Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brittany – Part II - We return Susan’s mother’s ashes to her native land and visit Normandy

Exterior of Notre Dame de Lorette in Roudouallec.  We interred some of Susan's mother's ashes beneath the hollow tree in the churchyard

The hollow tree.
On Thursday, we drove back up to Roudouallec to inter a small portion of Susan’s mother’s cremated remains beneath a very special hollow tree in the churchyard.   Local lore states that the tree is 1,000 years old.  One can sit in the hollow at the base of the tree and we have a picture of Susan’s mother sitting in that tree from our previous visit.  Interring her ashes was a very poignant moment for us as well as for the family members present who felt that we had brought “Anna” home.    

Monument on Omaha Beach
After tea and Gateau Breton in a local cafe with Lillian, Jean, Christian, Marie Louise (Christian’s wife) and Rene, we bid the Roudouallec family a tearful farewell and set off for Normandy.  It was about a four hour drive.   

Les Braves by French Sculpture Anilore Banilon is on Omaha Beach

We arrived in time to get lunch and then made our way to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.   Susan and I had not been to Normandy before.  I found myself silenced by the sanctity of this place in both the world’s history and the American story.  On that soil the depth of sacrifice is profound and the horror of war is writ large.  The Gospel words, “Greater love hath no one than this, then to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13) resounded in my mind and heart.   It was deeply prayerful time and many emotions and thoughts came to me there.  Among other things,  it was stirring to note that headstones of soldiers from all over the United States were next to each other without regard to region.   A headstone for a young soldier from Texas was next to one from Minnesota which was next to one from Pennsylvania which was next to one from Florida which was next to one from Massachusetts. There were Christian crosses next to Jewish Stars of David.  This was a time when our nation was united in purpose to accomplish something vital for a great cause.  It was challenging to consider this in light of the bitter divisions of “Red States and Blue States” and the often petty partisanship which marks our own time.

At the American Cemetery in Normandy
I was also deeply moved by the many stones engraved “Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.”  How much we owe to so many whose names we don’t even know!  It also occurred to me that it is the same way with the Christian Church.   Our yearly observance of All Saints acknowledges and celebrates the saints, known and unknown, who have been exemplars of the faith and models of the imitation of Christ.
To an unknown

We approached Mont St. Michel as the sun was setting

We left the American Cemetery just after the American flag was lowered and the cemetery was closing. We had decided to head for Mont St. Michel.  I was thankful for my GPS, which I had loaded with European maps.  It was invaluable in our getting around and especially in France where we were often on back-roads in the dark.   We arrived at Mont St. Michel as the sun was setting.  Floodlight illuminated that historic and beautiful site.  We were too late to go up to the top, but we had all been to the top before Nd weren't too disappointed. Instead, we walked around the base a little bit then had a lovely dinner and then got on the road back to Quimper.

Some of the 3,000 standing stones of the Carnac Alignment

On Friday, we focused on some of the Celtic dimensions of Brittany.   We visited Carnac which has an exceptional number of so-called “Standing Stones.” There are more than 3,000 of these standing stones which are part of the Carnac Alignment.  They are actually Pre-Celtic and date to between 4,000 B.C. and 2,500 B.C.   In visiting Carnac, we were making a connection with New Grange which we had visited in Ireland, and also with Stonehenge which we had visited before.   It was striking to see many of the same designs and symbols we had seen carved into the stones of New Grange in some of the stones at Carnac.   These designs and symbols would be incorporated into Celtic art and some are lasting symbols of Brittany.  

We also visited the Cathedral of St. Corentin in Quimper as well as the Breton Museum which is in the old episcopal palace and tells the story of Breton history and culture.   The Cathedral is remarkably beautiful and quite unusual in that the nave is slightly bent between the transept and the choir and sanctuary .  One source reports that this was to avoid a swampy area when it was being constructed.  Another source adds a more pious image, suggesting the bend in the cruciform church hints at the tilted head of Christ on the cross.

