Ah, Paris!

The last leg of our journey took us to Paris for four days. We returned our rental car in St Malo and boarded the high-speed TGV train which can travel up to 200 miles per hour.

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Lorette used the time to catch up on her journal.

Sweetpea checks for spelling

Sweetpea checks for spelling

The trouble with posting travel photos on Facebook for clever friends to see is that you get reposts like this:

Thanks, Kilgore!

Thanks, Kilgore!

Our hotel in Paris was the Luxembourg Parc, you guessed it, right across the street from Luxembourg Park.

Entrance

Entrance

The library

The library

And most important of all, a well-stocked bar with a friendly bartender

And most important of all, a well-stocked bar with a friendly bartender

There were quite a few neighborhood restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. Cuisine de Philippe was right across the alley.

View from our room

View from our room

Most of the rain during our trip occurred while we were on the train. Looks like some other folks weren’t so lucky.

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One of my favorite things about Paris is just taking time to get lost while walking around. Here are some random street scenes…

The Seine looking toward the Ile de la Cite

The Seine looking toward Ile de la Cite

Bookseller stalls

Bookseller stalls along the Seine

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I think it is possible to buy anything in Paris. A couple of shop windows…

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The Orsay Museum used to be a railroad station.

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Guards at the National Assembly

Guards at the National Assembly

Locks on the Pont des Arts

Locks on the Pont des Arts

Closeup

Closeup

OK, time to play tourist. Here we are at the Arc de Triomphe, built by Napoleon to commemorate the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.

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165 feet high, 130 feet wide

165 feet high, 130 feet wide

French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Underneath the Arch, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

284 steps to the observation deck up top

284 steps to the observation deck up top

Looking down the Champs Elysees

Looking down the Champs Elysees

Looking toward Sacre Coeur which we will visit later

Looking toward Sacre Coeur which we will visit later

And who could resist taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe?

And who could resist taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe?

A closer view of the Eiffel Tower from underneath.

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On to the Louvre.

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Remember that Facebook friend with Photoshop and too much time on his hands?

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The Louvre is probably the most famous museum in the world and, as such, it gets thousands of visitors every day. The day we were there was no exception.

Winged Victory

Winged Victory

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

Tired of the crowds, we asked this guy for some restaurant tips.

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Please, please, please take me with you!

So many bistros, so little time.

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Ah, Beef Bourguignon and a  a nice little Burgundy wine.

Ah, Beef Bourguignon and a a nice little Burgundy wine.

Literally right across the street from our hotel was the Luxembourg Museum. Turns out the current exhibition was titled: Paul Durand-Ruel, The Impressionist Gamble- Manet, Monet Renoir…. Durand-Rule was a Parisian art dealer who was one of the first to embrace the Impressionist Movement in the late 1800s. This exhibition was gathered from museums around the world and displayed works that had passed through Durand-Ruel’s gallery. The crowds were all at the Louvre and the Orsay. This spectacular collection we had virtually all to ourselves.

Luxembourg Museum

Luxembourg Museum

Renoir

Renoir

Monet

Monet

Degas

Degas

Right behind the museum is Luxembourg Park, a wonderful public space and a nice place to feel more like a local.

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Tai chi in the park

Tai chi in the park

The Medici Fountain was built in 1630 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France to remind her of her native Florence

The Medici Fountain was built in 1630 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France to remind her of her native Florence

On the way out to explore one day we stumbled upon this little hole-in-the wall place which had eight tables fit into a space no larger than our kitchen. I ordered blood sausage and apparently chose the wrong wine to go with it. The waitress tactfully suggested a more suitable pairing. That’s how memories are made!

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We had a four-day Metro pass and got pretty good at finding our way around Paris.

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Construction of Notre-Dame Cathedral began in 1163 and was among the first buildings in the world to use flying buttress (arched exterior supports) none of which are shown in this photo.

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Charlemagne united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

Statue of Charlemagne who united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

Note what is sitting on her hat

Note what is sitting on her hat

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A visit to Sacré-Cœur Basilica located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.

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A Metro ticket also works for the funicular which saves walking up 300 steps.

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What’s a Basilica without a few gargoyles to ward off the evil spirits?

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And to end this rather lengthy post, a question. Why would someone leave their bra and slip beside a tree?

