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France - Vaux le Vicomte, Fountainebleau, Barbizon

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This has been a life-altering trip (in a good way) on quite a few levels. So much has happened over the last 4 days that quite literally as I sat on the Metro earlier this evening, my head was swimming.

It’s almost impossible at this point to successfully summarize a few of the days succinctly especially since I am still fighting a rather serious bout of lung issues (due to the smog here in Paris, for which I am now on a slew of medication thanks to France’s excellent healthcare system). Just know that I am currently skipping that story as well as a truly epic day I had yesterday in Montmartre with Hugo and Gael from Rendezvous in Paris. The photos are almost painfully beautiful and we had a great time climbing to the top of Sacre Coeur (sometimes I think I hold onto the beautiful moments longer to savor them).

Instead, I am posting just a tiny slew of photos from the 12 hour day I spent today at Fountainebleu, Barbizon, and Vaux le Vicomte.

1 - This is Vaux le Vicomte. I grew up on a steady diet of history films which were some of my favorite daydream material and have influenced me in so many ways. Vaux le Vicomte has been used in around 70 films including Dangerous Liaisons (one of my favorite movies growing up), Marie Antoinette, Ridicule (another favorite), etc… Quite amazing to see it in person.

2 - …However, seeing it in person was greatly enhanced by getting a private tour by one of the current owners, Count Alexandre de Vogüé. Here we are after I politely suggested that we take a selfie in one of the mirrors at Vaux le Vicomte. :) From left to right: Severine Camblong, Count Alexandre de Vogüé, Me, Katherine Johnstone with Atout France.

In truth, he was absolutely wonderful and one of the friendliest people! He expressed that he liked my photography very much and had seen my photo-blog and was interested in my history which pretty much floored me. What do you say to that? He took us around the chateau and also took us for a ride through the expansive gardens. It was quite incredible. What an amazing experience. I had a great time talking to him about the chateau which has been in his family for quite some time now. I look forward to posting many of the photos I took there today and writing about my experience there when I get back to NYC.

3 - The day actually started at Fountainebleau, France’s largest palace that dates back to the 12th century. I had a fantastic tour of the chateau. This was one of my favorite spots, the Galerie de Diane. I will do a dedicated post about this palace, for sure.

4 - In between Fountainbleau and Vaux le Vicomte, we visited the town of Barbizon which was an art commune in the 1800s and hosted a group of pre-impressionist painters who were in love with the huge forest just outside of town. The town itself is absolutely gorgeous.

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Please check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and its outskirts and having the experience of a lifetime!

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View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.

Paris - History and Beautiful Views

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Today was such a great day that as I got back to my hotel, I literally sat for a few minutes in total silence not even knowing where to begin in terms of posting about the day. I will go into way more detail when I get back to New York City but for now, here is a brief (very brief!) summary of some of the things I did and saw today.

1 - First off, I need to start with my current view which I am staring at as I write this post. This is the view from my current hotel, Citadines Tour Eiffel. I feel completely spoiled at this point. I keep thinking I am dreaming.

2 - I started the day at Galeries Lafayette where I met with the person in charge of the history of Galeries Lafayette. This is a view of the beautiful art nouveau ceiling in the store.

3 - The archivist then took me to see a few interesting historic details of the store and then we went up to the terrasse which had a stunning view of Paris. The terrasse is free! You can go up there any time you want to enjoy the view and take photos. Pretty cool!

4 - And then I got to go through photos from Galeries Lafayette archives from the 1940s. It was wonderful to be able to hold these important pieces of photographic history in my (gloved) hands.

5 - After that, I met up with Hugo from Rendezvous With Paris. After checking in at my new hotel, we made our way to the area around Notre Dame where we went out to lunch at one of the most awesome places (ever?). It’s the oldest restaurant in Paris dating back to the 1500s.

It is called A Vieux Paris d’Arcole and oddly enough we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. It was nice to enjoy some awesome conversation (I don’t often get to talk to people who share similar family histories in regards to World War II) and great food as I tried to pick my jaw up off of the floor every time I looked around.

6 - After a long lunch, Hugo took me upstairs where the rooms were in the style of the Napoleanic period. I want to write an entire novel or film about this place.

7 - Another upstairs room at A Vieux Paris d’Arcole.

8 - And then we walked quite a bit while he showed me around La Marais and other parts of Paris in the same proximity (that’s for another post). We ended up at Rue Crémieux many hours later. This was a street I really wanted to photograph prior to coming to Paris. So beautiful.

Tomorrow I spend all day at Versailles.

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Please check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and having the experience of a lifetime!

And I also must highly recommend Rendezvous With Paris. They offer passionate tours about specialized subjects as well as tours of different districts of Paris.

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View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.

Paris -  Houseboats on the Seine

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Had an amazing time spending the whole day with Gael who is the co-founder of a cool company called Rendezvous With Paris. We walked the path that Charles De Gaulle walked on August 26, 1944, one day after Paris was liberated. So much history and Gael is a wealth of information about Paris since he grew up in La Marais and is super passionate about history and Paris.

This is a view of the Seine earlier today. Many of the boats are houseboats and there are even mail boxes along the Seine for the boat residents. New goal in life: live in a houseboat on the Seine. :)

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Also, check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and having the experience of a lifetime!

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View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.

Paris - Houseboats on the Seine

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Had an amazing time spending the whole day with Gael who is the co-founder of a cool company called Rendezvous With Paris. We walked the path that Charles De Gaulle walked on August 26, 1944, one day after Paris was liberated. So much history and Gael is a wealth of information about Paris since he grew up in La Marais and is super passionate about history and Paris.

This is a view of the Seine earlier today. Many of the boats are houseboats and there are even mail boxes along the Seine for the boat residents. New goal in life: live in a houseboat on the Seine. :)

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Also, check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and having the experience of a lifetime!

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View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.

Paris - Sunset - Overlooking the Eiffel Tower and City from Above

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Paris is everything I expected and so much more. 

It’s an overwhelming city in all the best ways. 

On my first day in Paris, I was treated to a walk around The Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood with a new Paris friend, Mikhail and his lovely friends. And then we then made our way to Montparnasse to take in this spectacular view from the top of Tour Montparnasse.

I am posting updates frequently to my Twitter, My Facebook, and Instagram while I am here in Paris (like an awesome video clip of the Eiffel Tower light show last night, for example!). Follow along if you are curious. :)

Not that I won’t post here but I will only be posting major photos here sporadically vs. everyday updates.

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Also, check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and having the experience of a lifetime!

—-

View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.

Paris - Sunset - Overlooking the Eiffel Tower and City from Above

—-

Paris is everything I expected and so much more.

It’s an overwhelming city in all the best ways.

On my first day in Paris, I was treated to a walk around The Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood with a new Paris friend, Mikhail and his lovely friends. And then we then made our way to Montparnasse to take in this spectacular view from the top of Tour Montparnasse.

I am posting updates frequently to my Twitter, My Facebook, and Instagram while I am here in Paris (like an awesome video clip of the Eiffel Tower light show last night, for example!). Follow along if you are curious. :)

Not that I won’t post here but I will only be posting major photos here sporadically vs. everyday updates.

—-

Also, check out France Guide on Facebook. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here taking photos of Paris and having the experience of a lifetime!

—-

View: My photography portfolio, My Gear List, My Travel Blog, On G+,email me, or ask for help.