Saturday, December 15, 2012


On we travelled to Paris, the Eternal City, City of Lights.

Paris, the ancient and enormous metropolis with roadsigns in French --- which we mostly deciphered, but not always. With no city map except on John's trusty ipad, we made our way to our Airbnb, which was a houseboat on the Seine.


We were docked off the little Chemin de Halage, in the NW quadrant of this map, right near the D7.  Here is the view from our window, opps! porthole.

This riparian accommodation was not the world's --- or even Paris' -- most exclusive location, but remember, we are Peace Corps.  It was relaxing to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and who gets to Paris and can watch the scullers row by, a few feet from where we were having cafe au lait and croissants?
Just a few blocks' walk from our lodging to the train and into downtown Paris in twenty minutes. It was not a long drive south to Chartres. And what serendipity to be in Chartres on a day when bikers were  starting the last leg of the 2012 Tour de France.

After an incredibly jovial lunch with some British celebrants (their team came in first place!) we maneuvered around the Tour roadblocks and made our way into the Cathedral at Chartres. Seeing it for the first time was astonishing for Jody and Kevin.  And astonishing for Carol and John, who had been there in the early sixties, long before some amazing restoration had cleaned decades, if not centuries, of grime from the stone and from the stained glass:

Back then, the facade was dark and gray, the windows covered with soot.  Still, it was glorious then, just more glorious today. Jody took the picture on the left, of Kevin, John and Carol contemplating the main entrance; Kevin took the picture of the stained glass.  The incredible beauty of this sacred place speaks for itself.

Our good friend from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Gus Maffrey, and his lovely wife Liz live between Chartres and Paris, and we were able to spend an evening with them, not only remeniscing about the sixties but discussing current international politics, as well.  Dinner was delicious, and our only home-cooked meal in our three months since leaving Botswana!

We had a few more days in Paris, and we spent them walking the streets which we experienced as open, living museums. not even the Louvre.  Being in Paris was more exciting for us than looking at pieces of it displayed on a wall.  The parks are as magnificent as any museum as you can see below.

Jody and her friend Sally Ford waited tables together at Pho Van, a restaurant in Southeast Portland, several years ago.  Sally started a band, Sally Ford and the Outside, which has become very successful in Europe.  And, the band happened to be playing in Paris.  We went to hear her, of course.  They played outside to a big audience of people from their twenty-somethings to sixties-something.   Young and old dancing and jiving.  The world is full of connections and coincidences if we are open to finding them.  

The Eiffel tower is breathtaking from wherever you can see it, as is Montmartre.  The sight of it is always an unforgettable experience of Paris.

The neighborhood around Sacre Coeur is beautiful, fascinating, enticing.  The Cathedral Sacre Coeur was crowded with interesting people.  We walked and walked, inside, outside, and around it.  Alas, we wished, but could not, stay forever in Paris. Other places to go and things to do on this journey beckoned.....


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