… your regularly scheduled programming, “All Semen, All the Time”, to bring you a very foreshortened synopsis of my trip to Paris and the Brittany coast.
The backstory you should be aware of- my mother is Parisian, and one of her conditions for marrying my father, straight from the cornfields of Iowa, is that she be able to return to Paris at least once a year, in order to see both her mother and her sister, but also her city. He saw a good deal when it landed in front of him, and so they, and eventually we, did. I grew up taking my summer vacations in Paris and summer camps in the surrounding area, and once I left college and started making my own money, I too, started traveling to France once a year. All that to say that my experience of Paris is more family than tourist attraction, although I most certainly do enjoy a good trip to the Louvre (this trip will actually be the first time I didn’t make it).
As you will discover, I am most definitely not a travel writer, and I am point-and-shoot photographer. My prose is pedestrian, and the extent of my photo processing is composed of hitting the “Enhance” button in iPhoto (I am going to DIE for admitting that, aren’t I?). If you’re still hanging around, let’s go ahead and get to it.
My parents discovered the Albert Kahn Museé et Jardin during their last trip, and were very jazzed to share it with me this time around. Albert Kahn was a banker who believed the road to peace was better cross-cultural understandings, and to this end, he built three types of garden on his vast personal property (an english garden, a Japanese garden, and a French garden- how these particular gardens might increase world peace has yet to be elucidated). This garden was eventually purchased by the local township, and converted into a park and museum. Located on the very edge of Paris, one simply takes the Metro’s line 11 to Boulogne – Pont de Saint Cloud– the park entrance is right by the Metro exit.
I would recommend first stopping for lunch at any one of the brasserie’s located at the Metro exit; I find it impossible to wake up in Paris before 10am, so by the time I arrive at my first destination, it is invariably lunch time.
If this appears on a menu, I will invariably order it- a salad with warm slices of goat cheese on toast (Salade de Chevre Chaud).
I think the entry fee to the gardens is 1.5euros, and we spent about an hour walking around. At that price point, this is most likely one of the cheapest attractions in Paris. You’re welcome.
Views of the Japanese garden- there are koi in the pond as well.
A corner of the French garden, all straight lines and brilliant green grass. To the left you can see the orchard, where the gardeners have convince apple trees to grow in a variety of shapes, including ROUND.
I did not take too many pictures of the English garden, as it appeared to be mostly a vast field with a swamp in it. Perhaps Albert didn’t love the English as much as he might have wanted it to appear.
After this visit, you will undoubtedly be hungry, so I will have to recommend stopping for a tasty treat. Almost any cafe in all of Paris will have something delicious to offer, so just sit down and ask to see the menu.
Mousse au Chocolat. I did not share.
We also spent three days on the Brittany coast, where the weather was disgustingly rainy and gray. With my foot/back issues, I could not participate in the long walks on the beach people in personal ads are so fond of, so I went to the local aquarium. Which was called the Ocearium- tongue-twistingly difficult to pronounce both in English and in French- but otherwise a lovely and DRY distraction for an afternoon.
Judging from the photos, I was most fascinated by the underwater plant life.
And this octopus, who was kind enough to suction himself to the glass as I was passing by.
The weather in Paris, upon our return, was gloriously sunny and unseasonably warm, so I took advantage by walking along the Seine, looking at souvenirs, and ancient buildings. I crossed the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge over the water, and discovered a charming tradition: couples buy a lock, inscribe it with their names, lock it to the railing, and throw the keys into the river. J and I will have to add our own lock during our next trip.
The view from said bridge.
Overall, it was a pleasant trip, but I am ever so glad to be home.