Monday, September 25, 2017

Arriving in Inverness

Flying into Inverness, we were met by Karen and Barry.  Their smiling faces told us everything we really need to know; they are lovely folks.  Their daughter, Sarah, is going to be here off and on, even though she was originally scheduled to go with them, but, work got in the way.

Lexie!

Gringo quickly getting over his shyness.

Baxter the one eyed cat.
After an evening figuring out how everything worked, where the food for the pets was kept (the most important thing!) and us getting to sleep on a comfortable bed, it was time for our hosts to leave on their month long holiday.

Karen and Barry waiting for the train to Edinburgh.  Bye-bye!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Evening Visit to the Eiffel Tower

 Our Airbnb apartment was very close to the Eiffel Tower, so after dinner, we walked over to say Hello!



A Visit to the Fondation Louis V

The Shchukin Collection was at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.  This was the first time the entire collection had been allowed to leave Russia since the revolution.  Sergei ivanovich Shchukin was a Russian businessman who loved to collect art.  Most of his pieces he purchased directly from the artist, while on his many trips to France.

When the revolution came, the government claimed his collection to be property of the state, where it was parceled out to several different Russian museums.  I don't know how the Fondation sorted out the details to be allowed to show the entire collection, but when we heard about it, we knew we would be there.
The building, a piece of art all by itself, first opened in 2014.  It not only has exhibits, but musical evenings and classes.

The collection was overwhelming, so I'll let some of the pictures speak for themselves.

Matisse
Picasso

Pissaro


Monet
Van Gogh

Fougeres


The chateau at Fougeres taken from the bell tower of the church.
The bell tower of the church was what caught our eye.
We came to Fougeres, which is in Brittany, to see the chateau, but arrived just as they were closing for lunch. We walked to a park to take in the view, and realized there was a church we could visit. Following quite a hike up cobbled streets, we found the St Leonard's church.  Once inside, we were told by a couple who were leaving, not to miss going up to the bell tower, as they pointed to a small area at the back of the chapel.

Only 19 people are allowed in the bell tower at a time.

There were two sections of spiral staircases after the wooden one.
 Once through the door, we encountered several staircases; first rather easy climbing wooden ones, followed by twisting spiral ones, going up, up, up.  The sides of the tower held figures of saints watching us going up, up, up.  How many hundreds of people have used these stairs?

A saint watching us climb a wooden staircase.

Ding, dong bell.
 The top of the bell tower had a walkway around it, with magnificent views over the country side. We took several pictures of the chateau, which even though at a distance, still looked huge.

The chateau from the ramparts.
The local mowing service working on the chateau grounds.

Seeing this place from the top of the church, put into our minds how huge it really is.  We could see the ramparts that continued on into the town, with parts missing, and sections now incorporated into buildings.  For starting out in the eleventh century as a wooden fort, it is now one of Europe's largest medieval fortresses.
The central courtyard from one of the towers.
Bill looking through the base of a watch tower.

Happy New Year 2017!

 When in France, one eats a large quantity of cheese and bread.  We did our best to keep up this tradition!  Bill found the feve in the King's cake, so he got to wear the crown!

There may or may not have been several bottles of wine and Champagne involved......   All the best for 2017!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The American Military Cemetery at St Laurent sur Mer



When we visited the American Military Cemetery at St Laurent sur Mer it was the school holidays for the French.  We were very pleased to see so many French families on the day we were there; the adults explaining to the children what had happened and why.  The French people we have met have all been very grateful to the Allies for what they did during WWII.  There are markers across the country side in Normandy as reminders of the Battle of Normandy, which lasted much longer than just the D-Day invasion.
Not all are crosses.

The rows seem to go on forever.
I
There are 9385 marble markers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Falaise and William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror in the square below the castle.

 
William the Conqueror
The castle in the fog.
Storming the gate.
Oh, someone forgot to close it, so we walked in.
Bill and the Castle in the fog. 
The last time we were in Normandy, the castle of William the Conqueror was closed for restoration.  It was high on our list of places to visit on this trip. The day we chose to drive over started as rainy, but quickly turned to a light fog.  The closer we got to Falaise, the thicker the fog, until we were driving very slowly so we could see what was in front of us!  The good side of the fog?  No one else was dumb enough to be out and about, so we had the castle pretty much to ourselves!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our Christmas in St Pois

The trees for sale Christmas on eve; blue, black white and red. We didn't buy one.

We did buy a bouche de Noel; a Christmas log.  It was delicious!

Our home owners left us a decorated tree with lots of presents underneath!

It was a two bottles of French sparkling wine celebration!

This was the tree in the middle of the dining table.  It looks like wood, but it isn't.
Celebrating a holiday in a different country, calls for different traditions.  We had wonderful cheeses and breads, French sparkling wines, a Bouche de Noel for dessert.  Our home owners left a pile of gifts under the tree for us; so very thoughtful!  Some of the presents were traditional English Christmas foods, as Vic and Heather are English, but living in France.  We had quite the feast!

Mont St Michel


View from the new causeway.
Mont St Michel is one of our favorite places.  We have visited several time and even spent the night in 2008, on the evening of the spring high tide.  Once you leave the tourist shops at the foot of the mont, the real exploration begins.  Everything is old, except for the electric lines, which are in the process of being buried. This is truly an international destination, as we heard many different languages being spoken.

View from the parking area.
It was not crowded.  Being the holidays, we weren't sure what to expect.

St Michel in all his golden glory; I bet he has a wonderful view!

Looking at the salt flats from the ramparts.
Access is now by a causeway/bridge that was built to allow the water to surround the island again.  It seems to be working.  The is no parking at the base of the mont, except for deliveries and certain special exceptions. There is a new visitors center with enormous parking areas, which you have to pay for.  This not only includes your parking, but your transportation to and from the entrance to the mont.

One last look before we left.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bayeaux Cathedral

Waiting for the showing inside the Cathedral.
2016 is the 950th anniversary William the Conqueror taking over England.  The Bayeaux Cathedral had a marvelous lighted celebration of the occasion.  The walls of the Cathedral were illuminated with the Bayeax Tapestry as it would have originally hung.
The sign let us know we were in the right place.

We waiting in line in the cold for a couple of hours to be admitted into the Cathedral; well worth the wait.  Everyone in line seemed to be locals, except for us.  The mood was festive, with smiles and happy faces all around.






Different views of the Tapestry as it moved around the Cathedral.
After the showing, we looked at some of the lighted Christmas decorations, but we didn't stay long as it was cold!

Arriving in Inverness

Flying into Inverness, we were met by Karen and Barry.  Their smiling faces told us everything we really need to know; they are lovely folks...