November 9 and 10
Final Impressions, By Chancy Kapp
Photo: Jean Olive and Allston Stubbs in Marie-Antoinette’s gardens
Photo: Marie Antoinette’s pretend “farm”
Our final two days as a group found us on a leisurely cruise back up the Seine to Paris and its environs, with the battlefield tours behind us. A stop in Mantes-La-Jolie provided a convenient jumping-off point for visits to the Palace of Versailles and to Queen Marie Antoinette’s strange “pretend” farm village. As we tied up close by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, our good luck with weather gave way to cold rain and clouds. However, we found plenty to keep us busy as the group scattered across Paris. Some chose to follow a guide through the drizzle to the Ile de La Cite and the Latin Quarter. A few daring souls braved a unique view of Paris from motorcycle sidecars and lived to tell the tale! A brush with the official celebration of the centennial of the Armistice produced a few headaches. The Musee D’Orsay closed early to set up for the VIP dinner, and massive traffic jams stuck folks headed to the Moulin Rouge on the bus for three hours.
Photo: Nan Kester, Jennie Hayman and Lee Webster aboard the Joie de Vivre in Paris.
Long walks along the Seine, shopping in boutiques and the glittering Galeries Lafayette, a night of ballet at the Palais Garnier (the old Paris Opera House famous as home of the Phantom), a great dinner out on the town, a quiet evening aboard the Joie de Vivre – old Paris hands and newcomers alike found many ways to savor the “Wonder and History” promised when we signed up for the tour.
Photo: Galeries Lafayette, Paris
Photo: Palais Garnier—Paris Opera House
Several times during the tour, I asked colleagues why they had come, what surprised them the most and what they liked the best.
A number of us, including my husband Keith and me, had traveled with the Associates at least once before, and we chose to take this tour at least in part to support the work of the Associates and of the Museum. Several were on their first Associates tour, and they wanted to become better acquainted with other Benefactors.
The visit to the Normandy beaches ranked high among the trip’s attractions, as most of us had not visited before. Curiosity about the trip’s stated focus, World War I, drew several travelers, especially those aware of family members who fought. Allston Stubbs, husband of former Associates Chair Jean Olive Stubbs, carried with him a photograph and stories of his grandfather’s cousin, Army Captain Julius Mood. Captain Mood earned a Distinguished Service Cross. Another DSC went to Charlie Silver’s grandfather Henry Sprague Silver – amazing to have two represented in our small group.
Photo: L’Assemblee Nationale in Paris, ready for the centennial
We were surprised mostly by two things – the depth of our ignorance as Americans about World War I and the stunning beauty of rural France.
And we liked – just about everything! Our guides earned high marks, especially the scholarly and engaging Guillaume Moizan in the World War I battlefields. A couple of days after he left us in Paris, we turned on CNN and there he was, interviewed as one of the foremost experts on the region! (Here’s the story!)
Would we travel again with the Benefactors? My husband and I certainly would. Jane Howard, veteran Associates board member, planned this trip meticulously, balancing serious exploration of history with plenty of opportunity for fun and fellowship. The opportunity to join these trips (at our own expense, of course) is one of the reasons we choose to be Benefactors.
For this journey – au revoir!