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March 2016 - USA and France

France | Paris | Louvre Museum | Artemis

Thursday, March 31, 2016

It was a rainy day today so decided it was perfect day to do the Louvre. Al and I are members so we only had a short line to enter. We took Connie and Steve to see Napolean III gorgeous apartments first. Then we visited the Denon Wing to view the Italian artists and the Mona Lisa of course. We had lunch then headed for the statues, Connie's favorite. We had a good four hours to explore.

Wednesday March 30, 2016

We spent the morning exploring Reims Old Town. Cathedral Notre Dame Reims has goregeous stainglass windows depicting Joan of Arc's life. The Bibliotheque has some unusual mosaics in the entry way and The Hotel de Ville was interesting. Otherwise we took great enjoyment in just wandering and marveling at the architecture. We arrived safely back in Paris late afternoon. The guys returned the car and Connie and I shopped for dinner. We had a great time on the road traveling France but it's so good to be home.

France | Alsace | Romagne | Meuse-Argonne WWI American Cemetery | Connie and Al

Tuesday March 29, 2016

We drove out of the Alps today and again the drive was quite beautiful. We drove through the Champagne area heading for Reims. We took a detour to visit Verdun battlefields and Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. Al and Connies Great Uncle Joseph Lammerding died there in WWI. We did find a gravesite but are unsure if this is him as they had him listed as Montana rather than Minnesota. We will have to investigate further. The man who helped us at the cemetary also told us where we could walk up into the woods in Romagne and walk the battlefields. We found some gun emplacements and trenches. Our hotel recommended a great restaurant nearby.

France | French Alps | Annecy |Palais de l'Isle

France | French Alps | Annecy |Medieval old town

France | French Alps | Annency | Lake Annecy

Monday March 28, 2016

We did a walking tour of Annecy along the lake front and through Old Town. It's much quieter in town today as most people are heading back home to work and school. The museums and Chateau were closed today as Easter Monday is a holiday. We were able to visit Basilique Visitation above the city and had great views of the surrounding mountains looking down on the lake. We had a wonderful lunch at La Bastille. Connie and I tried the Tartifflete (casserole of onion, mushroom, potato, bacon and lots of cheese) The guys had the Sausage Dion with onion sauce and au gratin potatoes.

Sunday March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! We arrived early at St. Donatien so we took a walk down by the river and through Old Town. Mass wasn't much like Easter at home as it was in French, unfamiliar hymns, and very few flowers. But we were together and the service was the same. We had a beautiful and sometimes quite dramatic drive through the Alps to Annecy. We walked into Old Town for dinner. Gorgeous with canals and bridges, lots of restaurants and old mansions. Lots of people in town as it's the end of French holiday week. Can't wait to explore further tomorrow. Cities at night are very special.

France | Loire Valley | Orleans | Place Martroi

Saturday March 26, 2016

Walked about Orleans today visiting Cathedrale Ste-Croix, Hotel Groslot, Place du Martroil and had a nice lunch at Au Bon Marche. We stopped at a Chocolate shop to buy some Easter eggs. We have European Time Change tonight so have decided to go to 930 mass at St. Donatien tomorrow as we have a 5+ hour drive to Annecy in the French Alps.

France | Loire Valley | Orleans | Restaurant Brin de Zinc

France | Loire Valley| Chateau Chambord | Steve, Connie and Sally

Friday March 25, 2016

Another day touring in Loire Valley. We left Tours and visited Le Clos Luce in Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life sketching, tinkering and dreaming up contraptions. The house was full of scale models of his inventions and some full size replicas of some. Then on to Chateau Chambord by far the largest, grandest, and most visited Chateau in the Loire Valley. Gorgeous! The double helix staircase and rooftop terraces were most spectacular. Unfortunately it was a cold windy day and being inside didn't help. The first floor rooms were most interesting as they were furnished. Our Orleans hotel was in a good location. Most have been right in the old town of the cities we've visited so it easy to take in the best sights. We walked to the center and enjoyed a great meal at Restaurant Brin de Zinc.

France | Loire Valley | Chateau Villandry | Looking down on one of the beautiful gardens

France | Chateau Chenonceau | view from a garden

France | Loire Valley| Chateau Chenonceau on River Cher

Thursday, March 24, 2016

We decided to visit a couple of chateaus today. We chose Chateau Chenonceau as it was referred to as the most unusual and elegant chateau in the valley. We were not disappointed. The grounds are gorgeous even without full bloom gardens. The interior has wonderful furnishings and tapestries, artwork. We then drove to Azay de Rideau for lunch and tried to visit the Troglodyte village but it was not scheduled to open for the season until Saturday so we wandered and got a feel for what they were about. They are similar to other cave dwellings we've experienced in our travels. The Chateau was being renovated so we moved on to visit Chateau Villandry and gardens before returning to Tours for the night. We had a lovely dinner at Restaurant Le Bouchon Tourangeau.

France | Loire Valley | Angers | Chateau Angers | gardens outside Chateau Angers wall

Wednesday March 23, 2016

We were up early to enjoy a walk around Nantes before heading for Angers where we toured the Chateau, gardens and Apocalypse Tapestries as well as old town. After lunch we continued exploring the Loire Valley heading for Tours. Our path took us through many lovely villages along the Loire River viewing several Chateaus. We also caught some glimpses of Troglodyte caves and houses. Many vineyards in the area but not the time of year for visits.

