France. What’s not to love? Here are just some of my favourite things from this summer’s trip to Paris, Poitiers & La Rochelle…
|Église Notre-Dame La Grand de Poitiers|
Churches – so many, so beautiful. The kids were saintly too as we dragged them from one to another – from (my favourite) the small but perfect Église Notre-Dame La Grand de Poitiers to the grand Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Meaux… and more.
I absolutely love the faded painting on the stonework in Église Notre-Dame. This church lured us in several times – one evening it was the sound of someone playing medieval-sounding music on a flute by candlelight which was beautiful. Another it was French/Latin mass.
Food & Wine – what can I say? Were I to live in France I’m sure I’d expand rapidly. The bread, the fresh croissants, the cheese, the snails, the mussels… the garlic! Those gorgeous cakes in the patisserie…
The French are wonderful at aesthetics.
Boulevard Saint-Germain – I’ve long wanted to walk along here and find one of the cafés frequented in the past by philosophers and poets. Relax in the sunshine and soak in a little of those past absinthe-fueled conversations whilst watching Paris go by…
We’d just eaten lunch by the time we came across Les Deux Magots, so I only took a photograph. Maybe next time I’ll sit and have that absinthe.
|Palais de Justice and tour Maubergeon|
Poitiers – visiting the Palais de Justice de Poitiers, along with its tour Maubergeon was the single most anticipated part of the trip for me. This was Aliénor d’Aquitaine’s much loved home, as well as being the location of the Court of Love where she and daughter, Marie, ran a medieval version of the Jeremy Kyle show… though I’m sure way more tasteful given they were French and the era far more noble etc. etc.
|Salle des Pas Perdus|
Walking through the Salle des Pas Perdus in Poitiers palace and knowing Aliénor of Aquitaine walked there too was wonderful – even with the alterations over the last few hundred years. The palace today is still used as a law court – you get frisked on the way in – and so much of it is inaccessible. Including, sadly, the Court of Love itself.
The tour Maubergeon was added on by William IX for his glorious mistress, (and Aliénor’s maternal grandmother), Dangereuse de l’Isle Bouchard. It too forms part of the law court building and so the interior has been modernised with artificial walls.
The upstairs, where Dangereuse sewed whilst her troubadour seduced her with song, is now a court room for affaires matrimoniales. Did I also say how much I like French humour?
We stayed in this square – just right of Hôtel de Ville in the picture. That fine building is now the city hall and must have been very grand when it was a hotel. A brilliant and beautiful location, this old part of Poitiers – Aliénor’s palace just a couple of streets away and restaurants/bars galore.
Eating Out – did I mention the food? Yes, okay, but worth mentioning again. Not having to cook and sitting outdoors in balmy ambiance is bliss.
La Rochelle – the harbour at night was glorious and a lot of fun. We stayed up pretty late. Street entertainers everywhere, outdoor restaurants busy and buzzing all along the harbour, and it was warm.
Nice for the kids to finally get some time on the beach too.
Finally, French waiters – I’d hoped to encounter one of the stereotypical rude French waiters we hear so much about. Alas, this was not to be. Not even in Paris. They were all polite, efficient and handsome.
It would have been rude to take pictures though, so you’ll just have to make do with Guetta as an illustration… (oh woe, eh?)