A Journey to France, Day Five and Six

LE PECQ, FRANCE – I had a great night’s sleep on my first ever river cruise and it was nice to just walk down the hallway to a massive breakfast.

On this Viking River Cruise, they cater to Americans, specifically with their crispy bacon and a wide selection of carbs for breakfast.

I tried to stay healthy and go for the fruit and omelet but had to splurge on some bacon.

Every day on the ship an excursion is planned to take people to different places and today we went back to the center of Paris to see Notre Dame and drive past other sites.

Backside of Notre Dame
Notre Dame in Paris

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the area and telling us tips and not sugar coating anything, which I preferred. She reminded us that Paris has the usual problems like traffic and politics.

A new thing happening in Paris is the addition of bike lanes, which are causing headaches for everybody. Being a bike rider, I like them, but understand why many people do not like them.

Our tour guide said, “You love them if you ride a bike, but hate them if you drive a car.”

After our bus tour, we pulled up to a city hall that was just across the river from the Notre Dame and began our small trek to the very busy attraction.

Priest at Notre Dame
A priest conducts a mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The line to get in was snaked around a plaza area that had multiple beggars and a heavy police presence due to the high amount of tourist.

Seeing Notre Dame was amazing with the inside being absolutely stunning. It is amazing to think that a church from the 11th century has been able to survive all of these years.

The rose stained glass windows inside were stunning and showed a rather dark time in France’s history. This church was much darker inside than churches I saw in London in May.

The outside was less impressive as the size of the church was dwarfed by buildings of the same height or taller all around the area. But overall, it is a sight that everybody should see at least once.

Afterward, Mary Jane Coffman, Donna and Brad Beardmore and I went to have lunch at a small pizza place. Though on the way there I found an ice cream shop, so we all stopped there afterward for a treat.

On our ride back to the ship, which was about an hour, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower and then I took a nap.

Eriech at Eiffel Tower
Eriech Tapia in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

When we arrived back it was nearly dinner time, so I freshened up and went down to hear the port talk and then had dinner.

The ship does cater to American cuisine but had a great shallot soup along with a beef tenderloin. The dessert was a Grand Marnier Soufflé, an orange soufflé, which was really good.

Once we finished dinner I got some work done and spent about an hour talking with Brad about anything and everything as we cruised down the Seine River before bed.

On Friday, it was a day to slow down and smell the flowers, which we would have plenty of at the Monet Foundation Giverny, which was the gardens of Claude Monet.

Flowers at Claude Monet's garden
A purple dahlia flower at the gardens of Claude Monet.

The gardens were only a short 10-minute bus ride away and once we arrived our tour guide took us to some of the most fantastic gardens. It was a bee’s version of heaven.

There were zinnias, inpatients, hollyhocks and every other flower under the sun in full bloom in what seemed like two-acres of gardens, which also included a Japanese garden.

Donna and Brad Beardmore left, with MAry Jane Coffman at Claude Monet's gardens
From left to right: Donna and Brad Beardmore and Mary Jane Coffman stand at the gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny.

I now have too many ideas for my future gardens, since many of the plants here can easily be grown in Oklahoma. However, there were a few new plants that I had no idea what they were.

After spending the morning there and in the town of Giverny, we headed back to the ship for a lunch which was roasted duck and salads. They did have a burger or rib option for the Americans on board.

Leroy and I went to a beautiful church called Collégiale Notre -Dame that was right in the middle of the town. It was almost nicer than Notre Dame in Paris, as it was less crowded and still had the beautiful rose window and organ.

Collégiale notre-dame
Inside of the Collégiale Notre -Dame.

Speaking with our program director Ken Dermer, he suggested that I do something different in the afternoon beside the walking tour around town.

Whether he was serious or joking at the time I did not know, but he suggested I go to the area on the other side of the river and look around but take a hike up a rock face that can see everywhere in the city.

He said that there was a nice path and would be fun.

However, the trail was nearly impossible to find, and the trail was nothing more than a small path that had been overgrown, but it was a nice challenge.

Once I got to the top, I was able to look out over the entire city and take a breath of fresh air.

Top of the hill looking out over Rouen
A view of the city of Rouen from on top of a hill overlooking the city.

After climbing back down I went and grabbed a coffee and macaron before heading back to the ship to work on some class work and other things before dinner.

Dinner was a taste of France with different things from all the different regions including great cheeses, pâté, desserts and even frog legs, which I had to pass on.

There was so much food I did not even taste half of what was being offered before I was full, but it was an enjoyable evening.

After dinner, I tried making phone multiple phone calls to Kennedy Mckeaigg, but as Ken said to me about the internet a few days ago, “We will be in the middle of North Africa.”

I had tried to go into town as well, but the internet there was just as slow and would not allow calls back.

Afterward, I headed back to the ship, but as I was going to read the ship was having a dance game going on and I began watching for a second while I grabbed a drink. But, a random house lady grabbed my arm and asked if I knew My Achy Breaky Heart.

Hopefully, there are no videos out there of me dancing, but who knows.

It was a nice break and I was still able to get some reading in that evening, even though I was sidetracked on getting to know the people next to me and also listening in on the older people complaining about Duck boats.

Overall the night was a good breath of fresh air from the usual day.

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Featured Photo: People light a candle at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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