Queues in Paris

Yes, one can actually write a post about queues in Paris. You always have to plan around the amount of people who are going to visit an exhibition or tourist attraction. I normally just turn around and decide to try at another time again, or give up. When you do buy tickets online, you feel like a VIP, walking past the whole queue.

One exhibition I have now missed because of queues, is the Tour Paris 13. I really wanted to see this, but maybe not enough to stand for a whole day.

La Tour Paris 13 on the left bank of the Seine…
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Tour Paris 13 is (or was by now) an apartment building from the fifties in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. Seven months ago, when a gallery owner in Paris heard that it was going to be demolished, he invited 105 street artists, from 18 countries, to decorate the walls of the 33 apartments with their art. Each artist had at least one entire room for himself.

outside too…
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During October it was open to the public. Because the entrance was free, you couldn’t buy tickets before. I now read that there wasn’t much interest in the beginning of the month… why didn’t I go earlier?! Then by the last week the queue was more than 300m long and they kept the building open day and night for the last three days. People waited for 10 hours in that queue.

I didn’t see the inside, but I saw the queue… this is only part of it…
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walking around the building…
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graffiti everywhere…
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on the other side…
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For safety reasons they only allowed 49 people in the building at the same time, and there were many groups of 49 in that queue. So… after I’ve walked around the building, I took photo’s of the queue and left.

So, now you can all do the virtual tour with me. Found here: La Tour Paris 13.

Or see the wonderful photographs of someone who was there, Huffington Post.

OK, I have to admit, I’m jealous… maybe I should have just packed a picnic, taken a book and waited… 10 hours?  maybe next time…

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Paris with the girls.

It’s nice to visit Paris with different people… because they take you to different places. We had two young visitors this week. I have to mention that they both speak four languages, so we had an afrikaans day in Paris, and I knew I had them to save me if my french lets me down. : ) We could also be ready for any english, dutch or german!

Annelien found the cat restaurant in Rue Michel le Comte. A place for all cat lovers.  She had to make a reservation as the place is so popular.

Djenko, Rosa, Idylle, Habby, Saha, Berlioz, Lovely, Pepite, Marguerite, Oréo, Pattenrond and Khalessi are the cats that will greet you there. You can have your cake while enjoying the cats’ company.

Annelien, Franci and Marike at  Le café des chats…

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the cats…

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photo’s without flash… that’s the rule…

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of course we took pictures of our cake too…

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This little café is just around the corner from the Centre Pompidou, and it’s always interesting to walk around there.

street artists…

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“Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish” ~ Charlie Chaplin

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Then our boat trip on the Seine. Seeing Paris from a different angle…

passing under all the bridges…

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Notre Dame…

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and of course…

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an end to a lovely day…  with a Croque Monsieur…

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La Parisienne

Yes, I also surprised myself : ) As Danie says:  “If you told me two years ago you are going to run 6,7km, I would say you are crazy! And that in Paris! Impossible!” And here we are… in Paris… and I did it!

My running started in April this year. That was when I decided that I need to get some exercise. On the first day, I’ve put on my running shoes, or maybe I should call them walking shoes then, and went for a walk. In the middle of this walk I tried to run a bit and it was probably less than 100m and I had no breath left. Feeling good that I did something, I returned home, just to see on the clock that I have been out for exactly 10 minutes. : ) Still, it was the beginning.

I carried on like that for the next few days, trying to go a bit further each day, till I decided that I should maybe go see how one starts running. I found ‘Couch to 5k’ and ran with ‘Laura’ telling me when to run and when to walk… and after nine weeks I could run, without walking, a full 5k!

Of course you then feel as if you can tackle anything. The next thing to do was of course to enter an official run. For me this was ‘La Parisienne’. And what an experience that was…

On Saturday we had to visit  le village to fetch my race number. The theme for this year’s week-end was Japanese.

arriving at a very wet and muddy village…

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for number 30583 you must line up here…

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have the T-shirt, must still run the race…

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entertaining going on for the week-end, in front of the beautiful  École Militaire

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all ready, only hoping for better weather for Sunday…

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Sunday started early to catch the train in to Paris. From Versailles you saw ladies with running gear and their white la Parisienne bags over the shoulder. The metro was full with ladies and their supporters.

