Decent proposal?

Dogwood bloom

’Tis dogwood-blooming time. If I were naming the seasons or parts of the year by plant activity, I’d call this Heyday of the Dogwood-Blossoms…something along those lines.

Looooov(re) light

Louvre ceiling angular

Still discombobulated from the cross-Atlantic time-change. Managing to fall back asleep when I awaken at appropriate France-time, yet feeling rather listless, languid, and lethargic as evening rolls around. Like now…time for another episode of Counterpart anyway.

Louvre ceiling circular

These two images are both of light-above at the Louvre, in a gallery and in a stair? connecting? area. As we took escalators from this floor to that, I distinctly thought…this is a change? I may be wrong, but I felt that there had been a major architectural upgrade to the visitor experience since we last visited.


I’m offering two photos of each city we visited….

Marseille step lane

We might even call this Memory Lane, Marseille.

Marseille rudder view

Rudder view, dry dock boat, old harbor.

Aix side door

On to Aix…love the shadows on the wall to the right, especially in contrast to those angled ones on the door wall.

Aix shopping tease

The shop attendees do step out onto the street when no one’s inside…but not to hail passersby, usually, instead to smoke. Love the rocks holding the racks and the shoeless manikins.

Avignon narrow street

And in Avignon…narrow streets, some construction, often high crowns (suggests rain can gush here).

Avignon courtyard

And sometimes a courtyard peek…usually no longer gardens, but turned into parking. The fountain at the back was preserved…and appears lonely with only a few companion woody plants.

Paris Seine scene

Paris…Paris is always Seine-side to me.

Paris tourist impulse buys

A shopkeeper believes this assortment will entice the many tourists streaming by headed to Montmartre. Why all the hard-sided luggage? Do the vendors push some cheap knockoffs? Who buys a suitcase to trundle around while sight-seeing? Someone must…makes no sense to me. Postcards and miniature Eiffel Towers, yes, but carry-on roller bags?

Marseille marmite sides

Okay, one food picture just like during the trip. This is the marmite (say mahr-meet), or seafood stew, that I had in Marseille. Served with dry bread to soak up the juices. And, here, also with grated hard cheese and sweetened mustard. I didn’t know about this stew before the trip, and now I do.

This is one reason to travel—learning something that becomes a reason to return. I had thought I would find Marseille gritty and off-putting. Perhaps before the harbor was turned into a tourist haven, when it was still fisherman and mariners, with smells of oil and fish and dirty sea-water, I would have struggled to find the charming. No longer. Am I a pushover?

The big transition

CDG dawn

During the shuttle ride to the terminal (roads are oddly sinuous among the many CDG terminals), the dawn sky featured a lovely assortment of colors. I had the front-right seat, and got this shot through the windshield.

Luck James photo

Always good to get to the gait and have a plane waiting, especially for an early flight.

Deltas prosecco

Curious that a flight originating in Paris would have an Italian sparkling wine…tasty, however!

Vincent LV

I’m swapping food photos for movie photos. This is the title character from Loving Vincent.

LV movie art

The movie is all painted. The story is portrayed in Vincent-style, while the flashbacks are in apparent black-and-white. A lovely movie. Recommended.

Movie 2 shape water

Movie two: The Shape of Water. A real, stay with me, fish-out-of-water tale. I didn’t find it earth-shaking, but the script was tight and focused, which almost always is a gigantic plus. Not one of my all-time favorites, yet glad I saw it.

Movie 3 42grms

Movie three was 42 Grams, about a couple who started a lauded restaurant by that name—he was the chef; she ran the front of house. The chef seemed to be quite talented in the flavor compositions of his plates. I have trouble getting warm and fuzzy about what I think of as art-food…food that takes tweezers and lots of finger-prodding to compose the dishes. Still, as the story of a passionate undertaking, I enjoyed the documentary.

