The past few days, Priscilla and I have been going through an extended series of goodbyes (a bientôt). On Saturday we met up with our friends Ellen and Jean-Pierre to walk the Coulée Verte one last time and then have lunch at a neighborhood bistro, Le Square Trousseau. On Sunday, we took in the service at the American Church in Paris, meeting up with Ellen and Jean-Pierre one last time. Priscilla went back to the ACP later on Sunday to attend a concert with Ellen…“A Night at the Opera”, At the same time I was doing one last photo walk. On Monday, Priscilla and I revisited some of the areas I had walked to the day before.
Late this afternoon Priscilla and I walked to the Seine to say goodbye to Paris with a glass of wine. It is a cool, cloudy day here, so there were no crowds. We had the place to ourselves. Well, all except for a rat that decided he wanted to get by where we were seated.
For lunch, we stopped in at Mokonuts and said our goodbyes to Moko and Omar. We had a “marvelous” time. Marvelous is Moko’s new favorite word.
Tonight we are doing final packing. Tomorrow we will head off in the wee dark hours on Uber to get to the airport with plenty of time. It will feel strange to close the door of this apartment one last time, but this time leaving the keys behind.
We have had a wonderful time in Paris. I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling along with us.
We are nearing the end of our Paris adventure. I find myself with a bit of melancholy, thinking back on all the wonderful experiences we have had and all the beautiful people we have met. I want to soak up as much of the Paris atmosphere as I can, knowing that we will soon be gone from this city we love so much.
None of this is to say that we aren't happy to be heading home to Minnesota. Priscilla and I are dyed in the wool Minnesotans, of that let there be no doubt. But Paris is a magical place for us. Not our home, mind you, but magical nonetheless.
Tonight I went on a photowalk to a neighborhood in the 11th arrondissement that is on the other side of one of the major streets in our neighborhood, Rue Fauborg Saint-Antoine. To date, I hadn't walked much in this area. It seems that in Paris, around every corner and down every quiet street there is a scene wanting to be captured. I walked slowly tonight, taking it all in, again, knowing that this was one of my last photowalks on this trip.
This feeling of sadness that I have in leaving Paris tells me that we have had a wonderful two months in the City of Light. We have lived as Parisians. We have come to love our neighborhood in the 12th. Tonight I stopped at Le Square Trousseau just to watch and listen to all the children out playing in the park on a Sunday evening. I was mesmerized. I leave you with a short video clip from the park. (Sorry for the bad audio. I'm having a problem with the microphone on my iPhone.)
Yesterday I went out for a walk late afternoon to explore our neighborhood a bit more. I soon found myself at the Arsenal Boat Yard. We pass over this boat yard every time we take the #1 Metro east to our station–Gare de Lyon. It was a beautiful fall day and it was a holiday (Armistice Day), so the Parisians were out in full number for an afternoon stroll. I decided to follow the flow of walkers to the south, toward what looked like a dead end, but strangely people were getting through.
Our friend Ellen had mentioned that there was a shortcut to the Seine, although I'd never found it. But as I went with the flow of traffic, it dawned on me that I was heading in the direction of the Seine. Just maybe this was that mythical shortcut. After crossing over a pedestrian swing bridge and then going through a narrow tunnel way under roads and the Metro line, I was delighted to come out on the other side at the Seine!
This shortcut is not at all evident when you look at a map on your phone, but there it was, the Seine. And what a lovely day to walk the Seine, The sun was low on the horizon, giving everything it touched a golden glow. The Parisians were making the best of it, finding spots to soak up the sun wherever they could.
I walked along the Seine all the way to the Marais district and the stairs we would take down to the river when we were staying in the Marais in 2019. That portion of the walk was in the shade, so not as many people were there. But as soon as you rounded the bend and got clear of the shadows thrown by the buildings on Île Saint-Louis, the crowds reappeared.
Priscilla and I plan to get an evening glass of wine down at the Seine before we leave. Now that I've found the shortcut, this will be much easier to accomplish. Sometimes it pays to follow the crowd.
Paris is an amazing city. Hemingway called it a moveable feast. It is that for certain. Paris is especially a feast for the eyes. It seems that around every corner and down every out of the way street there is something interesting to see. From fascinating storefronts to intriguing wall art to seemingly throwaway objets d'art, such sights are on practically every street here.