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Cancale and Mont St-Michel

Our third stop in Normandy (actually a little over the line into Brittany) was the Château Richeux, a 1920s villa with eleven guest rooms outside of Cancale. The chateau is very nice but the real reason for staying here was to eat at its Michelin-stared restaurant, le Coquillage. Here are some photos of the Château and grounds.

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That little balcony was part of our room

That little balcony was part of our room

A room with a balcony with a view of the sea

A room with a balcony with a view of the sea

The grounds

More view

Some folks enjoying an afternoon horseback ride

Some folks enjoying an afternoon horseback ride

Not too late for some fall blooms

Not too late for some fall blooms

And even a swing for kids

And even a swing for kids

The sock pays tribute to the town of Cancale in the distance

The sock pays tribute to the town of Cancale across the bay

And, using the camera's zoom feature, Mont St-Michel floats in the distance

And, using the camera’s zoom feature, Mont St-Michel floats in the distance

The sun is setting. Must be time to get ready for dinner!

The sun is setting. Must be time to get ready for dinner!

I made reservations for dinner our first night at the same time I made our room reservations months before. This was probably the fanciest meal we had during the entire trip, including Paris. I understand to be awarded a Michelin star, everything has to click: the food, the wine, the service, and the overall ambiance of the place. In the case of Restaurant le Coquillage, it all came together perfectly. The photos really don’t do the meal justice but it’s fun seeing them again.

Cancale is called the oyster capital of Brittany so what better way to start a meal?

Cancale is called the oyster capital of Brittany so what better way to start a meal?

And, of course, shrimp

And, of course, shrimp

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Lots of courses with small portions

Lots of courses with small portions

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Note the seafood theme here?

Note the seafood theme here?

I can't even remember what this was

I can’t even remember what this was

Mussels

Mussels

And finally, a sampling of some local cheeses

And finally, a sampling of some local cheeses

Another local specialty, Calvados, in the library after dinner. Pretty damn civilized!

Another local specialty, Calvados, in the library after dinner. Pretty damn civilized!

We could see Mont St-Michel across the bay from our window so the next day we set out to become two of the millions of other tourists who visit the site annually. Legend has it that the Archangel Michael appeared in 709 to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, inspiring him to build an oratory on what was then called Mont Tombe. The original church was completed in 1144 but construction continued over the next seven centuries.

Approaching Mont St-Michel on the new bridge

Approaching Mont St-Michel on the new bridge

Once on the island, there is only one main street which has all the hotels, restaurants, trinket shops, and tourists.

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But one can always find some quiet spots.

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We took a detour through one of the ‘museums’ that provided a glimpse into the life of people that lived here centuries ago.

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This is where Tiphaine, a famous astrologer hung out.

This is where Tiphaine, a famous astrologer hung out.

Evidently, Tiphaine's husband was worried that she was engaged in more than astrology

Evidently, Tiphaine’s husband was worried that she was engaged in more than astrology

The buildings and history of the place combine to provide some great photo opportunities. Here are some random shots as we wandered about.

A cottage with a view

A cottage with a view

The mudflats at low tide. Tides here can rise 50 feet, the largest in Europe.

The mudflats at low tide. Tides here can rise 50 feet, the largest in Europe.

Perch with a view

Perch with a view

As we keep climbing, a view back toward the village

As we keep climbing, a view back toward the village

The new bridge will replace the 100 year old causeway and will restore natural habitat in the bay

The new bridge will replace the 100 year old causeway which will be removed, restoring tidal flows and natural habitat in the bay

There's our chateau way over there in the mist!

There’s our chateau way over there in the mist!

The Abby Garden

The Abby Garden

The view when the monks weren't gardening

The view when the monks weren’t gardening

The Abbey Church built from 1020-1135

The Abbey Church built from 1020-1135

Inside, a little renovation work going on

Inside, a little renovation work going on

These huge columns were required to support the weight of all that stone on top

These huge columns were required to support the weight of all that stone on top

If you were wondering how all that stone and other supplies were moved uphill during the middle ages, here’s the answer.

A long ramp down to the bottom

A long ramp down to the bottom with a sled…

Turned by a giant wheel in which as many as 10 men ran like gerbils

…turned by a giant wheel in which men ran like gerbils

And a couple of parting interior photos…

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Notice how thick the walls are

Notice how thick the walls are

 

The Knights' Hall was originally a scriptorium for copying manuscripts. It was the only heated room on the Mont

The Knights’ Hall was originally a scriptorium for copying manuscripts. It was the only heated room on the Mont

This look means ‘we have toured enough and it is time to go’.

