Monday, April 23, 2012

The Louvre...avec tout le monde!

Everyone in Paris was at the Louvre with us today, well, at least that's how it felt....and half of them were in the Mona Lisa room...

"she's so small!"  
The good news is that we were all inside while it rained and rained outside (I think this is why all of Paris was in the museum today).

We made it to the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory and saw lots of fabulous Roman and Greek statues as well as other da Vincis, renaissance art, and the french crown jewels.  
Louis XV's crown

I never knew that the Venus de Milo was made of two pieces of marble!  

And, yes Josie I really was photographing that greek statue's leg!
Then in our quest for a lunch cafe we stumbled across a special collection that included paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas and other artists too modern for the Louvre!  What a treat.

Lunch in the cafe at the museum...the line...ooh la la!  We were famished and grumpy and thirsty, but the food was wonderful for a museum cafe.

After lunch we discovered that we could have found food much easier if we had just ventured out of the actual museum part...oh well.  Tired and hungry art nerds don't necessarily think clearly.

On to the Orangery...Monet's water lillies!

Debussy exhibit...the music and the art of the time of Debussy...

And, finally Guillame's collection...Cezanne! Gauguin, Monet, Degas, Renoir...Picasso, Klimt...




Open bus tour to Eiffel Tower...but sidetracked by coffee on the Champs Elysée...

Boat ride on the Seine

Dinner at Pizzaria just around the corner from our apartment.  Yum!

Brrr...rain.  Cold.  Il fait froid.  Il pleut.  Nous avons froids !  Oh yes, our apartment has a sauna !

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Versaille, King Louis and the sun...and the rain

Our day started with the subway then train to the Rive Gauche...Chateau de Versaille

King Louis greeted us

The line was long, but moved fast. the gold gates are stunning.

Inside the courtyard.

The sun king himself as Bernini saw him.

One of many spectacular chandeliers.

We spilled into Anglelina's restaurant for lunch.  Very expensive, but sitting down for a meal was welcome after the full morning of trains and palace.  We weren't the only people visiting Versaille...the crowds were intense.  and it was cold!

Marie Antoinette's Petite Trianon

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

A tale of a fateful trip....that started from this French mediterranean port...aboard a tiny ship...

Okay, so we didn't get shipwrecked, but we sure had an amazingly exciting boat ride today!  We drove down to the beautiful coastal town of Cassis, had a very nice lunch, and booked our boat ride to visit Les Calanques.  The Calanques are inlets where creeks have eroded the limestone into stunningly steep and tall cliffs.

The wind had been blowing a bit and whipped the Med into some spectacular waves.  Our little ship (tourist boat holding about 50 people) was tossed around like a toy boat by the waves as they approached the shore and rose and crossed and changed.  It was fun when the boat would hit them head on and rise up and then fall down the other side.  We were sitting in the very front of the boat and had fun getting splashed a little bit....but then....we approached the 3rd and 4th Calanque and the waves got more mixed up and the boat got tossed sideways and up and down and they moved all of us off the the prow into the cabin.  And, good thing, because I think we might have gotten washed away!

On the way home, we drove along the cliff top road from Cassis to La Ciotat....500 meter cliffs dropping down to the clear blue sea.  Spectacular!

Josie is out enjoying Carnaval in Aix with her friends tonight.  Maybe she'll have some fun pictures for us tomorrow...???

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fontaine de Vaucluse...take 2

I enjoyed the Fontaine de Vaucluse so much I thought I'd go back again!  Mom, Josie and I retraced my steps from the field trip yesterday and enjoyed a lovely day in the beautiful tourist town of Fontain de Vaucluse.

Yesterday, the monsieur at the paper mill said that there would be a "paper-maker" (artisan who makes beautiful paper at the historic mill) there today, but alas, the paper-maker broke his hand (I hope not by getting smashed by the heavy mallets in the mill!!), so there was no paper-maker there today.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Roman bridges, rivers and water...Fontaine de Vaucluse...

I was fortunate enough today to get to spend an entire day with a graduate field trip of water-related sites in the Luberon region of Provence.

Professor Mikhal and I took the bus to Marseille early this morning to meet with the students and professor. But, alas, the bus they rented for the day was short one seat!  So, they kindly drove us back to Aix, where we picked up the car that I have access to right now so we could drive and follow the bus.  Here's out route...

Our first stop was at a bank protection site on the Urbane in the village of La Chêne.  Our professor tour-guide is an engineer, Jean-Christoph, who works for a firm that has worked on some of the sites we visited today.  At the La Chêne site they designed and constructed a bank protection measure that involves gabion baskets, willow planting and regrading of the bank....

Then we visited the non-electric, non-chemical, gravity-fed, bio sewage treatment plant for the village of Roussillon.  No odor, no noise, no electricity and sewage treatment for 1,250 inhabitants...


Then on to the roman bridge...le Pont Julien...over the Calavon River, which is tributary to the Durance, which is tributary to the Rhone...

The Calavon River is not in very good shape...poor water quality and further downstream, some major channel-adjustment erosion was threatening the highway, the historic roman road and a house, so they did some major bank protection work, but then incision, vegetation encroachment, channel shrinkage and beaver nearly completely closed the channel.  Most recent work involved re-activating a side channel...

Our last stop was at the tourist town of Fontaine de Vaucluse.  Vaucluse means closed valley.  The valley terminates in steep cliff walls.  The source of the Sourge River is in this valley... springing forth entirely from spring water!  Hydrogeologically, it's a fascinating site...and spectacularly beautiful as well.  The bonus for me was visiting the historic paper mill that is still operating and buying some of their beautiful paper. The monsieur in the paper mill shop said that there would be a paper-maker there tomorrow...maybe I'll go back with my mom and Josie tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Phonetique exam!

I had an exam in my phonetique class today at 8am which involved reading a text out loud to my teacher.  And, we read a story in french about a guy who wins the lottery, and with his money decides to buy grated gruyere cheese because he loves grated gruyere cheese, but hates grating it himself.  Hmm.  What would I do if I won the lottery....??

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pont du Gard....take 2

Mom and I visited the Pont du Gard.  It was my second visit, but it is truly breath-taking none-the-less.  Today was a bit chilly and raining.  I look forward to visiting again on a hot sunny day when a dip in the river will feel wonderful...or kayaking down the river beneath it.

Lundi Paques

Today is a holiday...Lundi Paques...Easter Monday.  A national holiday to recover from eating too much chocolate.

In fear of visiting tourist sites and running into hordes of crowds, and not sure what would be open since it's a "feriée day", we opted to just do a little driving tour around Mount St. Victoire.  The house we are renting/house-sitting comes with a car!  So, we have a wonderful old volvo at our disposal...

We drove around Mt. St. Victoire through Tholonet, Puyloubier, Pourrières, and Vauvenargues...

Stopped for coffee in Vauvernargues and then continued on to make it to the organ concert in St. Saveur Cathedral.  

the organ master had a recital of her students.  Some of them were just amazing.  We were sitting just across from the organ (see above) and we could watch what was happening.  I had no idea that some pieces require three people!  And, parts of the pieces were played with  just their feet.  The cathedral filled with the sound of the organ was super (you have to say that with a french accent...soo-pehrrrrr).  


The afternoon light through the stained glass window...

And, the 17th century sculpture...the Vierge Marie et l'enfant...

And, the 13th century trip-tyc (how do you spell that?)...more info to come...