France | Brittany | Carnac | Fields full of prehistoric megaliths near Carnac | Al and Sally

France | Brittany | Lorient | German UBoat base | Museum La Base |submarine Flore

France | Normandy | Mont St Michel | abbey

Tuesday March 22, 2016

We drove back to Mont St Michel and spent the morning showing Connie and Steve around the walled city and abbey. We had a picnic and then drove on to Lorient another seaside town we visited in 2012. We visited the Museum La Base and toured the submarine Flores. We then drove to Carnac and visited the ancient Megalith site which they say pre-dates Stonehenge by 100 years. We rested our heads in Nantes the first of our Loire Valley cities.

France | Normandy |D-Day Landing Beaches | Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial

France | Normandy| Normandy American Cemetary

Monday March 21, 2016

We drove to Bayeau early after breakfast. We visited the Cathedral and then Al and I reacquainted ourselves with the town while Connie and Steve toured the Bayeux Tapestry Museum. We drove to Arromanaches to view the 360 Cinema and Mulberry Harbour. Then continued down stopping at various memorials and D-Day beaches. We walked the Normandy American Cemetary and visited Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial. Walking among the bomb craters and concrete gun emplacements can be quite disturbing. We also took time to visit the relatively new excellent Airborne Museum and Ste Mere Eglise where the paratrooper was caught in the church spire. We decided to skip Mont St. Michel and head straight to St. Malo for the night. We will return to visit it in the morning. We enjoyed our hotel inside the walled city. Al and I had stayed in the harbor back 2012 as we cruised the Atlantic heading for London. We had an excellent dinner at Restaurant Lion d'Or and then a lovely walk along the top of the ramparts beneath stars and moonlight.

Sunday March 20, 2016

We got on the road early after breakfast driving through Normandy to Caen. We went to Palm Sunday mass at St. Pierre where we were handed boxwood branches instead of palms to be blessed. After mass we went to the Caen Museum for Peace a second visit for Al and I. This is an excellent WWII museum which helped set the stage for our Beaches visit tomorrow. We had a lovely lunch at the museum restaurant and spent 4 hours in the museum with audioguides.

France | Normandy | Rouen | Connie, Steve, Al

Saturday March 19

We picked up our rental car early and headed for Rouen. This was a favorite city we visited last September on Artemis as we traveled up the Seine to Paris. Connie and Steve visited the excellent Joan of Arc Museum while Al and I reacquainted ourselves with Rouen. We met them after their tour and took them to lunch at our favorite cafe /restaurant Le Petit Bec. We enjoyed sharing the sights of Rouen with them before moving on to Honfleur another beautiful seaside village we visited last fall. We walked about Honfleur enjoying the old harbor and Ste Catherine Church. Heading out to Caen in the morning.

France | Paris | Montmartre | Basilique Sacre Coeur | Steve, Connie and Sally

France | Paris | Montmartre | Mussels and Pizza Steve, Connie and Sally

France | Paris | Ile de la Cite | Notre Dame Cathedral | Connie, Steve and Sally

March 15-18, 2016

Al's sister Connie and husband Steve arrived in Paris from Buffalo, Minnesota to spend 3 weeks with us exploring Paris and traveling in France. We started out their vacation with 4 days exploring Paris. Tuesday when they arrived we walked from Port de l'Arsenal-La Bastille where Artemis is moored to the Arc de Triumphe visiting the islands, Notre Dame, Jardin des Tuileries, Concorde, stopped at Petit Palais to view art and enjoy Cafe in the garden then walking the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe where Connie and Steve climbed 284 steps to the viewing platform. Deciding that was enough for the first day we introduced them to the Metro and had a swift ride back to Artemis.

France | Paris | Museum d'Orsay| Al, Sally and Steve

Wednesday we went to Museum D'Orsay, had a picnic in Jardin des Tuileries and then visited Museum Orangerie. Two great museums for view Impressionist paintings. We walked back to Bastille via Palais Royale, Les Halles and St. Eustache.

France | Paris | Montmartre | Sacre Coeur Steve, Connie and Sally

Thursday was another beautiful day so we took the Metro to Montmartre walking by Moulin Rouge and the Montmartre Cemetary. We visited Basilique Sacre Coeur, watched artist painting portraits and had lunch there in the square. We decided to walk back to Bastille via St. Martin Canal. Unfortunately the canal was dry due to the clean up project underway. Friday Connie and Steve visited Ste Chapelle and the Conciergerie (prison) and met them later at Notre Dame for a picnic lunch. We had a nice walk through the Latin Quarter to St. Germain des Pres, Luxembourg Gardens, Pantheon, St. Etienne and then a lovely cafe for coffee and dessert. We put on a lot of miles walking about Paris and will have another 5 days to explore when we get back from our France Road Trip. We pick up our car on Saturday and will visit Normandy, Britanny, Loire Valley, French Alps and Champagne district before returning to Paris March 30.

USA | Minnesota | Maple Lake | Grandchildren and spouse

USA | Minnesota | Maple Lake | Most of Al's mom Great Grand Children

March 10, 2016

We had a busy week celebrating Al's Mom Annette's life with family and friends. She was layed to rest in Maple Lake Cemetary on Thursday, March 3. Saturday we celebrated Al's 65th birthday. It was a beautiful day so we were able to grill some yummy steaks. We drove to Lake Forest with Christopher, Mary and kids on Sunday. British Airways rebooked our flight as a non-stop to Paris on Tuesday. We had a great flight and arrived in less than 8hrs. Our boat Artemis looked good but took a long time to warm up. We unpacked, napped, and did some grocery shopping. Today we went to the Louvre and enjoyed an excellent piano concert. Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner is an American pianist. We picked up a new sim card for our phone so we now have internet onboard again. We only got in 12,780 steps today but are confident we will be ready for Al's sister Connie and Steve's arrival next Monday in Paris.

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