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To me, one of the nice things about traveling is discovering spots that aren’t tourist destinations. Mont St-Michel is certainly a can’t-miss stop but after spending the morning with the crowds, we decided to just drive around the countryside. Here are some photos from our route that took us on a little district road that followed the coast around the Cancale peninsula.

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My fantasy is to live in this house... or at least be invited to spend a week.

My fantasy is to live in this house… or at least be invited to spend a week.

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And so ends our last day in Normandy and Brittany before leaving tomorrow for Paris.

Sunset from the bathroom window

Sunset from the bathroom window

 

 

Bayeux 2.0

Before moving on to our next base, we spent a day in Bayeux, home to the Bayeux Tapestry and the Bayeux Cathedral. Bayeux is only six miles from the D-Day beaches and was liberated by the British on D-plus 1, June 7, 1944. Unlike a number of other towns in Normandy, it was virtually untouched by allied bombing so many of the historical buildings remain.

The most famous tourist attraction in Bayeux is the Bayeux Tapestry.

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The tapestry is thought to have been commissioned by William the Conqueror’s brother, Bishop Odo,  for the Bayeux Cathedral’s dedication in 1077. It depicts events leading up to the Norman conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, during the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The tapestry is an embroidered cloth 20 inches wide and and 230 feet long. Photos weren’t allowed so here are a couple of scenes snagged from the Internet.

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Bayeux_Tapestry

Next stop was the Cathedral where the tapestry originally hung. Since most people couldn’t read in 1077, it was a way of telling the story of the Norman defeat of the English to the common folk. For small town Bayeux, the cathedral is as large as Notre Dame in Paris.

View from the back

View from the back

 

The front door

The front door

And a look inside

And a look inside

Since Bayeux was part of the British sector during the Normandy invasion, there is still a strong bond between the French and the British (despite that little episode with William the Conqueror).

One of many plaques in the cathedral

One of many plaques in the cathedral

After a while one cathedral starts looking like any other. We have started calling them ABC’s, another bloody cathedral. However this one had some unique features. Throughout the interior were large photos of conflict in various parts of the world. I couldn’t find an explanation but I believe that they were placed there to bring attention to the futility of war and the hope that mankind may someday learn to live in peace. Here are a couple of examples.

Upper left

Upper left

Is that a leg sticking out of the rubble?

Is that a leg sticking out of the rubble?

It was a beautiful fall day so we found a little creekside cafe for lunch.

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Who knew that the woman with the menu was a knitter, too!

Who knew that the woman with the menu was a knitter, too!

And one food photo for the post. Galettes are made with buckwheat and have savory fillings as opposed to crepes which tend to be sweet.

A galette, specialty of the area

A galette, specialty of the area

Next stop: Cancale and Mont Saint Michel

Bayeux and the D-Day Beaches

The second leg of our trip took us to a country manor, about ten minutes west of Bayeux and five miles south of Omaha Beach. Since Lorette’s dad was part of the allied invasion on June 6, 1944, we wanted to focus on the history of the area and gain an appreciation of the sacrifices that were made by so many people 70 years ago. Our home for the next four nights was Manor du Quesnay, a fortified estate dating back to the fifteenth century, and its charming hosts, Jacques and Alix.

Manoir du Quesnay

Manoir du Quesnay

During WW II the property was in disrepair so it was of little interest to the German officers and only a few German troops were billeted here. Because of this, the buildings weren’t bombed by the allies. Here are a few photos from around the grounds:

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And the inside was just as lovely.

The fireplace in our room

The fireplace in our room

The pastoral view from our window

The pastoral view from our window

A cozy place to knit

A cozy place to knit

The manor is out in the country so there aren’t any restaurants within walking distance. Jacques, however, had some good suggestions and sent us off for our first night to a nice little seafood place down the road in Port-en-Bessin.

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The nautical version of "lipstick on a pig"

The nautical version of “lipstick on a pig”

OK, these oysters are every bit as good as we get in the Pacific Northwest

OK, these oysters are every bit as good as we get in the Pacific Northwest

And scallops, oh my!

And scallops, oh my!

