Tuesday, May 31, 2016


This gothic church is just next-door to the Panthéon. I've never been inside, although I've read that it's worth seeing. Maybe one of these days. It was built in the sixteenth century, long before its more massive neighbor. The mont in its name refers to the montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the hill named for the patron saint of Paris.

The tall building behind the church is part of the University of Paris, Pierre and Marie Curie campus, at Jussieu. The church-looking tower on the right is part of the Lycée Henri IV, a well-known Parisian high school.

The neighborhood is where the Romans built their city back in the day of Julius Caesar. Not far from this site is the old Roman amphitheater on the rue Monge, the ancient Roman forum, and the baths at Cluny. It's also very close to the spot (down the hill to the left) where Owen Wilson was picked up on his trips into the Parisian past in Woody Allen's film, "Midnight in Paris."

Monday, May 30, 2016

La basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Here's another iconic Parisian monument, the Sacred Heart basilica. It's not an old building, having been completed at the turn of the century. Uh, from the 19th to the 20th, that is. I forget that the century has turned again since that expression became popular. Us mid-century types are getting old.

The gothic church without towers just below the Sacré Cœur in the photo is Saint Eustache at les Halles. The gothic spire on the left, just behind the pointy green roof, is the Sainte Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité.

I won't go into the details of why it was built -- lots of guilt, remorse, political, religious and moral stuff, all of which you can look up on the internet if you're interested. But since it was built, up on the heights of Montmartre, it has become an icon of Paris and a tourist mecca. The views out over the city from the terraces are terrific. I have yet to climb up into the church's dome. Maybe one day!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Notre Dame de Paris

Here's a Parisian monument that everyone knows: the cathedral of Notre Dame. This view is, of course, from the dome of the Panthéon, looking right down the street where my hotel was, across the arm of the river that separates the Left Bank from the Ile de la Cité, and smack into the southern flank of the cathedral.

The bright blue and red building behind the church's towers is the Centre Pompidou, Paris' modern art museum.

What more can I say? I didn't visit the church this time, but I did walk by the front on my way to another neighborhood later on that day. It's been way over a week since I've returned from my trip, but I'm still showing you photos from that first afternoon, before I even left France.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


These towers frame the François Mitterand National Library just up river from the Austerlitz train station on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris. It's the second site of France's national library, the first being on the rue Vivienne over on the Right Bank. When the library was being built in the late 1990s, I heard it referred to more than once as la TGB (Très Grande Bibliotheque, or Very Big Library), a take-off on the name for France's high speed train, le TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). Haha.

I think that dome belongs to the Eglise Saint-Louis, part of the Hôpital Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière complex.

The library is part of a decades-long renovation of this section of the city where old manufacturing plants lined the river along the railroad tracks. Now, large sections of the tracks are disappearing under the rising mix of offices, shops, and university and residential buildings that are filling in the neighborhood.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bleu, blanc, et rouge

The big church with the round towers in the photo is Saint Sulpice in the heart of Paris' sixth arrondissement. It's the neighborhood where I spent my first months in a Paris boarding house back in 1981. The church is huge, recently restored, and worth a visit if you're in the city.

Looking toward the northwest from the Panthéon's dome.

Beyond the church you can see La Défense, a high-rise neighborhood of offices, shopping centers, hotels, and residential buildings built along the extended axis formed by the Louvre and the Champs-Elysées. To the left of flag is the gilded dome of the church at Les Invalides. Napoléon's tomb lies under it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Who put that there?

The Eiffel Tower is probably the most familiar and photogenic monument on the Paris skyline. It's always challenging to find new ways to capture it and I'm certainly not the first to do it from this vantage point. But it was the first time for me, so I'm counting it!

Who could resist taking this photo?

There are many other familiar monuments to see from the Panthéon's dome. Stay tuned for a few more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The colonnade

We emerged outside the base of the Panthéon's dome, inside the colonnade that encircles and supports it. The floor is slanted downwards and out, to shed rain, I suppose. The details are amazing, given that this part of the building was never intended to be seen from so close.

The recent restoration makes everything look so clean and new.

I walked around the perimeter of the dome several times, taking photos of course, and changing the lens a time or two. Because our group was not particularly large, getting shots without people in them was not very difficult.

Ah, those corinthian capitals!

I mentioned before that I like to drag out the pictures, so I apologize if you're a little impatient to see the views out over the city. But don't worry, they're coming up soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Second stop

Our little group continued our climb up to the dome of the Panthéon, stopping a second time outdoors, just under the colonnade. As we waited, enjoying the rest, we took in the view westward toward the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides dome (under which Napoléon is buried).

Looking down the rue Sufflot. The big trees are in the Jardin de Louxembourg. The gold dome is at les Invalides.

When the guides figured we had had enough, they took us up again, climbing back inside the building only to come out again inside the colonnade. I didn't know how much time we had up there, so I started taking pictures rather quickly.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The ascent

Our climb into the Panthéon's dome went in three stages. Each stop gave us a chance to catch our breath and allowed slower climbers to catch up with the group. The first pause was on a balcony, still inside the church, under the vaulted ceilings.

If you look closely you will see, just to the right of center, the thin line of the cable of Foucault's pendulum.

One of the guides led the group while the second one followed up, making sure no one was left behind. If I remember correctly, our group numbered about twenty or twenty-five. Each tour can accommodate a maximum of fifty people.

Looking down along the nave toward the choir.

The Panthéon offers six dome tours a day, two in the morning and four in the afternoon. I caught the 15h30 tour. That was the second to the last for the day. The whole thing took about forty-five minutes, start to finish.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Foucault's pendulum

French physicist Léon Foucault is credited with the notion that the movement of Earth as it rotates can be perceived in the rotation of a pendulum's plane of oscillation. Can you say that three times, fast? What's French for "bazinga!"?

