A Travellerspoint blog

Addendum: More Pictures

From Bill's Camera


View Paris and Vegan Rhône Cruise on Lisa Hills's travel map.

With restored access to the camera/cellphone communication doohickey here in the states, I can now also share the photos that Bill took along the way! (Astute readers will probably notice that Bill's photographic efforts also enhanced the blog post about Cruise Day 6.) Enjoy.

Pre-Trip
Lisa fussing with the airline check-in

Lisa fussing with the airline check-in

Bill's immortal Backpack

Bill's immortal Backpack

Lyft driver enabling France voyage

Lyft driver enabling France voyage


Detroit airport

Detroit airport

More Detroit airport

More Detroit airport

Paris
Big Cat/Alligator Fight sculpture in the Jardin des Tuileries

Big Cat/Alligator Fight sculpture in the Jardin des Tuileries


Interesting building along the Rue de Rivoli

Interesting building along the Rue de Rivoli


Vintage clothing store!

Vintage clothing store!

More artful photo of the Palais Royale courtyard installation

More artful photo of the Palais Royale courtyard installation

This guy again

This guy again

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Paris hotel rooms are small

Paris hotel rooms are small

Floor suitcase stowage

Floor suitcase stowage

In the cemetery

In the cemetery

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Heading toward the Jardin du Luxembourg

Heading toward the Jardin du Luxembourg

IMG_0193.JPGIn the thick of the Jardin du Luxembourg

In the thick of the Jardin du Luxembourg

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Views from the Left Bank

Views from the Left Bank

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Heading To Lyon
At the Gare de Lyon

At the Gare de Lyon

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The space pods of Lyon

The space pods of Lyon

La Place Bellecour

La Place Bellecour

Statue of Louis XIV in La Place Bellecour

Statue of Louis XIV in La Place Bellecour

On the Cruise
First stop

First stop

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I triumphantly attain the cabin

I triumphantly attain the cabin

Wine Country

Wine Country

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Historic village street

Historic village street

Back to Lyon--Confluence Museum from the boat

Back to Lyon--Confluence Museum from the boat

Confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers

Confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers

IMG_0227.JPGOnly Lyon   Lisa

Only Lyon + Lisa

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In Viviers
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View from the Boat
On the top deck...it was a little chilly

On the top deck...it was a little chilly


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In Avignon
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Posted by Lisa Hills 15:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

Cruise Day 6 - Train des Gorges & Tournon

Then Back Home


View Paris and Vegan Rhône Cruise on Lisa Hills's travel map.

On the last actual vacation day of the trip, we took a ride on the Train de L'Ardeche to see the fabulous scenery of the Gorges du Doux in the Ardeche mountains. The line opened in 1891 and connects Tournon and Lamastre. Though it was a commercial operation in its heyday, serving a silk mill and silver mines, now the historic steam train runs only as a tourist attraction.

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There was a small museum at the Tournon station which we had time to see before the train departed. I enjoyed the well-preserved traveling car that was on display. I was reading The Reef by Edith Wharton on this vacation, which featured multiple train journeys between Paris and the France countryside for the main characters, and this provided the perfect mental image for that.
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We boarded our group's car, and in true Lisa/Bill fashion, selected a seat on the side of the train with less spectacular scenery. Don't choose the side closest to the station, future travelers! It is good for the first quarter of the trip, but after that mostly a wall of rocks. The first quarter did have some nice views of some infrastructure and the river:
20191123_124548.jpgThis is the Grand Pont, constructed in 1483!

This is the Grand Pont, constructed in 1483!

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Our tour did not go all the way to Lamastre, but turned around at a station along the way. The operators turned the engine the old fashioned way--by hand.
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Free at last!

There's another old bridge at the turnaround point--what a shocker.
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Several of us vegan travelers were also charmed by an unexpected pen of chickens onsite.
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Bill and I had vowed to hold on to our current seats in the train at all costs, since if we had a bad view coming out, then we'd have the good view going back, right? Well, what we failed to consider is that only the *engine* of the train had turned around, not all the cars! Curses, foiled again.

The train moved slowly enough that people could stand outside at the front of the car and take pictures, though, so that's what Bill did. IMG_0255.JPGIMG_0283.JPGThere are canals constructed along the gorge wall that served local industry.

There are canals constructed along the gorge wall that served local industry.

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After the train trip, our guide also took us on a walking tour of the town of Tournon. Since I waited a month and a half to compose this blog post, I have forgotten most of what's special about this town. I know it has (or had) three towers, immortalized on its coat of arms which shows up various places.
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Here is one citadel-like structure:
Tour people, keep out.

Tour people, keep out.

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Some other picturesque buildings in town:
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Though this one looks like it could be a jail, it is actually a high school.

