Saturday, 29 September 2018

Adventures in France - Afternoon in Paris

After our visit to the Picasso Museum we got back on the Metro and made our way to the other side of Paris to the Parc Floral de Paris where we had been told was a collection of pelargoniums.  It was lunchtime so we went into a bar for coffee and a snack.  The Pear and Almond tart was wonderful.

The Parc is situated behind the Chateau de Vincennes which is Huge!

After a long trek we found the Parc and were pleased to find that on Sunday entry was free.   By trial and error we found a path lined with large pots of scented pelargoniums in a garden of edible plants. They looked magnificent, but I felt that there should be more, so we made enquiries and were directed to another part of the gardens.

 Here, by the side of a woodland setting, we found more - all species.  If we had been a month or two earlier they would have been in flower.   Again, these were all growing in very large pots, so some large specimens.  The pots were mostly displayed on tall metal stands so the plants were at eye level and easy to examine.

Lots of seed

P, fruitetorum


I think this is P.scandens

P. inqunans

P. drummondii from W. Australia

P. bowkeri

A few views of some of the park

When we left the parc on our way back to the Metro we saw this electric vehicle.  It travelled slowly backwards and forwards along a short length of road.  People seemed to be travelling on it, but we could not see a driver.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Adventures in France - Journey to Paris and first morning

Saturday morning saw us both up bright and early for our journey to Paris.  We actually did not need to have been up quite so early as we found we could get a slightly shorter journey for less Euro than if we'd got the earlier train.   Two minutes past the time the train was to have left the station it had not arrived so I went to the ticket office to ask if the train was delayed, as we had a connection to make.  I was told we had to get on the bus which was in front of the station.  You should have seen us move!  Fortunately we got on the coach and made the connection.

This was the very fast TGV train to Paris.  I said we should sit upstairs on the train so we could see more of the countryside.  We found a couple of seats and got comfortable for the four-hour journey with speeds of up to 300 kph.   At the next stop we were told that we were sitting in someone's seat.  It seems we were in First Class and we were unaware we had seat numbers booked for us in Second Class.  So we had to go back downstairs and find the correct carriage and seat numbers.  The rest of the journey was uneventful, but we arrived at Montparnasse Station in rush hour.  Very scary being in such a large crowd which was channelled into a narrow ticket checkpoint.  We found the Metro without any problem, but getting the correct ticket was a bit of a trial.  The chap who served us only heard part of our request and sold us the wrong ticket.  We were fortunate that in the next queue we had a young lady behind us who spoke excellent English and translated our problem and we had our ticket exchanged.  We found our hotel fairly easily and went out to eat and then an early night as we had two places to visit the next day.

Up early again we went out to have some breakfast at a restaurant nearby - this was in more pleasant surroundings than the breakfast room in the hotel - and cheaper.   Then off to negotiate the Metro and find the Picasso Museum.

I am not a fan of Picasso, but it was interesting to see how his style changed over the years.   We weren't supposed to take photographs inside, but lots were, so here are a few that I did quite like.  I wish I'd taken a photograph of the ceiling over the large staircase - it was beautiful.

This one was called "The Farmer"

I think this was "Woman with hand on her faced"

This one was- I think 'Owl inside'

Not sure of the name of this one - but an early still life. Jug with pears?

Friday, 21 September 2018

Adventures in France -Chateau du Bosc, family home of Toulouse-Lautrec

We had asked at the Information Office in Albi about visiting the Chateau du Bosc as Sandy had read there was no public transport to Naucelle, and from there to Camjac, where the Chateau is.  The very helpful member of staff suggested we might try to get a BlaBla car and showed us on his computer screen how we could order one if there was anyone travelling there and said it would be best if we checked on the morning of our proposed visit.

For anyone who does not know, a BlaBla car is a service that lets you find a car with a driver going to the place you want to travel to, at a very reasonable cost.

We duly checked on my iPad the next morning and found to our relief that the page could be translated to English, which helped enormously.   We put in that we wanted to go to Naucelle from Albi and found several drivers going that way.  We opted for Ophelie and who would be leaving Albi at around lunchtime which suited us.  I received a message on my mobile, in French, so went down to speak to Rachdi, the very nice receptionist and he translated it for me.  Ophelie was offering to pick us up at the station opposite our hotel and Rachdi replied for me that the station would be perfect.  Naucelle was probably about 20 miles away, and the cost was €10

Ophelie arrived promptly and we had a pleasant drive to Naucelle. She is a student and told us that she is studying to be a vet.  She offered to drive us directly to the Chateau du Bosc at Camjac. We were delighted as this saved us a 2 km walk from Naucelle. 

We had arrived at just about 2 pm and were the only visitors. A very nice and helpful young man showed us over the Chateau.  He conducted the tour in English and it was so nice just being the two of us.   The mediaeval chateau has been occupied by the same family since the 12C until 2016 when the last family member died at the age of 91.  As she had no family members left, the Chateau was left to the couple who had helped her run the property for the past few years.  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec spent most of his early years at the Chateau.  

Unfortunately no photographs allowed inside the chateau, but these are from the outside.
The Chapel - built when the property was modernised

Originally there were four towers - one at each corner but two were removed when the property was modernised in the 19C

Originally built as kennels for the hunting dogs. Now used as stables.

Entrance to the Courtyard - originally where the drawbridge was

You may now be wondering how we got back to Naucelle.  As I mentioned above, there was no transport to the chateau from Naucelle - no transport back either.   So we walked - 2km on a hot sunny afternoon.  We stopped to take pictures of these charming cows.  I think they are young Charolais.

When we arrived at Naucelle we discovered there was a train service directly back to Albi, but we had an hour to wait - we were so relieved we would have waited longer.

More soon.