Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Along the Seine

It happened on Sunday, May 14...

It's Mother's Day! As if to celebrate "my" day, I began the day with a nice hotel breakfast. Soon after we gathered our belongings and boarded a bus bound for the S.S. Joie de Vivre, the Uniworld ship. This is the newest ship in their fleet and it is magnificent! Did I think to take any pictures of the ship? No! Luckily, other people (including Uniworld) have posted pictures, so I now share some with you!

410 feet long. 37.5 feet wide. 64 cabins. 52 crew to take care of a maximum of 128 passengers. We only had  96 passengers, including 16 travel agents. We wondered if our most excellent service was an effort to impress the agents.
The cabin - spacious with lots of storage! The top half of the window slides all the way down.
This is "La Cave du Vin". We attended a wine tasting here and a cooking class. 
The ship has a swimming pool - the green is the far edge of it. It has a pump so that you can manage laps. The unique thing about the pool is that it can be covered by a floor at the push of a button. Then, it becomes "Claude's" (pictured below). Claude's serves dinner and drinks.  
 

The ship has another dining option in the bow. They have a café menu offered almost all day.
This is a shot of the lounge. Comfortable seating for all. We met here each evening for an overview of the next day. Drinks are served at no additional charge!

I said I didn't take any pictures of the ship... but I just found this shot. I was intrigued by this pile of boxes... all filled with wine and liquor! Uniworld provides wine, beer and liquor for free! On our last cruise in 2010 we had free wine or beer with dinner. Now even drinks in the lounge are free! Our server said that over 30 bottles of wine are consumed at dinner. I know I did my share. The scale says so, too!




After we explored the ship we were treated to our first lunch in the dining room, a fabulous buffet. I don't recall what I ate, exactly, but it was all good! Then, after eating we took a short bus ride to a Seine River Cruise company and had an informative trip along the Seine. Come along with us!

Our river tour went from left to right, and back again.
Can you match the pictures to the images?


















Oh, my gosh! Here we go again. After our Paris tour, while cleaning out a closet I came across the painting pictured below that I believe belonged to my grandfather. I didn't recognize the painting, until I reviewed the pictures from our Seine River cruise. There it is!! This is the L'église de la Madeleine, a Catholic church that was finally constructed around 1825. What fun to see it in person... and then in a painting from sometime in the late 1900's. 







Mais oui! Nous sommes à Paris!! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Palais Garnier

I can't say we awoke refreshed and ready to go the next morning, but we stumbled down to breakfast at the hotel and then joined our group for a walking tour of the area. 

We walked through Place Vendôme, which was constructed by Louis XIV, seeing the tower commemorating Napoleon's rule. The tower, and most buildings, have been cleaned within the past few years, erasing years of dirt and grime.

Our tour guide explained that Place Vendôme was originally erected as a large octagon of building facades. Louis XIV wanted the square to be uniform and symmetrical, so in the beginning not all of the facades actually had buildings behind them. 

Image borrowed from the Internet
The white awnings visible in the top center of the picture are those for the Ritz Hotel. This is where Princess Diana left from a back door just before the tragic accident that ended her life. 

From Place Vendôme we walked on to Palais Garnier, the opulent Paris opera built between 1861 and 1875. The building, which seats almost 2000 people, is still in use today. 


After I put up this post I was cleaning out a closet where I had stacked a lot of art work that my dad inherited from his dad. I pulled out this painting... and voilà - I knew the building right away!


The painting is by Henri Renard. He painted many Paris scenes in the 40's - 70's and sold them to tourists. I guess my Grandfather was suckered into buying it! I'll be selling it. It's too dreary for me. I much prefer the fine weather we experienced while in Paris.










I was intrigued by this series of lamps in one of the opera gathering rooms. They were so futuristic looking. The detail above the head of each lamp was different, depicting different sources of power.





Later in the afternoon we visited the L'Orangerie and Musée D'Orsay and became immersed in art from "the" impressionists! How amazing to see so many pieces that I have only seen in books. The size, the colors, the texture made the paintings come to life. While there we stumbled upon a huge cut-away model of the Palais Garnier. The model puts the scale of the building in perspective. The grand staircase that I showed in one of the pictures above is visible in the lower right third of the picture of the model. The grand halls are on the very right side, cut off in this picture.  Look at the size of the stage and the area for scenery backdrops! Wow! Not included in this picture is the entrance for carriages. Carriages of attendees of the upper echelon would be driven into the building so they could disembark with some privacy and out of the weather. 




Monday, May 29, 2017

Nous Sommes à Paris

We began planning a celebratory trip sometime back in the summer when we thought about what to do to commemorate 45 years of marriage. Forty-five years? How could that be possible?! We have taken three river cruises and have enjoyed them immensely. So, we selected to do a back-to- back cruise: one week in Paris cruising on the Seine, and  a second week in the Bordeaux region cruising on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Gironde Estuary. 

We arrived in Paris around 7:00 AM. We were whisked toward the city by a shuttle arranged for by Uniworld. Whisk may not be the operative word, since we were in morning rush hour traffic! But, how nice to not think about how to get from point A to point B and how nice not to have to struggle with my rusty translations of French - especially after a night on the plane and losing hours of sleep due to the miracles of jet travel.  We were met at the hotel by a Uniworld guide. Another blessing! Sylvie worked with the front desk to get us into a room before the 3:00 PM check-in. As I recall, we were both horizontal and sound asleep before noon. However, when 2:00 PM in Paris rolled around it was 6 AM at home and my eyes popped open. I left Mr. Dreamy to his dreams and went for a stroll around the Tuileries Gardens. Ah, mais oui, nous sommes en Paris! Voilà! Voilà!

Walking between the beautifully trimmed trees in the upper walkway in the Jardins des Tuileries
Just how many gardeners must they employ to keep the Tuileries plants so beautifully sculpted?!
The statue of Renommée riding Pegasus was completed in 1699 by Antoine Coysevox and belonged to Louis XIV.The pigeons weren't as impressed as I with the history of the statue!
A view of the Place Vendôme column from the gate of the Tuileries Garden.
 The first afternoon remains a bit of a blur, as I knew it would. Marc and Ranee, friends of ours from Oregon, came in around 3 and we met other couples on the trip at a meeting with Sylvie that evening. She took us on a brief walking tour of the neighborhood and pointed out a few restaurants. We ate with new friends from Canada, came back to the hotel and fell in bed. Only to have our eyes pop open around 2 AM again! Body clocks are amazing in their accuracy!