Friday, March 12, 2010

Paris & Normandy France

Welcome to France!
There are hundreds of little villages scattered over the hills of Northern France. Every village has a church, but we did not let Army out of the ‘bag’ inside of the churches. This church was built in the 1400’s. The insides are still quite decorative with gold leafing on the alters, etc. The French used to be very active in their Catholic religion, but they are now very apathetic about religion. It is a socialist country and their response to the missionaries is ‘we don’t practice religion’. There is a traveling priest who does hold mass in the chapels on a rotating basis.

Mont-Saint Michel: George would not let army go into the abbey, but he did enjoy the warmth of the car that day while we battled rain, wind, and cold weather. Here is some history of this amazing site. Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called "monte tombe". According to legend, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel's instruction, until St. Michael burned a hole in the bishop's skull with his finger.The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when William "Long Sword", Duke of Normandy, annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, definitively placing the mount in Normandy. Ducal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries, completed in 1496 (500 years under construciton). It was converted into a prison during the French Revolution, but the ‘prison’ closed in 1863. The mount was declared a historic monument in 1874.

Notre Dame: Army loved the crowds and was very tired of being photographed with me, so I approached this young woman from China and in my best Chinese dialect asked her if she would hold Army while I took a picture with this marvelous edifice in the background. Of course, she had no clue what I was saying and thought I actually was trying to sell Army to her. She backed away from me and waved her hands, no, no!! I grabbed the camera from George and pointed to it and said ‘photo’…which I am sure is Chinese. She finally understood….so voila!! But she refused to hold Army… do you think they were warned before their tour, not to accept packages from strangers?

Louvre: This museum is massive. You had to check packages before going in….therefore, Army was back in the bag. Plan on several days just visiting the Louvre if you go to France. It was so windy that I did not dare set him down to take a picture or he could have been blown into the Seine river!

Eiffel Tower: Army did not get to go to the top of the tower. This tower is like a giant erector set made of 12,000 iron pieces with 7 million nails holding them together. I have always pictured it in the lovely park-like setting, but it is just stuck there right off the sidewalk. I understand that at night it is fabulous to view. It was built for the World Exhibition in 1889 in celebration of the French Revolution in 1789.

Omaha Beach: Again, windy and cold, and raining! Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the main landing points of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June, 1944, during World War II. It was one of the beaches of the D-day victory.

Napoleon Bonaparte: Army was excited to meet Napoleon who staged a coup d’etat and installed himself as Emperor of France in 1799.. and is remembered for being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. He spent the last 6 years of his life under British supervision but during his reign his policies laid the foundation of politics in Western Europe.

Where’s Army cemetery: Army got lost in this unique cemetery. Most of the flowers on the graves are glazed ceramic pottery pieces. The graves are covered as you see with stone plaques and various flowers… some of these graves were pretty current, so it is not an ‘old tradition’. The view in the back is Cherbourg harbor an important harbor during WW II where also Napoleon had built fortresses to guard the harbor.

Bread Shop: Army loved the baguettes in France. This was his favorite bread, purchased at a bar just around the corner from my brother’s apartment. I bought two loaves one day, left the bar, then went right back to buy another since I knew we would not be content w/ just two. My brother did not come so I had to communicate in French, “Encore! Un autre pain”. That did provide some humor for those in the bar.

Cows: We planned a picnic on one of our day trips. We stopped at a ‘boulangerie’(bakery) and purchased the sandwiches then drove through many quaint villages. This is the only ‘park’ we found and we were hosted by some French cows. Army loved having other ‘animals’ around.
Hope to be traveling with you sometime soon. Where in the world is Army Armadillo?