The Grand Hotel and Casino in Cabourg welcomes visitors, but

right next to the Grand Hotel are some grand homes for part time residents,

most of which stood empty and shuttered awaiting their residents in July and August.

Some of the shuttered homes face the beach

which is as empty as the homes in June.

 The center of town had a nice marché with clothes and trinkets for sale at very discounted prices, like 5 Euros ($6) for leather coin purses.

 If you didn’t want to shop, there were other amusements.

A little further south is Omaha Beach, with a memorial, a souvenir shop, and a theatre showing  a commemorative film. Even if you just want to stop to take a look, you will have to pay for parking which will cost 6 Euros for the day or any portion thereof, even 5 minutes!

 There was a convention of old Triumphs and motorcycles from the UK in the parking lot.

The memorial stands overlooking all the beaches with bunkers still visible in the ocean.

 Inland from the beach is the town of Bayeux.

The famous Cathedral can be seen from afar like a beacon enticing everyone to come closer. Driving into town there are wonderful buildings which have stood in place for centuries.

 The town square in front of the Cathedral is a gathering place, with cafés, shops, and a wedding!

Entering through the back of the Cathedral near the City Hall or Mairie gives visitors a glimpse of the majestic building from a rare angle. This Cathedral is as or more spectacular than Notre Dame in Paris, I stood in awe at the craftsmanship and beauty of it!

 Every angle is magnificent.

The tree in the courtyard is a reminder that no matter how people may build monuments, nature will always persevere.

Au revoir Bayeux :)

Honfleur has been painted by many artists over the years and once you arrive at the harbor, you immediately understand why. Today there are more British expats than artists in residence, but the charming village feel of this port remains.

 There are numerous streets stretching out from the harbor.

All the streets in the heart of the city are cobblestones, so make sure you wear the proper shoes!

 If you have a tiny car, you can drive in, but it’s a labyrinth.

The biggest wooden church in France is Sainte Catherine’s

and yes you can enter and/or attend a service.

Some buildings have the year they were built literally engraved in stone.

 City Hall is a much more modern building.

Driving along the coast, Villerville looked like a movie set, and it was!

The fictional town of “Tigreville” in the Jean Gabin and Jean Paul Belmondo film, “A Monkey in Winter“, was shot here and numerous posters, pictures, and plaques note that fact.

 Even the town church was picturesque.

 There are access points down to the coast

 and you can stroll above the surf.

This is the view of where the Seine joins the Atlantic.

 My favorite view was the path leading south :)

The Atlantic coast of France is best experienced in the Summer, so I went to Normandy for the first time in the middle of June; for someone who has lived in Southern California, it was still chilly :) The most well known city is Deauville, where the film festival is held and rich city dwellers have Summer homes. The casino is a beautiful building on the edge of the coast.

The beach is laid out into sections with various services available along each section

including private cabanas named after famous actors and actresses, a bit like the stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

 There is a long boardwalk along the beach

 and various shelters from wind and sun on the beach itself,

 which was empty in mid June,

 as were the beachside cafes

 and Summer homes.

 Downtown Deauville was a bit more inhabited,

 and even had a small train going from the center of town to the beach.

 The center of town also had activities like shopping at high end stores,

 sleeping in the grand hotel,

 and strolling the city center park in front of Printemps department store.

Trouville is a much smaller city just north of Deauville and IMHO much more charming:)

There is a casino here but it was being renovated.

The main reason people came here was for the “Sea Cure” or as I would call it, “Fresh Air”.

If you don’t want to swim in the cold ocean, there is a heated pool.

The City Hall is as picturesque as the city itself.

Shops and restaurants line the harbor

offering seafood from Brittany and local catches like bulots (sea snails).

The beach amenities are built alongside the old bunkers from the war,

and as a symbol of how things have changed on the Normandy beaches, flowers now adorn the bunkers.

The beaches were almost empty,

as were the harbors,

but I saw Elvis hanging out:)

The Museum of Architecture has so many models of old and new that I couldn’t fit all the photos I took in one post, so here is part 2; this is the other half of the ground floor of the old as well as the upper floor of the modern. Enjoy!

