There are a lot of pictures here! And I didn’t even include all of them. We covered a lot of ground in Paris; Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe, Napoleons tomb, Place Vendome, Notre Dame and a visit with my Aunt Marie-Joseph and Uncle Jeans-Jaques at their flat in Paris. We walked so much our feet hurt! It was great to see my Aunt and Uncle, we looked over some old pictures of my mom and dad that they had from previous visits with them, and a couple of my mom as a young lady. During the trip, I wanted to visit Notre Dame to light a candle for my mom in her home-town as I know she would like that. Mission accomplished!
Our next stop was to my cousin Philippes town in Frejus. Our high speed train took us there at an average of 187mph and we managed to sleep a little on the way. It’s a beachy community, very set for tourists, but maybe not so well known. The weather was fantastic as you can see from the pictures, and the ocean water there is the clearest I’ve ever seen. Water temp was about 68 degrees, so a little too chilly for me, but the kids had a great time in it. Philippe took us for a tour down the Cote d’Azur, which included the Plage du Debarquement, another landing beach during World War 2. From that beach you can see Ile d’Or (Island of Gold) where a house that looks like a castle is. Philippe informed us that it’s a private island owned by a Belgian family. It’s the subject of many post cards. On our last day we walked into the town of Frejus and saw the Roman ruins there, an amphitheater and the aqueduct, walked down through the town and hopped a quick train back to our hotel.
When we first landed in France, we rented a car and drove straight to Vittefleur, a village 3 miles from the coast where my cousin Martine lives. She graciously let us use her home while we were there. It was a beautiful, quiet village and it was a great way to start our vacation by immersing ourselves in the French culture. Nobody we encountered aside from Martine and Michel spoke English, so grocery shopping and restaurants were a challenge but it really set in quickly that we were somewhere new and different and it was fantastic. We enjoyed a great dinner with them while we were there, steak, Marmite, and fish, and then prepared to travel to our next top in the South of France: Frejus / Sain-Raphael.
Antelope Canyon is the subject of many photos. Pretty much any art shop, photo gallery or gift store in Arizona will have some photos of the elusive Antelope Canyon. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but as beautiful as it is, it’s not nearly as tranquil as the pictures would make it seem. You have to visit the canyons with a local guide since they are on reservation land, and the guide business is booming! There must’ve been 200 people in this small stretch of the canyon the day we were there, but fortunately the guides to a good job of keeping people out of the pictures.
Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument are just North of Flagstaff on the way to Page. Sunset Crater is whats left of what used to be an active volcano that last erupted around 1065. Wupatki National Monument preserves the many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument that were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles.
Parker and I camped out in Flagstaff and visited Walnut Canyon with some friends. I love historical sites like this that are so well preserved considering their age. The Sinagua lived here 1,400 years ago and managed until only 700 years ago before moving on. Why this was such a populated area, I dont know, but they definitely left their mark.
On our way back from a karate tournament in Albuquerque, we detoured through the petrified forest. It’s amazing to think this barren land was once a forest. On the way out there was a historical site with remnants of old Native American dwellings and rock art. Our little detour turned our 5 hour drive home into a 12 hour excursion.