USO Paris Express

This past weekend was the 8th of May and I had a Paris Express tour with the USO to escort. For the French the 8th of May is a holiday and commemorate the end of World War II. So as we normally do in our guided bus ride in Paris, The Champs Elysees were OFF limits because of preparation for the Parade and passing of our “dear” president Mr. Sarkozy.It was PACKED with Security, Police people all over! I think it was the first time I saw so many policemen/women in Paris. I once went to the 14th of July parade and they had security, but not Police. The CRS were out and military people. So… It was something new… Maybe this is the changes that happen under Sarko. 😉 Paris France – Google Maps


I was really wanted to go and visit the temporary exhibition on Holy Russia Holy Russia exhibition at the Musée du Louvre and it had been a LONG time that I didn’t visit any museum in Paris, so I thought… why not. We did the Louvre Museum for a bit, so we cruised by the exhibition on Holly Russia (sorry I know, cruising isn’t appropriate for such gorgeous art effect. BUT, the gallery was PACKED and we couldn’t even see any of the information’s panels, we could admire the object/books/icons from 2 yard away, but so many people in between that I got sick of waiting for my turn to read everything and translate for Morgane. So I bought the book on the exhibition instead! LOL! After coming out of the gallery, I asked Morgane if she had ever seen the “Mona Lisa” she told me she saw it on pictures. So we headed toward her.

Now for those of you who are fortunate enough to have gone to the Louvre, you might help me here: “HOW on Earth can you even find your way around?” I had the map, I followed the map, and I totally got lost (not that I have to complain since you discover painting/statues or something else that will just amaze you) BUT my feet hurt, I was already walking for the past 2 hours and then got lost in the galleries! WTH?? LOL. AND I had a daughter who was saying EVERY other minutes how tired she was… Oh I would want to see how she handled being left in the Louvre with my mother. AH!! That would be hilarious!
There was also another temporary exhibition on the teaching of Tao Exhibition “Tao, Another Way of Being” : Galeries nationales, Grand Palais, (en) in Paris [Rmn] that I was wanted to see, but after 2 ½ hours in the Louvre and STARVING, we decided to skip it. (I really wanted to go see it, but with Morgane, I wasn’t sure I could handle it. Beside it is still going to be open until the beginning of July and I will go back twice in Paris in between and hopefully I will have time to go visit it)

We found a little Pizzeria (morgane didn’t like the other choice: “Sushi”) and rested our feet for a short hour. Then, I told her we could go to the “Galleries Lafayette”, she asked what it was and I said, well, I think it is some kind of Mall with tones of different stores. (I will turn 40 soon enough and I (frenchie) don’t even know exactly what is inside the “Galleries Lafayette”. Does it seem WEIRD to you??) Well, when I stepped in the “mall” I understood why I never went there! LOL! OMG!! Are you kidding me?? Who can afford ANYTHING in the Galleries?? I saw the CUTEST rings from a French designer. Over 70000 EURO!! Yes you read it right, 70 THOUSAND! WTH, really if you can afford a ring that cost that much, then I hope that you are giving back to your community or world organization that need help!

Anyway, needless to say that I felt under dress and like I didn’t belong. LOL they do have GORGEOUS thing there though. LOL!! However even if you can or cannot afford to shop in this store, go check it out. The building is just amazing, it has a Art deco décor with stained glass ceiling. (see the picture) AND you can take your McDonald to the Top floor and eat your Hamburger admiring a view of Paris that you can’t see anywhere else. LOL
As usual here are some of my pics, hope you enjoy them.
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In June we had lots of visitors. 2 of my Scrapbook group ladies from Iowa came to visit me. I went to pick them up at the Zurich Airport. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zurich, don’t bother, there is NOTHING interesting there, except maybe overprice hotel/restaurant and everything else in between!

Of course I screwed up on the date of arrival. I thought it was arriving on the Tuesday and they were actually arriving on the Wednesday. So I spend 2 days in a town where there is NOTHING to do! LOL!! At least I rested before the craziness.

