Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Trip to Paris with Renee Simons

Paris is exactly what one would expect:  busy, crowded, filled with chic (and not so chic) city folks.  The traffic was horrible, the food wonderful, Notre Dame Cathedral impressive and the Eiffel Tower heart-stopping.  
There was a river boat cruise on the Seine from Paris to Normandy for a 70th anniversary memorial to the D-Day invasion.  We spent 3 days in Paris before setting out and it was wonderful.  Having studied the language in high school some 60 yrs ago, I'd dreamed of going to Paris, to see the famous sights we all know of and read about or see in films.  We also took special tours to Versailles, to Montmartre, Van Gogh's and Monet's homes,  various ancient castles, abbeys and ruins and then lastly to Omaha Beach, site of the invasion for a special, very moving ceremony at the American Military Cemetery, where over 9000 men are buried.  The French countryside from the river is beautiful, with many charming towns in view.  And in a big surprise to all of us, glimpses of the same "white cliffs" in Dover, England were visible in and among the green open spaces. (Geology at work.)
A visitor had better be able to walk over many cobble-stoned streets, and climb more hills than level roads when touring some of the historical areas of the city.  I had a hard time because of my various physical problems but I managed to see most of what I wanted and I'm glad I went. Most of all, the people were friendly and willing to converse with me, responding to my very rusty attempts to speak the language with kindness and even some delight. So if you make it over there, don't be afraid to try. Your attempts will pay off. And if you don't have a travel partner, go with a tour group.  You'll make friends with whom to share experiences, have guidance and someone to lead you to the places you've always wanted to see.