Reconnaissance Mission: Paris to La Rochelle 2013

The view from inside the Musee D'Orsee to Sacre Coeur
The view out to Sacre Coeur

We’re not the kind of people who need eons to make decisions, but we do prefer to have reasonably adequate information. A mini-trial run would be even better, we knew, so we decided to take a reconnaissance mission : three weeks in France in the late spring of 2013. As you’ve no doubt figured out, all went well and plans proceed apace. Here are a few highlights of that trip.

Although this was not our first trip to Paris, we generally try to avoid the usual Paris sights checklist that has all the tourists looking so hag-ridden by day two. Consequently, this was the first trip the Musée D’Orsay made it to the top of our list.  I managed to catch a quick second when the famous old station clock was not thronged, and snapped this shot looking out through the gentle spring rain to Sacre Coeur in the distance.

Paris: Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques
Paris: Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques

A beautiful little park in Paris we only discovered because David noticed an impressive tower bristling with gargoyles and he wanted to go check it out. This photo was taken from under an umbrella protecting my camera from the ever-present Parisian rain. After recovering somewhat from jet-lag, and ready for a bit more space than the tiny Parisian hotel room, we caught the TGV, short for Train à Grande Vitesse (Train of Great Speed) and were in La Rochelle by mid-afternoon.

Close-up of the front of our house in La Rochelle, home for two weeks last spring and home for the bulk of our upcoming adventure.IMG_0637 No screens of course, this being France, and no curtains either. You open the windows, reach out and swing the shutters closed every night if you want privacy. Although the house is within a very private walled garden, the two bedrooms upstairs–with windows just like these–are in full view of the houses across the street, so shutter-closing is a nightly activity.

The view from the main street that abuts the very end of the old port, looking out to two of the three famous towers.

Le Vieux Port, La Rochelle, France

If you look closely you can see the diving platform attached (temporarily) to Tour Saint-Nicolas for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships which are typically held the last weekend of May. We climbed all three towers a couple of days after settling in, up the tiniest, twisty-est, worn-stone spiral staircases you’ve ever seen. Yikes. Nice little work-out for the legs, though, and spectacular views.

A view out to the Atlantic. The beach is just over the short stone wall past the benches. This is the closest beach to us, about a 30 minute walk. We spent about an hour there on one of our first days in town, not actually in swimsuits on the beach, instead sipping a drink at a table under an umbrella, but I did go dip my toes in. A bit chilly still, since it is the Atlantic Ocean and it was only the end of May.

Beautifully lit café we noticed on our walk home Friday night. Taken at about 9:45 p.m. when it was just starting to get dark. You may notice David on the far right, patiently waiting for me to take yet another photo. Unfortunately, the lighting is better than the food, which we discovered when we decided to try it for lunch. Oh well, many other options.

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