Getting ready. Leave Friday afternoon for London then will train to Paris Saturday afternoon. Then the fun starts. Doing a lot of different things this year so you will want to follow along. See you in a bit.

We are off

Lunch in Polaris lounge before boarding plane for overnight to London. We arrive in London only long enough to take train to Paris tomorrow morning.

Bon voyage. See you in London.

See you in Paris

On the train to Paris

Well the train is heading back to London as there is a track failure. \240Will post update. \240Hour and half late to Paris but we are here. Tomorrow starts our fun.

It is Sunday at 2 am in Paris and I’m so excited for today that I can’t sleep. We have some hopefully amazing things planned for today. Stay tuned.

Today we made hats and had them fitted by Lady Gaga’s Atelier, Mimime Paris. \240Don’t leave. We are having jackets made this afternoon.

It was a fun day and we have something made for us and by us from Paris.

Our jacket class

Sally’s dot jacket. She made the dot pattern at home and brought it.

Today we are doing a champagne tour. Our first stop is the abbey where Dom Perignon is buried. He was a monk that fought against sparkling winemaking because of the exploding bottles.

Jean Remy-Moët created the systems to increase champagne sales. His grandfather started making wines but Jean Remy-Moët went towards champagne. Moët & Chandon are named for Jean Remy-Moët family and his son in law Chandon.

Non vintage bottles mature at minimum of 2 years. Vintage bottles minimum of 8 years. Vintage is not done every year. They are only done in years of great harvest.

Oops forgot to include second stop, La Champagne. Had good lunch and several champagnes.

Our first stop on Champagne tasting

One of their well known customers was Napoleon Bonaparte and his family. Part of the Moët collection of artifacts

Napoleon’s hat

Napolean visited Jean-Remy Moët 5 times between 1807 and 1814.

The champagne tower invented by Moet & Chandon.

Moët & Chandon cellar consists of chalk which retains the water and temperature.

28 kilometers of champagne. The oldest bottle here is from 1837.

A gift from Napoleon oak barrel

Gardens at Moët & Chandon

Third stop

They produce approx 550,000 bottles per year

Grape press from 18th century

Original grape press from 17th century. Everything operated manually.

Today we shopped and ate.

First stop Louis Vuitton store.

Louis Vuitton store was an experience


Did anyone ever think you could be sick of chocolate?

First stop of 8 on chocolate tour. Macaroons were first created in Italy as a single cookie then the French added the second cookie and filling.

Eclairs in France have to have the same filling flavor as topping to be considered eclairs. Such as chocolate frosted eclairs have chocolate cream.

Chocolate and Plum

This shop is owned by 2 Korean women that studied for years and have now opened a chocolate shop.

Cream puffs. In France the cream filling is not added until cream puff ordered.

Alain Ducasse has 28 Michelin Stars. He is the most famous chef in France and has now started making chocolates.

The smallest creperie in Paris.

Moulin Rouge

Le Cave at Galeries Lafayette. A large wine shop.

Christmas tree outside Galeries Lafayette

Christmas windows at Galeries Lafayette

Christmas tree at center of Galeries Lafayette

Today was easy start of unpacking and relaxing. It was a day of photo ops.

I can’t post any pics of purchases as my husband may decide to check blog.

Colorful leaves. Changing of the colors.

Between the Eiffel Tower and original Statue of Liberty

Fall in Paris

So as we were taking pictures of us, I became the unofficial photographer for Christmas cards for families.

Hot air balloon over Paris

Paris bridges

Galerie Lafayette Christmas tree

Eiffel Tower

Today we are in Vernon, France. We did the Taste of Vernon tour and started at 9 am with champagne and macarons.

Then we went on to foie gras

Then gingerbread and mulled wine.

The timber and mud houses

The Catholic Church

The dungeon

This is how wealthy families showed everyone they were wealthy

A beautiful day and scene along the Seine



Today we are in Caudebec-en-Caux

There are 3.2 million inhabitants in Normandy. 2/3 of those are farmers.

We are touring Handleur, France in Normandy region. Honfleur is at the mouth of the Seine and English Channel.

ExxonMobil own a large refinery here since 1937. During the war they were set on fire but rebuilt after the war.

They are trying to repurpose the oil refineries into hydrogen plants.

LeHavre is the largest port in France.

The Normandy bridge. A cable bridge 180 meters above the Seine.

The Chateau of Tancarville. . \240A large corporation bought the chateau but are being prosecuted criminally. They believe the chateau will crumble before the trial is over.

This is mistletoe but mistletoe kills the trees. As one tree is infected birds take the seeds from that tree and infect the other trees around it.

Renault factory where they produce trucks and high-end Renault cars.

Honfleur is so beautiful. Right at the mouth of the Seine. Most of the buildings date to the late 1800’s early 1900’s.

Usual population is 7,000. During April through October, the population can rise to 3.2 million total visitors.

Wealthy Parisians have second homes in Honfleur.

Narrow streets


Old butcher building

Seat in the courtyard

Limestone, flint and blue slate the cut stone showed the wealth of the family.

