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I had blogged in the past about the inspiration for this trip. It is funny what a few simple words can launch into action when whispered in the right ears! My inaugural painting adventure is now under my belt and I have been asked if I will do this again. It certainly was a success on a number of levels and I am sure with some tweaking could be a bi-annual event that I could look forward to.

My group of students and I departed for France from Saskatchewan on May 22, 2013. After 2 years of planning and marketing some of us wondered if the day would ever arrive.

There was one other lady joining us from Saskatoon, not pictured here.

There was one other lady joining us from Saskatoon, not pictured here.

I can honestly say that jet lag never hit me until I returned home, unless you count crying in front of a Monet at the d’Orsay (Day 1 of our trip). I think the beauty and impact of standing in front of one of his originals and realizing that all my hard work had payed off finally sunk in. I was actually in Paris, France; my paternal grandfather’s place of birth!

Our first two days were spent in Paris walking to various galleries and tourist sites. We sampled a few restaurants and even “Got Lost in Paris” together! That happens to be their tourist motto.

Going for a walk to the Rue Cler for lunch at a sidewalk cafe.

Going for a walk to the Rue Cler for lunch at a sidewalk cafe.

A view of the street our hotel was on. The Hotel Muguet: friendly staff, comfortable rooms, and convenient location!

A view of the street our hotel was on. The Hotel Muguet: friendly staff, comfortable rooms, and convenient location!

On our plan for day 1 in Paris was a night riverboat cruise of the Seine River.

On our plan for day 1 in Paris was a night riverboat cruise of the Seine River.

This is one of the points of the trip I would tweak. I thought it was rather smart to use my smart phone to hold release forms, medical emergency information, contacts, reservation contacts and confirmations. My cell provider assured me that if I set my phone up just as they outlined I would not receive roaming fees but would be able to access the internet via local WiFi at my hotel or other hot spot. I had emailed to myself the information mentioned above and saved it to a draft folder so that worked fine, but Google Maps, and Translate that I was counting on was not! I am not sure how this could be tested in advance or corrected next time, but the maps are a definite necessity! I would probably look into a different cruise company as well. Calling them for directions was not helpful and the guide speaking in both English and French was not capable of keeping some school children in order so hearing anything about what we were seeing was impossible. The tour is very lovely at night and you see all the important historical sites during the one hour cruise, but there are many companies out there so check around. Next time I will consult TripAdvisor.

This is one of  the sites we cruised by. Do you recognize this landmark?

This is one of the sites we cruised by. Do you recognize this landmark?

Here is another view of that same landmark with another familiar site from elsewhere.

Here is another view of that same landmark with another familiar site from elsewhere.

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Pont Alexander III (There are many, many bridges along the Seine River in Paris and we might have seen them all as we searched for the cruise company.)

A late night supper, and we are off to our rooms at the Muguet. In Paris you wait in cue for a cab that is available, so we enjoyed some of the night life while waiting.

A late night supper, and we are off to our rooms at the Muguet. In Paris you wait in cue for a cab that is available, so we enjoyed some of the night life while waiting.

A late night supper, and we are off to our rooms at the Muguet. In Paris you wait in cue at the curb for a cab that is available, so we enjoyed some of the night life while waiting.

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My room at the Muguet was quite a welcome surprise! I was given a suit on the top floor with a spacious bathroom and view of the Eiffel! Thanks Muguet I felt like royalty! Here is a video of the view from my hotel window of the Eiffel putting on a light show! http://youtu.be/ASLU2TKKM6c

Day 2: Paris

Thankfully I was able to get on the hotel computer and printed off my needed Google Maps for the day. We had decided that those of us who wanted to go see the Louvre, would head out early and the others who had been there on past holidays would shop or visit Giverny (Monet’s home and gardens).

The Louvre was about a 35 min. walk from the Hotel and we made arrangements to all meet at the Hotel at 6 for supper.  We set out early in order to reach the entry gate at the pyramid of the Louvre by 9 am in order to avoid crowds. This worked well and out International Artists’ cards purchased from CARFAC National (a professional artists’ association in Canada) got us right in past line ups of people and at no cost. To purchase the card you must be a member of your provincial branch of CARFAC and then apply to the national office with a passport photo and $10. There are many other benefits to becoming a CARFAC member including supporting advocacy for the arts as a profession, free professional development workshops, access to renting a light kit, computers and software in their office and a monthly newsletter. Staff at both the d’Orsay art Museum and the Louvre recognized the cards on site and they were very easy to use.

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With the funds saved by using the international Artists’ cards, I booked an English speaking tour guide for our group. Lacombe took us through the French paintings and elaborated on the history of the works and their significance. Tours can be booked in advance online but are a little difficult to book that way. Phoning ahead is also a difficulty unless you speak fluent French, which I do not. I managed to fax an application in, but we still needed to make arrangements at the Group Tour information office on the main floor.  If I were to do this trip again sometime, I would make sure that we went to visit Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci first thing in the morning before the crowds of school tours come in the afternoon.

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"Mona Lisa" by Leonardo Da vinci.

“Mona Lisa” by Leonardo Da vinci.

Supper out after a long day. Here we met Daa..veed (David) and had a few chuckles! Wink wink...all the best stories can't be told darn it! I have been sworn to secrecy.

Supper out after a long day. Here we met Daa..veed (David) and had a few chuckles! Wink wink…all the best stories can’t be told darn it! I have been sworn to secrecy.

After a long day we decided to give our feet a rest. I had the ladies up to my fantastic room for wine, cheese and to enjoy my fabulous view.

After a long day we decided to give our feet a rest. I had the ladies up to my fantastic room for wine, cheese and to enjoy my fabulous view.

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