À la prochaine, Notre-Dame

June 2018. It was dusk in Paris. I joined the scores of people who sat along the banks of the Seine on the Quai de la Tournelle. Notre-Dame on the Île de la Cité bared its photogenic backsides to all. A Batobus slipped under the Pont d l’Archeveche. Its passengers waved at us and took …

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Optimist central

June 2018.  The trams plying the streets of Strasbourg proclaimed – Europtimist.  Lodging prices were rising and rooms were nearly impossible to book in the city for July. The optimism of Strasbourg businesses wasn’t misplaced. In a few days, hundreds of parliamentarians, their staffs, journalists and special interest groups would descend on this French-German border …

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The outer limits of Paris

June 2018. “Stay in the lower-numbered districts of Paris,” most travel experts advised. Thus, I had always managed to book my lodgings within the first six arrondisements of the city. That is, until I decided to visit Paris at the last minute at the outset of summer. Not willing to shell out bundles of euros …

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Avignon: Far from the Vatican crowd

January 2017. The last rays of sunlight filtered through the gothic windows, bathing the floor of the Gran de Chapelle with a glorious shade of gold. The palace was closing in less than an hour. Most visitors had left.  A cold and damp aura festered throughout the Palais de Papes (Palace of the Popes) at …

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A closet pilgrim on the Camino

May 2010. Scores of wheelchairs descended on the sanctuary as if the Paralympics were about to start. But these weren’t muscle-bound athletes who were about to show their physical prowess. On them were folks afflicted with illnesses, praying for mercy and miracles. This was Lourdes, on the foothills of the French Pyrenees. I was headed …

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