I wanted to see, but our time had run out. By the way, I was surprised by how fashionable the men are with their scarves, jackets, and expensive-looking pointy shoes. I found them to be even more fashionable than the women

Took the train to Avignon, rented a car, and drove to Mas Perreal in St. Saturnin Les Apt. Cannot say enough about this beautiful B&B. Very special. Fantastic breakfast.

Went to the market in Bonnieux in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we drove to Ferme Auberge Le Castelas which was probably the highlight of the trip. Very remote and tricky to find, but so worth the effort. It’s a beautiful old goat farm in a spectacular setting. You eat lunch at wooden tables under the shade of huge trees -- very quiet except for the sound of bells that the goats are wearing. The food -- amazing. The cheese platter -- a work of art. Half of my photos are goats and cheese.

Drove the Sault loop, looking for lavender. Spent time relaxing at Mas Perreal.

Opted for the smaller market at Cassoulet rather than l'isle sur la sorgue. We just didn’t want to fight the crowds. We then drove to Abbey de Senanque to see the lavender fields, and it was just jaw-dropping beautiful, alive with butterflies. I took waaay too many pictures, but it was just gorgeous. We drove through Gourd and were going to return to Roussillon in the evening to see the ochre color in the evening light, but there was a thunderstorm so we didn’t make it.

The flight from hell. 3-½ hours stuck on the runway before our 9 hour flight back home. Bad center seats. Screaming babies (those poor parents.) The worst.

So aside from the two bad flights, it was a fantastic trip, thanks to all your help. I will so miss that beautiful, melodious, “Bon jour, Madame.”

Au revoir,
P.S. Please excuse any misspellings.