After a day or two staying in the Heidelberg area we went to the Chateau du haut Koenigsbourg (see the last post for more: and after that we drove toward Paris.

First we stopped in Reims only for a short stop to eat and just get some “wakeup” time for me, who was the driver.

We slept not too far from it and then drove to Paris the next day, spend it walking around, taking pictures and just enjoying the nice weather. Then by 3 or so we left for the North of France. Well actually we drove for Bruges in Belgium.



We arrived in Bruges around 6 and then went to eat out. Some of us got a little too much of that nice good Beer that they have in Belgium. (and NO it wasn’t me) after a.. peaceful night (especially when some came back to the hotel totally wasted) 😉 We walked around the beautiful city of Bruges and got some Waffles and other goodies, and in the afternoon, left for Amsterdam.

Arrive early evening, ate at an Irish Pub, and went to visit the “Red District”, Now I am sorry, but I don’t understand the whole big deal around such a place. I mean OK it is legal in Amsterdam to get some hokey pokey and some weed too. BUT, if you ever go to the Red District pay attention and look at it the “HUMAN” way.
I was like every other “tourist” at first, I was like, whaoh, nice… that funny!! (it is kind of those creepy exhibition, where they show weird and unnatural stuff, and even though you find it just disgusting, you keep on looking) And then after blocks and blocks of windows shopping for the perfect woman body that might appeal to those guys. I got really sicken to even think of what those girls must endure life.I mean come on… One, they really enjoy it, OR they are stuck in that kind of careers, and I would not like to be in their shoes. It was just humanly depressing. I did take some pictures of the area.
However, my USB Key has been missing since I have saved those file to transfer to my other computer. So… you only have the little Daytime trip. Sorry for those of you who were expecting… something… hot and spicy!

We came back to the hotel and spend the night, and then the next morning we took the Tram to the center of town and went to the Anne Frank’s museum, after Mel and I went to walk around town while Gena and Al went to Van Gogh museum. It was a nice day and after a very LONG day we drove back to home. I was exhausted. But… I wouldn’t have those nice pictures if I haven’t gone right?

USO Paris July

This visit to Paris was going to be one of my latest visit with the USO tour. So… I did something that I have always wanted to do.

Just cruise.

I enjoyed just checking out Shop windows. Street Vendors, etc…

This one was kind of cool. A Tableware shop diplaying a new Plate design (of Paris monuments) and showing it like you were looking at it from above, but it was in a window (wonder if they used super glue?)

Laduree Store. It is a place where you can go and eat some sweets. The “Macarons” are one of their creation that they are well known for. But apparently it must be pretty good! Look at the line!

Walking around Paris, you can find lots of street performance like this guy. I thought it was kinda cool the way that he stand all day long on the column and be!

This was taken on the “Champs Elysees” not too far from the American Embassy. Did you know that you can’t take picture of the Embassy? I was surprised and disapointed, It is such a pretty building, and to be in Paris and seeing the Stars Flowing next to a very old building. Make me want to shoot it. However, I was stopped by a Police officer (yes French) who made sure that I didn’t have ANY pictures of the building! Bummer!!! What a party pooper!!

I also went, and that was the place I have been looking to go visit for a while. On the outskirt of Paris, in St. Denis. To go visit the Basilica of Saint Denis (funny because the French call it the “Cathedrale Royale de Saint Denis”)
This is the place where most of the French Kings are buried. Nearly every King from the 10th to the 18th Centuries are there.(All but 3 kings are now buried here) Also most Queen were crowned there (King were in Reims)






The last King of France: Louis the XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, his 2 daughters and his sister are buried here since 1806 (Time of Napoleon’s exile and the “restored Bourbons” reigns.) The heart of the Dauphin de France (son of Louis XVI) is also there.

USO Last Paris Trip

And voila this is it… No more trip to Paris with the USO! I was glad that my friend Shaunna from Captivus was able to accompany me on that one! It was so much fun to be with a fellow photographer.