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Tournon has a large statue of Mary on yet another tower on the hillside:
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It also has vineyards:
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We ended our tour on a long suspension bridge near where our boat was docked, engineered by Marc Séguin in 1825.
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Tournon upholds the French tradition of honoring its engineers and scientists in sculpture.
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Later that night, back on the boat, we were treated to farewell champagne, a special 7-course dinner, and a captain's party in the lounge (attended by eight whole people, at least by the time I showed up).
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We headed home the next day, flying from Lyon to Paris and cooling our jets at Charles de Gaulle for several hours before departing for Detroit. Bill managed to spend all his remaining euros at the duty-free. I still have some left, which means I have to go back. The flight *to* France was slightly nicer than the flight *back*, in terms of both food and entertainment options. Wouldn't you know that this time, trying to stay awake for the whole flight, they wouldn't have any of those good HBO series that were available on the flight out! How quickly one becomes jaded.

At any rate we made it back successfully. Thanks, France, for a great vacation! Until next time.... 20191106_140550.jpg

Posted by Lisa Hills 10:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

Cruise Day 5 - Avignon

The Dim Past

The problem with waiting two weeks before finishing your vacation blog is that, though the internet connection is definitely better, memory fades fast. I'm sorry to say that what little I grasped of Avignon's history at the time of the trip is no longer available to be reproduced here. But I have pictures.

We crossed a very busy street to get from the riverfront to the historic town center. God help anyone who tries to ford this current of vehicles by any means but the (way far down) crosswalk. It was all very historic after that. After an increasingly uphill walk of about 20 minutes, we arrived at the base of the rampart. We had a hard time finding a way in. We walked around the base for quite awhile before finding an access point. I guess that means it still functions as a successful fortress! I had pitched the idea that we could enter through the onsite parking garage, but that seemed too wrong.

Eventually we found our way to a point of some height, or pigeon level 1, as I like to call it.
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Then we climbed higher.
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As you can see, it was sunny that day. The view from the next level was fantastic. There was another castle across the river; I forget what that was all about. (Someone should retake this whole trip and explain what I saw to me!)
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Anyway, the inner section of this level of the fortress was very pleasant too with curated shrubbery, cobblestone fancywork, charming Avignon roof views, and yes! More pigeons. Their colors are so varied.
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On the other side of the rampart on the way down is an imposing cathedral with a very high Mother Mary presiding over the scene, part of the Palais des Papes.
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In front of the Palais des Papes is a sort of town square with carousel, shops, and outdoor cafes. Bill gifted a euro to the ultra-calm hurdy-gurdy cat. This was a very bustling street; it's amazing that this cat cared not a whit!
20191122_213305.jpgAnd what is up with all the tennis shoe stores in France? There are at least two on every block, seems like!

And what is up with all the tennis shoe stores in France? There are at least two on every block, seems like!

We were a little at a loss as to what to do next--walking the ramparts hadn't taken as long as expected. We relaxed for a bit in a pretty, unidentified, ruin-filled church courtyard. You can't shake a stick without hitting some crumbling structure or another around here.
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Inefficiently bumbling back shipward, we happened upon yet another courtyard, this time with a weird porcupine gong in it.
Not sure if you can see it, but it's covered in fur-like quills

Not sure if you can see it, but it's covered in fur-like quills

Well boy howdy, this turned out to be art! We had bumbled upon the Musée Calvet. Once again the entrance was cleverly hidden--it was *not* the door by the museum sign, but the door in the courtyard to the left of the thingamabob!
Note the tell-tale stairs to the left...

Note the tell-tale stairs to the left...

We had managed to avoid art museums thus far, but Bill's resistance was down and we went in.
The Lurker Amongst the Ladies

The Lurker Amongst the Ladies

This one is some complicated holy family tree in painting form

This one is some complicated holy family tree in painting form

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Bill and the dog are pretty impressed with this guy

Here's Saint Longin on his horse...he started out a bad guy but turned good! A lesson to us all.

Here's Saint Longin on his horse...he started out a bad guy but turned good! A lesson to us all.

A closeup of his sainted horse.

A closeup of his sainted horse.

After the museum, we went to a French bookstore where I successfully bought a book without recourse to English anywhere in the transaction! It helped that it was a three euro special...whole numbers from one to twenty are my forte in French.

Next to the quay is this rousing Avignon Lion statue, which we paused to admire on the way back to the boat. Nice kitty.
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I paused to admire my dessert that evening too. Oh, those whimsical vegan chefs!
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Posted by Lisa Hills 18:48 Archived in France Tagged art france cat pigeons stairs carousel avignon vegan_dessert musee_calvet Comments (0)

Cruise Day 4 - The Camargue and Arles

Nature Over Art


View Paris and Vegan Rhône Cruise on Lisa Hills's travel map.

