Four Days in Normandy

Once again, I have fallen a few days behind. I’ve learned that blogging requires time and energy, two things I keep running out of lately.

We spent four days in the Normandy region of France and I don’t have the words to describe some of the things we have seen and places we have visited. This is a bit long and the days sort of run together, but I’ll try and remember it all and give you a run down.

On Tuesday, September 9th, we started the day by driving over to Omaha Beach, where American troops landed on D-Day. I’ve seen the movies, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and others, but to stand on the same ground where hundreds of American servicemen sacrificed their lives is an indescribable experience. It was very moving and I don’t have the words to explain the feelings brought about by standing on that honored ground. The terrain on the beach was unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a coastline. The beach area wasn’t very wide and then it turned into cliffs. I tried to imagine what it was like; those men, most of them were really just kids, had to maneuver across the beach, carrying a rifle, an 80 pound pack after wading thru freezing cold water, while being shot at by Germans. It brought tears to my eyes and there was a knot in my stomach. I really can’t describe the experience. One thing that really made me tear up was a display of photos displayed on the beach. They had a large canvas photos of soldiers who had survived D-Day and had come back for different anniversaries. Each man had a heart wrenching story to tell.

Next we stopped by the American cemetery above Omaha Beach. Again, it’s an experience that I can’t describe. Thousands of white crosses in perfect symmetry, each representing an American who was killed. It was even more sad to see the crosses marked “ A soldier known only to God”. That meant a soldier’s family was notified that their loved one was missing in action and they never knew what really happened and where their family member was laid to rest. If you ever have a chance to visit an American military cemetery, you should. I keep thinking of my great uncle, Charles Springer. He was my Grandmother Barksdale’s brother who died in a battle in Germany and is buried in Henri Chapelle cemetery in Belgium. He was just a farm boy who had probably never been out of north Alabama, and there he was, sent to fight in Germany during one of the worst winters that Europe had ever experienced and he paid the ultimate price.

The next stop was Pointe du Hoc. It’s on a top of a cliff that is the highest point between Omaha and Utah beaches. The Germans had built a series of fortified bunkers and fighting positions used to protect coastal defense artillery. A group of Army Rangers were charged with taking the position. They started out with 225 plus Rangers, but after a two day battle, only 90 remained. The cliffs they had to scale in order to take the position are steep cliffs and to say it must have been difficult is an understatement. The numbers of casualties at all these places is staggering. There are still huge bomb craters all around the bunkers at Pointe du Hoc, and again, I can’t imagine what it was like for the German soldiers to endure the hours of unending explosions. The Germans soldiers were serving their country just like the American soldiers were and no matter which side they were fighting for, it must have been hell. Here is a picture of me standing in a crater made by a 2,000 lb bomb:

gayle in crater at Pointe du Hoc

We also went by Utah beach where we saw more memorials. The terrain of this beach is different than Omaha, it was wider and did not have the same cliffs.

We made a couple of quick stops to finish up the day. One at Merville Battery, another German battery built out in the middle of a field. In one of the bunkers, they had set up a sound system and every 20 minutes or so, a siren would go off and they would play a sound track to give you an idea of what it was like to be inside the bunker during a bombing. It was pretty intense, but I’m sure it was not even close to the real thing. The last stop of the day was the radar museum. Yes, such a thing really exists. Steve was really excited about one particular radar, so I stayed in the car and let Steve get out to take a few pictures.

