Picturesque Medieval Charm an Hour from Paris – Moret sur Loing

September 2017 – While visiting Paris we took an easy train ride out to the beautiful town of Moret sur Loing. With architecture dating back to the Middle Ages, complete with arches and town gates, it is utterly charming and makes for a very fun excursion and change of pace from the big city.

Roman gate at Moret sur Loing France-min

Moret sur Loing is a very cool Medieval town.

Small towns are my favorite places to visit, and English woman Annabel Simms has written two books describing the many pretty towns a short train ride from Paris that are worthy of a day trip.

Moret sur Loing (officially renamed Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne in 2016) is filled with tiny streets. The homes and businesses are built right to the edge of the sidewalk.

Village street Moret sur Loing France-min

Cute streets.

We strolled the streets of town, marveling at the many antique buildings that are centuries old.

Medieval buildings Moret sur Loing France-min

Architecture from a fairy tale!

The detail in their decorations is wonderful. Doorways aren’t just an opening to get through a wall. Instead they are elaborately decorated. One doorway featured ornately carved wooden scenes and scroll work.

Carved wooden doorway Moret sur Loing France-min

An ornate doorway…

Wooden carving Moret sur Loing France-min

A closer look at the wood carvings above the door.

There were arches through buildings on several streets. They were barely wide enough for a car, although I did see a bus squeeze through the taller ones!

Medieval arch and buildings in Moret sur Loing France-min

An arch under a clock tower!

The early fall air was warm and clear. Flowers in window boxes gave the stone architecture a colorful flair.

Stone building and windows Moret sur Loing France-min


We had gone to the town to enjoy the intimacy, tranquility and history of an antique village, but this place isn’t just a museum piece, and even though the architecture is old, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be used. I had to smile when a fellow rode up on a bike to use a modern day ATM built into the wall of a very old building.

ATM in antique building Moret sur Loing France-min

A modern ATM in an antique building.

A tall archway leads to a bridge over the Loing River. Looking back at the arch, I half expected to see a row of knights on horseback coming through, their lances raised and colors flying!

Medieval entrance gate Moret sur Loing France-min

Looking back at the arch tower from the cobblestone bridge.

Next to the tower was a very cute restaurant overlooking the river. It was the ideal spot for lunch.

Medieval gate and restaurant on the river Moret sur Loing France-min


The seats on the deck were all full, so we thought we’d walk around for an hour and try again later. Unfortunately, the restaurant is open strictly for lunch, so when we returned it was closed!

Restaurant on the river Moret sur Loing France-min

Lunch with a view. How fun. But don’t be late or they’ll be closed!

Our walk down to the river’s edge was well worth missing a fancy lunch, however. We just grabbed a baguette sandwich at a boulangerie and had a picnic by the water watching the ducks and geese playing in the currents.

Medieval stone arch Moret sur Loing France-min

A cobblestone path under a stone arch leads to the riverbank.

Moret sur Loing France-min

OMG! Is this right out of a picture book, or what?!

A small walking path goes along the edge of the river, and we walked along it to the next village. Rivers and canals connect all of Europe, and we passed lots of barges tied up along the shore that looked like they could really go the distance.

Loing River scene Moret sur Loing France-min

A picturesque mirrored view of homes and barges along the river.

Barge and riverside buildings Moret sur Loing France-min


A barge can make a spacious and fun floating home, and many of them looked very inviting to live in!

River barge Moret sur Loing France-min

What a cool lifestyle!

One thing that is really apparent in France, and especially Paris, is how well people dress. The men are dapper and the women are chic. There is a love of tailored fashion we just don’t see in our travels elsewhere, and as we would wait for the Metro or walk the city streets it was a true delight to see one handsome and impeccably dressed Parisian after another going past.

Well, Parisian chic extends into the countryside too, and French people aren’t the only ones in France who have a true sense of style.

As we strolled along the banks of the Loing River, I looked down to see the most unusual and smartly dressed cat I’ve ever seen. What a coat!

Exotic cat Moret sur Loing France-min

Feline Parisian chic.

