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Mark D. Simpson



Journal Pages
for France & England

November 2 thru November 12, 2008

Please be patient.


The following is Kathleen Marie Beddow Simpson's journal from our 2008 trip to France: Paris, Normandy, Mon St. Michel, Versailles, Barbizon,  and to England: London, Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor.


Day 1       Sunday November 2, 2008

Mark & I were up at 7:00 AM and left Ruckersville in a nice Ford rental car. Arrived at Dulles airport in D.C. in plenty of time.
Boarded our United flight 914
( a huge 777) and headed for Paris around 5:30 PM.


Day 2       Monday November 3, 2008

Arrived in Paris at 6:30AM . Boarded a bus which took us to our hotel next to the Eiffel Tower; arrived around 8:30AM and had to wait for our room to be ready. Mark and I had bloody Marys which cost $18.50 each ($14 Euro each). We did NOT have seconds!
Our first room (820) at the Mercure was waaay too hot and there was no way to cool it! Room 333was much better- it had a window that could be opened to get some cool air. The hotel is located between the Australian embassy and the Paris Hilton.

Walked to the Eiffel Tower and then went out to dinner at Le Cafe de Mars. The cafe was very small. The first course was goose liver pate' and salad; next  - lots of bread with broccoli, rice, and fish. The waiter brought me steak & fries when our tour guide explained that I don't like fish. Then, along with our wine, we were given more bread with 3 kinds of cheese. Finally, they brought chocolate fudge-filled cakes with cream. What a meal! Bed by midnight. Long day!


Day 3      Tuesday November 4, 2008

All in Paris are hoping Obama is our next President.

Up at 5:30 AM, breakfast at 7:00. What a spread! They had everything except bacon. Wonderful!

At 8:15 Am, we went to visit Versailles. Lovely Palace. Did no appreciate the works of "art" by Jeff Koons in many of the rooms of the palace. (e.g. balloon dog, kids' floatation devices, Michael Jackson with a monkey, vacuum cleaners, really stupid stuff, inappropriate for the Palace of Versailles.!

Back to the hotel by 11:45 AM. Mark and I walked to a supermarket for wash cloths, hairspray, water, bread, meat and cheese. Ate lunch in our hotel room. Mark napped while I wrote 12 postcards.

At 2:30 PM, we left for bus tour of Paris. Stopped here and there to get off the bus for photo-ops. Walked from one stop to Notre Dame Cathedral -WOW!

Had a chance to shop for a few trinkets/gifts. Back to hotel by 6 PM. Mark and I walked along the Seine River's edge; took a boat ride (chilly) - about an hour or so. Walked to a cafe' from there- Le Bailli Suffren- not far

from our Mercure Hotel. Mark had duck, I had steak. We split a bottle of wine; also had more of that volcano/fudge chocolate cake, this time with vanilla ice cream & whipped cream! Also, I had American coffee - Mark had espresso.

Back to hotel by 10 PM. Busy day tomorrow - must get some sleep.



Day 4      Wednesday November 5, 2008
Before going to bed last night, we found out that OBAMA Won!!
We left for Chartres this morning.

The cathedral there is best known as the finest gothic cathedral in France. It is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. We used an audio headset so Antoine our French tour guide could whisper during our tour. When we got back to the hotel, Mark and I had a little bit to eat in our room, then headed to the supermarket for "supplies" (corkscrew, wine, bags, meat, cheese, croissants, wash cloths, chips, etc.)

Had about an hour to rest before heading out to Montmartre.

It is on a steep hill (we got to ride up on a large cable car ) in the north of Paris.

The area is best known for its appeal to artists ( Salvador Dali, Monet, Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh).

After that we came back into Paris to explore the Louvre!
There's no way to see everything in the Louvre! It would take about two months to do that. We did, however, get to view Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo along with many other famous works of art. We felt nearly dead on our feet after so much standing, but our French tour guide Valerie ( my favorite ) was excellent. Back to our hotel - bed by 12.


