Saturday, April 19, 2014

Last glimpses of France

Hard to believe, but my time in France is officially over! In fact, right at this moment I’m somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on my way home. 

During my last few weeks, I didn’t end up working very much due to school trips. Yeah, French kids get to go on extended field trips to England and Ireland. With my extra free time I saw a few new places. I had to make the most of every day I had in Europe!

One day a few weeks ago I took the train to Reims, which is about 2 hours west of Strasbourg in the Champagne region of France. I bet you didn’t guess that the word ‘Reims’ rhymes with the word ‘France’. Isn’t French fun?

The reason for the trip was the Notre Dame de Reims cathedral, which was where every king and queen of France was crowned. If you’ve ever looked at this blog before you know I can’t resist a good cathedral. And I’m also a fan of any kind of history to do with royalty, so I had to go.

There was some scaffolding on the outside, but you can still see how beautiful it is, so I wasn’t disappointed.

This cathedral is famous for the interesting angels on the facade. This smiling angel is I think supposed to be sweet and comforting, to be honest I'm a bit creeped out by it.

I also stopped inside another church in Reims, the Basilique St. Rémi. It was even older than Notre Dame de Reims, and almost as impressive.

After seeing the churches, I enjoyed walking around town. The architecture in Strasbourg is so German that it was fun to see a more traditional French city. The covered market was a highlight!

The last place I went to in Reims was somewhere that I didn’t know existed, even with my WWII obsession. Reims was where the Nazis surrendered to the Allies, and you can visit the room where it happened. 

The more ‘famous’ surrender was in Berlin, but this one took place the day before that, and this was the one presided over by Eisenhower. Apparently the Berlin ceremony only took place because Stalin was jealous that Eisenhower got to have all the fun and he wanted his own party.

I was able to find the place because you just don’t see the U.S.S.R. flag that much anymore. Of course, the wind didn’t cooperate in my picture, but the hammer and sickle flag was the first one I saw as I was walking.

That was my day trip to Reims! I had fun getting to stand where coronations took place and then where one of the most important surrenders of all time took place. It was a good history day.

A few days later, I went to a castle with my friend David in the region of Lorraine. It’s called the Château de Lunéville. I could probably visit a castle everyday and never get tired of visiting castles, so it’s nice I got to see one more while I was in Europe! 

The interior of the castle was small, but the best part was that it was a beautiful, warm spring day and we got to hang out in the gardens all day. I even got sunburned! I’m guessing that that wouldn’t be possible in Wisconsin quite yet. 

(Edited 4 years later: We've been married for a year and a half and this is where it all began.)

On my last day living in Strasbourg and working in Barr, I walked around for a while and took some last pictures.

It was so sad to say goodbye to these places, and especially my cathedral!! I will really miss that place. The whole region of Alsace is beautiful, and I'm thankful I got to live there.

I realized pretty last minute that there wasn’t a train early enough on Friday morning to get me there in time for my flight, so I ended up going to Paris a day early on Thursday and getting to spend a little time there.

But first...I have to document my struggles of getting all of my luggage all the way to Paris. I managed to drag approximately my weight in luggage to the train station (on cobblestones, and wearing heels, by the way), on and off the train, and across Charles de Gaulle airport to my hotel. Please just look at this picture and feel my pain. I think my arms are going to be hurting for a while.

So anyways, I only had a few hours to spend in Paris on Thursday afternoon. David met me there to hang out again, and it was fun because he is French, and I’m American...but guess who was the tour guide in Paris?? Moi! It was my 6th time in Paris, after all.

We walked around all of Paris’ most famous places...Notre Dame, the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Elysées, and the Eiffel Tower. It was the perfect way for me to say goodbye to France to be in my favorite city for one more day.

Leaving France was very bittersweet!! There are a LOT of things that I’ll miss about France (and Europe in general). However, I’m also very excited to be back in the U.S. Even though I keep leaving America, I promise I do like living there.

It helps me not be sad that this year of traveling is over because I have another adventure on the horizon next fall :)

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