Arriving an hour before the race starts, to see the bridge already full…

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all you can do is join them and wait your turn…

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Off they go. Every 6 minutes another group left. I waited till group 7…

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everybody having fun… some supporting a friend who can’t run…

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As it was a ladies race, you saw lots of dads and the little ones with banners:
‘Allez Maman!’ Looking to see their mom among the 30000 runners : )
Another nice banner I saw: ‘Run like a devil, my angel’ : )

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Bands all along the way for extra support. Your name on the race number made it possible for complete strangers to go:
Allez Cecily! Bravo, nice!’

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and then it is all over… off to lunch with my own supporter and official photographer : )

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I have to admit that In the first few minutes of the race, running on cobble stones, little bit uphill and lots of ladies passing me… I thought that I am actually crazy : ) but… then I got into it and… finished! Placed: 14 990 out of 28 798 who finished.  : ) Not too bad for someone who started running at almost 50 : )
Afterwards… I am thinking… I am definitely there again next year!! Who’s joining me!?

Roland Garros

This was where we celebrated Danie’s 50th birthday : )

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I was too late to buy tickets for the main courts, so we had tickets to the grounds and all the other courts where they hosted the less important games. On 5 June they played the quarter finals on the two main courts, and the legends trophy on the other courts.

Djokovic was playing on this court.

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and we could hear the people cheering for Nadal on this court.

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The big screens on the outside are for the unlucky ones that could only hear the excitement  : )  but…

we had so much fun watching the legends do their thing. I actually think they had more fun than us. They were entertaining the crowds, making jokes and showing their skills.

We saw Martina Navratilova playing in a game against Sanchez and Fernandez. My knowledge of tennis isn’t that good, but even I can remember these women.

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The ‘joy’ and magic of clay courts…

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feeling proud South African when we were watching this lady from South Africa…

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rolandgarros91South-Africa was there : ) Big green balls passed on to win some prizes from Perrier…

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Goran Ivanisevic… the big entertainer of the day. : )

rolandgarros111“maybe I should get my partner something to stand on when serving… to get the ball over the net” : )

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Henri LeConte, Pat Cash… also having fun : )

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The stars having enough fun to just do the work themselves
…and just to show that they can still play tennis… serving at 200km/h.

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and then they decided that the referee gets a red card and should leave the court : ) and Bahrami came back with Yannick Noah. For a short while he played referee, exactly 30 years after he won the french open at Roland Garros.

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…a fun day, spend at a special place, for a special birthday of a special person… : )

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Mother’s day in neon lights.

Sunday was mother’s day in France. A bit confusing as it is not the same as in South Africa where our mother’s live. : ) My choice for the day was to be in Paris. I’m sure you would have thought the same. : )

Lunch in the Tuileries gardens.

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then walking across the Place de la Concorde and up the Champs-Élysées…

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One could hire a lamborghini for 20 minutes and it would cost you 89 euros, but that we didn’t do. : )

At the Grand Palais there was a queue again to enter the Dynamo exhibition, but it was worth the wait. This exhibition is all about lights, optical illusions, mirrors and more. The mist blowing from the fountain is the first installation that you see in this ‘different’ exhibition.

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Flashing lights so bright that you have to move on before you get a headache. Mirrors that turn and make you take photographs of yourself. : )

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lights, lights and lights…

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colours, colours and colours…

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shadows, shadows and shadows…

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some makes you smile…

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and Felice Varini’s orange circles on the pillars of the Grand Palais.

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A fun exhibition for the whole family. : )

Bonjour, ça va?

Oui, trés bien, merci : ) We need people in our lives, we need someone to say hello, how are you? We need to feel you belong somewhere.
It’s nice when I sit in the art class and we hear someone knocking on the window. It’s Nathalie, walking her class of little ones to the bus, waving at me and I can see her lips forming ça va?
I’m happy when the girls have sleepovers and you see friends having fun together, laughing, and being loud. : )
Or when I pick the boys up at school and drive back with five kids in the car. Happy sounds of friends laughing, making jokes, waving at other friends walking to the station. It doesn’t even matter that I only understand half of their french jokes. : )

Just before the holiday I spent an afternoon in Paris. It started with an exhibition by Mathurin Méheut, a versatile french artist, who did everything, from sketcing, illustrations, paintings, ceramics, etchings and more. This exhibition was held in one of those buildings that you never even notice, because you are too busy looking at the Eiffel Tower. Yes, in one of those blocks where you stand to have the best photo opportunity in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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…just there where you would stand to admire the Eiffel Tower.

