Couch 8, Blog 1

 

OK…  This blog was written this morning before I realized that I had two other blogs that had not been posted yet.  Of course, that’s part of the problem…  Couch wins if I don’t hit the POST button…

That’s what it seems like to me.  I have great intentions of writing clever witty pieces on life in Paris and yet I seem to spend most of the time thinking that while casting a glance over at the laptop on the table from the couch with my Kindle open to a book.  One of the greatest discoveries in the world is of a book series that has been going on for a while so when you come across it, you have 5 or 10 or 15 books that you can read immediately.  No waiting for the author to write a new one a year later.  And I must admit…. Well, I guess I don’t have to but I will since I have started this topic…  that my weakness is a witty or clever or both Regency romance of the Georgette Heyer or Barbara Metzger type (NOT Barbara Cartland or the bodice rippers)  [did you know that Kindle and other e-readers gave a big boost to bodice ripper books – because you don’t have to hide the cover!  It’s true!]  Or scifi or magic/fantasy.  Fortunately, an old friend from high school has an endless supply of recommendations.

(Our idea of a great Saturday was to go book shopping in Glendale at a great bookstore and come home and read together – trading books, sharing funny parts.  My mother found it a bit strange…  For Introverts, reading together is actually a bonding group (no more than 2) experience!)

I do feel the need to maintain my street cred – I loved Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.  Pulitzer.  And how many of you have read – in the entirety! – Moby Dick?  I have.  It was better than reading the Cliff Notes.

One of the challenges to blog writing is remembering what to write.  I mentioned great writers who keep notebooks.  I try.  And lose the notebook.  Or have either the pen or the notebook but not both.  And sometimes I try to dictate an email to remember things.  Today as I was off to the market, I recalled Voice Recordings on my Iphone.  Sweet.  This may be the answer.

Big construction down the Avenue de Charles de Gaulle here in Neuilly.  There’s a new RER line and they are putting in the air and escape hatches.  So the marche is split now – half down the sidewalk, the remainder in the square as usual.  I have a craving for fruit suddenly.  I can wait for the market day, or I can pick it up at Galleries Gourmand or Marks & Spencers Food Hall, both at Palais de Congres.  Different from the US, these marches are not really the local farmers coming to town.  The vendors buy their food from wholesalers.  So I don’t seem that much difference between store and market.  Either way, you have to plan to eat it immediately, or soon.  Clearly that bodes well for the freshness.  But it does mean a change in how I plan.

I left at 10.  Beautiful blue sky.  Cool.  64 degrees.  Got what I needed from the market but stopped by the apartment before going on to the next store.  I was wet.  And not from the rain.  Sweat.  (Oops.  Glow.)  The humidity here is killing me this year.  It can’t be menopause – been there, done that.  Nope, it’s the humidity.  I have to be very careful to under-dress and choose cotton or something breathable.  I don’t recall it being this bad last year.  But when I headed off to the Palais de Congres in with a cotton shirt, I could see the clouds rolling in.  100% chance of rain at 1pm.

I want rain.  I want the dust to be washed away.  Almost wish it for the apartment.  As I would glance at my laptop, I spied dust bunnies on the floor.  I finally got up and cleaned, including vacuuming.  But where do these dust bunnies come from?  And it’s a misnomer in France.  They are not dust bunnies.  More like dust elephants.  HUGE.  I have the bathroom window cracked open.  Just a crack!  And daily I clean the beginnings of dust elephants out of the drain strainer.  (that doesn’t sound right… is there another name?)  It reminds me of living in Pittsburg in the 70’s when I would see chunks of coal on the window sill.  (OK, not chunks!  But big enough to see!)

The Kindle is calling….  Kindle 8   – Blog 2

French… and Debates

 

My self-perception has not caught up with reality, according to some friends.  I continue to be amazed when I actually speak French and am understood.  And some readers say get over it.  You have been there so long you must be fluent.  Implying I should find a new topic…

Hey.  I am pleased to discover the times I understand or am understood.  It’s a very nice pleasant moment.  One to savor.  Guess it actually shows that I had more doubt than I ever let on.

