The Louvre

This is my second visit to the Louvre, I absolutely love the place. Fantastic value for money when you see the treasu_MG_8595ares inside. They change all the time so last time was Rodin’s Thinker and Michaelangelo’s David, this time was the Venus de Milo and Neptune.

Last time they wouldn’t let you take photos of Mona Lisa, La Gioconda,  Le Joconde or whatever name you give it, whereas this time there wasn’t even an official in the room. Personally I don’t see the big deal as it’s an uninteresting painting and not really that good but hey ho. I also was vastly disapppointed when coming through one section to find 2 Constables. Most 12 year old’s could paint just as well I feel and they’re simply not nice to look at. Everyone has different taste though I suppose.

My all time favourite thing in the Louvre is the sculpture by Antonio Canova called “Psyche ranimee par le baiser de l’Amour.” which loosely translated means “Psyche revived by a loving kiss.”  I think. This is the most fabulous sculpture ever and I spent ages taking many photos of it. Canova has captured the spirit of the angel and the acceptance of Psyche so cleverly that I could stare at it all day. Even the expressions on the faces are so true to life and evoke emotion each time I look at it. I wish they’d put it on the floor so you can see Psyche’s face, I’ve tried to capture it in photo but it’s difficult to get at.

Anyway … if you ever visit France try to fit the Louvre in. You need a few days to see everything that’s on display but it’s well worth the effort in my opinion. I’ve got loads of photos so I cut the selection down to a few to make it manageable for here. I hope you like them.

Oh, if you try to take any water in with you they’ll take it off you. But there’s loads of places to get a drink and food once you’re inside and the prices are no worse than the rip off outside.

Paris

Paris metro
Paris metro

Along with a friend I got on the train to Le Grande Arch de la Defense, walked all the way down the Avenue de les Grande Armee, took in the Arc de Triomphe then set off to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower. We then walked back to the Place Charles de Gaulle, headed down the Champs Elysees through Place de la  Concorde and down toward Notre Dame.

We did loads more that day that I won’t bore you with, but I took lots of photographs, this is one of my favourites showing the hustle and bustle of the Paris metro.

The Twat and the Peacock

Here’s a weird story.

We’d just come out of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris with the intention of going up the tower. You have to come out and go round the corner to do this.  So we did, but as the queue snaked so far round the corner, we stopped almost at the end to watch a street artist. He was very funny, grabbing people at random, sneaking up on people from in front and doing weird things. It was great fun and we must have stood there watching him for about 45 minutes.

Peacock
Peacock

The queue then made a large movement so we decided we’d best get in it. As we took a place though, we were approached by a man who said no we could not get in the queue. He showed us a green leaflet which we should have if we were entitled to be in the queue. I got angry with him and told him that we’d waved him away when he approached us with them. We did not know they had anything to do with the queue, we thought he was selling something. The bastard wouldn’t have it and we had to leave the queue. As we walked back up past the office I called him down and he was joined by a colleague. I again told him he had been very unfair and I was very angry at him.  He just didn’t seem to care.  Twat.

I was arguing my case but then suddenly he said my English is not that good! Aye well my French is good enough to know that putain petit salaud is French for fucking little bastard 🙂

We were both quite angry as we’d stood for so long and an American woman came to ask what was the matter. We told her, but she only wanted to bash him for her own reasons, which I didn’t even pay attention to so I can’t remember what they were. I don’t have very much time for Americans on holiday, they’re one of the worst to chat to in my experience.

Anyway, we decided to head over to the south bank and maybe get something to eat. We did find an amazing kebab shop and I forgot all about the twat and the queue. So there we were walking along eating our kebabs and minding our own business, when we almost bump into a peacock. Yes, a real live green human peacock! Here, if you don’t believe me there’s a photo. ^^^

He was bloody loving it. Every inch of him screamed out so loudly how much he was loving it and it made him more attractive than he already was. He was getting loads of attention, partly because of the costume and partly because he exuded fun and excitement and enthusiasm from every pore.  Here was a man sharing his soul with all who would look, dancing around people and stopping to chat and have his picture taken, then dancing off again, exuberant in his own little world.  I loved him for his passion and his enthusiasm and his  commitment and for his costume which was canny cool like.

As I took some pictures, more people came along. Then we saw a float in the distance. Then we spoke to someone and it turns out we’re right bang in the middle of the Paris Gay Pride carnival 2009 hahaha! How exciting!