Interior of St. Corentin with its distinctive bend in the nave

When we had visited on our previous trip, the Cathedral was being renovated.  The renovation and restoration has been very successful.   Of English birth, St. Corentin is reputed to have come over from Wales as a part of Celtic missionary activities and is considered one of the “seven founder saints of Christianity in Brittany.”  A brochure published by the Cathedral notes, “According to tradition, Corentin chose to live a hermit’s existence on the wild slopes of the Menez-Hom to bear witness to his faith, with the Eucharist as his only means of survival.  Every day he took a piece of fish from the nearby holy well, only to find it miraculously whole again the following day.   The same Latin source recounts that Gradlon, the king of the region, sought out Corentin and begged him to become the minister of his capital, Kemper [Quimper] at the confluence of the rivers Odet and Steir, so making him one of the founders of the dioceses of Brittany between the 5th and 7th centuries.”  It should be noted that my favorite on-line resource, Wikipedia states that Corentin is “the patron saint of seafood!”  I was intrigued by this hermit-bishop who seemed to me to tie together the Desert Fathers that had dominated the early part of my sabbatical experience with the Celtic saints like Cuthbert who had punctuated our journeys to Scotland, Ireland and England.  The Cathedral had a stunning sculpture in wood and polychrome of the Entombment of Christ which dates to the 18th century. 

Entombment of Christ in St. Corentin
We also visited  the Breton Museum which is adjacent to the Cathedral and once had been the episcopal palace.  I wanted to see if they had information about the Celtic influence on Brittany, and especially about the Celtic Christian experience in the region.  Unfortunately, there was nothing.  They do have wonderful examples of Christian art of the area and especially examples of wood and polychrome statues.  All are, however, from a much later period.  There was no information about the Christian experience of the 4th - 7th centuries which was of particular interest to me.  The Museum does have some wonderful local paintings and also has a terrific collection of the distinctive costumes worn by the local people on holidays and fetes. The woman's lace bonnets are especially noteworthy and each town in Brittany has its own design.  I really want to have one made for Susan!

John the Baptist - Wood and Polychrome form the Breton Museum

An example of the traditional costume of a Breton woman

Late Friday afternoon, we had a special rendezvous and met a family member for the first time. A woman named Catherine Belleguic-Coulis had contacted Susan via Facebook.  While we were very well informed about Susan's mother's maternal side (the Bourhis family), we knew very little about the paternal, Belleguic, side of the family tree.  Catherine, who lives in nearby Lorent, arranged to meet us at the hotel for tea. Her father and Susan's grandfather were cousins. Their town of origin was Scaer, also in Brittany and not too far  from from Roudouallec. Catherine had done extensive work on the family tree and she was interested in meeting Diane and Susan and filling in more information.  It was quite exciting to meet her.
With Catherine Bellequic-Coulis

After our get-together with Catherine, Rene picked us up to drive us to dinner at the home of Sylvie and Sebastien Bourhis and their two children.  Sebastien is Jacqueline and Rene’s oldest son.  Once again, we were treated to an enormous and delicious meal, and wonderful company and conversation crossing back and forth between French and English.

We left Brittany on Saturday and returned by train to Paris for our last full day in France.

The line of people waiting to go through security at Versailles

Neither Diane, Susan nor I had ever been to Versailles.  We had hoped to visit it the week before, but it had been closed.   We decided to get an early train on Sunday morning and get to Versailles by its opening at 9:30.  

Versailles had originally been used as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII and was renovated and expanded to incredible glory by Louis XIV.  It  is now an amazing museum dedicated to knowledge, science and the arts.   As we walked through it, one couldn’t help but be amazed by its magnificence.  I also found myself understanding why there had been a revolution!  The king had himself and the royal family removed to Versailles in order to get away from the “rabble” of Paris.   The huge disparity between the nobility and the average people and the poor of Paris is symbolized in Versailles and one can understand how the populace would have reacted to Marie-Antoinette’s callous, though likely apocryphal, “Let them eat cake.”
Versailles was also featuring a special exhibit of sculptures by the modern Japanese artist Takashami Murakami.  His playful and very colorful works offered quite a contrast to the stately Grand Apartments and the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles.   Lots of people loved the contrast.  I had my reservations feeling that building distracted from the sculpture and that the sculpture distracted from the building.  To each his or her own!

A Murakami sculpture in the Hall of Mirrors

Another Murakami in Versailles

On Sunday evening we met Nicholas and went to have tea at the Paris apartment of his brother Julian and Julian’s fiancĂ©, Audre.  Julian and Audre have just become engaged and plan to marry in Spring.  As we waited at the top of a Metro Station to rendezvous with Nicholas, we noticed a large group of Paris Pompiers – fireman, standing nearby.  Diane’s two sons are New York City Firemen, so we decided to ask for a picture.  We informed them that Christopher, Diane’s oldest, had been a fireman at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and this immediately garnered their interest and respect.  One of them asked if Chris had survived and, thankfully, we were able to say he had and that he is still active in the N.Y.F.D..  They readily agreed to let us take their photo.  