On Wednesday, September 10th, we spent the day with a guide, Geert Van den Bogaert who does private tours for people who want to see specific areas, or are like Steve  desire to see the areas where a relative fought. Here is the link to Geert’s website: www.normandyheroes.com  Steve’s dad, Cisco Rainwater served with Charlie Company, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. He landed on Utah beach in late July, several weeks after D-day and fought across France to the coastal town of Brest. Steve had looked up his dad’s records, sent those to Geert, so that he could research and take us to some of the specific places where Cisco had been. It was really special for Steve, he got to stand in the field where his Dad spent his first night in France before heading out with his assigned company. We went thru many small villages and towns where battles took place. The French countryside is mainly farm land, as it was during the war, it’s very hilly with a lot of trees and like the landing beaches, I tried to imagine what it must have been like to walk thru those fields, not knowing if there were German soldiers hiding in the next clump of trees waiting to fire. I also found out what “hedgerows” are. When Steve talked about hedgerows, I imagined a row of shrubs. Not at all what a hedgerow is. Hedgerows were developed hundreds of years ago by Norman farmers to use as fences. They piled up dirt, then planted trees and bushes that have grown over the years into walls that completely cover the narrow country roads. It was like driving thru a tunnel and the hedgerows presented a major problem to Allied forces. It’s too long to explain it all, but if you are interested, ask Google about hedgerows in Normandy. Here is Steve in the field where his Dad spent his first night and a hedgerow:

steve in field  Clayhanger-hedge-rows-on-road-south-of-village

One of the many highlights of the day was a meeting Geert has set up with Mrs. Beuve who was the last remaining person in her village who still remembers WWII. We went to her farmhouse that has been in her family for generations and sat around her kitchen table while she shared stories and showed us moments she had collected from U.S. soldiers. She had K-Rations, a deck of cards and a flashlight that a soldier had given her. Her family had moved to town, but when the fighting started they moved back to the farm house, which was just outside of town. Their house in town was bombed and they lost many of their possessions, that were either destroyed by the bomb impact, or stolen by looters. Mrs. Beuve was 20 in 1944, was married and her husband was in the French army. He had been captured and taken to a POW camp in Germany where he worked on a camp farm. She told us that her husband was the last POW from that area to make it home after the war. Such a sweet lady and she seemed very happy that we were interested in her stories.

Mrs. burve

Next on the list of highlights for the day was a trip to a small village of about 700 people called, Milliers. (I tried to put a link in for the  village, but it’s so small, it doesn’t even have a site on Wikipedia.) The village built a monument to the 8th Army Division and the city leaders were very honored that the son of a soldier from the 8th Division was coming to visit. When Geert told them we were coming, the mayor, assistant mayor and honorary mayor wanted to be there to greet us. We were treated like dignitaries and it was very humbling. I kept wanting to ask “do they know who we are”, not in a drunk Reese Witherspoon sort of way, but in a “we are just a couple of working stiffs from Texas and no mayor has ever wanted to meet us before”, sort of way. We all had our picture taken by the memorial and it was a treat to meet such warm, friendly people.

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Thursday, September 11th, we had a slower start. Steve got up early and hiked up a hill in the town where we were staying and found more bunkers that were almost overgrown and watched the sun rise over the beach. I slept in a little and then sat by the water and enjoyed a pan au chocolate and coffee, very French. Then we drove out to Mont. St. Michel, an abbey that was built on a island that you can only get to during low tide. It was beautiful from a distance, surrounded by a foggy haze, it almost looked like a ghost castle. We paid $18 for parking and walked about 2km to get out to the abbey. We were a little disappointed when we got there, it was packed elbow to elbow with tourists trying to walk thru really narrow little streets, almost like shopping at Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon. We decided not to fight the crowd and skipped going inside, but instead found a few scenic spots to take pictures. The drive to get there and back was really pretty, I love the French countryside, lots of corn fields and horse farms.

sunrise 2

On the way back, we drove thru Villers-Bocage, a small town made famous (at least for WWII history buffs) by a German tank commander who with 5 tanks, held off advancing British forces. Steve said the tactics used by the German commander are still taught today. Next we headed back to Bayeux and stopped to see the Bayeux Tapestry. It was very impressive. About 1000 years old and I forgot how long, but it tells the story of William the Conquerer. We had a few hours of daylight left so we drove out to Gold beach, one of the British landing beaches. Steve wanted to see a “mulberry”, an off loading dock built by the British. While we were driving back to our apartment, we passed a sign for Longues-sur-Mer, another German battery that Steve had really wanted to see. Several of these bunkers still have their guns intact, and I think it may be the only one that does.