We stayed the whole afternoon and evening and it was a truly excellent time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr Twat Face in the queue, without your miserable pratting about we would not have experienced the carnival. Makes you wonder, does everything happen for a reason?

I took tons of photos at the carnival and fell head over heels with a transvestite who has to be the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen in my life. Not much taken with his cock like but if I kept my head up I loved him!

Shame on the lesbians though who failed to put much of a show on in terms of costumes. The guys stole the show and it was definitely their day without doubt. Girls you need to try harder next year! After this though I need to reconsider whether I wanna try a bit of bum love!

Chartres

Chartres cathedral
Chartres cathedral

I visited Chartres this afternoon and was fascinated by the cathedral. Like many French cathedrals, it fills a huge space in the town, but is dominated by the crush of buildings around it.  There is one place at the front of the cathedral where a full frontal picture can be taken.

Once inside there’s some fascinating and beautiful work, although I still think St Eustache is the most impressive cathedral I’ve been in in France.

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Chateaudun

Chateadun
Chateaudun

I’d been following the signs for Chateaudun for some time and I actually can’t recall why. I think simply because it had Chateau in the name. I’d stopped for a couple of nights on the way as I’d found a great place to park up in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway when I got to Chateaudun it was very late at night but still very warm. So I got Jack out of the van and we went for a walkabout. I found a very old area and the small chateau hidden away down a side street, we didn’t even bother going into it. I also found a free parking area where I could sleep so I moved the van into that later on after we’d had a wander.

I am on my holidays from work still, so I got up early the next day and there was a market set up in the town square. Typically as I’ve found in France the market is mostly fresh vegetables and fruit, some meat and fish and a few clothes and other items. Like British markets they’re not what they used to be and prices were up to double supermarket prices. I do buy some things though and this time I got some tomatoes and a peach. They were lovely and fresh and tasty, but only as fresh and tasty as those from a Leclerc or a Carrefour.

I found an SFR shop and between my crap French and a sales girls’ crap English we managed to ascertain that a pay as you go USB modem would cost €10 per day to use. No cheaper than Vodafone’s current deal so at the moment not really worth it. Although I may have to get one as Vodafone’s is not working out here either and their £10 per 24 hours is only a 3 month promotion til the end of August. I’ll have to seriously look at that at a later date.

I had a wander around the town which was really nice although probably very boring if you lived there. I found a bookshop and finally paid €5.50 for a French/English dictionary as I was struggling with  many of the words. French people by and large are not very helpful in teaching you their language, even though they’re the first to bleat that no-one tries to learn it.

I also found a laundrette, or Lavarie. Whooo hooo!! I moved the van to the other side of town where the laundrette was located, and got 2 bin liners of washing. I set off happily and even had a tin of iced tea which was delicious. I however put one load of washing on a cold wash which didn’t spin and the other one got locked in when the machine stuck! Crikey it could only happen to me! Never mind I rang out the unspun washing and managed to get the other washing out of the machine and for all I know that machine is running to this day. The dryer was so hot though that everything was dry in about a half hour so I set off on the road again a happy chap, on my way to Chartres.

It’s not a Cham being Bord

Chateau de Chambord
Chateau de Chambord

Chambord I think is my overall favourite of all Chateaux seen so far. It’s not the oldest and it’s not the most famous but, it’s the one that in my opinion is the most like a castle,which is what most chateaux builders were trying to achieve. (I’m pretty certain that this view is the back door by the way)

As you approach from any direction you can’t fail to be impressed with the scale of the thing, and the grounds just go on and on and on. The front garden is so large here they hold outdoor concerts. I love the way it’s walled in. Once you enter, there’s the main courtyard which holds the main building. I think modern builders could learn a trick or two off the people who designed and built this fantastic place.

I also appreciate that not only are a lot of the rooms available to have a look in, but you can also clamber up onto the roof and wander around to take in the amazing views. It’s extremely good value for money compared to some I’ve seen which don’t have a lot to see.  This one even has it’s own police station attached.

If you look through the photosyou’ll see one of what looks like a huge ceramic wardrobe. This was actually central heating as the fireplaces didn’t warm the building enough in the winter. Check out the staircase too which some say was designed by Galileo. It’s got two separate sets of stairs so that 2 people could climb the stairs together, but without ever meeting.