Les Pompiers in Paris!

After tea at Julian and Audre’s, we headed up to Montmartre where we walked around the shops and the historic and beautiful church of Sacre Coeur, enjoying a captivating view of Paris at night with the Eiffel Tower lit up against the sky. Unfortunately, it was misty and rainy, so we didn't stay out for too long.

Nicholas had made a reservation at Le Bon Bock, reputed to be the oldest restaurant in Montmartre and a longtime hangout for artists.  Nicholas informed us that some of these artists had exchanged works of art for meals. It was a tiny and very old cafe decorated with none too carefully hung art on all the walls.  What a great way for us to bring our adventure in France to a close.   We bid farewell to Nicholas, Julian and Audre and headed back to the hotel to pack.

Monday morning was uneventful.  We had a leisurely breakfast, brought our bags down and got in a cab for the ride to Charles de Gaulle Airport and our flight home.  It was hard to believe that Susan and I had been out of the United States for nearly two months.  It had been an incredible adventure, but we were longing to return to those we love.

In my next entry,  the closing chapters of the sabbatical and some reflections about our experience.     



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brittany – Quimper and Family Reunions – Part One

We left for Brittany by train on Tuesday morning (November 2).   It was about 4 hours from Paris to Quimper, where would be staying until Saturday.   Again, we were grateful for the opportunity to enjoy  scenic countryside by train.  We were met at the Quimper station by Rene Bourhis.  A warm  and endearing man, Rene and his lovely wife Jacqueline were incredibly gracious to us during our time in Brittany.  Rene and Jacqueline are Nicholas’s parents (and also the parents of Julian and Sebastien, Nicholas’s brothers, who we would see later in the week).   Rene is Susan’s mother’s cousin and we had spent time with  he and Jacqueline during our previous visit to Brittany when Susan’s mother was still alive.  I should also note that Nicholas and Julian had stayed with Susan’s mother in Jupiter and we had spent time with them when they visited the United States. 
Dinner with Jacqueline and Rene

We rented a car at the train station. Rene went into the rental agency with me to help just in case language became a problem (he speaks some English and between his English and my French, we communicated quite well).   After that, he had me follow his car to the Best Western in downtown Quimper where we were staying.  He left us there and told us he would be back to get us in an hour to take us to his home for dinner.  So we said goodbye and checked into the hotel. 

Susan was a little disappointed to discover that there were no English language stations on the television in the hotel and she asked about this at the front desk.  The young manager told her he thought they had CNN (they didn’t) but said if not, perhaps she might learn French.  He said it gently and was not being rude.  I was kind of glad they didn’t have an English-language station; it pushed me further to listen “in French.”

Rene was out front at 6:30 PM to pick us up.  He knew we wanted to purchase some crepes to take home, so we stopped at a nearby E. L’eclerc which is France’s largest grocer and retail chain, somewhat similar to Walmart.   We were on a mission to pick up fresh packages of crepes to bring home for our children (and for us!).  Brittany is especially known for its crepes and gallettes which are another form of crepe-type pancakes, as well as for Gateau Breton, which Susan’s mother used to make for every holiday meal.   After she died, Erin took up this mantle and now makes Gateau Breton for our family gatherings. 

We found our way to the crepe section of the E. L’eclerc.   There we found a woman who had been making and packaging crepes all day.  She was also offering samples (a la Costco or Publix).  We each took one.  The crepes were fresh and warm.  Susan and Diane took a dozen packages so that we could distribute them to our children when we got home; having, of course, some for home too, of course! We made the crepe maker’s evening!  She laughed out loud when she saw us pick up all those packages.

How to make the perfect steak!!
After E. L’eclerc, it was a ten  minute drive to Rene and Jacqueline’s very attractive home in the suburb of Quimper.  It didn’t take long for us to be engaged in laughter and conversation and also some tears as we all told stories about Susan’s mother who we all missed.  Dinner was wonderful.  Rene, had constructed a huge brick oven/grill in his backyard and prepared a beautiful, thick T-bone steak.   Jacqueline served us prosciutto and melon to start.  All in all, it was a full 5 course meal with salad and cheese at the end, followed by desert (whenever Susan’s mother prepared dinner for us, we always had salad and cheese followed by desert at the end, rather than the beginning, of the meal.  It’s the French way!).  