One of the best things we did was to hire a bilingual guide to take us around to the various sites and monuments. Here’s a map of the area.

Normandy Map

Nichole is a local historian who really knew the area and was an expert on the events of World War II. Our first stop was the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

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The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.

The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.

Three Medal of Honor recipients are buried here including General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Three Medal of Honor recipients are buried here including General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

The Wall of the Missing has 1,557 names of soldiers whose remains were never recovered.

The Wall of the Missing has 1,557 names of soldiers whose remains were never recovered.

Here’s Nichole on the bluff above Omaha Beach at a plaque showing the landing beaches on D-Day.

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Utah Beach where Lorette's dad landed

Utah Beach where Lorette’s dad landed

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

Next stop was some of the German gun batteries that were positioned on the bluffs above the beaches.

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A command and controll bunker that directed fire along the beaches and out to sea

A command and controll bunker that directed fire along the beaches and out to sea

Over 1,500 tons of bombs were dropped here as evidenced by the craters

Over 1,500 tons of bombs were dropped here as evidenced by the craters

Pointe du Hoc where US Army Rangers scaled these cliffs to disable a German gun battery.

Pointe du Hoc where US Army Rangers scaled these cliffs to disable a German gun battery.

Utah Beach. These markers are used to trace Allied progress during the invasion. This is Km 00 on the beach.

Utah Beach. These markers are used to trace Allied progress during the invasion. This is Km 00 on the beach.

Lorette's dad was in the 90th Infantry Division which landed at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944

Lorette’s dad was in the 90th Infantry Division which landed at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944

Lorette’s dad was an MP (who was awarded a Silver Star) so we couldn’t resist this photo at a restaurant near Utah Beach.

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Who knew that MPs were knitters?

Away from the actual landing beaches, the area is full of history and monuments to people and events of 1944. At this small church in Angoville-au-Plain, two Army medics set up an aid station to treat both American and German wounded while the battle raged around them.

Church at Angoville-au-Plain, a few miles inland from Utah Beach

Church at Angoville-au-Plain, a few miles inland from Utah Beach

Window honoring medics, Kenneth Moore and Robert Wright

Window honoring medics, Kenneth Moore and Robert Wright

Another window honoring American paratroops

Another window honoring American paratroops

Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles”, is one of the best-known companies in the United States Army. Their experiences in World War II are the subject of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers based on the book of the same name by historian Stephen Ambrose.

Memorial marking the location where Easy Company disabled a battery of four German heavy guns on D-Day that threatened forces coming inland from Utah Beach

Memorial marking the location where Easy Company disabled a battery of four German heavy guns on D-Day that threatened forces coming inland from Utah Beach

Here are a couple of other monuments we visited.

A memorial to crew members of the Ninth Air Force lost in combat operations

A memorial to crew members of the Ninth Air Force lost in combat operations

Photos make a lasting impression

Photos make a lasting impression

In Gourbesville we found a memorial to Pvt James R Hattrick (who was from Charlotte, my home town). An older monument had existed since the war but no one could remember exactly why it was dedicated to Pvt Hattrick. Some research has revealed the most likely scenario. Hattrick parachuted into Gourbesville with other members of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment on June 6, 1944. There was a German garrison in Gourbesville and when Hattrick started shooting at the Germans, their commander assumed it was a local Frenchman. He summoned the mayor and told him that if the sniping didn’t stop, he would have the mayor executed. About that time Hattrick shot and killed the commander. Unfortunately, his position was identified by the German troops and Hattrick was killed. The mayor was off the hook, however, and it is surmised that he had the original plaque erected as a token of his gratitude.

The original plaque

The original plaque

Our guide reading about the Battle of Goubersville

Our guide reading about the Battle of Goubersville

A newer plaque commemorating the 82nd Airborne and the 90th Infantry Division

A newer plaque commemorating the 82nd Airborne and the 90th Infantry Division

Ste-Mere Eglise was the first town to be liberated by the Americans although things did not begin well. Paratroopers from the 82nd were dropped accidentally when pilots mistakenly took a house fire near the town square as a signal for the drop zone. At the time, local citizens and the German garrison were engaged in putting out the fire so the descending paratroopers were easy targets for the Germans. Private John Steel’s parachute became entangled in the church steeple where he dangled for sever hours before being taken prisoner.