Oh, I am NOT fluent – remember my blog about the construction – not really sure of that conversation at all.  But today walking down the street passing folks, I realized that I do hear words now.  Might not know them all, but two years ago, French ran together in a mush of unintelligible sounds.  Now I can distinguish.  Cool.

And this morning I had a definite WIN.  The debate…. Ya, that DEBATE!… will be on at 3 am on Tuesday in France.  I was able to discover what channel was going to broadcast it live.  And I found it on my TV (I don’t watch often, so I am not that familiar with the channels).  AND I managed to set it up to record so if I do sleep through it, I don’t have to wait to find a recording on the ‘net.    I must admit…, I think my intuitive understanding of TV, recordings, and computers was more the reason I could make it work than my French.

Curmudgeon

Do ya remember Andy Rooney?  From 60 Minutes?  Andy Rooney from Wikipedia

I thought him funny at first, but as he aged, I found him to be quite curmudgeonly.

I wonder some days here in Paris if I am not going down that same path…

Sometimes I can take the French with great humor.  Other times, I roll my eyes.  And other times I want to scream…  Well, not really.  But I want to do an Andy Rooney segment – “Do you ever wonder why…. Insert any of the odd things that French do particularly in regard to bureaucracy.”

I was reading posts on one of my Facebook groups for expats (there are several and very useful indeed.) Someone asked about the visa renewal process – everyone commented on the different requirements depending upon location and person helping you.  And then there was the one person who said the requirements changed three different times – no, not because of three different people!  She saw the same clerk each time.  Arrgh.

I roll my eyes at a French friend who to me appears overly paranoid.  But then I find a study done by the OECD (yup, same place I visited for Heritage Days– great site for information) on World Values – the Well-Being of Nations… From a study done in 1995-96 (can’t find more recent data but I have no reason to think there is a drastic difference) it shows the Measure of Trust – the percentage of people who say that most people can be trusted.  The Scandinavian countries are at the top, Norway with 65.3.  US is 35.6 (although that might be different now…) and France down at the bottom with 22.8%.   I roll my eyes and think about the amount of energy it takes to be paranoid.  France.

One of my favorite groups is Grumpy Expats.   A place to rant a bit and get frustrations out.  Often with humor.  What’s interesting is to read about how difficult it is to make friends with the German people.  I had always heard that about the French, but my friends are proving that wrong.  Maybe I am glad to be here, not in Berlin.

Heritage Days

 

2016-09-17-12-03-11That’s my translation for Les Journees Europennes des Patrimoine.  It’s an EU thing, and here in France it’s a big deal.  Even after the attacks, it’s a big deal.  It’s a weekend, a Saturday and Sunday in September. Places that have historical significance are open to the public for these two days.  Some places you can reserve in advance (which I discovered on Friday night.  Good to know for next year.)  Particular places are hotspots – like the Palais Elysees which is like our White House.  I hear the line is several hours long.  My friend and I checked out the websites and decided on the Palais Royal and the OECD.

The Palais Royal turned out to be very manageable in terms of wait.  Less than an hour.  An initial security check and then just before entering, the scanner and bag x-ray.  And tons of security – from private companies.  I had read that security would be beefed up.  But I read that some smaller towns were not opening many places because they could not afford the extra level of security needed these days.  I think Paris went all out as a display of “We are not afraid.”

The Palais Cardinal was built in 1639 and was the residence of Cardinal Richelieu. He didn’t enjoy it long – at his death in 1642 the Palais became the property of the king and queen and became the Palais Royal.  And then its history includes kings and queens and ducs and duchesses, comtes and comtesses and revolutionaries and emperors…  far too complex for me to sort out for you when you can find it on Wikipedia. wiki-palais royal

Today the Palais Royal houses the Conseil d’État, 2016-09-17-11-41-59the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture.