This time we went on the South part of Paris. We went to the Eiffel Tower and to the wall of Peace to just make sure we knew where it was going to be!! And to the Montparnasse Cemetery.

We walked most of the time but at the end of our little escapade our feet were screaming for us to just chill. So we took the subway. This is one of the thing that I love about the subway in Paris.

You can be surprise by accordeon player, or singer… and just relax by sitting down while listening to some “traditional” french tune!

We decided after Montparnasse to go to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was the first time that I took the time to cruise around the Garden. And since it was the end of the summer, we had the change of colors in the trees and still flowers in the garden. It was so pretty!

 And then we went back to the Peace Wall to do a project call HUG ME you can find more information about it here

USO Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg, France

I did a lot of Travel in May of this year, France, Italy, Belgium, France again… It was fun but very every weekend travelling can be a case of being tired for a while for me. I guess I am not 17 or 18 anymore!! LOL


We went to the “Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg : visite de château en Alsace, tourisme en Alsace” in Alsace with the USO. My husband followed with some friends that were visiting from the States. We were lucky to have a beautiful spring day and no rain while visiting. (Gotta love that)

Me and my husband make fun of this place because the German renovated this castle in between 1900 to 1908 (when that region of “France” was German) so the German government pay for the renovation and then first world war happen, and as we know, German lost, France took back that part lost in 1870 and now it is listed in the “French National Monument” (like they had anything to do on the construction/renovation of that castle) But hey I am French I should be proud of all the cool Monument that we take over those surrounding country that don’t deserve it!! Yeah!!! (sight!!)

Anyway, here are some more pictures from the castle. Oh, BTW, if you ever want to go visit. The best time is fall, as you can see in my previous post: Anne’s Blog: Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. Alsace, France The colors are just amazing. I want to try to go there when there is snow on the ground so see if it is as beautiful, but not sure the drive there will be safe enough as it is located on top of a very small mountain/cliff top. And the road doesn’t seem like it is even cleared up in winter! We shall see!

Notre Dame de Paris, USO Trip

During my last trip in Paris with the USO, I went to cruise around the Notre Dame Cathedral. Every time that I enter a church/Cathedral/Synagogue/Temple/Mosque, it amazes me what people can make for the glory of their faith, and every time I step in the Notre Dame Cathedral it is the same. I wonder how many years it took them to complete the work, how many men worked on the stone and the carving of such magnificent building. How many human being it helped with their faith and their everyday life!

I am not a very religious person, but I do believe that for some people religion and attending church can be very helpful. I know sometime I wish it could help me, but… I never found the help that I have been searching. So I search elsewhere! I was raised in France and most of my education’s years were in Catholic school. My family is Catholic, but I never was interested to follow what I call: “Organized Religion”, I know that it is for some and I respect the need for some to go to Church to pray, on the other side, I don’t feel that need. I’d rather go and take a walk in the wood, Sit on the beach and admire what God made and thanks Him for this precious gift while admiring it.

My grand Uncle was a Catholic Priest who was in charge of the Christian art in his region. He use to be the “publisher” of the series called: “Les Nouvelles de l’Eure” and whenever we will go visit him, we always ended up going visiting some little village and therefore stopped at the church to see the art. So I grew up having to visit the church and not for mess! And now, I can’t stop myself but go into the church of the town that I am visiting, It make me think of my grand uncle who isn’t here with us anymore, and of the good time that we had with him. He was a great person and was always making sure that we will follow what we thought was right! I hope that I give my kids the patience, love and understanding that he did with all of his nieces and nephews.

So to come back to Notre Dame (Sorry, I got carried away for a short while) 😉

Here is a little something about the Cathedral that you might not know: “Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Construction began in 1163, during the reign of Louis VII, The cathedral was effectively complete by around 1345…/… The organ has 7,800 pipes, with 900 classified as historical…/… In 1793, during the French Revolution, the cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason, and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being. During this time, many of the treasures of the cathedral were either destroyed or plundered. The statues of biblical kings of Judah (erroneously thought to be kings of France) were beheaded. Many of the heads were found during a 1977 excavation nearby and are on display at the Musée de Cluny.

