A week ago I came home from nine wonderful days in France. It was my third trip and I can’t wait to go back. This was also the third trip as a chaperone for high school students. They were a great group of kids but I am looking forward to making this trip with adults and a little more freedom of what I want to see and do.
We tend to see the same things, which isn’t a bad thing. Notre Dame is amazing no matter how many times you stand in front or inside of it. These past two visits were crazy though because we were there during Holy Week and the place was overflowing with people.
Another place I never get tired of visiting is Chartres. The cathedral is so beautiful with the stained glass windows. The recipe for the blue tint has been lost and so it can never be replicated again.
However, I did get to visit and do a few new things this round. I was able to go inside Saint Chappelle for the first time. Talk about gorgeous! I’ve seen pictures of the stained glass windows on the internet and in books but they do not do justice to the sight when you are standing inside the cathedral with the sun shining in. Isn't it beautiful!
We also visited a Chateau I had never been to before, Château d'Amboise. I loved this place and now I need to re-watch the movie Ever After, because the students made comment that they believe some of the scenes were shot there. It does make sense. Apparently Leonardo Di Vinci spent the last years of his life here and he is supposedly buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert. I never though I would stand becide Leonardo Di Vinci's grave. This is the chapel where he is buried.
There is always at least one leap activity on the trips. In the past it has been when the student leave Versailles. It all starts before the tour. Everyone on the bus (adults included) are assigned a roll. Either Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, Peasant, Clergy, Poor , etc. We are given MP3 players to listen to as we tour the rooms. First the King gives his perspective and then the person you are supposed to play gives theirs. Because our group was so large we had four Maries, four Kings, etc. Did you know that Marie Antoinette had over 200 dresses and never wore a dress more than once? Meanwhile, the people of Paris were starving. For a few years prior there had been a famine and the people of Paris had no bread and little food. No wonder they were a bit perturbed at the queen who was a bit out of touch with reality. That is my son, Parisian Poor, getting read to help execute the king and queen.
Another leap activity we took part in (a first for me) was a cooking lesson. We were divided into three groups. I was in the one who prepared the appetizer. My son’s group prepared the main course and the other, the desserts. Yum. The food was great and I have the recipes. However, they are in French so I will need them translated.
Lastly, we traveled to Nice on the fastest train in Europe (possibly the world?). This was the first time I had ever been on a train and can think of no better way to travel. Up until we left Paris the temperatures had been in the 70s and sunny. You could not ask for better weather. However, our day and half in Nice was spent in rain. Oh well, I am still thrilled to have walked along the Mediterranean Sea and I am still trying to figure out how I can live there.
But, the one thing that came from this trip was more inspiration! I have around 800 pictures to reflect upon and can’t wait to put my characters in those settings.
The one thing I didn’t do, that I hope I don’t live to regret, is step across the center of Paris. There is a disk in the ground just outside of Notre Dame. Legend is that if you step over or on this disc you will return. I’ve done this in the past, but not this time. I hope that doesn't mean I won’t be going back.
Have you ever been to Paris or Nice? If so, what is your favorite place to visit? If not, what is the most inspirational place you have visited?