The church

The church

To commemorate the event, the town still keeps an effigy of John Steel on the steeple

To commemorate the event, the town still keeps an effigy of John Steel on the steeple

And inside, a tribute to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the 82nd Airborne Division

And inside, a tribute to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the 82nd Airborne Division

Our last stop for the day was the German Military Cemetery, resting place for 21,000 German soldiers.

Two graves per marker and stark, basalt crosses in groups of five scattered about

Two graves per marker and stark, basalt crosses in groups of five scattered about

The mound in the center covers the remains of 207 unknowns.

The mound in the center covers the remains of 207 unknowns.

All in all, a very moving day….

 

 

Honfleur, France

Our second trip to France (the last one in 2001) and this time to the Normandy region with four days in Paris at the end. I’ll break the photos into four posts, each one titled with our base of operations for that portion of the trip: Honfleur, Bayeux, Cancale, and Paris. The map shows the location of each with the exception of Cancale, which is between Mont Saint Michel and Saint Malo.

France Map

October 11: We take off from SeaTac on a direct Delta flight to Paris. Arrive just in time for sunrise over the city.

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After renting a car at Charles de Gaulle and spending some time trying to get the GPS to speak English, we head northwest to Honfleur, at the junction of the Seine and the English Channel. Honfleur has been used as a port for at least 1,000 years and was the departure point for Samuel de Champlain in 1608 when he discovered the St Lawrence River and founded Quebec City.

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La Petite Folie, a B&B in a building from the 1830’s, was our home for three nights.

La Petite Folie on Rue Haute

La Petite Folie on Rue Haute

Spiral stairs up three floors

Spiral stairs up three floors

A great place to begin the day

A great place to begin the day

The salon

The salon

Out exploring, we drove over to Deauville, a prestigious seaside resort, home to an annual American film festival, horse races, a large casino, and a lot of very expensive summer homes. Evidently the famous people cleared out before we arrived in mid-October.

The boardwalk and the beach virtually all to ourselves

The boardwalk and the beach virtually all to ourselves

Promenade des Planches, where beach closet are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville

Promenade des Planches, where beach closets are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville

All that promenading sure works up an appetite. Luckily, Le Ciro’s was right on the boardwalk and had a table available.

A table with a view, please

A table with a view, please

And since one reason to go to France is for the food, and this area is known for its seafood, what better place to start?

Lorette thinks we have come to the right place

Lorette thinks we have come to the right place

Zombie shrimp helping me to finish my Bouillabaisse

Zombie shrimp helping me finish my Bouillabaisse

After a meal like that, we couldn’t imagine doing a repeat for dinner so we stopped by the local equivalent of Costco and stocked up on supplies for a ‘light’ dinner in the salon back at the B&B.20141013-IMG_3981 20141013-IMG_3984

Honfleur is an ideal place to walk off some of those calories. Here are some photos from a stroll around town….

The channel leading to the port

The channel leading to the port

The old port (Vieux Bassin)

The old port (Vieux Bassin)

La Lieutenance, the one surviving gatehouse from the Hundreds' Years (14th century)

La Lieutenance, the one surviving gatehouses from the Hundreds’ Years War (14th century) to protect the harbor

St Catherine's Church, built of wood by boat-builders in 1466

St Catherine’s Church, built of wood by boat-builders in 1466

Honfleur was spared significant bombing during WW II so there are many examples of half-timber buildings

Honfleur was spared significant bombing during WW II so there are many examples of half-timber buildings

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Despite the name, we never ate here

Despite the name, we never ate here

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After walking around town on cobblestones, it was nice to discover the promenade along the Seine leading to the English Channel and Honfleur’s beach.

Looking back toward town

Looking back toward town

In the distance: the Normandy Bridge, one of the world's largest cable-stayed bridges, built to withstand winds up to 160 MPH

In the distance: the Normandy Bridge, one of the world’s largest cable-stayed bridges, built to withstand winds up to 160 MPH

A ship leaving port

A ship leaving port

At the end of the promenade: the beach

At the end of the promenade: the beach

France is a very dog-friendly place…

Hygienic canines welcome

Hygienic canines welcome

… but evidently it is not appreciated when dogs poop by your front door.

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OK, last night in Honfleur and we walked to what turned out to be one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bréard.

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I can’t remember the names of all these dishes but this meal will give you an idea of why I enjoy French food so much.

Amuse-bouche

Amuse-bouche

I think this was another amuse-bouche!