Rivers and canals don’t all have the same water level as each other, so they are often joined together by lock systems where boats can be raised or lowered, allowing them to float from one canal to another.

As we crossed a bridge, we saw a barge coming towards us and noticed that there was a lock system on one side of the bridge right below our feet.

Barge approaches locks Moret sur Loing France-min

A barge chugs up to the lock.

The captain of the barge brought the boat into the lock and quickly tied the boat to the big cleats on the concrete walls of the lock.

Captain ties up barge at locks Moret sur Loing France-min

The captain secured the barge inside the lock.

He hopped off the barge and greeted the woman controlling the locks with the traditional French kiss on both cheeks. He obviously came through this lock on a regular basis!

As the doors closed behind the barge it was amazing what a tight fit the boat was inside the lock.

Barge in the locks Moret sur Loing France-min

The gates closed behind the barge. It was now in its own little bathtub and could be raised to the level of the next canal.

For the next few minutes the lock filled with water while the captain chatted with the lady controlling the lock and then with another fellow who rode up on a bike to say hello. Then he climbed back aboard, the lock gates swung open, and he sailed the barge out of the lock.

There was something very heartwarming about the whole thing. There are thousands of locks worldwide, and we’ve read many accounts of sailors taking their boats through the Panama Canal and we’ve watched the huge barges going through the Soo Locks in Michigan.

But this was a little lock in a scenic small French town, and there was something quite delightful about the simple traditions and conventions of moving a barge through the lock that were all in a day’s work for these people.

Barge leaves the locks Moret sur Loing France-min

After being raised to the water level in the next canal, the barge sails onward.
It might be really fun to be the captain of a barge in these waterways!

As we walked along the opposite shore back to town, the Medieval glory of Moret-sur-Loing came into view once again.

Moret sur Loing cathedral view from river France_-min

Moret sur Loing.

In between taking photos, I came across a plaque that told the town’s history. The first date on the plaque describing the earliest recorded events in this place was 1045. Wow!!

That predates many of the ancient Indian ruins and rock art we see in the American West, and it is fairly close to the timeframe that the Mayans were building Palenque in Mexico and the Khmer at Ankor Wat in Cambodia were erecting their massive stone temples.

Cathedral Moret sur Loing France-min

The cathedral in Moret sur Loing.

We made our way back to Paris and decided to catch sunset at the Eiffel Tower. There is a huge plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower where vendors sell all kinds of trinkets on blankets spread out in front of them.

Vendors at the Eiffel Tower Paris France-min

Vendors sell trinkets at the plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

When the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair it was the tallest building in the world. The base of the tower is enormous!

Eiffel Tower Paris France-min


Base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris France-min 2

The Eiffel Tower has a huge base.

As the golden hour just before sunset came, the gold leaf dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon is entombed glinted in the setting sun.

Sunset on Les Invalides Paris France-min

The golden dome of Les Invalides (site of Napoleon’s tomb) glows at sunset.

And then, as darkness fell, the Eiffel Tower lit up. How magical!!

Eiffel Tower lit up at night Paris France-min


Paris is as enchanting by night as it is by day, and we walked around town late into the evening.

Hotel de Ville at night Paris France-min

Hotel de Ville and all the antique buildings of Paris are lit up beautifully at night.

The Seine River in Paris France at Night-min

The Seine River.

The banks of the Seine River are as full of people at night as they are during the daytime. What a fun surprise it was to come across a group of people dancing Argentine Tango right on the riverbanks.

Talk about romantic!!

Dancing on the Seine River Paris France-min

What could be more romantic that dancing under the stars on the banks of the Seine?

As we made our way back to the Metro, we passed Notre Dame cathedral. She was aglow with lights.

Notre Dame Cathedral at night Paris France-min

Notre Dame Cathedral.

And the river boats on the Seine kept plying the water long after dark.

Notre Dame Cathedral and river boats on the Seine River Paris France-min

Boats take tourists along the Seine past Notre Dame well into the night.