2016-09-17-11-07-19I am very familiar with it because of the gardens.  Wonderful courtyard, great fountains, and restaurants and stores around the edges.  One of Julia Childs’ favorite restaurants is there.  I think it was the first place she ate in Paris.  But the Palais Royal is also home to the Conseil d’Etat and the Ministry of Culture.  That’s what we were allowed special entrance to.

2016-09-17-11-17-02I would like to be the French Ministre de Culture just for the office. 2016-09-17-11-22-25

And m’dear, let’s have lunch on my balcony…

 

 

The French do a good job with mixing old and new.  See the hallway above with the yellow graphics… and the reception room.   Like the Pyramid at the Louvre.  2016-09-17-11-53-54However, they don’t always do it well – when they put those monstrosities by Jeff Koons in the Palace of Versailles!!!  (I detest Jeff Koons and it amazes me that Sacramento wasted 8 million dollars on a piece of his junk for the new arena downtown.  Appalling waste of money that could have been spent on local artists far better than Koons.)  (Should I tell you how I really feel?)

Imagine working in a place like this?  And being able to look down on this courtyard? Even the library… 2016-09-17-11-49-01When we got to the Conseil d’Etat I was confused because I just don’t understand how France works. 2016-09-17-11-46-55 There were different offices for presidents galore.  Not Hollande, of course, but all these different sections or committees had presidents not chair people.  But the real head of the Conseil d’Etat (which I can’t explain to you yet) is called the vice-president.  Clear?

As mud.

And 2016-09-17-11-57-25I loved this main staircase… with my kitchen tiles of course.  And gold stuff hanging down.  2016-09-17-11-59-38Regal!

 

 

2016-09-17-14-09-57Then we went to the OECD.  Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.  Of course, in French it is the OCDE – Organisation de Cooperation et de Development Economique.  I know two people who have worked here and another who applied to work there in the 70’s.  Most of what I know about it is the great studies they do – reading, wages, life – globally.  It started after the war out of the Marshall Plan but then morphed into what it is today – a true international institution.

2016-09-17-14-41-12So we saw a modern conference room…      Many…    But that’s not why we went – it is located in the place where the Chateau de Muette was located.  Torn down.  Destroyed.  But a new chateau – manor – house – palace (chose one) was built in the 20s by the Rothschilds.  OK. This place was fabulous.  2016-09-17-15-18-29I have written about the Musee de Nissim Camando – this place outshines it.  We got to see the special meeting and reception rooms of the Secretary of the organization (president).  And the old ballroom and the dining room.  Spacious.  Surrounded by a lovely park.  Special.

Sunday we went to the design show for AD – the Architectural Digest magazine.  I have read about them for years – why not take advantage of their show here in Paris for only 10 euros?  Why did they charge 10 euros?  Waste of money.  Only ten rooms.  I wasn’t too impressed with the interiors they showed.  I liked the location more – Monnaie de Paris – an old building used for conference and exhibits.  Lovely.

We saw other Patrimoine locations but weren’t in the mood for lines.  I saw photos from a friend who visited the Hotel de Ville of Paris (city hall) and that’s on my list for next year.  As is the Musee Gaumont.  That’s located – to my surprise – right across the street from me.  But their Patriomoine sign said COMPLET.  Full.  I will reserve ahead next time.

What a great concept.  To be allowed to see these beautiful settings that are now offices.

Just think that there are bureaucrats, presidents, and workers who go to work every day in those incredible surroundings.  Me, well, HR was always relegated to a room off to the side… fortunately, I escaped an office in a trailer…  But now I can dream of an office in Paris…

 

 

 

Showing her around…

While my niece was here, we visited the following (no, not in one day, but in 10!): St Chapelle, Crypte, Conciergerie, Museums Louvre, Rodin, d’Orsay, Cluny, College Beradines, l’Opera, Passage Brady (to buy henna), the Eiffel, Chateau Vincennes, Notre Dame, La Roue (huge Ferris wheel), Galerie Doree (located in the Banque de France and spectacular reception hall), Sacre Coeur, Jardin des Plantes (for the mineral exhibit), the Grand Mosque of Paris, Arena Lutece (roman ruins amphitheater), St Germaine des Pres and we had overnights to Orleans for the light show on the cathedral and to Dieppe for 3 days.  Whew.