For a time, Lady Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars…/… The cathedral’s great bells managed to avoid being melted down. The cathedral came to be used as a warehouse for the storage of food. In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, it was feared that German bombers could destroy the windows; as a result, on 11 September 1939, they were removed, and then restored at the end of the war. There are five bells at Notre Dame. The great bourdon bell, Emmanuel, is located in the South Tower, weighs just over 13 tons, and is tolled to mark the hours of the day and for various occasions and services. There are four additional bells on wheels in the North Tower, which are swing chimed. These bells are rung for various services and festivals.” (Notre Dame de Paris – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

You can also find lots of information about the Cathedral here: Notre-Dame de Paris

Paris USO March 2010

Went to Paris with the USO. Had a lovely time in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. I love this place. Some people might find it creepy to go into cemetery for just walking. I find cemeteries one of the best place to reflect on your own life!
Beside, this one has so many famous people, if you ever go to Paris and have some time to just cruise. Don’t skip it, it is a marvel of architecture beauty, history and just peace!
You never know, you might enjoy the cruising in cemeteries too!

I am a volunteer with the USO in Heidelberg/Mannheim, and as such I “escort” tour to go different places. In the past last week I went to Paris. This time after we got our 2 hours guided tour with the bus, I send my group on their exploring time and since no-one ask to come along with me, I just took out on my own. I took the Boat shuttle from the Eiffel Tower to the Notre Dame stop. I was wanted to go to the top of the Notre Dame tower, but the waiting line was SO long, I just decided against it! I walk to the “Hotel de Ville” (City Hall) and took a few pics (you know me) and took the subway to the Père Lachaise Cemeteries. Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise Visite virtuelle Cemetery’s virtual tour Jim Morrison Edith Piaf

For those of you who don’t know this cemetery here is a little info about it: “Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it is reputed to be the world’s most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years…/.. The cemetery was established by Napoleon I in 1804. Cemeteries had been banned inside Paris in 1786, after the closure of the Saints Innocents Cemetery (Cimetière des Innocents) on the fringe of Les Halles food market, on the grounds that it presented a health hazard. (This same health hazard also led to the creation of the famous Parisian catacombs in the south of the city.)”

(Père Lachaise Cemetery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

My little walk in the cemetery was as always (since it was not the first time I went there) peaceful. I love walking in this particular cemetery. First you need a map (I got one at the entrance from an old guy that sold them and bad postcard of tombstone) and even with the map, you just get lost searching for whomever you want to see the grave of! I went up the hill and help a lady and her mother who, funny thing, were from the same area as my mother is: Brittany! So we talked a bit about it. We talked about why they were there, and not like I was they were there to visit a family member’s grave. You could see that it was hard for the older woman. It must have been one of the first visit to her sister’s grave, because she was so emotional and the sister passed away only a few month back!

Isn’t it amazing how one cemetery can be a “tourist attraction” and yet still be where people mourn their love one? It did reminded me that those grave weren’t just name, they were family member, lover, spouse, parent, child to someone else. It is something that one tends to forget walking in the Père Lachaise. Most of the people cruising along the graves are mostly interested to see the resting place of someone famous. But some other comes here out of respect.

I saw one gentleman who was taking care of Chopin’s grave, taking all the dead flower away and making the grave more “presentable”. He did a great job as you can see in the pictures, and just think. He was a fellow polish. So I don’t know if he came ALL the way from Poland to pay his respect, or if he lives in town, but either way, it was nice to see that 161 years after his death there is still someone who come take care of his gravesite.

I did found one grave that I thought was just funny. You can see that on the grave with this gorgeous sculpture, it say “Enfin Seul” (Finally Alone!) wonder how popular that guy was! 😉 and why he loved the fact to be alone at last. 🙂

In the slideshow link you will find some of the picture of the Père Lachaise, but also many of Paris as I took a long walk around. Enjoy!

Slideshow of Paris March 2010