I also saw a BBC documentary that I didn’t photo of the first major exhibition that the British Library did on a living author—they chose JK Rowling (rhymes with bowling) and real magic history. Did they start with ancient Chinese oracle bones?—I think so, and I think the BL has over 400 of them (Shang dynasty/Bronze Age). I enjoyed the discussions of alchemy and herbal plants—quite wide-ranging in toto…. Worth the time.

Stone mtn

Then, after hours and hours, we slipped through a modest cloud-layer, and I could see Stone Mountain! Home again!

Metro visits, more

Gare Nord fixup

Today’s moving day.

We packed up and took the train to the Gare du Nord, and found workmen busy pouring concrete (rear). We left our luggage in a locker, and took off for a half-day of sight-seeing.

Balloonists cathedral

We found balloonists eyeing the Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. Is that what gave us the inspiration to ascend on foot?

Sacre bride

Most of the way up, we found our bride of the day. We saw the couple giggle together while the photographer was barking commands…seemed like a good omen for them.

Stpierre chapel left

We walked around to the far less visited l’église Saint-Pierre, consecrated over 870 years (or, 87 decades) ago in 1147.

Notredame foot snake

This church is where, among other things, folks honor Notre-Dame de Montmartre. She likes her snakes, I’m thinking, especially with fresh flowers.

Artist setting up Place du Tertre

We toured through Place du Tertre, and watched arriving artists setting up, aware, I guess, of coming sunshine/good weather.

Veg shrouded apt

Working our way down, we had a couple of vegetation moments. I’d rent this place!

Vinyard daffies

I vaguely knew there was a vineyard on Montmartre, but didn’t anticipate seeing it. Yay! With bonus daffodils!

Lapin Agile

The Lapin Agile has many reasons for being a phrase rattling in your brain (e.g., Montmartre painters, Steve Martin play…)…and a much longer WikiPee page in French than in English.

Shitake soup

Continuing our descent, we stopped for a bite at an old-timey (sorta) bistro. This was my shiitake soup with fresh Malabar pepper and chopped chives. I would never make it with this much pepper, but it was nuanced in flavor—and…interesting (why we eat at restaurants, no?).


Our return route to the Gare du Nord passed opposite the Louxor, Luxor in English—because we don’t have the same linguistic need for extra letters? Interesting architectural details, yet oddly streamlined.

Metro equation

Found a series of equations on the walls of the station section (below where we arrived) where we waited for our airport train. I think this one is something about tickets, but am too brain-dead to figure it out.

Destinations diverse

Flights listed at CGD Terminal 2. There‘s a real assortment of destinations!

Airport view

And as the sun was setting, we saw this brilliant reflection from our window…. We have an early call tomorrow to make our shuttle back to the airport…so, nighty-night.

Tower tour aka tour tour

Twobirds onetour

Enjoying the sunshine from a bench with a stupendous view, the sounds were of a light wind, a mowing crew, and crows. Here’s a crow duo. Such photographic timing!

Blossom tour

Finally, we set off, keeping an eye on the tour. Tower is tour in French.

Backlit birds tour

Aha, tower, backlit, again with birds. The iPhone goes all drama with strong backlighting.

Bride tour

From this bridge, the tower is great background. We saw four bride–photographer groups here. Same time. One group had a Mercedes limo waiting for them, parked illegally.

Isle tour

There’s a narrow island down the Seine, I assume something to do with navigation and bridge engineering…engineering, anyway. Great view upstream of the tower.

Edge tour

We crossed back to “our side” of the river…one glance back at the tower before heading into the side streets back toward “our place.”

Glass bridge

The tower isn’t the only striking architecture here. Loved the tube-mesh surrounding this hobbit-trail.


This tilework was in the arch over the main doorway of an elementary school built in 1912. I think the blue tiles (bottom) have faded and clouded with white in the intervening century.

Champs tour

Our home-bound route took us back through the Champs de Mars, so here’s one last look at THAT tower.

Beef tartare

Food pic of the day: beef tartare starter (entrée in French—yes, slightly confusing—also can be used for entrance, that is, place to enter). We had a fancy lunch out…. Total yum. Our tour helped us justify the chocolate-lava dessert, no?

