A Sketchy Guide to France

For months, all I had to do was look at my email to see the confirmation for our trip to Paris – and I was happy. And rightfully so.  We just returned from France, and the trip was everything we hoped it would be. Sights, amazing food, good friends – even a thwarted pickpocket! How could you ask for more? Our trip was divided into one week in Paris, and one week boating down the Lateral Loire Canal.

My friend, Joani Porto Bartoli, suggested to me that I keep a sketchbook as my diary during the trip. Inveterate doodler that I am, I instantly loved the idea. Sketching was fun, and I hope you enjoy some of the results (I’ll spare you all 35 of them) – it’s a great way to tell the story.

So a warning to my faithful readers – I’m going to divide this up into a series of blogs.  I get into some of the juicier stuff later on, but what the heck – there are tidbits in this entry as well!

Our story begins at LAX, where we realized that traveling through Washington, DC on September 9 might not be the cleverest idea. Security was a nightmare…

But we made our flight, met up with our friends and family in Paris, and decided that since it was just midday, we couldn’t possibly waste a day in the world’s most gorgeous city. So we dragged our sorry, exhausted butts to Notre Dame. Where one of us (OK, my brother-in-law, Alan) fell asleep in the pews – look for him in the bottom left of the sketch.

Part of the adventure was getting three couples – our old, dear friends Doug and Peggy, my sister and brother-in-law, Joan and Alan, and us, of course – to travel well together. We knew everyone, but the other two couples had never met.  Each and every one of us is a Type A, opinionated sort. I was, with the exception of Peggy, the least so – and if you know me, you can only imagine what the other personalities were like!

I chose not to illustrate how this storming, forming, norming worked, but if I did, the sketch would have a lot of schnauzers top-dogging each other. Fortunately, we figured it out, and the sniffing, snapping and yapping settled down. The key was realizing we didn’t all have to do the same thing, and with that freedom, we could each explore Paris in the way that made each of us happy.

One thing we all agreed on was that the Musee d’ Orsay was top of our list. I was fortunate enough to spend a day here on an earlier business trip to Paris, and I was itching to go back.  One of my favorite paintings – the one by Cezanne with the hidden pig in a nun’s habit – hangs there.

So on a rainy Sunday, off we all went, and it was every bit as glorious as I remembered it. The greatest collection of impressionist art in the world. The collection is so big that we had to take a break for cafe au lait and pastries – not exactly a sacrifice!

There is no shortage of sights in Paris. And we did our very best to see them all. Including, yes, the Eiffel Tower.

Where I had a height-driven panic attack, and found myself clinging to an inner wall, sweating profusely. Every party needs a pooper, and that was my role for the day. Click on the picture and look at the top right – you’ll see me in my full, anxious glory!

I’ve rambled on long enough for today. And if this hasn’t scared you off, there’s more coming.

Next week: The highlight of my trip: Giverney. Plus musings on why anyone would want to serve head of veal. And why butter and garlic with NO moderation is a very good thing…

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2 Responses

  1. Great post Terry! I love Paris and I loved seeing it through your eyes!
    We were across the pond at the same time as you and Scott but hanging out in Italy! Can’t wait to read your next post. Ciao! Gina

  2. Terry – I also went to Notre Dame the day I arrived in Paris – and also fell asleep! I just couldn’t help myself, I was so tired!

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