Tag Archives: travel planning

dad in a windy field

Ile aux Marins, St. Pierre

During our recent stay on the French island of St. Pierre, off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland, my dad and I visited the harbor island of Ile aux Marins.

looking back at colorful town of St. Pierre
looking back at colorful town of St. Pierre

The sun finally broke through the rain a bit and the ferry was running from downtown St. Pierre to the tiny, ghost-town of an island. Years ago the island was inhabited by fishermen who would bring their catch back to be cleaned and dried on large rock beds all over the island.

a replica saline or fishing cabin with boats, fishing gear, snow shoes, galoshes, etc.
a replica saline or fishing cabin with boats, fishing gear, snow shoes, galoshes, etc.
Ile aux Marins
Ile aux Marins

It’s now uninhabited (although some of the houses looked really well-kept so maybe some are still in use on summer weekends, unclear), at least by year-round residents.

The day we went over was incredibly windy (as I think it tends to be over there) and the tall grasses whipped our legs as we walked the grass trails around the homes to the 1970s shipwreck of the Transpacific and to the former fort at the end of the island. The island has no trees and so the wind flows easily and quickly over the hilltop.

dad in a windy field
dad in a windy field

The “fort”at one end of the island is, at this point, a large hill with rusted cannons and a flag pole. The cannons were actually never used as the French government never went through with establishing a defensive base there. The cannons were, however, used for a while on Bastille Day for celebration.

Near the fort is the rusted hull of the Transpacific – a shipwreck from the 70s that doesn’t seem that large until you notice the small house next to it and the comparison is pretty cool. The ship was abandoned and locals looted the cargo – lawnmowers and juke boxes among other day-to-day items.

In the middle of the island is a stark white and red church. Its clean lines and perfect proportions make it seem other-worldly or fake, especially when viewed from St. Pierre through the mist. The shadows are crisp.

red-roofed church
red-roofed church

On a hill near the church is  a large crucifix.

cross on Ile aux Marins
cross on Ile aux Marins

Over another hill and down low is an above-ground, sea-side cemetery: eerie, quiet and spooky with not a few cracked tombs where you could look down in the dark depths within.

graveyard by the sea
derelict graveyard by the sea

The whole place was beautiful and peaceful, with the constant wind in your ear and the screeching circling seagulls. There was a woman running a small snack bar and she was the only person we came across until some local sanitation workers arrived to empty the trash bins.

Paris: Part Deux

Big news!!!  I’ve decided to start a little side business here trading in on my love and knowledge of the City of Lights!  For a small fee (depending on the length of the trip) I will plan your trip to Paris and the environs for you.  I will take stock of all of your likes and dislikes, budget, food preferences, and desired activity level, and plan a customized trip.  I will then supply you with an itinerary, maps, useful information and any necessary restaurant reservations.  (I won’t be making flight arrangements or hotel bookings, but I can recommend some nice hotels/Airbnbs or areas to stay and also give you information about transportation from the airport and all around town.)

I’m also willing to step up my research and plan trips to other European and Caribbean locations to which I’ve traveled…just ask!

While you are contemplating your next Parisian adventure, daydream on these photos from our trip in May.  (I apologize that some of the photos are grainy; as I may have mentioned before, I didn’t realize I should’ve been compressing my photos all along, and now I’ve run up against my WordPress media limit.  Unfortunately I don’t think it’s feasible to go back, delete, compress and reupload all my photos from all my other posts.  Ugh.)

Arriving on Thursday, we met our Airbnb host at the charming studio apartment we rented in Le Marais, which actually even had a balcony!  What a view!  (As might be expected from a 5th floor walk up with old wooden sloping spiral stairs….just added to the charm.)

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We stayed on Rue Rambuteau which cuts East-West from Le Marais to Les Halles, which is in generally the center of the Right Bank.  Les Halles was once a huge market, but when the market was moved to the suburbs, an underground shopping mall was created.  For the longest time, the park above the mall (pictured below) was the haunt of junkies and the homeless, but the government is continuing its beautification efforts.

IMG_3212 IMG_3213

Le Bon Marché is one of the original grands magasins – literally big stores – aka department stores.  La Grande Épicerie is a giant food store on the ground floor of Le Bon Marché, featuring beautifully crafted baked goods, international, and artisan products.  There is even an extensive wine cave a floor below.  Here, approaching the side of the store, you can faintly see Le Bon Marché painted on the side of the building.




Le Conciergerie was once a Parisian prison.  Located on Ile de la Cité, it is where Marie Antoinette spent her final days, and you can see a real life guillotine blade hanging on the wall.  Sweet.  The vaulted ceilings and this particular rat relief on the column show the grandeur and the detail that went into this.  Hardly the cinder block and steel of today.IMG_3249 IMG_3254 <–See the rat?

Buble but, obviously.IMG_3255 IMG_3256Some sort of traditional ethnic dances being performed in front of Hotel de Ville (City Hall) during a “young persons festival.” IMG_3257 IMG_3258 IMG_3273Release the Kracken wall art.

Place de la République.IMG_3274

Canal Saint Martin and a boat going through a lock.IMG_3284 IMG_3288 We walked along the Canal to Little Sri Lanka in the northern part of the 10th arrondissement.IMG_3292 And I even bought a few pre-made sari tops to hopefully wear to a friend’s wedding this summer.  For 8 euros, they tailored it right there while I waited in all of about 5 minutes!  Good deal – I’ll take 2!IMG_3296

Approaching the base of one set of stairs hidden in a residential neighborhood leading to Sacré Coeur.IMG_3299And all the motorcycles parked in front of this café at the bottom. IMG_3300Looking back down. IMG_3304 IMG_3306 Sacré Coeur (Sacred Heart) where we took shelter from a deluge.

A church and a moto.IMG_3322

Place de la Bastille.IMG_3337

Sunset in the streets of Paris.IMG_3346

Approaching the interior square of the Louvre.IMG_3348 IMG_3350 Square in front of the Louvre.

Jardins de Tuileries on an overcast day.IMG_3352 IMG_3355 Chairs and flowers.IMG_3356 IMG_3357 More chairs and flowers.IMG_3359 Flowers.IMG_3360 Chairs.IMG_3361 A statue in a square among les jardins (the gardens);  Found the real “buble but.”

Some window shopping at Christian Louboutin of course.IMG_3362 IMG_3378 Roses in the square of Le Palais Royal.IMG_3401Caryatids at the Louvre. IMG_3422 Pont des Arts where couples place locks as a symbol of their unbreakable love, and then they throw away the keys.  I wonder if anyone has ever come back and cut theirs off after a divorce?

IMG_3424 Ominous skies over Pont Alexandre III.IMG_3426

Versailles:  The gardens: IMG_3445 IMG_3461 Never-ending path.

IMG_3463Swans near the boat house. IMG_3476 Reflections on a clear day.IMG_3491 IMG_3493 IMG_3611Hall of Mirrors in le Chateau.

IMG_3610Looking out over the Seine at the Eiffel Tower.

Sigh.  Ready to go back.  Who else wants to go?