Longues-sur-Mer battery

That was it for our day and our trip to Normandy.

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Last Day in Paris

I have a couple of days to catch up on, so here we go. 

On Saturday, we made the trip to Versailles. We followed Rick Steve’s instructions to be there when it opened and he was right. The ticket line wasn’t bad, but there was a huge line to go thru security. The security check was one, single file line where they sort of checked bags going in and let everyone walk thru a metal detector and did nothing when it went off. It didn’t seem crowded at first, but then the tour buses showed up and we felt like cattle at a feed lot, moving along with the herd in whatever direction the crowd wanted to go. It was hard to enjoy looking at anything because it was so crowded. We were most impressed by the sheer size of Versailles, you only get to see a fraction of the rooms, but the building is like the Louvre, it goes on and on. The gardens were beautiful and we had to pay extra for their Saturday “special garden show”. They had piped in classical music playing and occasionally the fountains would come on, that was the show as best we could tell. Then we walked the 2km out to the Grand Trianon, the king’s get away. It was also impressive and less crowded, I guess the hike out thins the crowds. Next was the Petit Trianon, which seemed like a normal house compared to the other places. We walked a total of ten miles that day and we felt every mile of it. When we finally got back to the Versailles exit, then over to the train station, we were told that the train station was closed and we would have to walk to another station, 10 minutes away.  No one ever said why the train station was closed on a busy Saturday, I have to guess there were major mechanical issues. 

We were still feeling the effects of all then walking we did Saturday, so Sunday started out at a leisurely pace. We took a boat tour of the Seine, which was nice and relaxing, then spent most of the day wandering around Paris neighborhoods. Sunday ended with a walk up to the Sacre-Coeur cathedral. We went by the Moulin Rouge, but didn’t go in. I think you need reservations, plus we were sweaty, as usual. Have I mentioned how warm and humid it is in Paris?? It’s not much different than Austin or Florida, not quiet as hot, but just as muggy. We have been drenched in sweat from the moment we left our apartment until it cools off in the evening. I leave in the morning with decent looking hair, but by the evening, I look like Janis Joplin on a bad hair day. So much for being stylish in Paris! We have decided that Parisians don’t sweat or pee very often. While Steve and I walk around in short sleeve shirts, drenched in sweat, Parisians walk around in coats with a scarf and not a drop of sweat on their face. There are almost no public restrooms, even in busy places like train stations, so either there are secret restrooms that only Parisians know about, or they just don’t go very often. I decided suffering from partial dehydration is better than trying to find a restroom in Paris. 

Today, Monday, we left Paris at 0 dark thirty, and made our way to Caen where we picked up our cute and sporty station wagon rental car. From there we drove to Etretrat, a beautiful little town on the coast. There are beautiful cliffs and the town is very quaint. After a lunch and a quick hike to the top of the cliff we headed to Port-en-Bessin Huppain to find our next apartment. Port-en-Bessin Huppain is a beautiful little village a few miles from Bayeux. It’s the complete opposite of Paris, small and quiet. Our apartment is small, but very nice. Perfectly decorated and it has a giant claw foot tub that I can actually stretch out in. We took a quick walk around the village, walked out on the breaker that protects the port from the North Sea, watched a beautiful sunset over the ocean and decided to call it a night.

