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Paris, April 2011

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This year's trip to Paris in April was different from the others tours I have led, as only a couple went with me. Daniel and Mary decided that they would like me to escort them to Paris, so we spent the 12 day trip together and had a terrific time.

On the day of our arrival we went to the bird and flower market outside of Notre Dame, which is an animated bustling place. Then we went to hear the usual five o'clock organ concert at Notre Dame, but since they were having a special Easter mass, there was no concert much to our disappointment. After wandering through Notre Dame, we walked over to enjoy Sainte Chapelle and its marvelous stained glass windows.

We walked all day everyday, and we were so fortunate to have perfect weather during our entire trip. This enabled us to enjoy basking in the sun and people watching in le Jardin des Tuileries, le Jardin du Luxembourg, the garden of the Musée Rodin, as well as on our short canal trip.

During our first week, we took a full day and headed off to Mont Saint Michel, but because of the hassle of renting a car and all that it entailed, we never made it. We did drive into Normandy through the lovely countryside with fields full of rape flowers (the seeds are used to make canola oil), which were bursting with color. The yellow from those fields was almost blinding it was so intense, and the wonderful sunshine made it even more glorious. We made it as far as Alençon, a wonderful little town on the Sarthe River, where we had a full afternoon of exploring. Since Daniel, who is a student of mine, had read stories in class which were set in the town of Alençon, this town came alive for him. It was fun for us to see the sights we had read about.

We also spent a day in Chartres. Excitement began during our train trip where we witnessed a scene in first class where two young men, who were being questioned by the train controllers, ended up causing an altercation with train security, and upon arrival in Chartres they were escorted off the train by a full brigade of police and train security. They were traveling in first class without tickets for those designated seats and one of them had no identification on him. Dumb and dumber, I guess would be a good phrase for this incident. Beside that, we had a wonderful day exploring the magnificent cathedral of Chartres and the charming little town. As with every day, there was not enough time to see it all, but Daniel and Mary enjoyed their first visit there.

We also took a full day and went to Claude Monet's home at Giverny, in the little town of Vernon. With warm sunshine, the multitude of tulips and pansies were in their full glory. There were so many marvelous varieties of tulips. It would be great to have a chance to go there every month of a year to see the change of flowers as each month progresses.

We visited Susan, a classmate of Daniel, who had rented an apartment and was spending two weeks in Paris. She invited us to have an afternoon drink and hors d'oeuvres, and see her lovely apartment. That was a special little bonus for us all. Classmates who meet up in Paris - what fun!

At the end of our trip I flew home, but Daniel and Mary stayed another few days. He felt more comfortable with his French and they knew the metro system quite well, so they were able to explore on their own. It was a great trip. You can't beat April in Paris!


Contact me at sara@villat.org or at (925) 691-4559.