Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘France

Hola! Dot here. Mom said I could write this post. It’s my first try so I hope it will be OK. Two years ago Mom and Dad came to Malaga to pick me up from my foster home and we drove a long way back to my forever home. I was eight months old and hadn’t ever been on such a long drive. I think it was five hours. But it was fine because they stopped a few times and let me have walks and bathroom breaks.

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I didn´t make a sound on the five-hour car ride to my new home. two years ago.

So when Mom and Dad decided to drive to Paris and take me along I was fine with that. It was fun. Even though it was a long drive, we stopped lots at cool places that had different writing on the signs. So now I know a little bit of French. We stayed at dog-friendly hotels along the way. I’m glad I was with mom and dad as I don’t like sleeping in strange places.

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Mom got excited when we passed signs showing we were going to places she has always wanted to visit. Dad and I think she gets excited about the strangest things.

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The countryside was pretty from what I could see from the back seat. Mom took loads of pictures. We passed castles and cows in the fields. She took the pictures through the car window so they aren’t that great.

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French Charolais cattle in the fields

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Driving by a castle in the distance

 

When we got to Sèvres, near Paris we stopped at my friend Havane’s place. I was so glad to see her again and we had tons of fun playing together and running in the forest.

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Dot and her friend Havane.

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Dot playing ball in the forest.

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Havane protecting her ball from Dot.

I had a comfy bed to sleep on and I brought my teddy so I was happy.

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Dot feeling at home in France.

I didn’t get to go into Paris, which is OK as I don’t like busy cities with traffic and lots of people. I stayed home with Havane. But mom said they saw dogs there. One even stood on his dad’s shoulder while he played his guitar for money. I hope they made enough money for dog food.

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Busker in Paris with his dog.

Here are a couple of videos of me and Havane at her home and in the forest. Watch how I always get the ball.

 

Au revoir mes amis!

Dot the dog.

Since we have been following the excellent British-American-Franco-Canadian television series, Versailles, set during the construction of Versailles Palace during the reign of notoriously flamboyant Louis XIV, we were delighted to actually visit this French Historic Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace oozes opulence and is breathtaking.

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I made it to the Palace of Versailles!

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A huge line up to get in. Booking online saved us a long wait.

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Originally his father’s hunting lodge, the young King Louis transformed it, between1661 and 1710, to become this extravagant palace surrounded by stylized French and English gardens. Moving from Paris, he made it the official Royal residence and centre of his government. Every detail of its construction was intended to glorify the king.

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The gilded gates to the palace. Note the Sun King motifs.

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Louis chose the sun as his emblem and symbol of power, and is known as the Sun King.

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King Louis XVI in front of his palace.

The interior of the palace is amazing, filled with art, gold and fine furniture. Louis was a patron of the arts and filled his home with valuable pieces. I love how the ceilings were painted in heavenly scenes.DSCN1854

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The Royal Chapel

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The King’s infamous bedchamber

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The Queen’s staircase

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Marble statues of the king at various stages of his life are displayed throughout.

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An older King Louis XIV. Reigning for 72 years, from 1643 to 1715, he outlived his son and grandson.

The most amazing room is the famous Hall of Mirrors, created by King Louis himself and used to entertain guests and show off his wealth and success. This was also the room where the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919, ending the First World War. In spite of the many tourists, jostling to get the perfect photo, it was still exciting to be there.

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The Hall of Mirrors

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Standing in the Hall of Mirrors

Time did not permit us to wander around the extensive gardens and exquisite fountains. But they can be viewed from many rooms in the palace, especially from the Hall of Mirrors.

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The fabulous gardens viewed from the Hall of Mirrors

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A glimpse of the spectacular gardens

The only room not packed with other tourists was the Gallery of Battles which traces the military history of France from the reign of Clovis I to Napoleon. Dozens of paintings depict key battles, and the hall contains more than 80 busts of celebrated military leaders. Here I found a painting of a childhood hero, Joan of Arc or rather, Jeanne d’Arc

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Jeanne d’Arc in the Gallery of Battles

From the natural simplicity of Monet’s home in Giverny to the splendour of the Palace of Versailles, we had a glimpse of two very different French lifestyles and a piece of history I have been reading about all my life.

In case you are interested, here is the trailer of the final series of Versailles with King Louis XIV brilliantly portrayed by George Blagden.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p068mfqk

 

 

 

 

When our friends inquired what I wanted to see while visiting them in France, I asked if Giverny, the home of Claude Monet, was near. They said it was only one hour away and would be happy to take us there. I am so glad we went to this magical place. It felt like I had stepped into a Monet painting.

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Monet’s garden

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The village of Giverny is storybook delightful and I can see why Monet chose it as a place to live, paint, garden and raise his large blended family.

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The village of Giverny

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The gardens are simply breathtaking. This was Monet´s happy place and it is evident he was inspired by the amazing array of shapes and colours. I gazed mesmerized at the well-known and oft-painted lily pond.

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And I stood on the same bridge I have long admired in his painting. Not only was this visit a dream come true, it felt like a living dream!

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

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“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ” – Claude Monet

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A profusion of colours

His charming house is incredibly comfortable with views of the gardens from every room. As I entered, I half expected Monet to be there welcoming me as he did many guests in the past. His art and that of his contemporaries adorn the walls of all the rooms as it did when he lived there. His spirit permeates the rooms.

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Monet’s house in Giverny

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My favourite room was the sunny, cheerful kitchen. I imagined Claude, Anne and their eight children laughing and chatting as they shared meals.