Our bowls at home - My given name "William" is in the French form.
On Wednesday morning we were up and out fairly early.   Diane and Susan both wanted to go to the Henriot Ceramic Factory in Quimper.   Henriot is world-renown for their ceramics (See  Their hand-painted products are very distinctive and very much with Brittany, and especially their “lug bowls.”  In Susan’s family, it is a custom for each family member to have a lug bowl from Brittany with the person’s name imprinted on it.  Susan wanted to pick up a bowl for Riley and Emily.  Each of us and all of our children, already have bowls.  Susan and I also have a small collection of other Henriot items which are beautiful reminders of Susan and our children’s Breton heritage. We had great fun walking through the Henriot Factory store and looking at their exquisite items, and also buying some!  We also crossed the street to the Bisquiterie de Quimper where we picked up a few additional items including some wonderful freshly baked butter cookies.    

The River Odet runs through Quimper

All of this was followed by a stroll around the downtown square of Quimper, a medieval city with beautiful and historic Gothic Cathedral, St. Corentin’s, which was built between the 13th  and 15th centuries standing in the center of it all. 
St. Corentin Cathedral
It was a cool and rainy day, but we enjoyed walking around for awhile and then retreated into a local restaurant for lunch which included local mussels in a delicious cream sauce.

 After lunch, we had to hurry back to the hotel where Rene and Jacqueline were meeting us so that we could follow them to Roudouallec, the small town about 45 minutes from Quimper, where Susan’s mother had been born 88 years before.   In Roudouallec we reunited with family members, several of whom we knew well, as they had lived and worked in New York for many years, before retiring and returning to Brittany.  Among them were Lillian and Jean LeCras.

Lillian and Jean Lecras

Lillian was Susan’s mother’s cousin.  Her husband Jean had been a first class chef in New York.  In fact, I worked with Jean for a brief time at Restaurant Rafael in New York City.  Mimi Sheraton of the New York Times had given Restaurant Rafael three stars when she reviewed it and in her article labeled it a “Tiffany Jewel of a Restaurant!” and it was.  Jean was one of the early practitioners of French Nouvelle Cuisine in New York.  He was an artist and his food was both beautiful and delicious.      

In Roudouallec, we discovered that the house in which Susan’s mother had been born was for sale. We gave some passing, though not particularly practical, thought to buying it. Susan's mother was 3 years old when she emigrated to the United States with her mother and father.  They came through Ellis Island and are a part of the great American story of immigrants coming to the United States and realizing the American Dream.  We also visited the small community center in the middle of town.   The population of Roudouallec is some where just above 700 people.   

The house in which Susan's mother was born

 The community center was displaying a carefully prepared exhibit that told the story of the town and its people during the period of World War I.  There were photographs and lists of names of those who had served.  There were displays of uniforms and ballistics.  Rene’s brother Christian, who lives in Roudouallec, showed me a copy of his grandfather’s death certificate.  He had been killed in action during the war.

Death certificate of Jean Louis Bourhis, a family member, who was killed in World War I in October of 1918 just before the Armistice!

Statue of St. Anne and the Virgin Mary in the Church of Notre Dame de Lorrette
We also visited the beautiful Gothic Church, Notre Dame de Lorette, where Susan’s mother had been baptized.  In this church, which dates to the 18th century, but which sits on a site that has been a church since the 13th century, there are gorgeous wood and polychrome carvings of Mary and St. Anne as well as other sacred figures.  The statue of St. Anne holds particular meaning for us. Anne was Jesus’ grandmother and is the patron saint of Brittany.  Susan’s mother had been named for her. I referred to this statue when I preached at Susan’s mother’s funeral at St. Paul’s.  

Wednesday night, we had dinner at the LeCras home.  Not nouvelle cuisine at all, Jean had spent the better part of the afternoon making very traditional and delicious Beef Bourguignon.  About a dozen of us were at the table and, once again, the evening was filled with delicious food, wine, laughter and lots of story-telling.   