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A Day in Saumur

Taking over from Gayle today to report on my day trip to Saumur. As many of you already know I am a history buff, especially WW2 armored warfare. Why? Long story but it suffices to say I am a child of that war. My father served in the 8th infantry division in WW2 and he met my mother after the war in Germany through a series of circumstances directly related to it. Saumur is located in the Loire River Valley, and in,  fact the river bisects it. My trip started at our apartment at roughly 0615. I took the Paris Metro from the stop (Madeleine) at the end of the street to Gare Montparnasse. From there I boarded a TGV hi-speed train (200 mph!) to St. Pierre des Corps where I switched to a SNCF regional train (slower, older) after a short wait. I arrived at Saumur around 0845. Headed out of the train station and began the roughly 2 mile trip by walking across the bridge over the Loire, got about halfway across, and some old man coming from the opposite bank griped at me in French when we met at the sidewalk and passed each other. Not sure what his gripe was but I just said “bonjour” and kept walking. Saw carp swimming in the river below which did not look to be more than 1 or 2 feet deep. Above the town is its famous chateau. It is in a word, beautiful. Unfortunately I only had one day so I did not enter it, however, it was on my way to the ultimate destination: the Musee de Blindes so I skirted its perimeter and promptly got slightly lost using my iPhone map function. As I came around the Chateau’s back side I came upon a crosswalk and a man on a bicycle with saddlebags. I asked him if knew the way to the museum and he replied in a heavy German accent, “No, I am lost too”.  We both belly-laughed out loud. Turns out he was from the Berlin area and was cycling the Loire Valley. He got mixed up and lost trying to find a dedicated bike path through Saumur. We talked of Germany, Texas, and Saumur for a few moments, exchanged handshakes, and went our separate ways. It’s these small moments, these tiny cultural exchanges, that bring me the most satisfaction when traveling. Anyhow, I came to a fork, guessed somewhat correctly but after 20 minutes or so realized I was passing the museum by from the map function on my phone. I took another fork to the right, went down a hill 250 yards or so and came across another cyclist, this one from Saumur. I said “Bonjour, do you speak English? Him: “Yes, a lee-till”. Me: Can you tell me how to get to the musee de blindes?”. Him: “Musee de Blindes….?…Oh! The armored car museum!”. Me: “Yes!”. Him: “Down the hill, 2nd left, to the traffic circle, another left, you will run right into it”.  “Merci, merci”, I exclaimed and shook his hand profusely. Off I went arriving about 45 minutes later (he made it sound a lot closer than it was but that’s just fine by me). That guy salvaged my day. Another one of those brief exchanges that enrich such a trip.  I walked up to the entrance minutes after the museums 1000 opening time. The Musee de Blindes, for someone of my ilk, is the Holy Grail. I’ve been to at least a dozen military history museums, but this one, at least as far as armored vehicles are concerned, is the best I have ever seen. The collection is centered on French vehicles, but they have included vehicles from every Allied nation France ever fought with and its enemies as well. There is a whole wing dedicated to oddities, prototypes, and tanks modified for movie production. I can’t describe them all here but I’ll hit some of them. Many of the machines are in running condition and once year the museum brings them outside and puts them through their paces for public viewing. That would be the Holy Grail of the Holy Grail for me, but this beggar isn’t going to choose. The collection is laid out in chronological order beginning with WW1 and ending up at the modern day. A few pics. A French Schneider tank from 1917:

 

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The fearsome German Panzerkampfwagen MkVI, or Tiger 1 as it is more commonly known: photo 3

 

This is a German Jgadpanzer IV/70 tank destroyer knocked out in Normandy by the US Army. Extensive fracturing of the vehicle’s casemate can be seen. By this point in the war Germany was running out of tungsten which was essential in hardening armor and making it less brittle. On the front glacis plate can be seen an embedded dud round. I’m not convinced that it is real. The round is of course, but I question whether it really happened. I inspected it closely and did not see the peel back and scoring of the round consistent with the impact of an armor-piercing (AP) round. The side impact is real and it points to something dark: men died in that vehicle when that round hit it. They were our enemy no doubt, but they were flesh and blood men with wives, children, dreams, memories…ended in the flash impact of a US 76mm AP round. photo 3 copy 2 photo 4

 

Displayed next to it was another German vehicle hit by US troops. This display of a Hummel 150mm self-propelled artillery gun indicated it had been engaged by the US 5th Armored division.

