Over 55 years ago, I sat in my third-year high school French class wishing I could see the sights of Paris (Par-ee). My American History professor made the events of World War II so interesting I wanted to see where the Allies stormed the beaches of France to liberate Europe from the Nazis. It almost took a lifetime, but I finally checked both items off my bucket list during our recent trip to France.
“Vive la France” is translated: Long Live France or Hurray for France. This patriotic expression describes our wonderful trip to that country. Viking River Cruises was our host and travel agent for our ten-day tour. We spent three additional days in Paris before we boarded our long ship to travel the Seine River. The weather was picture perfect and so was our experience on board. Our stateroom with balcony was roomy (for a cruise ship) and the dining exceeded our expectations.
I still want to be called “Madame” and “My Lady” and waited on hand and foot but reality has set in. Along with good memories, a nasty French virus decided to fly back home with us. The stowaway gave me a sinus infection and bronchitis that is hard to shake. But I digress and will go back to the fun parts of the trip.
|Sacre-Coeure on Montmartre|
The Eiffel Tower is a world renowned symbol of France. This wrought-iron masterpiece was constructed in 1889 when Paris hosted the World’s Fair. Our hotel room was only a block away, so we had to make the 1,093 ft. ride to the top. We were not disappointed with our panoramic view of Paris and the serpentine Seine River.
Other Paris adventures included a ride on a funicular to Montmartre to see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeure (Church of the Sacred Heart). We also enjoyed watching local artists paint around the town square. We learned about the 19th & 20th century artists who lived and painted there–Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, & Matisse to name a few.
French artist, Claude Monet, is one of my favorite painters. A trip to his home and gardens in the French countryside on the second day of our cruise was a highlight for both Charles and me. His gardens and ponds which inspired his paintings are a sight to behold. Acres of colorful flowers were visible from Monet’s second floor studio and became the subjects of his impressionist paintings.
Much of the third day was spent on board enjoying the beauty of the French countryside and the chateaus and rustic villages that lined the banks. We enjoyed the lounge chairs and umbrellas that protected us from the hot sun on the top deck of the ship. An occasional breeze carried the scent of herbs grown in containers that were to be used in the chef’s kitchen. We were finally able to relax as we floated down the river through the Provence of Normandy on our way to the place where world changing history was made.
|Cruising the Seine|
Stay tuned for my next blog post with our impressions of the D-day beaches of Normandy and the sights and sounds of our return trip to Paris.