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…walking around typical Paris streets.

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…seeing the Eiffel Tower pop out every now and then.cava31

I landed in a nice pedestrian road where people were selling fruit, flowers or coffee and nice french pastries.
…with kids playing on giant eclairs.

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Its hard to choose where you will have your morning coffee…

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Walking and looking and taking photographs, up to Les Invalides.

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A lovely day spent in Paris…but you know what were the three highlights of this day? As I left the house to do a few things before going in to Paris, I saw my friend Roger. The retired man that lives in Rue du Pont Barrat. He’s always friendly and looking for someone to talk to. So, he crossed the road, just to ask me ça va, and greet me with kisses on the cheeks, like the french do. And I could say trés bien, merci, et toi? We talked a bit… and it doesn’t matter that I didn’t understand every word he said. : )
Standing in the queue in G20, our little supermarket, I saw a lady that I only met once at someone else, but she came to me and after the kisses, asked me ça va? …trés bien, merci.
Then, as I walked to Franci’s school, someone stopped next to me and rolled down the window. A mom of one of Franci’s friends, whom I’ve also only met once at a girl’s birthday party. Just to ask me...ça va?

Three people made the effort to ask me, ça va? …and I could reply:
  trés bien, merci!

Visiting Edward Hopper

This I did on Tuesday. I actually stood in a queue for more than an hour to see this exhibition. I have to admit that I didn’t know about this artist, but I wanted to see what it’s about, because this was probably the most advertised exhibition in Paris. The exhibition was extended also for another week, because of its popularity.

Edward Hopper, an american artist, visited Paris three times as a young man and was influenced by artists like Manet and Degas. Maybe that’s why Paris was so excited to have his works here on display.

My first treat for the day was this older man playing piano in the station at Versailles Chantier. These pianos are part of the streetpianos initiative. There are 40 pianos all around Paris, standing there for anyone to play and for the joy of the people hearing the music. The first time I saw one of these pianos was the young man playing in the shopping center at Les Halles.

two excellent musicians…

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for a sweet treat, I met Danie for a café et tartelette

Hopper21Walking from the station, Invalide, I was wondering if one will ever get to a point that you can think I have now seen all of Paris. I have seen the pont Alexandre III before, but this time I had to cross it to go to the Grand Palais where the exhibition was held.

just beautiful…

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seeing Paris from the bridge…

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The same goes for the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais just across the road. I have walked down the Champs-Elysées many times and saw these buildings from there, but Tuesday I walked around it for the first time.

beautiful and impressive…

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and now this building hosts the paintings of Edward Hopper, all the way from America…

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As I came around the corner I saw the reality of the popularity of this exhibition. A nice queue with a sign where I joined the queue, saying that from that point it will take me an hour to enter. But… I was there, I opened my umbrella when the rain started falling and waited patiently for my turn. They let only a certain amount of people go inside at a certain time. The guy organizing this let the people in front of me in and then asked me if we are together, and while I’m still wondering what he meant, the young girl behind me said, oui! and in go the two of us as well. : )

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It was worth the wait.   Now I know about mister Hopper and for some reason there is really something special to stand in front of a famous artwork. My plan was to see van Gogh’s exhibition as well, but that will have to wait till next time. You can’t fit two queues into one day. : )

7 Reasons to move to France… or not

I received the Versatile blogger award from VinylEraser a while back… and now again from Chaumierelesiris. : ) Thank you to both of them!  The awards are just a friendly gesture among bloggers to encourage and acknowledge each other.
VinylEraser is an art blog. Go and have a look at his lovely art here on his blog. Chaumierelesiris is written by a lady who lives in London and now owns a house in Normandy, where she spends holidays with her family. You can read about their visits to this lovely cottage here on her blog.

For the award you are then asked to tell seven things about yourself and send the reward on to other bloggers. I will send it on later.

As this blog is about our move to France, I will give you seven reasons to move to France… or maybe not to move… : )
(Just a friendly warning: These reasons might not all make sense to you if you don’t live in South-Africa.)