 

 

 

 

 

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A note on the German language. It’s very complex often employing compound words three or four times longer then English ones. Some military examples: German: fallschirmjaeger literally translates as hunter-from-the-sky. The English version: paratrooper. Panzerkampfwagen=armored fighting vehicle; English=tank. Jgad means stalker or hunter, so Jgadpanzer= tank hunter. In English, tank destroyer. I digress. Moving from WW2 through the modern day and then to the oddities room I came across this piece. A 60’s era Vespa scooter prototype with a 75mm recoilless rifle attached. The idea was that Western Europe is a dense urban combat environment making the maneuvering of main battle tanks difficult in city streets. European streets are often connected by alley ways too narrow for heavy vehicles. The Vespa death scooter would lie in wait in an alley, let a tank partially pass, and then shoot it in the weaker side armor. The two-man Vespa crew would then race off down the alley before the tank could get its turret around for a shot. Two problems with that proposition, however: 1) The only way to aim the recoilless rifle was to turn the entire Vespa making accuracy problematical. 2) Tanks don’t drive down streets alone. They have infantry deployed on their flanks. As soon as the enemy soldiers stopped laughing enough to fire their rifles they would shred the Vespa.

 

scooter w gun scooter w gun2

 

Also came across this contraption. Looks like a bomb but is actually a German armored observation post. Early in the war the Germans were concerned with commando attacks on factories, dams, and other pieces of critical infrastructure. In order to counter that possibility they deployed these things near those important sites. Told my brother they would make a great deer stand via Facebook.

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I took a ton of pictures with my real camera and that took most of the day; multiple angles, waiting for visitors to pass to get good shots, and general gawking on my part. I left at roughly 1500 starving, thirsty, and with my balky knees screaming. Decided to try a different route heading back to the train station and you guessed it…took a wrong turn. I came across a group of teenage boys playing basketball and asked the one closest to me how to get back to “Le gare Saumur”. He could not speak English but indicated someone in his group did. He went tearing across to the other end of the court to grab a friend that did yelling, waving and otherwise making a big deal out of it. His friend rushed over, along with several others and gave me directions. I thanked them all profusely. Another one of those chance meetings that I so dearly love. Made it back to “Le Gare Saumur (train station) and returned by the way which I came. My thanks to my beautiful wife Gayle for allowing me to indulge one of my passions on what is a birthday trip I gave to her. I’m a lucky man folks.

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Friday in Paris

Today we started out bright and early to make it it over to Notre Dame before the tourists showed up. We walked right in with no wait. The cathedral is impressive, especially when you think about all the historical figures who have walked down that aisle. The stained glass windows were incredible, with very intricate designs. I think my favorite part is what you see on the outside, the gargoyles, flying buttresses and the unique roof designs.

It was still early when we finished, so we walked around the neighborhood a bit and then decided to find the Pantheon. This building started out as a church dedicated to Saint. Genevieve, built by King Louis XV, but during the revolution was turned into a non-religious mausoleum for French notables. Madame Curie, Voltare, Rousseau and Victor Hugo are some of the people buried here. I don’t have a picture of the Pantheon to post, but here is a statue of a giant Mongolian man that was outside the Pantheon. It didn’t really fit in with the scenery.

