Ken and Rosemary Taylor enjoyed eight days in Paris and eight days in Provence. In Paris, using self-guided tour books and maps, we visited major museums (Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie, Rodin, Army, Napoleon’s tomb, Cluny, Jacquemart-Andre), monuments (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe), churches (Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur) and walked districts (Left Bank, Marais, Montmartre, Champs-Elysee).
Just as the Parisians do they used the metro, city buses, RER trains, or their feet for transport. Trips to Versailles and Monet’s garden at Giverny were part of the adventure. Unexpected but memorable events included a parade of Republican guards on horseback assembling to welcome the King and Queen of Spain, a Paris bridge maintenance crew removing love locks while being filmed by a television news crew, and a bomb scare evacuation of Versailles Palace.
The ambiance of outdoor cafes, artists painting in Montmartre, and outdoor market areas was lovely. The Parisians were helpful and welcoming. Several times strangers on streets or buses provided assistance. Paris has the highest density of population by area of any major city.
There were no visible gas stations. Gas stations and huge parking lots are underground. With many metro lines, parking and gas stations, sewers and other services, catacombs, and underground buildings (France’s secret service), the underground space is also densely used.
We travelled on high speed trains between Paris and Marseille. Instead of renting a car, we joined 20 other tourists on an eight day tour of Provence. The mix of British, Aussie, Kiwi, US and Canadian tourists were compatible.
The charming tour guide was great. Provence, formerly named Gaul in Roman times, is a wonderful mixture of Roman antiquities, ancient market towns, the Pope’s French palace, and arguably some of the finest vineyards in the world.
The work of Roman engineers around 19 BC to 60 AD who built a 49.5 km aqueduct to carry millions of gallons of water each day from Uzes to Nimes with a flat gradient of approx. 0.03% was very impressive.
The channel was covered to reduce evaporation. At Nimes the water was distributed based on priority. The gravity fed fountains operated when water was plentiful.
The vineyard “soil” for Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines is unbelievably rocky.