In an amateur way, this post with many photos of the same subject honors Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series….

Flower day

Tram inside

We took the Metro underground and made a connection to an above-ground tram, which meant we had a view! We rode oh-so-quietly along the Seine downstream, picked a station to hop off, and headed toward the Bois de Boulogne—a huge park that once was a hunting preserve outside the city, much like Windsor was to London. In 1783, this was where the first Montgolfier hot-air balloon was flown untethered. In 1814, after Napoleon’s defeat, abdication, and exile to Alba, 40K British and American troops camped here, cutting down trees and otherwise intensively occupying the landscape, leaving it quite ravaged. The park was created in the 1850s. The builders installed an extensive irrigation system with pipes going everywhere. Crews planted lawns, meadows, and 420K trees (says Wikipee).


We encountered this sign above a restaurant not far from the trolley station. I thought that’s not the kind of place I want to eat…rather have the not-bones part of the fish….

Seine downstream

We crossed the Seine safely on a vehicle-busy bridge, then continued downstream.

Rehab building

We passed this building undergoing rehab, slowly. Interesting architectural details.

Fleur jaune

Here, outside the paving stones and micro-mananged enviroment on the old city, I found wildflowers! Fleur jaune.

Dunno blue

Tiny fleur bleu.

Nibbled violet

Fleur mauve.

Partial moat

We left the Bois and passed over this almost-moat and into a garden—jardin.

Conservatory jardin

The main part was a large central conservatory (the palm house, natch), and six flanking arch-topped greenhouses in two trios.

Fleur rouge

Fleurs rouge.

Fleurs blancs

Fleurs blancs.

Fleurs jaunes

Fleurs jaunes.

Jean Moréas

Then, we turned back toward the apartment. First, we passed through a poets’ corner…this is Jean Moréas (1856–1910), who was born to an Athens family and originally named Ioannis A. Papadiamantopoulos. He came to Paris to study law. I think of him as Mr. Moustache.

Champignons de Paris

Back in our neighborhood, we made a quick store stop (milk for coffee!), and I found this carefully packed box of white button mushrooms (champignons de Paris), stunningly aesthetic and appealing.

Quiche foursome

Okay, food pick—tonight’s quiche foursome. Plus salad.

We Looooov(r)ed

Louvre pyr entry

Back to the Louvre neighborhood to “do” the Louvre…that is, to browse a few galleries. There are three main sections, and we only hit parts of two. The Louvre is huge, and my poor brain can only take in so much.


Bam! First objects: caryatids. They are gigantic. And the ladies’ breasts are at armpit level and consequently look strange…from today’s display angles, maybe not when they high on a building.

Celtic guy

Called Wounded Gaul or Gauloise blessé, (the original of) this statue came from the Acropolis in Athens. It commemorated the victory of Attalus I, king of Pergamum, over Celtic warriors who threatened his territory in what is now Turkey in 200/199BC. This is a Roman copy of one figure from the lost bronze Greek statue group. Love the wild hair.


Called Aphrodite of Milos and Venus de Milo, this statue of an unknown goddess compels the eye. The aesthetics of the features and pose seem to date it to the 5th C BC; however, the elongated body and the sinuous pose are later—3rd to 1st Cs BC. So says the Louvre‘s specialists.

6th7thC Coptic fabric

This bit of Coptic fabric dates to the 6th/7th C. Always amazed when organics are preserved, so against the odds! The fibers are linen and wool.

Pyxis Islamic date picking

This carved vessel type is a pyxis; a pyxis is cylindrical, with a separate piece as a lid. The earliest are of wood (hence the shape, I assume). This one is of ivory and dates to the late 700s. It is Islamic style, and came from Spain. The figures are picking dates, and this likely symbolized the dynasty of its owner, back in the Levant. So says the Louvre’s specialists.