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We visited the Impressionist Art Gallery on site and had a lovely meal overlooking part of the garden. I stopped at a small shop in Giverny and bought the perfect, handmade French hat to remember this auspicious visit.

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Water Lily Pond with Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet

I could have stayed all day, but alas it had to end. This is now my happy place which I will return to in my mind many times. Thank you, Alain and Cathy, for taking me here!

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Friends in the garden

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

The photographs by Darlene Foster, Paul Foster and Cathy Marsen 

We are back from our wonderful time in France. It was a driving holiday and Dot came along. She proved to be an excellent little traveller and was happy to see her Spaniel friend in France. The French countryside was lovely and I finally got to see Paris! It was everything I dreamt of and more. So much history, culture and great food. Our friends were the perfect hosts and tour guides. They made sure we saw everything possible in the time we had. More dreams came true for me. Here are just a few of our special memories.

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Our first view of the Eiffel Tower. Loved that families picnicked on the lawns.

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Even someone having a nap by the tower.

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The impressive Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Élysées

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The Famous Opera House (no phantom in sight)

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The Seine and one of the many bridges to Île de la Cité

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The Louvre, Palace Royal

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The Louvre Pyramid

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Musician at the Louvre

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The Seine with Notre Dame Cathedral in the background

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Notre Dame Cathedral (no hunchback either)

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Napolean in front of the Miltary Museum

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The Dôme des Invalides which houses the tomb of Napolean

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Place des Vosges, a palace built by Henri IV in 1605, now a trendy shopping area with cafes and art galleries

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Victor Hugo resided at Place de Vosges, a fashionable square to live in during the 17th and 18th centuries.

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Shakespeare and Company, a well-known bookstore featured in a few movies, at Kilometer Zero, the point at which all French roads begin.

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Of course, I bought a book!

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Place Colette, a typical Paris street scene

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Many wonderful cafes and restaurants. I think I found the hunchback!

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Liberty, Equality, Fraternity on all the government buildings.

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The other Statue of Liberty

There was so much more, like the Musée d’Orsay, the Ceramics Museum, Monet’s house and garden and the Palace of Versailles. But they will have to wait for another post or two!

“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime.” 
― Victor Hugo

 

 

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Cicadas chirping in the trees, doves calling out to each other, a fluffy grey cat named Cerise sprawling on the pathway, a colourful bougainvillaea in one corner, a potted palm in another, the scent of herbs wafting from the herb garden and a gingerbread house for a tool shed. I lean back in the most comfortable S-shaped chaise lounge and view a huge pine tree soaring to the sky, pine cones glistening on top like Christmas ornaments. Where am I? Lounging in a delightful garden beside a glimmering crystal clear pool in sunny Provence, France. I reach over and have a sip of Rosé and nibble on brie, apples and a fresh baguette. Maybe I am in heaven!

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It is a girlfriend get-away and we eat, nap, read, eat some more and chat in the most delightful setting. We wake up to the sound of church bells and have breakfast on the balcony with a gorgeous view of the village church. We have tea and handmade nougat before bed watching the lights come on in the church belfry. I do some writing.

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This is what we woke up to every morning

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Our evening view, sigh

We drive the back roads through a canopy of trees and visit a market in Cavaillon where we buy Herbs de Provence and table linen and enjoy a lovely lunch at Cafe Jardin.

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DSCN5078I go for a relaxing evening stroll around the village of Jonquerettes where we are staying. 

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Scenes from the medieval village

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A typical village street

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The village of Jonquerettes

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A haunted house I am sure!

On another day we drive past fields of sunflowers and vineyards, stop at a village boulangerie to buy fresh baguettes and amazing French pastries and attend a cooking class.

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A field of dreams!

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One of many Boulangeries we can´t pass by

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What to choose??

I have a fabulous and relaxing five days in Provence.

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A perfect setting to inspire some writing

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It may not be heaven but it is close!! I will be back.

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Eyguieres, Provence, one of the many charming villages we passed through.

We stayed at a wonderful holiday rental owned by the charming and accommodating Robert and Dominique Boyer. Check it out here.

Next post – more about the cooking class I attended.

The first stop on our cruise was Marseilles, France. This was my very first visit to France! Another dream come true. We took a bus to Aix-en Provence as we had heard so many wonderful things about this charming place, the home of Cezanne. We were not disappointed. The only problem was that we wanted more time to explore. What we did see we loved, and promised to return.

 

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Mont Sainte-Victoire, Cezanne´s favourite subject to paint, overlooks the city.

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The bakeries and pastry shops are mouth watering.

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A pleasant walk took us through the historic town centre with interesting architecture and stately houses

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At the town hall we witnessed a wedding about to take place.

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Carvings grace the outside of the impressive twelfth century St. Saviour´s Cathedral  built on the site of a former Roman forum

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Inside the dome of the cathedral

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Original frescos from the 12th century discovered in the cathedral

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Not surprising that we stumbled upon an artists´market

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Aix-en-Provence is famous for its many gorgeous fountains

Aix has a long and interesting history and has been an artistic centre and seat of learning since the twelfth century. We enjoyed a café au lait at one of the many outdoor cafés that Paul Cezanne, Emile Zola or Ernest Hemingway may well have frequented. My first visit to France was a favourable one and I can´t help but wonder why it took me so long to get there.

In light of recent events, I dedicate this post to the good citizens of France who are in my heart and in my prayers.


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