Day 5      Thursday November 6, 2008
I had to get up at 5 AM (after such a long, tiring day, bed by midnight) since we were supposed to leave at 7:15. Barely had time for breakfast, but we made it. Actually left the hotel around 7:45. ( they had Canadian bacon today!)

Pulled into the lovely, quaint, old village of Arromanches around 11:45.

Went to the D-Day Museum and then walked to a terrific place called Le Mulberry for a really fantastic lunch! Most folks had fish, but I had chicken with a really tasty sauce. Wine was included; best lunch we've had in France so far! ( met Dorothy Pace) whose husband graduated from Lane High School in 1964.
Back on the bus and on to Normandie ( we spell it - Normandy ). Mark took several pictures - hope they turn out. We only had 35 minutes so Mark and I walked all the way down to the beach! This was an emotional day.

Drove through villages, back to Paris a different way. Returned to the hotel by 8:15. One of the women in our group asked if we had a corkscrew. We said , "room 333!" She was at our door with her bottle in no time flat! I taught her the cork trick/game.
Mark and I had a dinner and wine in the room. (we'll need to pick a better wine tomorrow!)

To bed by 10:30 PM. Easier day tomorrow. Not leaving until 8 AM! A little more time for breakfast. Hooray!


Day 6       Friday November 7, 2008

Janine is 50 Today!

Up at 5:15AM, down to breakfast by 7. Really enjoyed more time to eat and not shovel it in! Bus left at 8 for Fountainblue (Fontainebleau).

This was one of my favorite tours (except for the stinky restrooms). Such a lovely palace! I bought a little book about it in their gift shop.

left at 11:45 AM and headed to Barbizon. Quaint, charming village! Known as an artists' village. Mark and I found a newly-opened restaurant called Les Pleiades. It was beautiful inside (had those square white porcelain sinks in the restroom, really cool!)
Our waitress seated us and began speaking French. We told her we didn't understand; she was so nice- brought us white wine, cream cheese with pinhead size tomatoes, and little crackers. She also sent over a tall, young black man to take our order. He is from Winchester, VA and is a sophomore at James Madison University! Small world! We really enjoyed our lunch, especially the chocolate volcano cake with hot fudge inside, along with vanilla ice cream. The bill was about 62.50 Euros, but it was worth it.
Bus left there at 2 PM and we were back to our hotel by 3:15.

Mark and I walked to the Metro and rode it to the Musee d'Orsay which used to be a railroad station.
John Colclough had suggested we visit there. It really was quite nice and the building is gorgeous.
Took Metro back to the hotel and walked to a gift shop near the Eiffel Tower for a few more purchases. Also walked to a Pharmacy( look for a green cross) for cold medicine - Mark feels sick with a runny nose and a cold. We are both very sleepy and exhausted, but we must push on!

Ate a very light dinner ( cheese & crackers mostly) in our room. I washed a few pairs of socks for us. To bed around 8 PM (after Obama's speech at 7:30) or some of it anyway-

We have our last full day in France tomorrow. We'll be off to Mont Saint-Michel - so we have to get up at 5:15 again but the bus leaves at 7:15 so we may have to forget about breakfast in the dining room.
We may eat croissants in our room and grab a couple of bananas from the buffet before boarding the bus. We'll see...


Day 7      Saturday November 8, 2008
My favorite day! It was a long five-hour bus ride to Mont Saint Michel, but it was really worth it. The incredible Benedictine Abbey of St, Michel is on  an island off the coats of Northern France
It is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is amazing; very mystical/magical. I actually did make it to the top of over 270 stairs to go from one huge room to the next. Without Valerie leading the way, we would surely have been lost. We had lunch (before the tour) at a lovely restaurant in an expensive hotel at the foot of Mont Saint Michel. Our "corkscrew borrower" and her niece saved us a seat at their table! We had the best view of Mont Saint Michel.
After the long bus ride to our Paris hotel, we'll need to pack because tomorrow we ride through the Chunnel on the Eurostar to London.


