This is my final post in this series. I hope you have enjoyed the journey!
October 8 – Auteuil
If I had once piece of advice to give to horse lovers traveling to Europe, it would be to make time to go to a steeplechase race. Racetracks, in general, really go out of their way to be attractive, so you can see some lovely architecture, landscaping, and flowers. Auteuil seemed to be going out of its way to brand the race day as a family affair, and there were lots of kids activities.
The innate pageantry of horse racing is on display with the starts that seem more like an agreement to start running than a blast off. Jockeys guide their mounts to and from the course in a companionable line, knowing that instead of two minutes, they will have portions of an hour to keep up a relationship with their mount.
I had signed up for the “heart of the racecourse” tour, and I was very pleased with the behind-the-scenes access it offered me. It was all in French, but I was (mostly) able to follow along enough to assure myself that the tour guide wasn’t saying anything I didn’t (basically) know. She discussed horse passports, the weight/handicap horses carry, and how jockeys are weighted in. When asked if the horses were “Thoroughbreds” the guide went into a description of the various stud books and how that affected the answer.
Disappointingly, my camera’s battery ran out after a few races, and the backup battery I had brought didn’t want to cooperate. As such, while I got some great photos, I didn’t get nearly as many as I hoped.
October 9 – Bois de Vincennes
While I was feeling better, my cold/sinus infection was still very much present. I went back to the Bois de Vincennes (it really is a large park) to discover the west side.
While in the park, I kept hearing a chain saw. I didn’t think anything of it, but while I was sketching on a bench, I heard a distinctive clompity-clomp. My head snapped up to discover the BEST thing in the whole world. Meet Baron the park pony!
It is my opinion that all we need to save the world is more park ponies. If I ever run for office, this is the first thing I am implementing. More park ponies.
October 10 – Musee Rodin
Tuesday I set out to see the Rodin Museum. Unlike other museums I have mentioned, this one is not owned by the French state; it is a private museum devoted to Auguste Rodin (bet you didn’t see that coming.) I did not go out to Monet’s house at Giverny or to any other “great artist” mecca. The crowds scare me. And if I had been feeling better, I might have skipped this museum in favor of something more strenuous. But the way I was feeling, this suited me just fine.
As I made my way home, I realized I only had one more day and I was missing two of my must-sees. Sacre Coeur and the Pompidou. I contemplated which would be cut from my list.
October 11 – Sacre Coeur & Pompidou
Sometimes Facebook really comes through. A friend suggested taking an Uber up to the top of Sacre Coeur and then making my way down. So, I did. This allowed me time to visit both Sacre Coeur and Pompidou!
As long as I was splurging, I decided to Uber up to the top to watch the sunrise.
Sacre Coeur had real gargoyles!
With the sun up, I made my way down the park. I enjoyed watching the grounds maintenance team.
Isn’t this a rather perfect abstract?
I took the Metro back to the hotel and had breakfast, dropping off the big camera and a few other items I wouldn’t need for the Pompidou.
The most “modern” of the museums I visited, I found a lot to contemplate in this museum. I took part in an interesting event called “Toutes les copies“. The museum had a robust collection of Henri Matisse, and I fell hard for his painting, “Interieur, bocal de poissons rouges (printempts 1914)“. There were also quite a few Mondrians which offered me a chance to look at these attractive paintings closely. The Pompidou also looks at trends in furniture and other pop art, which is a great reminder than there is really nothing off limit to artists.
Making my way back to the Metro, I passed the stunning Tour Saint-Jacques.
I’m glad I pushed myself to tour both of these landmarks. I think I would have been disappointed to miss either one. As it is now, I know there were things I didn’t see, but I’m content with what I was able to access.
October 12 – Home
Paris is a nice place to visit, but I was more than ready to come home. The total travel time, door to door, is more than eighteen hours, and I really felt it, particularly as my start in the Paris airport commenced with the wrong terminal and about an hour of frantic searching for information about my flight. Once found, the French line system was in full force. Acerbating the issue, the Iceland Air computer system had gone down and EVERY SINGLE PERSON had to check in manually. I made it through the line, only to be told I was standby for the flight to Portland.
In the end, after an anxious period in Reykjavik, I made it home pretty seamlessly. My friends had done a WONERFUL job taking care of the fur kids, and Key’s greeting upon seeing me hit the spot. That night, I tumbled into my own bed, curled up with the dog and cats, and was just happy to be HOME.