Dinner at Chez LeCras!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Across the Channel to France....Thoughts about home

I must confess that I left Grasmere with some feelings of regret.  I loved it there.  It lived up to my every expectation despite the rain which soaked us during our walk on Wednesday and kept us pretty much indoors on Thursday and Friday.  Still, this did not detract from the beauty and allure of the Lake District for me.   The rain only enhanced the coziness of our little cottage - Poet’s Corner. 

Sitting in the cottage - The bottle to my right contains homemade Slo Gin
made by the owners of the cottage.  I tried a little; it was pretty good

Because of the rain, I had more time to read Wordsworth’s prose and poetry.  I already had a deep affection for his writing.  Our time in Grasmere heightened my appreciation of him as both a poet and a philosopher.  In the “Preface” to The Lyrical Ballads he writes, “Aristotle, I have been told, hath said, that Poetry is the most philosophical of all writing:  it is so:  its object is truth, not individual and local, but general and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives strength and divinity to the tribunal to which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal.  Poetry is the image of man and nature….” (Wordsworth, William The Major Works including The Prelude – Oxford:  Oxford World Classics - Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 605).  It seems to me that in our contemporary world which has so flagrantly degraded nature; in which rich and deep poetry is too often diminished in favor of simplistic, often alienating prose; an age in which truths of any kind are suspect, Wordsworth’s words invite careful reflection and consideration.   I am sympathetic to his thinking, in part, because I believe that the primary language of faith and religion is poetic language and that our truths are largely poetic truths.

I never did get in a final walk which was especially disappointing to me, but I am thankful for the ones I had which were utterly spectacular!   We left Grasmere early on Saturday morning, October 30.  Our rental agreement required us to be out by 9 AM and we had to be in Liverpool by 11:30 to catch a train for London. We were doing this in order to catch a Eurostar train for Paris at 3:45 which meant we were on a tight schedule.  The drive to Liverpool was lovely and we saw countryside marked by the fullness of Autumn’s colors.  I had a much easier time getting back to Liverpool than I did getting out of Liverpool.  At the car rental agency the agent checked in our car and then kindly drove us to the Central Liverpool Train Station (Enterprise in Ireland and the UK was outstanding and cost effective!).   Susan picked up a couple of things in the train station for us for lunch, and then we boarded the train for the four hour ride to London.   

It was raining in London when we arrived, so we grabbed a cab which took us to St. Pancras Station where we boarded a Eurostar Train which would take us through the Chunnel to Paris in just over two hours – less time than if we had flown!  One of the special treats of our journey has been the opportunity to take trains to many of our destinations.   We have seen beautiful countryside while being comfortable; even able to get up and take a stretch break.   The airline industry has taken all the fun out of flying.  Give me a train anytime!  (I should probably note that I have a genetic predisposition to trains.  For most of his career my dad was a railroad attorney and this bred in me an early love of trains).

We arrived in Paris at the Gare d’Nord sometime after 7 PM.   We grabbed a cab which took us to our hotel which was in St. Cyr, about half a mile from the Arc d’Triomphe.  We were meeting Susan’s sister Diane at the hotel.  Diane was joining us for the French leg of our trip.  We were to be in Paris for three days and then on to Britanny for three days after which we would return to Paris and prepare for our flight home.

Diane was in the lobby of the hotel waiting for us when we arrived.  The last time we had seen her was on September 18 when we were in New York for the marriage of her youngest son Matthew.  The day after that wedding, we were on a plane to Tel Aviv!  It was great to see her familiar face and, though a week in France was still before us, Susan and I began to turn our eyes toward home.  We both felt that this sabbatical time has not been quick nor slow, but relaxed.  It moved at a wonderful pace for us. 

We dropped our bags in our room and, following the recommendation of the hotel concierge, went to restaurant a short distance from the hotel where we had a lovely dinner.  We had lots of stories to share with Diane and she with us so we caught up with each other and also planned what we were going to do for the next few days.

Interior of the American Cathedral - photo from their website at
The next morning, Sunday, Susan and I walked to the American Cathedral in Paris which was about a mile from the hotel.   The American Cathedral is part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (See  The Convocation is part of the Episcopal Church and our General Convention. They have a bishop who is a member of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. There are Episcopal Churches in Florence, Rome, Geneva, Waterloo in Belgium, Munich, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.  We attended the 8:00 A.M. service.  It was comforting to worship using the familiar American Book of Common Prayer, although it did sound a little strange as the celebrant was a visiting priest from Australia!  She began her sermon by invoking images of “home” and developed the theme “looking for home” relating this to the story of Zacchaeus.  Needless to say, this theme struck a particularly right chord for Susan and me as we informed her at the end of the service. 

