All Good Things... + Paris End-to-End

My loyal readers (both of them) will be sad to hear that this Parisian adventure is soon coming to a close. Looks like on April 15th, I will be hopping on a plane back to Canada after nearly nine months abroad. We were hoping to make it stretch to a year. but ultimately made the tough decision that now is the time. I will be very sad to leave and already I can feel the days slipping away hour by hour. I love this place and I feel like I've still barely scratched the surface

As such, I decided to walk the city from one end of it to the other. Something I've been meaning to do for a while, so I strapped on the Nikes and went on my way. This was my route:

And these are the pictures I took:

It took me around five hours to go from coast-to-coast. A normal person who walks at a normal pace without having to stop and examine and sometimes photograph every single thing that they see could probably do it in four.

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All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer

Paris: March

Spent a lot of time on the road in March, but still managed to grab some shots in Paris. As always, click to enlarge and to read captions

Can you tell that I'm bored with photos of the beautiful monuments? A bunch of weird photos in this gallery. Thoughts?

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All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer

On the Road: Stokholm and Copenhagen

Scandinavia, finally! I've wanted to travel up here for quite some time. Another small corner of the world crossed off the list. 

First stop, Stockholm. Cold. Why do we keep coming to these cold cities and why don't I learn my lesson with being prepared? No such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing and mine was inadequate. To warm up, some museums were an order. There were several interesting exhibits that we wanted to see. 

Martin Parr and Andres Serrano at the fantastic Photography Museum, Fotografiska. I've been a fan of Martin Parr for some time and Serrano is an iconic and extremely divisive photographer, so it was great to see both of their work up close and at a large scale.

Then at the Architecture and Design Museum, they had an exhibition on architectural photography, which I obviously had to see. And the permanent collection next door at the Moderna Museet was great as well.

A couple nights in Stockholm and then we were off to Copenhagen, a city with which I fell a little bit in love. I am a sucker for a bikeable city and Copenhagen is one of the bikeablest (a real word). I love the architecture and design and the general good vibes of the city. One of the stranger sights is the open-air drug market in the neighbourhood of Christiania. An odd place with very interesting cats where the police turn a blind eye towards buying and selling of "soft" drugs. It was a bit dreary, to be honest. I expected something more... Woodstocky (another real word), but maybe a cold day in March isn't the best impression.

Other than that, I could really see myself at home here and would love to return for an extended stay. Just need to start making some of that high Danish minimum wage to afford to eat the wildly expensive food here. Click images to enlarge.

Back to Paris now. It will be good to return. Feeling a bit travelled out, to be honest. What a life, if that is one of your complaints...

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments, or send me an email.

All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer

On the Road: Normandie and Bretagne

AKA Normany and Brittany. I've never really understood why we English-ize the names of foreign lands. How does Deutschland = Germany = Allemands(fr)? Or even something simpler like Sevilla = Seville? I'm sure there is a reason, but the logic escapes me. If you have the answer, feel free to educate me in the comments! 

Anyways, back on topic - we had some family come visit us in Paris, and then we hit the road to see some of the French countryside. We rented a car and drove from Paris > Juno Beach > Mont St Michel > St Malo > Dinan/Dinard > Vitré > Nantes and then hopped on a train back to Paris while the rest of group carried on through the rest of France. 

It was great to see some more of France on this jaunt and especially from the back seat of a car instead of a train. I love train-travel, but a car gives you so much more flexibility and the means to see some little towns off the beaten path. 

Our first stop was Courseulles-sur-Mer, a little seaside village situated beside Juno Beach - where the Canadian troops landed on D-Day in WWII. There was an outstanding museum dedicated to the role of Canada in the liberation of Europe. Particularly special to me was a couple of short videos describing the Liberation of Holland, as my grandparents were two of those liberated in the final stages of the war. In one video, a veteran spoke of the Dutch citizens and the gratitude they showed to the Canadians, contrasted with the lack of welcome they received from the French and Belgians. As my Opa often said of Canada's role, "the Dutch people will never forget". 

After a night in Courseulles-sur-Mer, we moved down the coast to Mont St. Michel - an island fortification straight out of a fantasy novel. Click to make images bigger. 

We stayed here for a night and then bombed down to St Malo for the next night. Another impressive, fortified town that was absolutely pummelled in WWII. Most of the buildings are post-1945. 

From St. Malo, we made some serious tracks - hitting up Dinard, Dinan, and then ending the day in Vitré. I was really digging the strange, ethereal light in Dinard and I think I ended up with some keepers. I felt "in the zone", which is a rare feeling. When exploring new places with people who don't share my obsessive need to take pictures of every little thing, I often tell them to keep walking and I will catch up when I'm done. In Dinard, this lead to an awful lot of jogging on my part, as I was constantly being forced to stop by the scenes surrounding me, and I kept falling further and further behind the pack. Good way to work off those croissants, I suppose. Click images to embiggen. 

We stayed the night in Vitré and caught the train back to Paris from Nantes the next evening. Too bad we didn't get more time in Nantes, as I quite liked it. The highlight maybe being the very surreal mechanical elephant. Click images to enlarge.

Back to Paris.. for a night. Then off to Stockholm and Copenhagen! Stay tuned. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments, or send me an email.

All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer

Paris: February

Take a look at some photos that I took this month in Paris. As always, click to make them bigger and to read captions:

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All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer

On the Road: The Loire Valley and Thoughts on Beauty

There is more to France than just Paris. Hard to believe, but true. We hopped on a train to the Loire Valley with the intention of checking out a few of the chateaux in the area. The Loire Valley is famous for its chateaux and its wine, and we sampled a bit of both. It was just a quick trip - three days in Tours, France (try to google practical information about a town named Tours - not easy) with a few day-trips.

Château de Chenonceau

Beautiful Chateau spanning across the River Cher. As always, click the images to make them bigger and to read more:

Blois

On our way to visit the Château de Chambord from Tours, we had to stop briefly in Blois to catch a bus for the second leg of the trip. Of course, upon arrival, we find out that the bus doesn't run on Wednesdays and today is a Wednesday. That turns our brief stop in Blois into a bit of longer one. Which was okay, because I really enjoyed it. We were only there for a few hours, but we got to see a good chunk of it. Very picturesque with a lot of hills, which I find makes for interesting towns and cities. Maybe my prairie upbringing has something to do with that.

Château de Chambord

We ended up having to take a taxi to the Château de Chambord. Bit pricier than the bus, but definitely worth it. This place was unlike anything I've ever seen. It boggles the mind.

It was built as a quaint little hunting lodge for King Francis I and he spent a grand total of seven weeks living there, because it was inconvenient for long stays. The rooms were too big to heat properly and there is no nearby town (or, at least no taxis), so they had to bring in all the food with them when they came to stay. That goes for the furniture too, because it didn't make sense to furnish a castle for such a short period of the year. The French royalty weren't exactly minimalists. I probably would have revolted too.

Oh, and Leonardo da Vinci allegedly designed the double-helix spiral staircase. Neat!

Tours

I quite liked the town of Tours, but I didn't take too many photos. To be honest, all of this beauty is a bit overwhelming. I am gravitating more and more to the strange and the ordinary, because the beauty is everywhere and becoming... almost boring. Or rather, pictures of the beauty is boring. It's more interesting and challenging to find beauty in ordinary places rather than closing your eyes and pointing your camera at the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I have touched on this before and will probably do a post on it soon. I did grab a few shots of Tours though, either way:

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments, or send me an email.

All images © Levi Groeneveld - Travel and Fine Art Photographer