And we had dinner at Carmine where you cook your own steak (the beef is fabulous) (and the niece has wanted this since she saw my post on FB last year) and my favorite soufflé restaurant.

More about Orleans and Dieppe in another blog.  And if you want to know more about any of the places listed, just leave a comment and I shall elaborate.

Rest

Rest – it’s all it’s cracked up to be!  Who knew?

So continuing saga – you know I have been tres occupee the past 40 some days.  And life caught up to me last week and knocked me on my butt.  I didn’t have a bad cold but felt the twinges of one starting.  So for a big change.  Probably the first time in my life!  I decided to rest.  Stayed home since Tuesday afternoon except for two meetings – on Thursday and Friday and then nothing else til last night a quiet dinner.  That’s 8 days.  And on many of those I napped more than I did nothing or read.  And on top of that, I was getting 7 or more hours of sleep.

And today I feel almost chipper.

I had work to do for the Bloom Where You’re Planted event I am working on (a day for new expats to explain all things French).   And I did it all!  Effectively.  Efficiently.  And without putting it off until 9 pm.  I haven’t done that for a long while.  AND my hip doesn’t seem to bother me.

Hmmm.  Maybe this resting is a good idea…

But heck, it will get in the way of doing things!  And I am all about doing things!

Tonight I did something!  You have heard about the construction across from me.  This evening there was an open house for the neighbors so we could hear what’s happening with it and ask questions.  Well, my neighbors could ask questions.  It was clearly a reminder that while I may feel I am becoming more literate in French, I have a long long way to go.  Yet, I did understand a lot of it.  Still I was too wimpy to ask my questions in the meeting – I waited until after it was breaking up to talk to him.  And he did understand.  One of the main topics was the time of the work – it’s not supposed to start until at least 7:30.  Wish we all had known that two months ago.  I told him about the one guy who shows up almost every day to open the gate – lots of noise! – at 6:30 or 7.  And about the … boys? Men? Hoodlums? Who jumped over the fence (it’s a tall fence) to toss pieces of metal bars to his two friends.  At 2 am.  I don’t want to know what their intentions were…  He said they are installing video surveillance cameras.

The construction rep took it all in.  Maybe after Thursday it will be quieter in the morning…

The project is massive.  It started this summer and won’t be done until January 2018.  I suppose projects like this are common in big cities like New York or London.  It’s fascinating to me.  They will actually put a crane in the courtyard of the building next month.  The BIG WORK (direct translation) is scheduled for between this November and April next year.  The façade between April and October next year.  Then interior work until January 2018.

Neighbors were quite concerned about the crane – that it wouldn’t drop something on their building – I think.  And while I thought it was bad enough here across the street, people in the building next to it were talking about the constant noise and vibration.  Yikes.

Now that I feel better, life is getting back on track.  Conversation exchanges tomorrow and Friday.  Saturday I get to play – a friend is coming in from the suburbs/banlieu for food or fun or both.  And more conversations.  The exciting thing is my Wednesday adventure!

News.  Media Training…

 

I have been sick.  I know I am sick when I voluntarily get up and gargle with soda and salt and hot water. It’s all my great-niece’s fault – running me ragged for 2 weeks.  Wednesday I rested and thought I was on top of it.  Just had one meeting on Thursday, and a conversation on Friday.  Returning home earlier than I anticipated on Friday, I collapsed.  Friday and Saturday I was out.  I could read for max of 15 minutes and then I slept.  Luckily I had picked up some food on the way home Friday.  I even found real chicken noodle soup mix. (I swear by chicken soup.)