Reason 1: Move here for Nutella crêpes, or don’t move and still enjoy cinnamon pancakes… 

Cheaper Nutella could be a good reason. It’s half the price we payed in Cape Town. With Nutella you have to mention crêpes of course. Crêpes Nutella
Or maybe don’t come for Nutella… You know that crêpes is just the fancy French word for nice South-African pancakes. Because Nutella is so sweet, I always order the Crêpe Sucre. A pancake with white sugar. It would be so much better if they knew to add a little  cinnamon.

Reason 2: Move here for self-help tills, or don’t move and enjoy the friendly talkative packers at Pick a Pay…

Supermarkets here have tills where you can scan your items yourself… really. This is now if you buy less than ten items. You go to your till, pick up the scanner, beep, beep, insert your card and off you go after the voice told you that you can now remove your items.
Or maybe don’t move for self-help tills, because on the day that you buy a trolley full of groceries, you have to pack it yourself. Normally you are not able to do it fast enough and you have to pay in between and the next client is waiting for you. Then you miss the friendly Pick a Pay woman who used to pack it for you and might also have said: ‘Mevrou, hoekom gaan kry jy nie liewer die 750g boks nie, hulle is op special vandag!’

Reason 3: Move here because France is a beautiful country, or don’t move because you will never see a brown countryside…

That could make a good reason, because it is just so green, even flowers don’t need any encouragement to grow. In the past year I did not have to water the garden once. Everywhere is beautiful with so many trees and green as far as you can see.
Or maybe don’t move here for green, because you might just want to see some brown some day and you won’t! If you come from the drier regions of South Africa, you might just miss the brown…

Reason 4: Move here for the beautiful language, or don’t move for the language… they conjugate, you know…

When we told people we are moving to France and have to learn French, many people reacted with: ‘it’s such a beautiful language’. Well, you can move here to learn to speak French, because you will for sure. The French really only speak French. It’s a small miracle if you come across someone who can speak English. : )
Or maybe don’t move for the language… as I said… they conjugate! Nouns are also either male or female. How is one suppose to remember a table is female and a carpet is male. Do you say le or la, une or un… And conjugation… this means that for each pronoun the verb has a different form!  And just as you know the rules, you hear about all the exceptions. : )

Reason 5: Move here for the cheese, or don’t move for the cheese, you might not find Gouda…

Yes, the French are known for their fromages. Even the packaging is so pretty. I sometimes buy it just for the little wooden box. : ) You can try a new kind every day and can be busy with that for a long time.
Or maybe don’t move here for the cheese…  you might walk up and down the two aisles filled with cheese and you can’t find normal Gouda. In Pick a Pay Gouda had it’s own aisle! You know… we have to make a braaibroodjie sometimes. : )

Reason 6: Move here for the bread, or don’t move for the bread, you might need gewone blokbrood

A Frenchman with a baquette under his arm… that picture that you sometimes see is really true. French people buy baquettes from their local Boulangerie. And yes, the bread is really nice and they bake all day, so mostly your baquette is still warm. Then you have to add to this the croissants and pain au chocolat, and more. Not a bad idea to move for the bread…
Or maybe don’t move for the bread, because normal sliced bread is not popular at all. The sliced bread you find here can last for a month.  You can work out how much preservatives that takes. Its still the thing of being able to make braaibroodjies… : )

Reason 7: Move here for PARIS… 

Yes, this Paris, not the Freestate one… The one with la Tour Eiffel, la Seine, les Champs-Élysées… So what can one say against this… Let’s not say anything more…

Or maybe if you don’t want to move here, just come visit! : )

A year in Enghien-les-Bains

It is hard to imagine, but the boys have finished their first year of school in France. A year in lycée Gustav Monod.
A nice experience, which was not always easy, but still a lot of fun…
When we arrived last year June, they spoke afrikaans and english and a few words of french, well, maybe only enough french words to greet someone. Now, one year later, they are not yet fluent in french, but can have a good conversation with friends and cope well with school.

Before we came to france, my biggest concern was where the boys would go to school and only because they were 16 already. The international schools around Paris has fees that you could actually buy a house with. : ) € 27 500 per year (per child) and just a ‘small’ initial payment of € 10 000 to register. As we are not expats and the work does not pay for schooling, that is a ‘little’ over our budget. The other problem with children in the international schools are that they never really learn to speak french, which is again a problem if you want to go to university here.