Hammurabi stela basalt

This scene is atop the famous basalt stela that is carved with Hammurabi’s code and dates to the 18th C BC. It portrays Hammurabi being awarded his royal insignia (aka investiture) by the solar deity Shamash. Hammurabi is holding his hands over his mouth, signaling that he is praying or honoring the deity. Most of the stela is covered almost everywhere with small symbols that are cuneiform script in Akkadian, then the dominant language in Mesopotamia (e.g., Babylonia).

Scary cat

Switching gears: scary cat!

JeanII King France about 1350

This is King John II of France, aka Jean le Bon. He lived from 1319 to 1364. The Louvre’s people note that this is “believed to be the oldest conserved example of an independent portrait since antiquity.” I guess that means in the Western world. Since he isn’t wearing a crown it probably dates to before he ascended the throne in 1350.

Louvre shopping

Okay, enough of the energy-intensive art objects! On to…see the logo to the right? Yup, on to the Apple store in the shopping area underground west of the museum.

Stuffed morels

A time jump, and we entertained! Relatives! Such fun!

I had stuffed morels, very dainty and exceedingly tasty. Thankfully, my SIL had a huge platter of coq au vin that she shared, or I would have been…well, not hungry exactly, but definitely not as sated. Of course, the dessert souffle trio would have helped fill me!

Lovely meeting up for the evening!

Tourism with Sunday crowds

Cops busy at arc

Our first stop of the day (other than the shower haha)…. This is a massive structure. It dwarfs the arches we saw in/by the Roman forum. Cops are earning their salary today…?!

Perpetual flame Arc

Beneath the arch is a perpetual flame honoring war dead (WWI). There’s a large brass plaque set in the pavement with the dates for each war. Oddly moving, even with the crowds burbling by, mostly inattentive to the flame, instead focused on where to line up to ascend to the top of the monument (€12; it’s free to do what we did, although it isn’t clear that you don’t have to pay the big €€€€ merely to walk around).

Duck salad lunch

Stopped for lunch at a bistro most of the way down the Champs-Élysées, and it is downhill toward the river…. I had the salade de magret de canard, with green beans, onions, tomato slices, and roasted potatoes. Tasty but not exceptional…what I hoped for.

DeGaulle statue

Didn’t expect this statue of Général Charles De Gaulle. A general-sculpture with no horse.

Concorde wheel

We’d been seeing this wheel since the Triomphe. It’s next to the huge oval traffic “circle,” at the Place de la Concorde. During the Revolution, many royals/nobles were executed here, when it was surrounded by an octagonal moat. The dead included Queen Marie Antoinette and Madame Du Barry, and over a thousand more.

Tuilleries crowds

A few more steps, and we entered the Jardin des Tuileries. I love that the park has many unmoored chairs, which people move around to suit themselves. Look at the crowds!

Throwing bowling game

We found three sets of people playing this game. We didn’t watch terribly long, but it seems that the player throws the baton in such a way that it knocks down one of the pegs and tosses it forward. The player then walks out and stands up the peg in its new, more distant location. In our short period of voyeurism, we could not tell anything else about the game and its strategy.

Tree statue

This is a dead-tree statue by Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947), and is called “L’Arbres des Voyelles” (1999), or the tree of the vowels. Apparently, the “vowels” are five oak trees planted among the upper branches. Can you see a delicate bunch of purple crocuses off the right-most root?

Other arc

We saw another arch as we approached the Louvre. This one has fancier decorative elements (more gilding) than the Triomphe, and is much smaller. Can you see the glass pyramid through the right arch?

Toutes Moto front

Our bus stop was off to the right. We got into position to wait for a bus, and started watching the oncoming traffic. Most of the buses were for sight-seeing, often with an open upper seating level. Then, we heard motorcycle cops with sirens whooping…several of them…wha? Quickly, we realized that they were the vanguard of a procession.

We were witness to the Toutes en Moto parade—mostly (all?) women on motorcycles and scooters. The lead van stopped right in front of us, and the DJ played a song, then two women ascended and one made a speech. Rousing, I thought, even though I only caught a few nouns…. Then, the riders put out their cigs, put away their selfie-phones, and climbed back on their two-wheelers. Rrrrr-rrrr, and away they went.