Foucault's pendulum swings from the center of the Panthéon's impressive central dome. The blurry gold ball is the "bob."

The pendulum in the Panthéon is the oldest surviving of Foucault's original pendula (that is an acceptable plural form!). The actual original, hanging in the museum of Arts et Métiers in Paris, was destroyed in 2010 when its cable snapped. There are many versions of the Foucault pendulum around the world. One of the more famous, and one that I saw as a schoolboy on a field trip, hangs (swings?) in the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More interior shots

This is going to take a while. I'm not one to post photos all at once. I like to drag it out. So here are a couple more shots inside the Panthéon in Paris. The first one looks up into the dome that I would soon be climbing toward.

Looking up into the dome. My final destination was just outside those windows.

This second shot is one of the transepts of the church. I'm surprised at how these interiors turned out, given that they're taken without any flash. There was some sun coming in from the upper windows, so that helped.

Colorful paintings in the southern transept. Or was it the northern? I can't remember.

I still have a couple of interiors to show you before the climb up into and outside of the dome. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Inside the Panthéon

I stood in a short line to get into the Panthéon. Then I had about twenty minutes before the climb up into the dome, so I wandered around a bit and took some photos, as I am wont to do. The place is cavernous, as many of these monumental churches are. It was built in the classical style, completed in the late eighteenth century, and dedicated to the patron saint of Paris, Sainte Geneviève.

The central nave, supported by elaborate corinthian columns.

The building is no longer a church, but serves as a mausoleum where the bodies of the great men, and now women, of France lie. From Voltaire to Pierre and Marie Curie, noted authors, scientists, and men of state are honored here.

The columns are massive.

I had just the right amount of time to wander around before we gathered for our climb up into the dome.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

It always amazes me when I make plans and arrangements and they carry through perfectly. This trip back to the US went so smoothly that, now when I look back on it, it seems like a dream. It's hard to remember the days before everything was on the internet and how we managed to arrange international travel. Trains, planes, automobiles, and hotels, all my reservations worked with no hassles; everything was ready and waiting, even on my return to France on a day of rail strikes. I had not a single problem. And now I'm home. I'm very grateful to my Aunt Kathy and to my wonderful friends Lou and Lorraine for putting me up, and for putting up with me, while I was in New York.

Now I plan to spend a while processing photos of the trip and sharing them, and some of my adventures, here on the blog. I appreciate your indulgence.

Out the door of my hotel in Paris, looking left, this is what I could see. To the dome!

I left Saint-Aignan on Monday the second of May. Ken drove me up to Blois where I got a train into Paris. I spent that first night in a hotel on the Left Bank, then took the RER up to the airport the following morning for my mid-day flight to Montréal. But first, I had an afternoon in Paris to do some sightseeing. My hotel was a few blocks from the Panthéon, and Ken and I had read that now that the recent round of renovations is complete, visitors can climb up the steps to the dome for the views out over the city. So, once I was checked into my hotel, I made my way to the Panthéon and did just that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Arriving today

I'll be riding one of these today.

Image by REUTERS/Vincent Kessler, via www.Slate.fr

Can't wait to get home!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Going home

I'll be on one of these today.

Then it's a train back to the countryside, and I'll be home.

Monday, May 16, 2016

My last day

Today is my last full day in Albany; I leave for Montréal and my flight home on Tuesday. It's been a great trip, and it went by so fast. Still, I will be happy to get home to Ken, Callie, and  Bert. Let's hope the planned rail strikes in France don't wreak too much havoc with my return.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Remember me to Herald Square

On Friday, my friend Lorraine and I took the train down to New York City. I wanted to visit the Guggenheim Museum, a place that I had never seen. Now I can check that off the list. We also visited the nearby Neue Gallery to see The Woman in Gold by Klimt and The Scream by Munch. We had a nice lunch and, later, a drink in a wine bar before heading back upstate.

I'll have more photos from our day later.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The old home town

Just a quick view of my home town seen from the waterfront. I'm still on my trip, but I'm more than halfway through now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Two lips

This past weekend was Albany's annual Tulip Festival, celebrating the city's Dutch heritage. I didn't get to any of the events, but I did get downtown to see some of the tulip beds. Here's a little sample.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Just ducky

All is well in the Great Northeast. I'm enjoying my stay and am having fun seeing people and catching up. Posting will continue sporadically, so keep checking back!

Ducks and koi in a local park.

Friday, May 06, 2016

In upstate New York

I'm currently traveling and posting will be light for a while. Check back soon!

This is where I am for a while.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

I'm traveling

I'm currently traveling posting will be light for a while. Keep checking back!

This is where I'm going today.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

In Québec

I'm currently traveling and posting will be light for a while. Keep checking back!

This is where I am today.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

I'm traveling

I'm currently traveling and posting will be light for a while. Keep checking back!

This is where I'm going today.

Monday, May 02, 2016

I'm traveling

I'm currently traveling and posting will be light for a while. Keep checking back!

This is where I'm going today.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Transplant day

I've been waiting for this day. Today I will transplant my little vegetable seedlings to individual pots so that they can grow and be ready for the garden in a few weeks. We're expecting a dry, sunny day with little wind, so I can do the job outdoors out by the greenhouse.

These spring wildflowers have nothing to do with today's post.

The greenhouse/tent is holding up well. We've had some windy days and it's been fine, as long as the door has been zipped shut. And the plants inside are obviously enjoying the warm and humid environment as they look happy and healthy, for the most part.