Day 8      Sunday November 9, 2008
Left our Paris hotel around 7:30 AM and the bus took us to the train station.

After a bit of confusion and standing around, we made our way onto the train which left around 9:45AM. There is a one hour time difference between London and Paris. The trip is about 2.5 hours ; we arrived at 11:15 AM London time.
John and Vickie ColClough were there to greet us off the train! They were all smile and hugs, and they both looked so good! There was room for them on our bus so they rode with us to our London hotel, the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington. Very posh place - our room is much larger and nicer then the room we had in Paris.

John & Vickie found a terrific pub within walking distance so we went there for a pint and some lunch, Super!

Mark and I had  Tim Taylor's Pub Ale Pie and it was yummy! We walked through wind and rain - rode the bus to St. Paul's, went to the Tate Museum of Modern Art


and later that evening Mark and I walked to Sapranos Pizza Pasta Cafe for a delicious  Italian  dinner. I had spaghetti and meatballs!



Day 9       Monday November 10, 2008
Up early again for the group tour of Windsor Castle,

then lunch at the Stonehenge Inn ( delicious chicken pie) ,

on to Stonehenge

and finally to Bath.

Roman Baths video
Lots of terrific things to see but we would have enjoyed them more if the weather hadn't been so cold, rainy and windy. I loved Windsor Castle and would really like to return there someday. I'd also love to have a full day of two in Bath. What a beautiful Georgian city, the first city  in England to be designated a World Heritage Site. After returning to our London hotel, Mark & I had a tasty dinner in the hotel's Oriental restaurant. Tomorrow he and I are on our own! 




Day 10      Tuesday November 11, 2008
Mark & I slept in until 7:15Am! We had breakfast at 10AM and, after a phone call from John, we went by Underground to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. It was interesting; not as large as I had expected. Mark took several great pictures. Most of the wax figures really looked like the people they represented!
The weather was sunny and beautiful, just a bit chilly. We rode the London Eye!

That was amazing! It takes 1/2 hour for it to go all the way around and it barely felt like we were moving. What fantastic views from up there!
Later Mark & I returned to the Elephant and Castle pub that John & Vickie had taken us to on Sunday. He & I each had 2 pints and we enjoyed bacon and mushrooms with potatoes along with an order of nachos. We spent over 2 hours there, eating drinking & chatting with the barmaid and the Italian cook who came our from the kitchen to eat his spaghetti lunch in the booth beside ours.
Back at our hotel, we rested a while, then took the Underground to Waterloo station where we met John & Vickie around 7:15PM. They treated us (again) to a lovely dinner at a French restaurant, Chez Gerard - a very nice farewell dinner, or last light in London. It was difficult to say goodbye to John and Vickie. They are such a great couple - wonderful friends.

*We wore the poppies that John & Vickie gave us. They didn't want us to feel left out since most of the Londoners were wearing them in honor of Armistice Day (our Veterans Day) ! At one point, while we were riding the Underground, everything stopped ( and I mean stopped!) while a minute of remembrance was observed.


Day 11       Wednesday November 12, 2008
We say farewell to London.
We boarded the bus around 8:30Am and left for Heathrow airport. After paying $92.00 extra we were able to get two seats together ( window A and aisle B) with much better leg room in the Economy Plus section with Ruby, Buzz, Terri and Kip ( all our TCI travel counselors). The United Air flight 919 brought us to Dulles by 3PM . We picked up our rental Toyota Corolla and arrived home at about 7PM. Called Mom & Dad ( Dad was in Martha Jefferson Hospital for some tests. We went to bed by 8PM exhausted. We enjoyed traveling but its always good to come home.




Last updated 03/28/2011 06:01:15 PM ®MDSimpson 2002 thru 2010 and beyond