Sunday I was a bit better.  Maybe I could read for 45 minutes before napping.  What is it? Hard to say – scratchy throat and sniffles but fatigue is the main symptom. It’s Monday now – just back from a grocery trip (took my backpack to make it easier and grabbed the bus back.)   Feeling a bit better after the gargling (I can hear my mom telling me Go Gargle Now!)

Now that I am more conscious, I am back on the news circuit.  Surprisingly, my main news sources are 1. BBC app, 2. Le Point French magazine news app, and 3. FaceBook.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Yes.  Facebook is one of my news sources.  I find that my friends have links to many interesting articles on the NY Times and the Washington Post among others.  I want to subscribe to the Post – a friend has a special cheap rate for 6 months.  All I can find is a 99 cent one month deal.  I am holding off til October 1 to sign up for that.

This is leading somewhere.

Today I saw two news clips of reporters interviewing two Trump aides.  They – the Trump people – are masters at managing the interviews.  I had media training years ago at Kaweah.  I brought in a guy who had talked at one of Judee’s conferences.  The key message: don’t answer the question they ask, answer the question you want to answer.  I used the technique myself with great results when interviewed by two TV stations on a mold and employee health problem.

But Trump’s people excel.   Basically – News: what has Trump done to help veterans?  Trump:  He’s given a lot of support but really we should be focusing on what Hillary Clinton hasn’t done…. And she went on…

I give the reporters credit – they are finally trying to deal with this.  I heard one repeatedly interrupt to get back on point.  One interaction was about the tax returns – the Trump person said he can’t release them while in audit.  Good for the reporter who pushed and pushed to get the person to agree that legally he could release them while under audit.  But “I am an attorney and I advise him not to.”  Very different from the message she was trying to send.  And one reporter cut off a discussion saying something along the lines – we don’t have time to address all the lies….

We live in a world of sound bites.  I still subscribe to the Sacramento Bee.  I prefer reading to watching TV.  I don’t think I have had my TV on here for two months.  And yes, I do have English channels, including the BBC.

Did I ever talk about the French system?  They have two elections, a week apart.  If in the first election no one gets a majority, then there is a run-off between the top 2-3 candidates.   Last year Marine LePen’s Front Nationale – a very right wing group – won almost everywhere the first time.  But not enough to really win.  In the second election I don’t think they carried any elections.  If only England had done that… the results for Brexit might have been different.  I heard so many quotes of Brits who said they didn’t think their vote would count.  They just wanted to send a message…  I like France’s process better.

I am looking forward to feeling better soon so I can go out once again and experience all Paris has to offer and ignore the US politics for a while…       But who am I kidding?   It’s always in the back of my mind.

Politics

Disclaimer.  I do not like Trump.  And I do respect Secretary Clinton.  So, if that disturbs you, maybe just wait for the next blog post.

Facebook brings together people.  And tears them apart this political season.  Fortunately, I don’t seem to have many… any… friends who are FOR Trump.  That’s a good thing.  He lies faster than he speaks.  He is coarse.  A braggadocio.  Unaware of global politics.

What does surprise me is the hatred that exists out there for Hillary Clinton.  I mean.  Vile vicious hatred.  As if she had burnt their houses down and drawn and quartered the children and dogs.  Lack of respect, yes, I can understand that.  I don‘t have much respect for Bush, Cheney, or Karl Rove.  But I don’t think I HATE them.

If you ask me about Trump and why I think he lies, or is coarse, or unaware….  I can give you specific examples.  I can quote him or send you to a YouTube video.

When I ask the Clinton haters for specifics, they answer with generalities.  “There is some website somewhere….” But then they never send me a link.  They quote the FBI as saying Hillary Clinton is a liar.  When what I read says the FBI Director said she was reckless… or careless.   A friend said he hates her because she is going to take his assault rifle away.  That generated a huge (oh I sound like Trump) conversation on what exactly is an assault rifle… we got beyond that and then I find out that in his mind he has applied the California laws to the entire nation.  I had to point out that California has some of the strictest (if not the strictest) assault weapon laws in the nation.  So that took out most of his argument.  He was saying we didn’t need more laws – well, maybe not, if the rest of the nation had laws like CA.

