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  • Saint Paul Saint Louis du Marais

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    Saint Paul Saint Louis du Marais is a church so nice, they named it twice. Originally Saint Paul’s church, dating to 1430, was the main cathedral in this neighborhood. But it was destroyed in the Revolution. So Napoleon eventually designated this one, then called Saint Louis and dating from 1627, to be the new center of worship for this corner of Paris. But as a compromise, the local bishop eventually convinced him to add Saint Paul to the name, in memory of the one old one. Pleasing the parish, even if the final name is a mouthful.

  • During a daylong bike ride, we passed through the village of Lagraulet-du-Gers and spotted this unusual water tower covered with an elaborate mural. Only later did we learn that it was converted into a bed and breakfast by the town’s mayor, called Le Château D’Eau Lagraulet. There is the main room, dubbed a “bedroom beneath the stars.” And roof is a terrace where breakfast is brought each morning. Jean-Paul Chambas is the artist behind the fresco. Depending on which days and the length of the visit, prices range from €90 per night to €150 per night.

  • Looking down from Le château fort de Lourdes on the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Catholic shrine remains of the world’s most popular sites for Catholic pilgrims. But Lourdes is also a gateway to the Pyrénées, offering fantastic views and quick access to the mountains beyond.

  • This beautiful garden is located behind the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi’s historic city center. It takes a bit of navigating to find the path that leads here. But once you find it, it reveals a well-cultivated garden with a wonderful view of the Tarn River.

  • It still seems amazing that we get to live on a street like this in a city like Toulouse. But we love it, and it seems we’re not alone. I wandered past this group of art students sketching the fountain that sits in Place Saintes-Scarbes. The original fountain was placed there in 1989, but apparently torn down by local protestors in 2002. This second fountain replaced it in 2006, and is topped with a statue of Diane, the Roman goddess of hunting.

  • Mont-Saint-Michel

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    This iconic island in Normandy is famed for its medieval monastery, Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But typically, it’s photographed from a distance to show its setting among the bay whose tides rush in and out. But seeing it up close is mesmerizing in a different way.

  • Presqu’île de Crozon

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    Brittany’s Presqu’île de Crozon, or the Crozon Peninsula, is located in Finistere. This stretch of land is just south of Brest, and is entirely located within the Armorique Regional Nature Park. We spent several days camping, hiking, and riding bikes here and it offers a dreamy taste of the primitive sensations that Brittany evokes.

  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    The world watched as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris burned, an unthinkable blow to Paris and France. I just happened to be walking by in late March and took this photo on a chilly spring morning. Sitting at the center of the city, the government is already vowing to rebuild this landmark. But the losses of the art and artifacts inside will likely be incalculable, and irreplacable. Fortunately, the structure itself will likely remain sound, and hopefully that will provide a firm foundation for its restoration.  

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