I took this photo of the fountain near the entrance of Esplanade Charles de Gaulle in Montpellier, France, on December 17, 2002. It has the distinction of being the oldest photo in my Google Photos collection — for now, at least. The camera I used back then, a Minolta point-and-shoot, had low resolution by today’s … Continue reading Holiday lights, fountain in the historic center of Montpellier, France
To paraphrase the great philosopher-president George W. Bush: fool me once, shame on you; fool me four times, I won’t get fooled again. Take note, Hertz. January 2016: Hertz charged us an administrative fee for a supposed moving violation in South Africa. To this day we haven’t seen a citation from the local authorities. I … Continue reading Hertz, fool me four times, I won’t get fooled again
I don’t generally follow the news over the weekend. When I scanned the headlines this morning, I discovered that Pamela Anderson had stirred up a bit of controversy late last week in France, at least enough to merit an article in a regional newspaper. She had posted a photo of herself on social media, posing … Continue reading Bronze matador statue in front of the arena in Nîmes
I spotted this sentence today in the online version of the Telegraph: A recent health study suggested that half of French adults are now overweight. However; only 15 are technically obese. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to read “only 15 percent”, but I find the typo at least somewhat believable.
On the way to Luxembourg yesterday, we got off the autoroute for a while, enjoyed a spirited drive through bucolic French countryside, and visited the birthplace of St. Joan of Arc in Domrémy-la-Pucelle. Owing in part to the inclement weather and bad traffic we encountered earlier along the route, we arrived fifteen minutes too late … Continue reading St. Joan of Arc, Domrémy-la-Pucelle
During our week in Paris, we were able to work in a day trip to Chartres, where we visited the famous Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. The trip produced what is probably my favorite photo of the week, so rather than waiting to do a full write-up on the visit, I’m just going to post the photo now.
If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves.
It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks.
Kathryn took this photo of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Montparnasse Tower. It gives you an idea of the weather we’ve been dealing with in Paris.
Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore.
This photo, taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, was one of only a handful of couple photos Kathryn and I have from our travels in Europe in 2007. It was a mostly cloudy day in September, but the colors of the flowers seem to pop out.
After a long, romantic stroll along the Left Bank of the Seine late one evening in September 2007, Kathryn and I walked across Petit Pont to have a look at Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris. Kathryn snapped a few photos, including this one.
Back in the spring of 2003, I took a day trip to Cannes during its famous annual film festival. It was the last day of the festival, and most of the Hollywood celebrities had already come and gone. However, watching the European celebrities arrive for the final screening was no less glamorous.
Pont du Gard is an impressive, well preserved Roman aqueduct bridge. It was built in the first century A.D. to supply fresh water to nearby Nîmes. It continued to be used as a toll bridge for many centuries after the aqueduct fell into disrepair.
Christian let me know that I had to order the right beer for the city I was in. In Düsseldorf, they brew Alt, so that’s what they drink. In Cologne, they brew and drink Kölsch. I would be frowned upon if I ordered a beer in the wrong city. Those fortunate enough to live in Monheim am Rhein could order either, when in Monheim, of course.
Here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about me. It’s in no particular order.
I was walking across the Place de la Comédie, and I noticed a sign that there were blood collections going on. I hadn’t given blood since I was seventeen years old, and I hadn’t actually tried since September 11 last year, when I was turned away because of the crowds. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I figured I could kill an hour or so giving a pint.
We’ve only been home a few days, but Kathryn and I have already heard a lot of questions about our trip. For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve decided to repeat some of them here, along with their answers.
Phew! It’s been about 72 hours since the last update, but we’ve managed to pack an awful lot in. We arrived safely in Munich on Saturday, about six hours later than anticipated, so the thought of doing Oktoberfest that evening was quickly dismissed. My friend in Munich met us at the airport and showed us … Continue reading Oktoberfest, BMW, Rothenburg, Baden-Baden, Eiffel Tower
There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about.
Many of you know I lived in Montpellier, France, for about a year. I loved being there, and I had a great experience studying there. From time to time, I’m asked to provide a reference to prospective students of the school where I studied, and I’m always happy to do so. Last summer, a young woman called me out of the blue, and we spent a half-hour or so on the phone talking about Montpellier.
The iconic statue of the Three Graces is a prominent focal point on Place de la Comédie in Montpellier, France. It’s often used as a recognizable meeting place for tourists, students, and locals. Busy cafes, restaurants, and shops line each side of the square, including a Monoprix grocery store and a surprisingly subdued McDonald’s.