mongolian statue

After a lunch break, we decided to find Jim Morrison’s grave in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The cemetery was really beautiful and the mausoleums or crypts were very elaborate. We were wandering down one of the paths when a guy who works for the cemetery asked who we were looking for and after he vented for several minutes about tourists who couldn’t speak any language but their own, he took us on a really fast-paced tour of all the famous grave sites. We ran by Sarah Bernhardt’s grave, Oscar Wilde, some guy who’s name I can’t remember, but he was a journalist who bad-mouthed Napoleon III and was assassinated for his mistake, and Chopin. When we finally made it to Jim Morrison’s grave, there was a crowd around the site, and this guy walked right through them saying “I’m an official, step aside”, so they all moved out of the way and we walked right up to the front. It was really funny. At the end of our little unofficial tour, Steve asked the guy if he accepted tips and he never said yes, but gave us a story about how sick he was and even showed us that he was wearing the little sensors they put on your chest when you have a heart monitor connected. Now I’m no medical expert, but Steve and I had to walk as fast as we possibly could to keep up with this guy and we both walk pretty fast, so I’m not sure I buy his story about a bad heart. Steve offered him a couple of euro and the guy made a face indicated that wasn’t enough, so I pulled out a 5 euro bill to go with Steve’s and he took it. It was funny and we probably wouldn’t have made the time to find all the other grave sites he showed us. He also told us how the cemetery works. They have 100,000 gravesides at the cemetery and families pay thousands and thousands of euro to “lease” a site for 100 years. The graves are deep enough to bury 28 people, stacked on top of each other. Our guy told us that after 100 years is up, and/or the money to pay an annual fee runs out, the bodies are dug up and sent to “the barbecue”. He kept pointing out graves where you could see that work was being done, and said “they are off to the barbecue”. I asked what happens to the crypts when the family stops paying and he said they are torn down and the cement or marble is turned into bricks they use to build the paths, and then that spot is available for another family to lease. A little morbid, but interesting. Here is a picture of me with our crazy cemetery tour guide and Jim Morrison’s grave.

Gayle and guide Jim Morrison grave

We needed a siesta, so after a nap and a rest back at the apartment, we are going out to see the Eiffel tower light up tonight.

P.S. Just got back from another climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, it was well worth the climb to see the Eiffel tower sparkle like diamonds.

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I think it’s Thursday…

I forgot to mention that Steve thinks the name of my blog is lame. I explained to him that the only other name I could come up with is “Two cranky old people go to Europe”. I decided to go with the more positive sounding title.

Today Steve and I split up, he took a day trip to Saumur to see the Musée des Blindés and I stayed in Paris to wander around and do a little shopping. I found the Galeries Layfayette, it was ok, but not the great historic experience I expected. The glass dome was left, but the rest of the mall was very modern. And expensive. All the designer shops were there, it was very much like our Galleria shopping malls. It’s always fun to look at dresses that I have no place to wear, and would have to sell a kidney to pay for. I did find Angelina’s while I was there and had some really good, but really expensive hot chocolate. They are famous for their chocolate and it was delicious, as was the eclair that I had. It was a sugar overload for my mid-morning snack, but I think I walked most of it off window shopping in the Marais district. I found a little shop recommended to me by Pam Pate, La Vaissellerie. It’s like a miniature Sur la Table. Very cute and one of those stores where you need one of everything and a dozen of some things, if you only had the room to store it all.

Next, I ventured over the Pont Marie to Ile St. Louis, the little island next to the island where Notre Dame is located. Lots of photo ops along the Seine and a beautiful view of the cathedral. I ended up on Ile de Cite (the island Notre Dame is on) and found several cute shops. I had one of the cheapest and best meals so far for lunch, a quiche from a tiny boulangerie (bakery). I took it to go with a bottle of water and found a bench in the shade behind Notre Dame. It was very entertaining, I watched a bride and groom have their wedding photos taken and a Japanese family who were carrying around a tripod and fancy camera trying to get the perfect family portrait.

After a break, I walked back across the river to the Marais district, did a little more window shopping and decided it was time to head back. I managed to figure out the metro routes without Steve Rainwater doing it for me. It was very easy, I just asked the nice lady at the information desk what trains to take and then reversed the route to get back!

I’m back at the apartment waiting for Steve to return. I’ve done some laundry today in our strange European combination washer/dryer. It’s convenient to have one machine do it all, but it’s the slowest thing I’ve ever seen. Towels have been in the dryer cycle for over an hour and I’m sure they are dry by now, but it keeps going and I can’t make it stop. Hopefully the dry cycle will be done by bedtime. I wish I could post pictures, but I still haven’t found the cable for my camera. It’s probably at home on the dining room table. Sigh. I’ll post more or Steve can post more to tell you about his trip to Saumur and the military museum.