Bell tower. Constructed separately from church because the wooden church could not support the weight of the bells.

St Catherine’s Church built after the war and constructed of wood as Honfleur was a very poor village.

The salt buildings where salt was stored for the region

Apple tart and hot chocolate

Today we are in Rouen, France

We are visiting Normandy Beaches.

D Day Museum

Omaha Beach and Normandy US Cemetary

There are over 10,000 American men and women buried here. They performed a ceremony where a wreath was laid at the feet of the sculpture and taps was played.

Omaha Beach

A bunker along the beach which still has the artillery in it

A monument to the Bedford Boys. A group of boys from Bedford, Virginia who most perished as they were one of the first boats to land

A second bunker high above Omaha Beach

The remains of the artificial ports

Christmas market in Rouen, France

Today we start making our way back to Paris. We are stopping briefly in Les Andelys, France. On this cruise we sailed 385 miles.

Sailing the Seine

Les Andelys has one Main Street but a church right out of the films

Chateau Gaillard ruins in Les Andelys

A surprise. I was recognized as having done the most Viking cruises at 18 tonight. Next year will put me at 20.

Jeannie Rocco, my travel agent, and I celebrating.

Today we are back in Paris. Did a little shopping, napping and packing. Heading to London tomorrow.

The Christmas tree outside Dior

Pegasus at Hermes

The windows at Laduree patisserie

Today we disembark ship. We are going back to Minime for another class then train to London this afternoon.

Sally’s bag

My bag

Today we are at Highclere Castle.

There are over 5,660 books in library. They have Christmas trees in every room. The Christmas tree is the main salon is 33 feet tall. They decorate the top while it is laying on its side then lift it in place. There are no pictures allowed inside castle but you can look through the windows.

We’ve decided if I wear my sunglasses everyday, the sun comes out instead of rain. It was a beautiful day.

Then we went to Stonehenge for pictures.

The entrance to Highclere Castle.

The main salon with 23 foot tree.

View from stables to Highclere

The South Entrance to Highclere.

The grounds


You can’t go to London without visiting Harrod’s

Train to Amsterdam. On last leg of trip. Coming home Saturday.

Raining in Amsterdam and we both have sinus issues so not doing much today because we have all day tour tomorrow. Apparently Europe has some of the dirtiest air around and our sinuses are not doing well.

The restaurant at hotel for dinner.

Today is Amsterdam. We’ve met up with my usual guide Stefka and are on our way to Clara Maria. Clara Maria is a 5th generation family farm.

The Netherlands has approx 8 billion inhabitants, mostly immigrants. Many from Africa, Syria and Afghanistan but the houses are not available for them to live.

There are approx 1.5 million bikes in Amsterdam. Most people have 2. One for work transportation that they look at could be stolen but a nicer one for recreation that they keep inside their homes.

They have 120 cows at Clara Maria. Each producing cow puts out approx 30 liters of milk per day.

Clara Maria produces a lot of milk used in baby formula. The price they sell milk for has doubled.

They reduced the speed limit in The Netherlands from 100 per kilometer to 80 per kilometer to reduce the noise. Speed limits are enforced by cameras.

On to the only working windmill paper mill still in existence. There used to be 60 but now sadly 1. The Schoolmeester Windmill in Zaanstad. Everything is still done by hand. The owner and his son are the only 2 working the mill. They used to have 13 employees. They make paper out of 100% cotton clothing. The color of the paper is determined by the color of the clothes. Since 1877 paper made by windmill driven machines. Prior made hand.

The cloth is sorted by color then the buttons are removed. Then the cloth is torn into strips. It is then mixed with flax and put into shredder. It is pulverized during this process. It is then put into a bin where it is “mixed” and cut until the right consistency. Then it is pressed and dried. To dry they hang it and open the shutters on one side depending upon direction of wind. After the paper dries it can be embossed and printed.

We next visited a small town named Derijp. The early residents of this village were fishermen. Usually they fished for herring but sometimes they would venture out to sea to fish for whales.

Last stop we visited Wirs Winery. They have a very good brut champagne called Lucas.

Oops 2 more stops Steven & Penelope for yarn for Sally and Italia Oggi for dinner.

Life is good. Headed to hotel at airport.

Peat clogs

Bride’s clogs. This is how men propose to women and if they accept then they wear them and they wear them during wedding. The men hand carve the clogs.

Label for traditional made Gouda meaning made with raw milk is barrel shaped. Round labels mean made with pasteurized milk.

The Schoolmeester Paper Mill

Shredding the fabric into strips

Pulverizing the fabric

The bins where mixed and cut to consistency

The hanging room where paper was hung to dry

Finished and drying paper

The plates for embossing

Finished embossed paper

Center town hall of Derijp


Dutch pancake for lunch

Dogsleds slow

Dog sleds were the mode of transport in the early days

I’ve skate display

What a trip. Had an amazing time now ready to come home. Heading to airport in a few minutes to fly home. See you later today.

Our last stop before heading to gate