This makes Paris a fabulous place for a photographer to just wander with camera in hand. I've done plenty of that. I suppose the locals think nothing of these scenes that, to me, are fascinating. Just why is this bicycle tire ringed with brightly colored tennis balls resting against a building, covered up by a bunch of other nondescript objects?
Sometimes wall art is framed by the elements of the building and other times it just floats on top, as if in thin air. And sometimes the wall materials alone make art.
We've been blessed with a string of cool, crisp, and dry fall days here in recent weeks. I've been getting out for walks every opportunity I have. Today Priscilla and I took the Metro up to our favorite coffeeshop, Beans on Fire. We were hoping to get brunch, but unfortunately they've quit serving food...just hot drinks and pastries. After cappuccinos and pastries, we walked the mile back to our flat on Rue Charles Baudelaire.
On our way back to our apartment we lunched at a Vietnamese restaurant in our neighborhood we've been wanting to try (it was yummy) and then grabbed some goodies at one of our boulangeries for an afternoon treat with our coffees.
It's hard to believe that in a week we will be on our way back home. We're at that point in the trip when I look back at photos from the early days and think to myself how long ago that seems. I leave you with a typical Parisian scene that will linger in my memory, a sidewalk cafe on a cool, clear, crisp fall day.
The past few days we visited our friends Ellen and Jean-Pierre at their home in the town of Séné, which is just outside of Vannes, one of the major cities in Brittany. We first met Ellen and Jean-Pierre at the American Church in Paris on Easter Sunday in 2019. We were thrilled to accept their invitation to come to Brittany as their guests.
Ellen and Jean-Pierre did a fabulous job introducing Priscilla and me to Brittany. Neither of us had been there before. To cut to the punchline, Brittany is both beautiful and fascinating. As a native Breton, Jean-Pierre has a deep knowledge of the history and willingly shared this with us, while Ellen is the tour organizer extraordinaire and has enthusiasm to spare.
The first place Ellen and Jean-Pierre took us was to the neolithic stone formations of Carnac, which date from around 4000 BCE. The photo above shows only a small portion of the formations. Nobody quite knows the reason for their existence, although they do have their theories. The most recent theory is that they served as some type of boundary or separation between one space and the next, perhaps in a metaphysical sense. It is amazing to think that people back then had the wherewithal to move such mammoth stones from the ocean all the way up to the Carnac area and then to get them stood up. Whatever their reasons, they certainly must have been important to them to go to such effort.
Later that day we visited the Port of Saint-Gouston, the place where Benjamin Franklin landed in 1776 on his mission to seek French aid in the Revolutionary War. There are signs of this significant historical importance all over the port area. As you'll note in the photos below, it was a rainy day. We were dressed for it though.
The next day we walked to the dock at Port Anna and caught the ferry boat to Île d'Arz. Of course I had to take a photo of the buoy in honor of our daughter Anna. By the way, Jean-Pierre informed me that if you pronounce the "z" in Île d'Arz they'll know you're not from Brittany. I remarked that all I had to do was open my mouth and they'd know I wasn't from around these parts. Prior to pushing off we were fortunate to see a traditional sailboat of Brittany called a sinagot. As we left port we passed the well known rose-colored house. Jean-Pierre told us that sailors used to get their bearings to port from this brightly colored house. I suspect with modern GPS systems, it's usefulness as a navigational aid has long since passed, but some things just shouldn't change I guess.
After our excursion to the Île d'Arz, we drove into the city center of Vannes where we toured the old town area. Vannes is one of the few walled cities that retains a large portion of the ancient wall that surrounded the city. The symbol for the city of Vannes is the ermine, which can be seen on the yard of the château in the photo on the far right below.
Our last day in Brittany with Ellen and Jean-Pierre was spent at the amazing Château de Suscinio. This castle dates to the Middle Ages and was used as one of the residences of the Dukes of Brittany (ducs de Bretagne). Eventually it became more of a hunting lodge. The exhibits and use of multi-media at the Château de Suscinio are absolutely top notch. Priscilla and I agreed that this is one of the best historical museums we've ever visited.
Finally, before returning to the station for our train back to Paris, we stopped at the coast to walk the beach a bit. It was lovely to see the Atlantic up close and smell the salty sea air. When I look back on all we did in just a few days I'm amazed. It's no wonder we are taking a rest day today. I hope Ellen and Jean-Pierre did the same. We had so much fun getting to know them better and look forward to the next time we can get together.