So, they had to go to normal french public school. The french schools actually do cater for immigrants like us. They have a program for non french speaking children called the FLS classes. The one problem was that there is only one high school in our department that offers this program and that was why the boys had to travel an hour every day to school by bus and by train. They were in the special class as well as attending some of the normal classes in the beginning.  As the year continued they attended more of the normal classes. They received their reports and passed this year and will be in premier (grade 11) next year. We are moving closer to Danie’s work in July, so the next year they will be in another school in Villiers Saint Fréderic.

I believe that what they experienced this year just added a very special extra year in their school life. They were a group of kids from all over the world who had one thing in common: we can’t speak french, but now have to live in a country where people only speak  french.

We are really proud of how they handled this year. Always positive, getting up at six some mornings, working out train times, working hard and making friends. For them it was nothing big, you just carry on and do it… and still have fun.

On Tuesday their FLS class had their farewell party and as I looked at their photo’s I realized what an adventure this year was for them.

some of the boys: from left, Javuz from Turkey; Pieter; Micheal & Miquel from Portugal; Pathu &Vasikanth from Sri-Lanka; Zi from China and Jaco

the class with madame Herrerra (in the flowery dress)

and again with mademoiselle Alves (with the orange top)
 

They made a book that will be kept in the library of the school. Each one had to do a page about his country. The list of countries from where they all come from reads like this…

Livre d’or  (visitor’s book )

Pieter’s page… (click to read)

Jaco’s page… (click to read)

The eats represented the international class…

They were all asked to show their talents at the party. Some sing, some do magic tricks… Pieter made an animation and Jaco of course recorded some drums. (Our recording and editing still need some upgrading: ) ) You can see them here on Youtube.  : )

Jaco playing Born for this…

Pieter’s animation…

Tuesday their school closes for the year and they will greet their friends and the two teachers, Madame Herrerra and mademoiselle Alves, who organize the FLS class. On Wednesday they are going on a fun outing to Paris with Madame Herrera and that will finish off this experience. A year in Enghien les Bains, in the Northern suburbs of Paris…


Being a tourist

For the last three weeks me and my mother visited quite a lot of places around here, like real tourists.

I thought that maybe I should just summarize what we have seen, a post per trip might fill the blog!

We walked around Pontoise with the beautiful Cathedral of Saint-Maclou.

Many impressionists also painted in Pontoise. The Tavet museum exhibits the work of some of them and then there is the Camille Pissaro museum, which actually does not have even one of Pissaro’s works. : ) They do have paintings that was done by his two sons, Lucien and George. The exhibition in the Pisarro museum are all paintings of Pontoise and that was nice, to see paintings done more than a 100 years ago and then as you walk through the town, you can recognize the streets and buildings they painted.

Pontoise, the Tavet and Pisarro museum… 

There are enough churches to see in Paris. We went to Saint-Chapelle, the small church with the beautiful windows and of course we saw the Sacre Coeur and the Notre Dame.

Saint-Chapelle…

We had crepes, croissants, Croque-Monsieurs and coffee… One day Danie met us for coffee. That was after we gave up standing in the queue to visit the Orsay museum, which we worked out would be more than a few hours. Well, we have learned that you never ask for a small coffee, as that is really small. So, when the lady asked us if we wanted medium coffees we said yes!

…and we definitely didn’t get small coffees!

a misty day in Paris… 

We found the padlocks on the pont des Arts. A sign of undying love for the two people in love, who locks it to the bridge and throw the keys in the Seine… and some men were ‘blowing’ huge bubbles…

From seeing Monet’s waterlilies in the Orangerie museum, through the Tuileries gardens, passed the Louvre, along the Seine, passed the Notre Dame we finished this walk at the Cluny museum to see the beautiful, old, large woven tapestries.

I did a post about Monet’s garden in Giverny before. Then it was summer, but this time we could visit it in spring. Also special with spring flowers and very nice to see the tulips.

… its definitely not all we saw, only a glimpse, but I didn’t want to bore you with the 2000+ photo’s that we took between the two of us. : )
…maybe the city of Rouen still deserves a post on its own.