Note: The following narrative is based on My Trip Journal entries recorded during a trip I made to England and France in May 2013 with my companions, Richard and Cecelia White from Chatham, England.
We caught the P&O Ferry at Dover early this morning (May 10, 2013) and crossed the English Channel in about 1 1/2 hours landing at Calais in France. The ferry was huge, capable of carrying over 1000 cars as well as 2000 passengers. When you check in at the gate, you are assigned a lane number so cars can be quickly boarded without any confusion. You also need to remember your parking area's color as the stairs on the ferry direct you to the correct part of the ship by designating the color of the area they serve when it is time to disembark.
There were several shops selling duty free goods and souvenirs and Richard bought some special reflective stickers that he must place on his car's headlights to prevent them from shining in oncoming drivers' eyes when we're in France since his car has headlights adjusted to shine on the opposite side of the road than French cars. (The French drive on the same side of the road that we do).
|English breakfast minus a sausage and fried toast. Photo|
by Mary Harrsch.
|The famous white cliffs of Dover in the early morning light. Photo by|
|Field of the cloth of gold as depicted in a 1774 engraving by James Basire|
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
So, I spent the next couple of hours gazing at the patchwork of wheat and blooming rapeseed fields flowing past the window. I was also surprised to see quite a few wind turbines. The French have obviously fully embraced the development of alternative energy sources.
|Panoramic view of Fontainebleau's central courtyard. Photo by Mary Harrsch.|
|Marble relief of King Henry II by Mathieu Jacquet in the|
Saint Louis Salon at Fontainebleau. Photo by Mary Harrsch.
The palace is actually in a small town that shares its name but it is surrounded by gardens and a large man-made lake that set the palace apart. The French, unlike the National Trust folks in England, allow photography so I set about trying to capture as much of the beauty of Fontainebleau and examples of 19th century decadence exhibited there as I could.
|Panoramic view of Anne of Austria's bedchamber at Fontainebleau. Photo by Mary Harrsch.|
|Velvet and gold embroidered suit created for|
Napoleon's second marriage in 1810. Photo
by Mary Harrsch.
I smiled when I saw the command tent because it reminded me of one of the first major museum exhibitions I ever attended back in 1993. My husband and I had helped my daughter move from Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. On our way to Charleston we passed through Memphis, Tennessee and from the freeway I saw a huge poster of Napoleon on the side of a building. I craned my neck to see if I could find out what the poster was all about and saw that it advertised an exhibit of Napoleonic artifacts at Memphis' International Culture Center.
|Gold Hilt of a Sword of Napoleon I ornamented|
with coral cameo portraits from Naples, Italy
French 19th century CE. Photo by Mary Harrsch
Of course, we didn't have time to stop then but I hoped after we delivered my daughter to her new husband we might have time to stop in Memphis on our way back. As luck would have it we arrived back in Memphis on my birthday. So my husband agreed to stop and I spent the next three hours wandering through galleries displaying many of the things that, all these years later, I now saw at Fontainebleau, including the richly embroidered suit Napoleon wore at his second wedding in 1810 and that replica of Napoleon's command tent.
|Reproduction of Napoleon's canopied cot in his |
military campaign tent. Photo by Mary Harrsch.
|The Empress' Gaming Room at Fontainebleau. Photo by Mary Harrsch.|
|A few Baroque pieces of furniture remain in the State Salon at Fontainebleau.|
Photo by Mary Harrsch.
|Panoramic view of Napoleon's throne room at Fontainebleau. Photo by|
Napoleon's admiration for ancient Rome and his military achievements also appeared to influence his choice of decor here as his somewhat modest velvet-upholstered throne was flanked by two gold standards emblazoned with his iconic "N" topped with imperial eagles.
|One of Napoleon's gold imperial eagle standards|
in his throne room at Fontainebleau. Photo by
|Napoleon was meticulous in his grooming and|
enjoyed a bath every day. Surprisingly his bath
at Fontainebleau was relatively austere. Photo
by Mary Harrsch.
|A sitting room with the gold accented cradle of Napoleon's son, the "King of Rome". Photo by Mary Harrsch.|
|The tranquil man-made lake adjoining Fontainebleau Royal Palace in France. Photo by Mary Harrsch.|
|Picturesque Troyes, France|
|L'Hotel Les Comtes de Champagne, our hotel in Troyes, is a |
combination of four renovated 16th century houses.
Photo by Mary Harrsch.
|Tartiflette, a potato casserole-type dish served with salad|
and fresh bread.
By the time we had finished eating it was getting really late and I wanted to post an entry to my travel journal and call my husband over Skype, so I left Richard and Cecelia enjoying a bottle of wine and after dinner brandy and walked back to the hotel.
|Walking back to my hotel in the center of the historic district|
of Troyes, France. Photo by Mary Harrsch.
Troyes is so picturesque we plan to spend a few extra hours here in the morning so I can photograph their magnificent cathedral and the medieval architecture and canals they have near the town center. Then we'll be heading south in an effort to reach our bed and breakfast in southern France where we'll be staying for the next week before nightfall.
To see more of my images of France, visit my Flickr account!