A close up.

The other half of the ground floor (the photos in yesterday’s post) can be seen and entered through several openings.

This archway

had incredible details underneath, like this in the center,

and this on the sides underneath the arch.

The intricate work standing from a few feet away,

is even more amazing up close.

There is an elevator or stairs to the upper level of modern architecture.

The Radio France Building and

the Citroen Building, both exist in present day Paris.

Resorts built into the natural landscape, skyscrapers, and temporary structures built for exhibition from all over the world, fill the upper level. There are also many video presentations about how certain structures were designed and built; I saw many students with notebooks, taking notes.

The upper floor also has a smaller exhibition of frescoes and wall paintings.

The most impressive sight was seeing three of Paris’ great buildings through the windows of the Museum of Architecture. If the weather is nice, there is a ground floor cafe with a terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower where you can enjoy a bite or a drink outside; a priceless way to spend some time in Paris :)

Trocadéro is a well known stop for pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and as many times as I’ve been, I had never gone inside the Museum of Architecture, known as the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, until yesterday. With so many wonderful museums here, it’s a challenge to see them all; like chateaux, each one is unique and depending on your interests and tastes, some will appeal more than others. For those who don’t have the time or desire to visit all the historical sights in France, this museum offers models of most of the most famous.

 A close up of archway.

 Even though the replicas are not life size, they are impressive.

 Scenes were sculpted into the architecture.

 A bit of the detail in close up.

 Imagine having to decide which designs you want!

 Clever look outs :)

 A close up of the same piece.

 Models done in different formats with different materials.

 Look familiar? Notre Dame in Paris:)

 I’ve never been to Chartres, and had no desire to go until I saw the replica of the Cathedral.

 He looks like he’s holding his nose :)

 Murals are also recreated showing what was inside some of the buildings.

 A staircase can be very elaborate.

More in my next post, including the upper floor modern section with views of the Eiffel Tower:)

This week-end was a celebration of parks in Paris, so I decided to go to Le Jardin des Plantes. I’ve been here once before when I rented a studio nearby, but it was in Winter, before I moved here. The balmy 70 F weather on Saturday, after a week of rain, made all the trees and plants come alive, as if to say “Finally some sun!” There are several areas for different kinds of plants from alpine to water based, and everything in between, including those that produce essential oils and food. Enjoy the photos as you stroll the garden with me :)

There were more people outside the greenhouse than inside!

There are several train (RER & SNCF Gare d’Austerlitz & Lyon), metro (Censier Daubenton, Austerlitz, Jussieu), and bus stops (24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 89 et 91) surrounding the garden, as well as a Vélib station.

You may of course arrive via private boat,

if you don’t live on one of the nearby barges:)

Rich Parisians have always had week-end “country” getaway homes. Josephine Bonaparte’s Chateau de Malmaison only about 30 minutes by RER and bus from Paris and well worth the trip and the modest 8.50 Euros ($10 USD) entry with free audio guide. The use of the house as the French government headquarters from 1800-1802, and Josephine’s love of flowers and her feminine touches are evident in both the gardens and the interior.

The front gate entry.

The front garden is full of flowers and roses.

A walking path from the front of the house to the front gate.

One side of the front garden includes a small vegetable patch.

The back yard is more natural with intentionally unmowed grass for animals.

The back entrance is as stately as the front

with Egyptian style decor.

Inside the foyer.

Even the doors are decorated

 as well as the ceilings.

Her husband Napoleon had a few mementos on display like his grooming set,

a few swords,

and of course his hat.

The billard room showed she enjoyed games,

 entertaining guests,

 playing music,

 and dining.

 The library,

 Josephine’s salon,

 and receiving rooms,

 showed details like swan chairs.

 Josephine’s bedchamber was like a sumptuous tent,

with incredible details like a sky painted ceiling

 and flower painting on every panel of the wall.