I think this was another amuse-bouche!

This soup was the entrée, or what in France is called an appetizer or starter

This soup was the entrée, or what in France is called an appetizer or starter

Pork for the main course or le plat principal

Pork for the main course or le plat principal

Some Normandy cheeses along with a Calvados

Some Normandy cheeses along with a Calvados

And a soufflé for dessert

And a soufflé for dessert

After that wonderful meal, it’s back to La Petite Folie for a good night’s sleep before driving to our next stop.

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A Little Brother/Sister Bonding

My sister, Ena, came out last week for our (almost) annual visit. Since she doesn’t drop by that often, we try to pack as much into the week as possible. Here are some photos from the week that was.

Day 1 (Sunday), we drove down to the Olympia Farmers Market and stopped by a little Indian restaurant for lunch.

Curry Corner in Lacy

Curry Corner in Lacy

No photos of the farmer market but we did load up on seafood for dinner.

Oysters for an appetizer

Oysters for an appetizer

Pasta and clam sauce for the main course

Pasta and clam sauce for the main course

Day 2 was a drive down to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, just 10 miles from home.

About a five mile walk from the parking lot to the end of the boardwalk and back

About a five mile walk from the parking lot to the end of the boardwalk and back

A family selfie

A family selfie

The next day Lewey wanted to take Ena to one of his favorite walking trails.

Chambers Bay Golf Course, home to the 2015 US Open next June

Chambers Bay Golf Course, home to the 2015 US Open next June

Day 4: Gig Harbor and a cruise around Puget Sound.

Lunch at the Green Turtle

Lunch at the Green Turtle

Seafood with a Thai peanut sauce

Seafood with a Thai peanut sauce

Gig Harbor with Mt Rainier in the distance

Gig Harbor with Mt Rainier in the distance

Part of the Gig Harbor fishing fleet

Part of the Gig Harbor fishing fleet

Leaving the harbor

Leaving the harbor

A nice day to be out on the water

A nice day to be out on the water

Sailing toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Sailing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges

Nice hat!

Nice hat!

Over on the Tacoma side, the waterfront community of Salmon Beach

Over on the Tacoma side, the waterfront community of Salmon Beach

Tacoma with Mt Rainier as a backdrop

Tacoma with Mt Rainier as a backdrop

Having seen Mt Rainier from the water, Thursday we drove up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area to get a closer look.

The mountain in winter

Crystal mountain in winter

A gondola ride to the top

A gondola ride to the top

Ena by John

Ena by John

 

John by Ena

John by Ena

Lorette was off on Friday so we had to decide what to do with the one day left of Ena’s visit. The Washington State Fair or Mt St Helens? Mt St Helen’s won.

Of all the visits we have made to the mountain, this was the best weather

Of all the visits we have made to the mountain, this was the best weather

At the end of the movie, the curtains open and this is the view

At the end of the movie in the visitors center, the curtains open and this is the view

Ena and Lorette behind one of the millions of trees that were blown down during the eruption in 1980

Ena and Lorette behind one of the millions of trees that were blown down during the eruption in 1980

Well, that’s all of the people photos. These last few are some scenes of the mountain from Johnson Ridge.

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The picture on top shows the mountain before the eruption

The picture on top shows the mountain before the eruption

All of the downed trees face away from the blast

All of the downed trees face away from the blast

A closeup of the crater

A closeup of the crater

 

 

Seabrook, Washington

We finally got the schedules of six adults, four children and three dogs coordinated to plan a week together on the Washington coast. Here’s the place we landed:

Seabrook

Seabrook is a planned community, only about ten years old. The houses are based on architectural styles found in seaside towns around the country.20140819-IMG_6865

Ocean Song was our cottage for the week.20140817-IMG_6814

A shot from the front porch around sunset as the fog begins to roll in.20140816-IMG_3791

And another photo of some found buoys on the carriage house wall.20140817-IMG_3793

A very dog-friendly place.

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Lewey, checking out the neighborhood, finds a hiding place in an old growth stump.

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The stairs down to the beach.

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Where the sea meets the land.

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Lewey’s happy place.

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Jennifer, Lewey, Forest, and Pearl.

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George and I using Google Maps to navigate through the fog.

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Are we lost?

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The hot tub came in handy after long walks on the beach.

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Sam working on a puzzle.

