On our walking tour in Vienne, France, several doors (and door knockers) caught my attention.
Our walking tour in Tournon-sur-Rhone included the old city, with the high walls, and a walk across the bridge for a wine tasting and a stop at a chocolate shop.
After a few days in Lyon, my two friends and I boarded an Amawaterways river boat to begin our cruise south on the Rhone River to Avignon. But before we left Lyon, we took a tour of Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse–an indoor market where the specialities of Lyon are found in abundance.
We tasted cheeses and meats (always with wine) and then dessert.
We also took a walk along the river to the point where the Rhone and Saone Rivers meet. Along the way, we passed some interesting buildings.
Lyon is a city with a great deal of history and also innovative architecture.
Last spring, I spent three weeks touring France, and Lyon was my favorite city (sorry, Paris). I decided to visit Lyon again in the fall and just spent another week there. The City still enchants me. Here are a few photos:
A fruit and veggie market next to the florist shop
One of the things that makes Mackinac Island unique is that there are no cars on the Island, so transportation is via foot, bike or horse.
The Mackinac Bridge is the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. It connects the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan and can be seen from Mackinac Island. There are no bridges to the Island, though; the Island is reached by ferry from either Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula or St. Ignace in the Upper.
Throughout my travels in France, I visited several art museums, and I also noticed art in some unexpected places. The main street in Barbizon, for example, featured mosaic reproductions of works by artists who lived and woked in Barbizon in the 19th century.
Honfleur sits along the northern end of the Seine River and this outdoor wall art is representative of the nautical feel of the town.
In Angers, this artistic garden in what had been the moat around the castle drew my attention.
This mural in Lyon covered an entire building.
I was in Lyon during Holy Week and came upon these Stations of the Cross. The juxtaposition of this modern interpretation of the Passion of Jesus on the ancient pillars was striking.
When I walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral at Bayeux, France, two things happened.
First, I had a felt sense of the prayers that had been offered there over the years (the Cathedral was built in the 11th century), as if I was part of the communion of saints—I was joining my prayers to all the people who had prayed in this space over the centuries. Their prayers hung in the air, filling the vast space; I could almost hear their shouts of gratitude and cries of anguish. I walked into that communion of saints, and I prayed in gratitude for the opportunity to be there, to be part of this community of faith.
I was reminded of the tapestries in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and imagined a parade of people from the past, heads bowed in prayer.
(The Cathedral at Bayeux also has a tapestry, which depicts the adventures of William the Conqueror in 1066 and is now housed in a museum near the Cathedral.)
The second thing that happened when I walked into the Cathedral was a memory of a mystical vision I had almost forty years ago.
In the vision, I was in an old church like this one (I had been in Spain a few years earlier and had visited several churches like the one in Bayeux—stone walls, floors and pillars and no permanent pews or fabric to soften the church interior).
When I had the vision, though, I was praying in the convent chapel at my parish in Pennsylvania.
In the vision, I saw myself lying prostrate on the floor of a medieval cathedral. I could feel how hard the stone was against my body and how cold it felt against my arms. Then, the floor began to shift and rise up, becoming a hand that was lifting me up, and I knew it was the hand of God. God said to me, “I will hold you.”
It was soon after that vision that I moved to a l’Arche community, and I thought of that vision many times during my time in l’Arche and how God held me.
Today is the feast of St. Norbert, an 11th century French priest who was known for his deep faith. The writing in the Liturgy of the Hours, says, “He spent many hours in contemplation of the divine mysteries and fearlessly spread the spiritual insights which were the fruit of his meditation.”
I wondered about the spiritual insights of my meditation, and then I remembered my vision. God will hold me.
God did hold me during my time in l’Arche, and I came away from that experience with a deep awareness of God’s care for me. Living in l’Arche was the most challenging thing I had ever done and also the most fruitful—I learned so much about myself.
The vision was a gift, a promise from God that I would be held. Almost forty years later, the vision still consoles me.
My back yard garden is dotted with bits of whimsy–yard art and wind chimes tucked in among the flowers–so imagine my joy at discovering bits of whimsy during my travels around France. Here is a sampling.
Visiting churches in France gave me the opportunity to see beautiful stained glass windows. Here is a sampling.
This was the first time I traveled with Overseas Advendure Travel (O.A.T.) and hopefully not my last. O.A.T. specializes in small groups and solo-travelers; we were eight people for our main tour (three more had planned to come but covid changed their plans), and I did not have to pay a “solo-supplement” to have my own room. Some other pluses were that we stayed in each location for several nights, giving me time to get to know a place a bit and also setting a comfortable travel pace. We did day trips and also participated in a number of activities that added interest to the trip.
In Barbizon, I took a sculpture class with Melanie Quentin.
Bayeux is known for lace-making. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts and then I took a lace-making class with Cécile Roquier at the Lace Conservatory.
From Carcassone (where we stayed inside the walled city), we ventured out to Chateau Auzias. We walked through the vineyard and learned about the pruning process. Then we toured the Cave, where the wine is made, and then we had the opportunity to mix our own red blend.
At Maison Fleuret in Paris, we took a macaron-making class . Let me just say that making macarons is as much science as baking, and I have a new appreciation for all that goes into making them.
Touring with O.A.T. was fun and educational. I am still on a “travel high” even though I have been home more than a month.