With Diane and Nicholas overlooking the River Sienne
After church, we walked back along the Champs d’Elysees and L’Avenue de Grande- Armee to our hotel to pick up Diane who had slept in (we were already on European time, she had to adjust!).   We went to breakfast and afterwards were met at our hotel by Nicholas Bourhis, who is Susan and Diane’s second cousin (I think!) and who lives in Paris.   Nicholas’s grandfather was Susan’s grandmother’s brother.   Nicholas is a wonderful young man, in his 30s, who is an auditor for a large accounting firm in Paris.  His English is excellent, the result not only of years of studying English in school, but also a result of his job taking him to England on a regular basis.   I had worked on my French in the weeks before we left for Paris, and it was passable, but Nicholas’s English is much better than my French.   Still, I could make myself understood, which came in handy later in the week when we were out of Paris! 

Nicholas served as our guide and asked us what we wanted to do.   First on our list was St. Chapelle.  I had studied this famous church in art history in college, but did not get to see it on my previous visit to Paris.  I didn’t want to miss it this time so it was onto the Metro and away we went. 

Inside St. Chapelle with a view of the billboard!
St. Chapelle was built by Louis IX to house relics of the passion – the crown of thorns and a piece of the true cross (or so it was thought!)  The building is not large, but the soaring gothic arches and the dominance of the enormous stained glass windows which make it seem a church of light mark it as one of the supreme masterpieces of the 13th century.  It is stunning, though sadly, the windows of the apse are being renovated.  Scaffolding and a huge billboard had been erected in the front of the church with a picture of what it normally looks like.   Not only did this disappoint us as we visited, it affected the quality of the pictures we could take.

At the National Opera - They had switched from the Tango

After our visit to St. Chapelle, Nicholas took us the National Opera Building which is another architectural masterpiece.  It was fun to just stand around that building which despite its formality had the feeling of a street fair.  At the top of the steps, there is a promenade and about 20 couples were dancing the Tango!  They were in all kinds of dress, and apparently anyone who wanted to could join in! We didn’t and just had fun watching. 

La Madeleine - Photo from websit

For lunch we had crepes at a local creperie (delicious!).  We walked around a little and then Nicholas took us to “La Madeleine” or the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.  While we had passed this church a number of times on our previous visit, we never stopped to go inside.  It is an amazing, extremely large, structure built following the neoclassical impulses of the time in the style of a Greek Temple like the Parthenon.  Napoleon was instrumental in deciding the final design (he wanted a “temple” dedicated to the army) and several purposes for the building were considered before it was finally resolved that it should be a church. It was consecrated as such in 1842.  

Following La Madeleine it was back to the hotel.  Nicholas had to leave us.  We rested awhile then went out for dinner…French bistros, French food…C’est magnifique!

On Monday we were on our own.  Initially we had wanted to visit Versailles.  None of us had been to Versailles before, but November 1st, All Saints Day, is a national holiday in France (though the religious dimension is honored by very few) and Versailles was closed.   We decided to visit the Louvre, which was open.

Susan and Diane with I.M Pei's pyramid entrance to the Louvre in the background
Our previous visit to France had been in the summer at the height of tourist season.  Then the Louvre had been packed and it took us a long time even to get in.   When we did get in, the museum was mobbed.   This time we went right in without any wait.  There was a crowd, but it was not enormous.   We spent a few hours, mostly looking at paintings.  I had especially wanted to see French paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries – the work of David and Delacroix.   It is quite something to see a huge masterpiece like David’s Coronation of Napoleon in person.  Of course, a visit to the Louvre really requires several days, not several hours, still, it was wonderful to be there. 

Incredible shot by Susan taken at the Tullerie Gardens
After our visit to the Louvre we walked through the Tullerie Gardens.  It was a beautiful fall day and the leaves on the maple trees were bright yellow.  Susan got some incredible photos of a woman feeding birds near the water basin.

A vendor was selling fresh spun “Barbe a Papa” (cotton candy!).  one of my favorite treats.  I thought of the last time I had cotton candy, when Tom Vuicich made it for me on September 5th, at the Kick-off, the day before we left on this sabbatical!   

The next day we left for Brittany and picked up the Celtic trail while also having some very special family time.  More about this in the next installment.