I wonder why such hatred.  And I find the most obvious conclusion for me is misogyny.  I grew up when it was still illegal to have an abortion and women died from the backstreet hacks.  When women weren’t in the board room (not that there are a lot right now!).  There were no women on the Supreme Court.  When men felt comfortable walking up to a peer in the office and putting their arms around the little lady… uncomfortably close to her breast.   (One colleague would always have a sharpened pencil to use to accidentally stab his hand.)  I was told that I could not make a presentation to the board of directors of the company I was working for if I didn’t wear a dress.  I liked my very-tailored professional pants suit so I never did.

I thought we were over that.  Other countries have been electing women to the top position for years –  The UK: Margaret Thatcher and now. Theresa May.  Germany has had Angela Merkel for many years.  Other countries include: India, Nepal, Croatia, New Zealand, Argentina, the list goes on.   And in France “In the year 2000 France passed a law forcing all parties to include equal numbers of men and women on party lists for elections. Fines were handed out to those parties who did not meet their targets. The move was credited with helping to increase the number of female lawmakers but the French government now wants more. “ – The Local

This is a tough election season.  I am happy to be here, only reading about it.  It reminds me of my trip to New Zealand in 2000 – we left on Election Day (I voted absentee) and spent 3 weeks delighted to not have to hear daily about the hanging chads.  But that doesn’t mean I am not engaged.  The rhetoric depresses and scares me.

My absentee ballot is on its way to me.

The Aftermath

Going crazy tourist for 13 days in a row has consequences.  I did nothing on Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday, just a meeting on Thursday and had a scratchy throat last night!!!  So today only a conversation in the morning and home the rest of the day to suck on zinc to reduce the cold and literally drink chicken soup.  I actually found chicken soup today in the grocery.  Quickly.  Usually it takes forever to see where it’s hidden and often it’s just broth cubes.  I found real chicken noodle soup packets.  So ready for it to make me feel better.

Did you know that the frozen food meals at Marks & Spencer’s have instructions in ENGLISH!  Who knew? Not me.  I must admit I only looked at their offerings once last year – since I didn’t have a microwave, I gave up on M&S.  Now with the microwave, a whole new world has opened up.  Picard Surgeles, the French frozen store across the street has marvelous food but the directions are in French, Dutch, German and Spanish…

It takes a great effort to get me to the computer these days.  I don’t know why.  I move between couch and bed easily to read or play iPhone solitaire.  But to sit down in front of the computer…. Doesn’t happen til the dead of night.  And of course, then my curiosity kicks in and I have to surf and surf and surf til 1 or 2 in the morning.  Today I got myself over here before 4 pm

What’s the big deal?  I have reviews to write!  I am a “top reviewer” on Trip Advisor.  A Level 6 contributor.  150 reviews,  210 ratings.  And 61 helpful votes from other readers.  115,000 readers!  We visited a lot of places in the past 3 weeks so there were many reviews to write.  Done for now!

Next, work on the project Bloom Where You’re Planted Day.  I am chairing the exhibit hall.  It’s Oct 8.  Got to answer emails.  Tell me again, why did I say yes?

And back to TripAdvisor to research my jaunt to 1. Budapest or 2. Budapest and Prague.  Sometime in October or early November.  Recommendations?  Email me please.

And back to the construction!  The huge crane was gone when I got back at lunch.  Notices posted – due to a technical problem beyond their control, the street parking closure will continue until the 16th, not the 12th.  Bummer for those with cars or cycles.

But the best news is that the building company is having a presentation for the neighbors about the construction on the building across from me.  It will be interesting to see what they are planning to do to it.  They have been working on it for 4+ months now.  I am going!  If I don’t understand the French, at least I know this architect’s daughter knows how to read plans.