I forgot to mention that last night we went to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed a very narrow and long spiral staircase to the top and watched the sunset. I have photographic evidence of this excursion. 

sunset from the arc de triumph

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First Day of Sight Seeing

I either lost or forgot to pack the cord that connects my camera to my laptop, so the only pictures we can post are a few that Steve is taking with his iPhone and sending to me.  Bummer. As I started to say in my previous post, we almost forgot about the Eiffel Tower tour that we had booked for our first evening here, Steve remembered just in time for us to make the tour.  It was worth the expense of the tickets to skip the line. Our tour guide Sarah was from Galveston, small world. We made it to the top although the ride was a little scary for those of us who don’t like high places. The view was amazing! We ended up taking the stairs down from the second level to the first, and were very grateful to find an elevator to take us down the rest of the way. Today, Wednesday, we started out at Napoleon’s Tomb, located in Les Invalides. The building was beautiful, everything from the marble floors to marble staircase rails were gorgeous. Napoleon’s tomb is a huge sarcophagus, way too big for a short guy. The building also had some of the prettiest stained glass windows I’ve ever seen. Shades of blue and lavender that unfortunately didn’t show up very well in the pictures. Then, we walked thru the WWI and WWII exhibits, also located in Les Invalides. Here I am in front of Napoleon’s tomb. This is as close as you can get to it. Did I mention that there are lots and lots of stairs in Paris?

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Next, we took the metro over to Notre Dame. The line to get in was several blocks long, so we decided not to wait, we didn’t want to spend half our day just standing in line. We may try to go back early one morning and see if we can get in. The architecture was beautiful, as are most of the buildings in Paris. We got to see all the gargoyles and flying buttresses Notre Dame is famous for, and we also ran into a few of the Gypsy pick pockets we had read about. A loud “no” from Steve was all it took to get rid of them.

From Notre Dame, we took the metro over to the Louvre. I can’t describe how huge the Louvre is, the building just goes on and on. Our tour guide from the Eiffel tower said that if you spent 4 seconds looking at every piece of art the Louvre has on exhibit, it would take you a month to see them all. We decided to skip going inside, we just took the obligatory pictures of the glass pyramid. From the Louve, we walked down to the Place de la Concorde, an obelisk taken from Egypt in the 1830’s and placed on the sight where the guillotine was located during the French revolution. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, along with 1,200 others lost their heads in that spot.  Here is Steve in front of the Louvre pyramid.

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After all the walking, we were ready for a break and found an sidewalk cafe. The waiter brought us a really tacky menu in English (that’s a warning sign of an over priced place with mediocre food) and when I saw that they were charging more than 18 euro for a coke (thats about $25), we made a quick exit. Just around the corner, we found a much nicer and cheaper place for our lunch break. We are back at our apartment for a little rest before heading back out for the evening. The weather is really warm and really muggy. We wish we had brought shorts and flip flops instead of all the long sleeved shirts. We just happened to walk by the famous Maxim’s restaurant. 

 

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Tonight, we are going to check out the Arch de Triumph and wander around a little more. Tomorrow, Steve is off to Samur to see a military museum and I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. Maybe the Galleries Layfayette and the Marais district…

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Bonjour Y’all!

We made it! Sorry there wasn’t a post last night but between jet lag and walking for several hours after we arrived, I was worn out. Our little apartment is great, small but in a great location.

Yesterday afternoon we tried to get a feel for the neighborhood and thought we could walk to the Seine, but  we got lost. We went to the Eiffel Tower yesterday evening. Thank goodness Steve remembered our tour reservation. Apparently my blog will have to wait, Steve is ready to go, I’ll wait until he is asleep tonight to blog.

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