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Lewey helping with the puzzle.

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Dave and Griffin: like father, like son.

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Bubble guns were a big hit.

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Griffin.

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Penelope

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George, the grill master.

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No trip is complete without a couple of games of Mexican Train.

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A trip to the local seafood store yielded a few crabs for dinner.

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And the award for the slowest crab eater goes to…

Dave

Dave

An interesting phenomena was occurring while we were there. Thousands, maybe millions, of these small jellyfish-like creatures called Velella Velella were washing up on the shore.

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Not to be left out, some crabs decided to join the party.

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A side trip to the local museum to check out tsunami debris.

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And another day trip up to the Olympic National Park.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge

This is the rain gauge by the lodge in the previous photo. Last year’s total rainfall was 8 feet, 6 inches. the record: 15 feet.

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Griffin and Penelope decide to take a plunge in the lake while Alicia keeps a watchful eye.

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Nearby stands the world’s largest Sitka Spruce.

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58 feet 11 inches in circumference, 191 feet tall, and estimated to be about 1,000 years old.

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Well, that about wraps it up for the week…

Glad everybody had a good time. Thanks for not stepping on me while you were here.

Glad everybody had a good time. Thanks for not stepping on me while you were here.

 

Niagara Falls

Boy, are these photos late! We’ve been back from Canada for four weeks and I’m just getting around to posting some photos. The trip started off with a flight to Toronto and a visit with old friends and former neighbors from Texas, Henry and Tina. Since we had only one full day to sightsee, Henry and Tina gave us two choices: whiz around Toronto or take a drive over to Niagara Falls. We picked the latter.

Here’s a view of the falls on the American side along with the bridge connecting the US and Canada.

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And the obligatory photo of tourists with the falls in the background.

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And here is the much more impressive Canadian side. If only those tourist would get out of the way.

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A close-up of the Maid of the Mist. We decided to not find out if our cameras were waterproof.

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Instead, we opted to take a stroll through the Great Falls Portal, a tunnel bored through bedrock that goes behind the falls.

Henry in the tunnel, 150 feet underground; 650 feet long

Henry in the tunnel, 150 feet underground; 650 feet long

Ponchos included in the price of admission!

Ponchos included in the price of admission!

Tina braving the elements

Tina braving the elements

All that excitement created quite an appetite so we found a little place with a view for lunch.

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One last waterfall photo before resuming our tour. And, despite my post on Facebook, this wasn’t taken from our canoe.

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This part of Ontario is one of Canada’s leading wine-producing areas so of course we had to check out one of the local wineries.

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Henry and grapes for ice wine

Henry and grapes for ice wine

Tina in relaxation mode

Tina in relaxation mode

Wine at Inniskillin

Wine tasting at Inniskillin

Next stop was the village of Niagara-on-the-Lake, just across the river from Old Fort Niagara on the US side.

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A quaint village with plenty of tourists the day we were there but still charming. Loyalists from the colonies settled here after the American Revolution. If I ever come back, here’s where I would stay:

The Prince of Whales Hotel

The Prince of Whales Hotel

Built in 1864

Built in 1864

Our driver and navigator

Our tour guides

And just in case Humphrey ever reads this blog, two flora photos.

Coleus?

Coleus?

Ladybug

Ladybug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fungi

It seems that several family members have been photographing various fungi lately. With the damp, cool conditions that we have ben experiencing, mushrooms are thriving. So here’s my contribution to this latest family obsession: photos of mushrooms in our neighbor’s yard.

First, here’s the culprit who started it all:

Jennifer

Jennifer

And a sample of the various varieties growing wild in the neighborhood:

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Shortly after these photos were taken, the yard guys mowed the lawn so pictures are all that remain. Maybe all those little bits of pulverized mushrooms will become the spores for the next crop?

Artichokes

Earlier this year I bought a couple of artichoke starts at the farmer’s market just to see what they would do. Well, they actually grew and produced several chokes on each plant. Here are some photos of the result.

Several weeks ago

Several weeks ago

I probably waited a little too long to harvest them but yesterday was the day. The following photos show some interesting shapes and textures.

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Apparently humans aren’t the only species that appreciate the finer qualities of artichokes.

A Banded Garden Spider

A Banded Garden Spider

And finally, one I left on the stalk is going to seed.

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Tonight we’ll find out how they actually taste.