In French, the term for have a good day is bonne journée. “Jour,” of course means day. In English, we say “journey” to mean a trip or voyage. Many shop owners tell us to have a good day, wishing us bonne journée as we leave the store. I appreciate this because of the play on words with “journey,” and because when you live for today, the day indeed can be a journey unto itself.
Before our trip, I’d imagined I’d brush up by reading some French literature – or at least a few language program lessons. I did neither. I have been using my French skills to communicate here, and what a lesson to the need to continue learning and practicing the words! I understand some but not all of what I read and hear, and find that my ability to communicate is mitigated by the words I don’t have fresh at hand in my mind. Now that I know the slow curve of recall while immersed, I highly recommend to myself to do so next time!
We’ve done all the usual activities in order to experience Paris. We listened to some Rick Steves audio tours recently and learned all about Parisian customs and history related to food, society and certain monuments.
OF course the famous Eiffel Tower! An impressive fact we learned is that Monsieur Eiffel constructed an apartment for himself on the top of this tower, built in 1889. Peering into the apartment, we saw an installation with wax figures of the inventor and engineer, Eiffel, with his daughter and Thomas Edison. Thomas was smitten with the idea of a an apartment 1000 ft up.
We arrived to the top area of the tower in part by stairs. While we were chilled by the wind when we stopped, and grateful to no longer stand in an hour-plus long line. (The wait did, however, serve as a great time for us to share headphones to take in more Rick Steves Paris stories.)
The view on the top of the tower looking over the city gave us a grand perspective on the sheer scale of the city. Apparent to us was the grear amount of green spaces. So many trees in the city, largely in the wide boulevards made by Louis XIV to allow for a procession to the castle for all to see.
We saw the Louvre from above, with its palatial arrangement of castles and the world’s oldest (and biggest?) art gallery.
We visited the Louvre on our first day in Paris. This visit was on my bucket list in life, and we were thrilled to spend the day there covering almost the entire area. We learned that only 30% of the collections are on display – the remaining works (70%!) are in storage or restoration. We saw old paintings of people in the Louvre in the 1800s looking at the old paintings we were looking at today. We saw classic works including the Mona Lisa. We didn’t unfortunately take the time to fully absorb the power and mystique of this painting widely held to be the greatest of DaVinci’s work. Even having seen it now, I still don’t fully grasp why the painting is so acclaimed. It’s good but not better than some other masterpieces there in the exhibit. If you really think about it, curious to wonder how a piece becomes so revered as to take a life of its own.
On the other hand, after absorbing the depth and character of so many works, this piece brought us a moment of levity. Here, we found a painting that stood out from all the other portraits with staid expressions, and discovered this guy. Thomas and I had a telepathic moment as we took out our cameras to capture Thomas’s rendition.
In sum, we absorbed certain pieces more than others, such as exquisite portrayals of the Last Supper, the collection of Rembrandts (largest in the world), Sumerian artifacts (including Hammurabi’s Code). For me, the splendor of the Louvre was the building itself: the Grand Hall was the most spectacular place to see art I’ve ever known.
On the way home from the Louvre, we found a soccer ball in the Luxembourg Gardens. We’d walked 5 miles that day so far (including around the museum) and yet something inspired us to get a little sweaty playing soccer.
Being outside is a major element of our time here. Thomas is a true nature-lover and gets lost in the gardens. We talk often about our home in Costa Rica and our farm and trees there.
Throughout this trip, we have spent a long time perusing gardens. We both deeply enjoy botanical gardens, trees and learning in nature. We saw parks and gardens in each city we stayed in! Like here, in Florence’s Boboli Gardens (thanks for the recommendation, Rhoda!).
Today, we admired the herbs and placard descriptions of various beds. That, and wherever we go, we deeply inhale the flowers. Irises are Thomas’ favorite to behold, and roses are mine.
We walk everywhere not just because we aren’t wasting money on taxi rides all over town, but because we get our bodies moving and see more of the city. We refer to a map before leaving the house each day, and while we walk through the streets, parks and gardens, somehow Thomas guides us to our destination with very little map consulting.
We enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Seine, inspired in part by a long walk and lunch along the river. This experience was a bucket list item (who doesn’t want to have a romantic, rainy French dinner on the Seine with their dearest love) and we ticked that one off with a chin-chin!
Last, the miles of walking and hiking up and down stairs and all over the city (to Notre Dame, to parks, to markets) is a great way to work off the Paris pastries and wine!
Thomas can’t get his fill of the pastries – they are truly works of art. I’m not a huge sugar fan in general but I have to say, the pastries here are on another level of taste.
Thomas goes out in the morning to find pastries. The classic croissant is my favorite (yet I still have a cream-and-fruit-filled treat waiting for later day after our walk!). The butter, sugar and flour mixture in these edible art pieces are majestic. Even the local bakery near us , the most banal of bakers can create treats exuding such layers of flavor and taste delightful on the tongue and palate… we really appreciate enjoying French pastries here at the source!
Also, the wine. We’ve had lots of it. We had our last wine in Europe last night on the dinner cruise, and have enjoyed several bottles at home. We have a thing where we speak a toast to something, like a blessing. We toasted like this with Kim & Michael when traveling a few weeks ago. With them, we started a spontaneous toast in which each person fills in part of the sentence about what we toast to. So, in the spirit of fun after opening our last bottle of wine in the living room at home the other day, Thomas and I began a spontaneous cheers. I started: “Here’s to the eternal flourishing of…” and he ended with, “our love for each other.” Cheers to that!! ❤
Travel for a month in Europe and being on honeymoon together is incredible. We are wrapping up our month of Italy and France tomorrow to head to Costa Rica. We look forward to the house being done and to setting up our home there! We enjoy the sweetness of our honeymoon and, by contrast, our home.
With the ins and outs of a life of travel, we’ve have cultivated an appreciation for what it feels like to be at home. At some point while in Provence, we tapped into a realization of how we prefer to travel.
While on honeymoon we have looked at each other in awe and gratitude at our amazing good fortune to be here. We have taken in so many historic, inspiring, beautiful and awesome places, people, experiences and food this month. In the midst of experiencing so many things – from art to artists, architecture to appetizers, avenues to apartments – we became aware of a certain ungroundedness given the periodic changes of location.
Skating from home to home in different cities, settling in, packing up, setting up new kitchen, new living space, new work space, orienting to the local resources, etc. takes some energy. We no longer underestimate the stability and healthy lifestyle of having our daily routine available regularly. In the future extended or shortterm travels, we will plant: stay in one home for the trip and take side day trips to see sights.
We are so excited to hit our stride of home again – waking up early, meditation, yoga, breakfast, sight-seeing, work and above all, eating healthily! I listened this morning to Doreen Virtue’s reading on YouTube about health and just as I was, Thomas came in and discussed his fitness aspirations for these coming months. The turning leaf is near for us both. For me, veganism and no alcohol feels like a great return to my base to detox after this trip! We’ve begun, starting at breakfast this morning! Sitting at the table with my matcha latte and my fork in a plate with the kiwi, salad and I told Thomas, “look, my dream of a green smoothie each morning again is starting to come true!”
(And then, as I finished writing this post, Thomas plied me with a delectable almond croissant… the man loves his pastries!!!)
Well, we wave goodbye and say bon voyage à Paris! We can’t wait to come back one day and are starting the pack up from our honeymoon to go home!