Toutes Moto back

This was the final vehicle, and traffic began flowing again. And we noticed that no buses would be stopping at our stop…due to the parade, we assume, so we walked on across the river to where we assumed the detoured route would be.

Bus along Seine

Found the bus! Saving the feet!

Camembert snack

A quick stop at the bakery at the south end of our street (there’s one at each end! Lucky us!), and we ascended to the apartment…and a Camembert snack! Yum.

And wine! Salud!

Water-centric exploring

Ecole militaire

Kinda drippy, so we drank coffee and pondered the universe, leaving just before the drippiness was predicted to end at noon. The large building on the left is the main building of the École Militaire complex, a military school for training officers, founded in 1750. Thought it appropriate that two Jeeps awaited a green for their left turns….

M ecole militaire

École Militaire is also a Metro station, one of those close to our habitation.

Bastille monument

We took a train (no changes!) to the Bastille station, about a half-hour ride. When we emerged from the earth, the weather slowly clearing. This is the monument in the Place de la Bastille. Of course, the famous prison is long gone. It initially was built mostly in the late 1300s as a fort to reinforce the east side of Paris and to protect the adjacent city gate, Porte Saint-Antoine, with its drawbridges; the building was modified over subsequent centuries. Within decades, the fortress was sometimes used to hold prisoners; by the mid-1400s, it was the state prison used by the king, who also hosted dignitaries there—a multifunction complex…. Anyway, that’s an older version of the prison that became the symbol for the revolution in July 1789. By November of that year, the prison was mostly destroyed. By 1792, the area was a square honoring liberty, with a central fountain added in 1793.

The name bastille is probably rooted in bastide, a medieval term for a fortress. I don’t know if the term was attached to this fortress from the beginning, or the name came later….


Part of the ditch that fortified the Bastille is now the Bassin de l’Arsenal, mostly used by houseboats—some quite commodious. It was a commercial port until 1983. That boat on the left is named Ypie, I’m thinking the pronunciation is yippee.

Fleurs jaunes

We followed the lock (écluse) to the Seine and turned downstream toward the famous islands. This was in the upstream park on Île Saint-Louis. Pretty!

Omelette pork shank

At the other end of the island, we lunched at a brasserie we’ve visited several times before. We discovered it was unusually jammed by many tables of rugby fans, in Paris for the national playoff (I think). Rah!

The Guru had a ham and cheese omelette with fries; I had a pork shank, roasted with homemade applesauce. I took a gamble on my dish, not even looking up jarret de port grillé before ordering. Sometimes you have to live on the wild side (even if it’s a limited wild side).

Our lady back

After escaping the sweat-inducing heat of the dining room, we headed on to the Île de la Cité, arriving on the “back side” of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The building was once painted, and not the stained browns it is now; I have no idea what colors/patterns. I wonder if it’d be safe to assume that most of the exterior was in the cheapest colors; some paint pigments (pigments de peinture) were quite dear in older times.

Ladys stubby towers

We crossed a bridge and began to work our way along the south bank, periodically looking back at the stubby towers of the cathedral. Even stubby, they’re pretty darned tall! By the way, the cathedral’s bells (cloches) are named—mostly with male names, but not exclusively.

Car in motion

Many boats (bateaux) passing by, many large and packed with tourists either on a tour or using them as a taxi between places of interest. This one was an unusual cargo vessel, even transporting a car.

Bridge photog

This is the third gal we’ve seen in bridal gear being photographed (bride is mariée). She looks quite happy. Behind the photo crew were several women in jewel colored gowns—emerald, royal blue—and one in black. I assume they were the bride’s attendants.

Moss moment

I got out the macro lens and looked at mosses that have taken up residence on the railing above the river next to the sidewalk. They are slowly breaking down the stone/concrete. Moss is mousse, which is also the word for foam on top of a latte (latté).

Pain bio

We made quick groc-shopping stops just before heading in for the night (tired feet! happy tourists!). This was in the window of the bakery…pain bio means organic bread.