It’s very formulaic in it’s layout but that doesn’t stop it being impressive. Louis the xiv or xv had a set of rooms here at one time, but later he gave the whole chateau away to someone …

The only thing that spoiled it for me was the amount of cheap mannequins around, dressed in poor quality replicas of clothes of the day and some set in very awkward positions. In addition there were an awful lot of cardboard cutout people lining the walls and other areas. I really didn’t see the point and I think it spoiled the view and the feel of the place.

The day I was there a team was doing a horse riding display around the back of what used to be the stables. I fell deeply and totally in love with one of the girls who rode the horses. Gorgeous little brunette she was and I tipped her far too much later. It got me a smile but that wasn’t worth what I’d paid tut. Never mind the display was excellent, not even marred by their constant and insistent demand for applause even when there was nothing to applaud. It was an excellent day topped off by a long walk through the grounds that took over an hour.

I’d hate to see the heating bill and I bet the window cleaner is a shell of a man but what a fabulous way to live if you can afford it. If you like history, are a fan of chateaux or just happen to be passing I thoroughly recommend visiting this building. Oh … take a picnic because when I asked to leave and come back they said no.

There’s tat shops outside, one which is very cheap and one which is amazingly expensive, a hotel, a bar and 2 restaurants. I couldn’t understand the parking, I didn’t pay despite parking there for the night as the barrier was up, but it shouldn’t have been. I believe cars get their parking refunded if they pay for entry to the chateau, which you don’t have to do as you can just wander the grounds if you like.

This was another of those finds, I just came across it by chance but I’m so pleased I did. I’d visit again.

A French woman’s home is her castle

Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France

Ahhh one of my favourite Chateaux, Chenonceau is built as you can see right over a river. It’s an incredible building and I love the look of it and the grounds that surround it. It’s got a fabulous long avenue of trees leading up to it, then a small keep type gatehouse even though there’s no gate there.

There’s a full market garden and a maze in the woods and the old stables have been converted into a restaurant. If you take in the grounds you could easily spend a day here. I noticed people walking into the kitchen, taking a photo then leaving. But if you looked around there was things to see.

Like the weight that hung off a gearing system. It was led out of the window on a thin rope. As it sank it turned the spit, then when it got to it’s length it could be cranked back up again. Very clever I thought.

So well worth a look around I think and it has tons of fantastic history for those who wish to investigate.

Loches, Loire valley

Loches in the Loire valley
Loches

I found this town by following a sign for a chateau, then when I drove in I instantly saw the very appealing old quarter. A lot of French towns have these old quarters, which is nice cos some of them are incredibly pretty and interesting. You can almost imagine the history down the ages because of the houses and the streets.

I took some lovely photos and was a little annoyed when I lost the CF card with them on. It was only a 4 gig card and not an expensive one so lucky there, but I don’t know if I’ll be back at Loches so I lost the memory and that’s what is important to me.

If I get the opportunity to go back there I will retake them, although that seems unlikely at the moment. Europe is too large to go so far back to what is really a small and relatively unimportant town.

Le Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel at night
Le Mont St Michel

I’ve been wanting to visit Mont St Michel for a long time. I saw it ages ago in some magazine or other and I loved the idea of it. The photo was a night shot much like the one here, so I hope mine inspires someone to see Mont St Michel as that photo years ago inspired me.

This blog is not intended to be a history resource, so I can tell you only that the rock that sits on the sea bed was chosen to build an abbey on as it was easy to fortify and was separate from the mainland, often being cut off by the tide.  Of course once the abbey was built so came all the attendant buildings for people to live in, shops, chapel, cemetery etc.

It’s an amazingly beautiful place and well worth a visit. I went during the late afternoon and early evening and wandered around the entire rock, although the abbey was closed by the time I got there. I returned after tea to see it on an evening and it’s very atmospheric and pretty. The tat shops are shut of course but the restaurants are open and if you can afford them they look very nice. Most are attached to hotels but I didn’t price them.

You can walk along the old walls, picnic in a park, and if you hunt around you can find an alleyway that is slightly hidden, helped by the fact it’s only about 16 inches wide. There are many little hidden corners but that’s the smallest I found. Some of the roofs still have wooden shingles and they’ve done quite a good job of making the modern fit with the old. I went back the following day but missed the abbey again and I was leaving that day, so it’s something to return for.

I love old quaint things and this is about as good as it gets, I wasn’t disappointed.