What a whirlwind trip!  My Tour de France was filled with art museums, plein air painting, touring villages & castles and of course – fresh baked baguettes & croissants with cheese!

Eiffel Tower
We went from Paris to Provence and back again.  So, before I begin to write about all the art, I wanted to share some of my French musings.
Our ‘tour de France’ began in Paris!
My daughter and I arrived to a wet mid-morning after a direct flight from Salt Lake to Paris de Gaulle airport where we met up with our other painting workshop travelers.

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(woodwork in the Paris de Gaulle airport)

During our 45 minute shuttle ride to our hotel the highways were busy with little cars and motor scooters weaving in and out of the bumper to bumper traffic.  We were happy to find our Hotel Brighton on Rue de Rivoli was right across from the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre Museum! What a perfect location…for the next three days we could walk everywhere…and-walk-we-did!!!
We walked past and ducked into designer boutiques, pastry shops, candy stores, cafes, clothing stores, galleries, tourist traps and more. The store fronts are a form of art unto themselves!   My favorite was a charming store dedicated to ballet and dance.

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(ballet shop with ballet shoes for sale)

The Parisians seem to know how to celebrate the Art of Life and it shows in their food and fashion and architecture.  My daughter and I sat at different sidewalk cafes and ate amazing food and pastries.  Then we would attempt to walk off those calories while site-seeing down the different streets including the famous Champs des Elysees Avenue.
I looked in awe at the amazing architecture as we strolled by.  I loved watching the different little cars whiz by us.  My favorite was the three-seater Zoe by Renault.

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The grand Arc de Tromphe stands at the end of the Champs des Elysees Avenue and the infamous Eiffel Tower is just a few blocks away from that.  It was so crowded at the Eiffel Tower we decided just to walk under instead of  waiting in the three hour line…and this was the off season!
The 65 acre Tuileries Gardens, across from our hotel and adjacent to the Louvre is filled with amazing sculptures, fountains and interesting local people and their dogs.  We visited and were amazed by the 35,000 treasures in the Louvre, the Impressionists of d’Orsay and Monet’s Waterlilies at the Orangerie Museum.  

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(My daughter Ashley enjoyed a giant crepe filled with chocolate Nutella & ice cream wearing in her new ‘trenchcoat’ )

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(Galleries Lafayette is beautiful, each level is filled with amazing shopping)

We shopped at the magnificent Galleries Lafayette where the mall is amazing in itself!  We  later bought tickets to the Plais Garnier and watched a Parisian ballet.

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(The stage inside the Plais Garnier Opera House…our seats were the highest in the house!)

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(Inside the Opera House looks like it’s straight out of the Phantom of the Opera!)

This was where The Phantom of the Opera was conceptualized and Degas painted his ballerinas!  Even though we had the cheapest seats in the house (the only ones available) it was a magical evening.

In the evenings after a long day of walking, I enjoyed the view from my hotel window.  I could see the Eiffel Tower lit up in all her glory.

Musings of Paris:

  • It can be cold in Paris…and wet!
  • …I knew I should have packed that little umbrella of mine…
  • 10 million people live in the greater Paris area!
  • Parisians love their dogs…watch where you walk.
  • Americans stick out like a sore thumb!
  • If a Gypsy asks if you speak English, say ‘NO’ and run in the other direction before she steals your money.
  • Fanny packs are out of fashion.
  • The Asians love Paris.
  • Most locals speak English & pretend not to…
  • I should have brushed up on my French.
  • Don’t try and speak Spanish…they get terribly offended.
  • The French do like Americans…if you are polite.
  • The Ritz is expensive.   One bottle of special port cost 7 thousand Euro!  That is where the word “Ritzy” was coined.
  • But, Americans say ‘merci’ (thank you) too often. It annoys the waiters.
  • The drivers don’t stop for pedestrians.
  • Graffiti is everywhere…especially along the highways and abandoned buildings.
  • In Paris, every fashionable woman wears a trench-coat!  Black or beige. She can throw it over a sweater and a pair of jeans and look great!
  • Everyone wears a scarf!
  • California is their favorite state.  I got tired of trying to explaining Idaho…so I gave in and said I was from California (I was born in L.A. & lived in Cal for 12 yrs.).  This made them happy.
  • HIGH heels are in! (Even in the rain)
  • Espadrilles are back in style.
  • Ballet slipper style shoes are in.
  • Berkanstocks are out! (luckily non of us were wearing them!)
  • The French drive fast and eat slow!
  • Ice is a rare commodity.
  • Christmas music is popular in May!  We heard it playing 4 times throughout France.
  • Wear comfortable shoes!!!
  • French seem to be in a hurry to get ‘somewhere’ but once they get there, they slow down.  They enjoy their meals, wine, conversation and cigarettes.
  • The French women eat baguettes, cheese, and pasteries, drink wine, smoke and stay slim….go figure.  They call a Diet Coke, Coca-Lite.  I don’t think the word ‘diet’ exists in their vocabulary!

Au Revoir
~ Lori 🙂
I hope you enjoy these other informative articles:

A Day with the French Impressionists
My Paintings of Provence

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