All those rumors I've heard in the U.S. about French people not being friendly to Americans proved to be false. Everyone I met was very friendly and helpful. And either my limited French is better than I thought or French people are good at understanding bad French - I had little problem with the language barrier (and it seemed nearly every French person I talked to spoke at least a little English.) The Paris Metro makes getting around Paris very easy - I wouldn't recommend driving in Paris, the drivers are typically big city insane. Driving through the rest of France was no problem, they have frequent stopping places and everyone follows the passing only on the left law. (As opposed to the U.S. where people seem to think it's their constitutional right to drive slowly in the left lane!)

While driving up to visit St. Malo, I followed signs for Sculpted Rocks (in Rocheneuf). On a rocky outcrop leading to a beach were a bunch of carved rocks. It was pretty cool - faces, animals, chairs, niches, scenes, et al. I didn't know the story behind them until after I got home - I found out that they were carved by a hermit priest - Abbe Foure.

In Caen, there's a nice memorial/museum to the soldiers who fought on D-Day. In back is a display of Nobel prize winners, and two gardens - one dedicated to the U.S. and one to Canada. The wall behind this waterfall has a memorial plaque from each U.S. state. The garden is very pretty and peaceful. After my visit there, I drove along the coast to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery in St. Laurent.

Mont St-Michel is an Abbey built on top of a rock surrounded by water except for a causeway. When I arrived, people were walking all around it on the sand. By the time I left, the tide had come in and water was lapping at the base of the walls. Below the Abbey is the little town with cafes and lots of little shops. While the Abbey and town were very interesting - it's the sight of the island as you approach that is the most impressive.

My favorite spot in Limoges is the Jardins de l'Eveche. I went to the museum there, it was dark, except for little spotlights on each painting (the same size as the painting.) It made viewing very easy. The gardens out back are beautiful. This picture is from the lower garden. I thought the blue and white stick like things were lights - when I got closer I realized they were bottles!

Nimes has a Roman built coliseum. It's in such great shape, it's still used today (though for somewhat different purposes!) There's also a nearly 2000 year old temple that's used today as a museum. Nimes also has some beautiful gardens, with a fountain (which gives it its name - Jardin de la Fountaine.) Lots of sculptured figures and several levels.

Avignon was once the home of alternate popes. The Palais des Papes is beautiful and the view from the church and gardens next to it are fantastic. This is a statue in front of the church.

I was planning on visiting Arles, but the day I drove there was market day. There was not a parking space to be had inside the walls or even for a few blocks outside of them. So I drove down to a nice little walled town called Aigues-Mortes. I walked around the whole town on it's walls (it's a small town) and watched a show in the town square.

I stayed in Besancon on my way from the south to Alsace. Nice town with some Roman ruins, a pretty cathedral, and behind the cathedral, a very cool astronomical clock. It has dials for sunrise, sunset, major cities around the world, the date Easter falls on, and moving apostles, bell ringers, Christ and Mary. Besancon is also the birthplace of Victor Hugo - shown in this picture - and the Lumiere brothers.

Obernai was my home base while in Alsace. I met up with a cyber friend and he showed me all over the area, including Mont Sainte-Odile with its beautiful views, and a wine tasting. This Obernai house is typical of many found in Alsace.

Another very good site is Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. It was destroyed by fire a couple times since the first castle was built here in 1114, and at the end of the 19 century, Kaiser Wilhelm II had it completely restored. This ceramic thing is a heater - similar heaters are still used in France. (I spotted one in a store window.).

I met up with a friend from home in Paris and we spent a day at Versailles. We looked into joining a tour there, but were glad we didn't since we spent more time there than a tour allowed. We bought tickets at the RER station for the train there and back and entry to all parts of Versailles. While the Chateau is gorgeous, the gardens behind it are just fantastic.

If you want a place to relax in Paris - go to the Luxembourg Gardens! There's a bit of everything: shady places to sit and read or people watch, sunny places to do the same, fountains, pools complete with children sailing little boats in them, statues, and beautiful landscaping. This is the 17th century Fountaine de Medicis.

Sainte-Chappelle is a beautiful, relatively small cathedral. It has two levels - a smaller lower one for servants, etc. and a fantastic upper one for the royal family and courtiers. Outside there are water spouts in the form of agonized looking people - this is one of them.


For more info, or comments or questions - email me: .

Click on the link below to go back to my travel page.

Marguerite's travel page