This was her jewelry box which held all the diamonds, emeralds, and rubies she owned:)

A small country home only about 12 miles from Paris :)

I went back to the marché in Versailles on Sunday when the center square was filled with food vendors instead of clothing vendors. A big difference, even at 11am, was there were many more people,

and many more vendors.

Honey from all over the EU & from Lavender honey from Provence for 20 Euros ($22 USD) a Kilo (2.2LBS).

Strawberries are in season and as delicious as they look.

 All the ingredients for a ratatouille.

 As much asparagus as you can eat in both white and green.

 Herbs galore for about 1 Euro a bunch ($1.15USD).

Teas

and spices from all over the world.

 If you don’t want to cook your Sunday meal, chickens are available roasted with potatoes.

 Only two blocks from the Chateau de Versailles, Les Halles de Versailles is a much more local experience than the busloads of tourists at the gates (which you can see the the end of the street).

Nearly everyone who comes to Paris goes to Versailles, but unless you live here (or nearby) Les Halles, or the markets of Versailles, just a few blocks from the Chateau, are a hidden treasure. First I went to see the organic (bio) markets by the church St. Louis, but the market was tiny, with literally less than ten stands in front of the church.

Les Halles the big market, is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 7am- 7:30pm and on Sunday from 7am-2pm, the covered square and open center square attract locals more than tourists. With easy parking underneath the square, many bus stops within a block or two, and an easy walk four blocks from the chateau, make this a worthwhile stop if you are going to Versailles.

The permanent stands are all in the covered buildings surrounding the open area and feature several cheese shops,

vegetable and fruits vendors,

all kinds of poultry, raw and cooked,

seafood and fish stands,

prepared foods if you don’t want to cook,

prepared skewers for your BBQ,

prepared roasts for your oven,

and mountains of shellfish.

If you want dessert, there is of course sweets and patisseries galore.

All around the outside of the covered stands are cute cafés with outdoor terraces if you want to be served your meal and just window shop the vendors :)

Any day with blue skies in Paris is a good day to go an explore the Châteaux nearby, especially on a holiday weekend when most Parisians were out of town. The town of Maisons-Laffitte is only about 35 minutes away from the Champs-Elysées by the RER A train, and the Château de Maisons is a small and unusual chateau. Regular entry is 7.5 Euros or about $9 USD and includes a 2 hour guided tour during certain times (in French). The entrance looks perfectly symmetrical because it was built a bit like a Hollywood facade, with the outside built first and the inside built around the outside. This meant that some rooms have half a window, and walls are not where they might seem to be on the inside.

The exterior symmetry applies to the back also.

The original entrance was built to receive royalty on the chance that they might come visit (which they did on occasion) so the marble sculptures in the portico

and on the columns were carved to impress.

Even the trompe d’oeil staircase gives the illusion of several stories even though the entire chateau is only two stories. The “third” story was hidden quarters for the servants under the “roof”, which gave them a view of the royals entering and leaving the royal chambers on the second floor.

The ground floor was where the actual owners lived and although the columns here look like marble, they are actually painted wood because the original ones were sold to pay off debts long ago.

Even though the owners lived below the royals, their rooms were well appointed.

The most ornate part of the chateau is of course where the royals ate and slept

and even the original parquet floors show the work put into pleasing them.

The dining area had a middle entrance reserved for the King, while the side entrances were for everyone else; any pushing or shoving was punishable by fines.

The King’s bedroom was only used by the king on a handful of occasions but had the rare modern convenience of its own private entry with an adjacent bathroom.

A wardrobe fit for a king.

The women’s quarters on the other side had a distinctly more feminine style.

Even the ceilings,

fireplaces,

and walls, had feminine details.

The kitchens underground showcased the copper pots and pans

all over the walls,

and there was a display of the china.

Most of the grounds were parceled off and sold to rich Parisians for weekend homes in the “country”, but the bit that remains looks out towards Paris and the Seine as a reminder that a few minutes away is a place where you can leave the noise and intensity of city life behind.

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