Travel Tales

France - Timeless Moulin Rouge

Eiffel Tower

For me, France is a stroll down the Champs-Elysees, a glass of wine at an outdoor cafe while whispering "je t'aime," a kiss on the River Seine, and a lingering moment at the timeless Moulin Rouge; a mesmerizing hour at the Musee d' Orsay, and postcards written from Paris. Romance here can start unexpectedly with just a smoldering gaze from a stranger. Is there any more beautiful way than to remember a lyrical comment by a sensual French voice making a pass at you? Surely everyone is a lover in Paris? N'est-ce pas?

But it is not just the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre's Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Rodin's "Thinker" or the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, that attracts the tourists, it is also the Opera District, the railway station, the Ecole Militaire, the gardens of Trocadero, the Palais de Tokyo, Tuileries, the National Library and the Pont-Neuf. It is especially the atmosphere in the City of Light.

Everything about the country, all the way to Provence, where lavender grows, inspires the artists to create their masterpieces, whether they sell their souls for millions or just cheese and bread and a glass of wine. Only in France can authors write poetry and erotica with passion dripping from their pens, or in this case, hot steam rising from the keys of a laptop. I could write an entire book about France, but suffice is to say, it energizes the artist and creates inspiration for painters, violinists, movie directors, and even dilettantes.

I have visited this country, the size of Colorado, several times as I can't get enough of their art, but more importantly, because that is where my father is buried.

France suffered extensive losses in wealth, manpower, as a dominant nation-state, yet nevertheless, it is one of the most modern countries in the world, and a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has enjoyed a presidential democracy. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including its acceptance of the euro. It is presently making efforts to develop the EU's military capability to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.

Its terrain is mostly flat with gently rolling hills in the north and west with a mountainous region, especially in the Pyrenees in the south and the Alps in the east.

The Chief of State is President Jacques Chirac, since 1995, and it has 22 regions, including Alsace, Aquitaine, Basse-Normandie, Bretagne, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine, Provence, Alpes, Cote d' Azur, to name a few. Its dependent areas are: Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Islands, Wallis and Futuna. The US does not recognize its claims to Antarctica.

Their legal system is based on civil law with indigenous concepts. They have the Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation; judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary. The government has partially privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers. It retains controlling stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, and Renault, and is dominant in some sectors, particularly public transport and defense. France's leaders remain committed to capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws and taxes.

A terrific time can be had in Paris, the capital of haute couture, with a comfortable pair of shoes to walk and wander through the manicured Luxembourg Gardens, or the elegant Place des Vosges, the boutique packed Marais district. Public transportation is excellent and inexpensive. For a quick aperitif, take a bottle and paper cup and head for the Pont des Arts. In the city of romance anything goes!


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