Sacre coeur! We are smitten. No doubt about it. This is awful, but I have to admit that we have fallen once again for an old love. How many times have you said things like, “It’s over! I am never looking back! What kind of loser goes back to an old flame?” Well, neither of us have ever been “that person,” but I guess there truly is a first time for everything.
Last evening, I had to face something that has been gnawing at me for days. Our love of France has been rekindled. We are hopelessly in love with this country. We brought Logan to France last week fully intending to say “au revoir” to a place we first visited in 1990 and have loved in the worst sort of way for many years. We have loved the countryside, the wine, the cheese, and Edith Piaf since, well, forever. We thought that one more trip to see the beaches of D-Day would just about wrap it up for us. We just felt like it was time to say farewell to an old love and move on with our travel lives. Then it happened. We strolled through the gardens and down the avenues of Paris and something in our hearts stirred. Then we saw the French countryside as we stood on the top deck of our river ship as it glided silently along the beautiful Seine and we fell head over heels. Again.
It did not help that on Tuesday we visited Giverny, the little village made famous by Claude Monet. We rode bikes from the dock through the village of Giverny and to Monet’s home and gardens. It was like pedaling through the most beautiful book ever to adorn a coffee table. Only it was not a book. It was real and we were right in the middle of it.
Then, after lunch, we hiked up to the ruins of the castle of Richard the Lionheart. What a view from the top!
Yesterday, we strolled through Rouen, the capital of Normandy and a city-wide shrine to Jeanne d’Arc. We stood at the site where she was burned at the stake at the age of nineteen in the year of 1431.
I love the image below of Joan of Arc. It was created by a fellow who was cleaning the building. They use lasers to gently remove the black grime that builds up on these old structures. He used the tools of his trade to create this picture of the famous martyr. The dark parts are the dirt and the light areas are the result of his cleaning. Some might think of it as graffiti, but I thought it was ingenious and quite lovely. It reminded me of the miner down in the depths of the Paris Catacombs. You just never know where you will find an artist at work.
Today we traveled to the riverside town of Honfleur. If there is a more picturesque and charming quay-side town, I have not seen it in all of our travels. Along the way, we saw many traditional half-timbered homes with thatched roofs and irises growing on top, beautiful gardens, and just a few of the many herds of cows for which Normandy is famous. Honfleur is an very old city with a rich fishing heritage. It is a mash-up of Viking, French, and English culture.
So, here we go planning yet another French adventure even before this one comes to a close. Rick is even contemplating brushing up on his high school French. Me? I’m just enjoying that old French Joie de Vivre!