A Crenellation of Chateaux

 

OK so I made that up.   OK so a friend made that up for me!  It’s just that July has turned out to be “Visit a Chateau” month.  Visit several.  So it’s not a bevy of castles, nor a school of chateau.  We made it up.

  • Château Champs sur Marne
  • Chateau Maisons Laffitte
  • Château Blandy Les Tours
  • Château Courances
  • Château Pierrefonds
  • Chateau St. Germaine en Laye
  • Chateau Brest
  • Chateau Dieppe
  • Chateau Vincennes

I like castles.  Probably got started on them when I lived in England from ages 9 to 11.  British history is so much more exciting than that of America.  When I visited the Boston area at age 13, the guides would gush about buildings built in 1640.  There I was, rolling my eyes- what’s that next to Dover Castle – or even Stonehenge for that matter?  And knights and damsels dressed better than Davey Crockett.

My preference has been for the Middle Ages – Romanesque leading into Gothic.  And I am now discovering the Renaissance.  And that I like it.  Most surprising.

France has wonderful Gothic cathedrals. But many… no, most… of the chateaux are from the 16th, 17th or even 18th centuries.  And many of the supposedly medieval chateaux are faux chateaux!  Meaning that Monsieur Violett-le-Duc, an architect from the 1800’s was assigned the task of restoring many of the falling down monuments.  So what I thought was Medieval is really HIS idea of Middle Ages.  So Carcassonne – the wonderful castle in the southwest of France is Middle Age Violett-le-Duc style.  As is some of Notre Dame.  All the famous gargoyles on the top of Notre Dame were his idea.  2016-07-16-11-32-56And he rebuilt the chateaux Pierrefonds.  Literally.  It was a nice medieval castle that a king had pulled down in ? because he didn’t want it to fall into the hands of any enemies.  Napoleon decided he wanted it back.  And VLD was picked for the job.  A bit over the top when you think of other real medical places.  Still and all, it’s fun.

2016-07-09-12-27-41Blandy-les-Tours was also rebuilt – but in the past 20 years so it’s not a VLD project.  2016-07-09-12-33-37BLT is a small castle and really fun.
You can walk most of the ramparts.  Easily visitable in half a day.

2016-07-02-10-23-52
Chateaux Champs sur Marne and Maisons Laffitte are 17th century renaissance castles.  More like large manor houses or small palaces.  Not built for defense.  Champs sur Marne literally means fields by the Marne river.
2016-07-08-10-41-24Both are accessible form Paris by train, CSR to the east and CML to the west.  2016-07-08-11-49-26And inside Chateau Maisons Laffitte…. of course, black and white tile just like my kitchen back home!

St Germaine en Laye 2016-07-23-11-00-25is at the end of the metro to the south west of Paris.  It houses the archaeological museum.  I didn’t go in – been there, done that.  But I did take a long hike through the gardens and, yes, forest.

Chateau Courances is close to BLT.  We didn’t go in – the grounds were open for walking for 7 euro.  The castle itself is closed in July and August…. So the family can vacation there during those months.  Undisturbed by tourists.  Nice life.2016-07-09-15-49-49

And for a petit surprise – across from the Chateau we spotted a polo field with some kids on polo ponies practicing.

Chateaux Brest, Dieppe and Vincennes were August visits but they count since I am the one who is making up the rules.

T2016-08-19-11-47-18he castle at Brest is the 2016-08-05-14-48-27maritime museum and the headquarters for the French nuclear submarines.

 

2016-08-31-21-37-38Dieppe is on the coast – a great truly old castle that was there to ward off those invading Brits!

 

 

2016-09-02-12-04-37And Chateau Vincennes is just at the end of the metro line one here in Paris and is one of my favs. 2016-09-02-12-16-36 The donjon was even in a drawing in the Book of Hours of the Duc du Berry.  It’s an interesting place – castle from 1300’s with palaces from2016-09-02-12-11-00 Louis XIV and army buildings from Napoleon.