The Swiss Emerald set out in the wee hours of morning to get us from Viviers to Arles by midafternoon. The cruise director arranged little events on the boat for passengers during these longer periods of day sailing. For instance, there was a cooking demonstration once, a presentation on other upcoming cruises, an opportunity to talk to the captain in the wheelhouse, etc. The only structured on-boat activity I ever took part in, though (besides eating), was morning yoga. This yoga was more of the airy-fairy school than anything else, but at least it got me up before 8:00 a.m.

There were more cormorants along the river.
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And somebody's castle.
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The two excursions offered on this day conflicted with one another, so you had to make that hard choice of whether to tour artsy Arles or go for a nature hike in the wild Camargue. I had just been reading about the Camargue before the excursions were posted, so that excited me more. Sorry, Van Gogh.

The Camargue is the federally protected wetland at the extreme south of France, where the Rhône turns into a delta. It is home to a vast array of bird species and a herd of (it turns out) semi-wild horses.

It started to rain right when we arrived at the park, but our group stoutly insisted on the "long loop" hike anyway. We got to a covered bridge and spied on faraway waterfowl and horses. (Hint: Camargue horses are white.)
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The rain conveniently had stopped by the time we ventured on. I saw a small, fast bird with a long tail which I later learned was a long-tailed tit. I did not manage a picture of it. Lots of pure old natural beauty, though.
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When we got far enough around the loop, lo and behold, here were the horses again, closer up. Camargue horses are smaller than your normal horse breeds, the guide said. I had thought they were truly wild, and that we might not even see any, but their location in the park is actually closely managed to control how much they damage any given area of plant life. They also get to over-winter on a ranch somewhere, and participate in a breeding program, which sounds pretty non-wild if you ask me. But they are exciting to see, truly feral or not.
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After the hiking loop, while waiting for the bus back at the nature center, I wandered off into a nearby clearing and discovered this:
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It's huge. What is it, you ask?
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This story of the teleported DUCK went on for several more paragraphs beyond what I photographed. I now regret not capturing it all.

I did look up this landmark on the internet, but won't spoil that joy for the rest of you.

Cruising in the bus back to town, someone called, "Horses!" And it was true.
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What we saw from the bus produced yet more evidence that these horses are shilling for the man.
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Being herded, I swear.

The sky was great, though, as twilight fell.
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The teleported BUS.
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Posted by Lisa Hills 16:21 Archived in France Tagged horses arles camargue cormorants tour_bus teleported_duck Comments (0)

Cruise Day 3 - Viviers

Extremely Quiet and Charming Town


View Paris and Vegan Rhône Cruise on Lisa Hills's travel map.

Bill and I decided to take a break from guided tours on day 3 of the cruise. (We later found out that someone broke a leg on one of the excursions given today! So we missed some drama.) From reading briefly about Viviers on a tourist attraction website, I had been wondering why we were spending so many hours here. It turned out to be one of my favorite stops of the vacation.

To get to the center of town from the dock, you walk down a tree-lined avenue. The trees were knobby and an unfamiliar species to me.
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Aside from one major street loud with delivery trucks and zooming cars, Viviers appeared to be deserted today. I had been toying with the idea of getting a haircut in France, and had even prepared a script in French in case the stylist didn't speak English, but the point was moot in this town. Many salons, none open. Even the one with hours posted of 1:30-6:00 pm on Mondays.
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Most streets in Viviers are narrow, winding, and picturesque.
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We found our way to the "Escalier des Cedres," which led to an upper section of the town.
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The view from the top was beautiful.
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We continued on toward interesing buildings we spied further on, encountering a fun door knocker on the way.
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This cathedral in Viviers, like most others in France, has intricate decorations.
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Viviers also has the ruins of a medieval fortress, complete with tower and wall.
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The view of the town's roofs was great!

We wended our way through the cathedral complex and back down to river level.
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Back at the boat, we enjoyed some drinks in the lounge. Lovely beers first, then a taste of calvados, the famous French apple brandy.
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After a period of rest, we headed ashore again for another short walk before dinner. The boat was docked near a park, and earlier we had noticed what appeared to be a nature trail to explore. Indeed it was. The path ran alongside a smaller waterway that I assume connects to the Rhone. I've looked on the map since, though, and have been unable to find this subsidiary. Anyway, it was scenic.
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Bill convinced me that it would be a bad idea to take any of the smaller forks in the path, given that light was fading and we didn't know where we were. Heading straight on eventually led us to this cool footbridge. Of course we had to cross.
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On the other side was a quiet upscale neighborhood: very classy houses. This dog guarding entrance to the neighborhood was suspicious of us.
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I wish I had taken pictures of some of the houses. Maybe Bill has some. We admired the town? subdivision? for about 10 minutes before turning around. I liked this letterbox by twilight.
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Bill and I had both packed flashlights in our luggage, but we both forgot to bring them along on this hike. The assistive light on my phone saved us from the worst of the mud and puddles on the trail back. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for having gone on this off-track adventure.

Posted by Lisa Hills 09:16 Archived in France Tagged streets dog ruins bridge roofs viviers Comments (0)

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