My visit to Paris was capped off in the most charming way I could possibly imagine. On our last ride on the Paris Metro, while standing in the aisle hanging onto a strap, I suddenly heard the sound of an accordion. I looked up to see a young man coming through the doors connecting the train cars. He stared right at me and smiled as he played a classic tune.

Oh my!

I grabbed my camera and threw it into video mode as fast as I could. What an absolutely perfect way to bid goodbye to an elegant and inviting city.

So, here it is — a 30 second video from an accordion player on the Metro along with the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower shimmering in the dark and dancers on the Seine:

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An American in Paris – Ooh La La!

September 2017 – After spending the summer months RVing in Wyoming and South Dakota, I made a mad dash trip to visit my mother in Paris where I basked in a weeklong whirlwind tour of the City of Light. All I can say is, “Ooh la la!” (and would you belielve the French really say that!).

Notre Dame Cathedral on the Seine in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral overlooking the Seine River in Paris

After weeks of living in wide open lands, watching the wildlife and experiencing a taste of the cowboy life in the small towns of the American West, it was a wild jolt to the senses to find myself immersed in the hustle and bustle of a huge world class city whose history reaches back more than 2,000 years.

Les Invalides gold leaf tower in Paris

Les Invalides (where Napoleon is entombed)

The vibrant city streets were lined with historic buildings.

Streets of Paris historic buildings


And every so often a massive architectural masterpiece would crop up!

Hotel de Ville Paris France

Hotel de Ville

There were ornate statues everywhere. Monuments of all kinds were decorated with gold leaf that sparkled in the sun.

Statue with gold leaf sword Alexander Bridge Paris France

A golden sword!

Alexander Bridge Paris France

Alexander Bridge

Central Paris is a walking city, and we walked and walked and walked. And everywhere we turned, I had to stop to take yet another photo!

Louis XIV Statue Louvre Museum Paris

Louis XIV Statue at the Louvre Museum

Historic buildings streets of Paris

Cobblestone streets and centuries old buildings.

Whether peering down a city street or gazing up at the tall windows and decorative balconies above me, the buildings held stories that went back for generations through a myriad of styles of dress, social customs and means of transportation.

Ornate building streets of Paris


Consulate building Paris


Some places date back to the middle ages, and it was mind boggling to imagine just what these windows had seen through the millenia.

Cluny Museum Paris France

The Cluny Museum

Cluny Museum Paris France

The Cluny Museum

The ancient architecture was breathtaking, and reminded me of the 16th century colonial cities of Oaxaca, Morelia and San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico and Antigua in Guatemala. But the big surprise for me was all the action on the River Seine.

Boats on the Seine River Paris

The Seine River is full of boats and boaters!

Paris is very much built around this river, and it is as alive with boats and boating today as it ever was.

Notre Dame Cathedral on the Seine River Paris

A boat tied up with Notre Dame in the background.

We strolled along the banks of the Seine and I was amazed at the number of barges, pleasure boats and other water craft that were tied up along either side.

Boats on the Seine River Paris


Lots of people live aboard their boats on the river, and we saw all kinds of barges and power boats that were all decked out for a comfortable life aboard.

Living aboard on the River Seine Paris

What a cool life — aboard a boat on the Seine right smack in the middle of Paris!

Boat life on the River Seine Paris

A nice spot on deck for a sun-downer.

I’m not sure how many of these boats leave the dock or how often, but what a way to live in the heart of Paris!

We even saw a barge owned by Hat Tours, a company that does bike-and-barge vacation tours where you travel from place to place on the barge and then roam around each destination by bike. How fun!

Hat Tours Bike and Barge on River Seine Paris

Hat Tours offers “Bike and Barge” tours of Europe — Fun!

For tourists who don’t own a boat on the Seine and who aren’t doing an extended bike-and-barge tour, there are loads of day and half-day tours up and down the river as well.

River Seine Paris

A boat tour on the Seine is a great way to see Paris.

Boats on the River Seine Paris

Lots of action on the Seine.

The Seine isn’t the only body of water in Paris, however. There are loads of canals as well. These are narrow ribbons of water that are very calm, and they have been used to transport goods from one place to another for eons.

Reflections on canal in Paris


Reflections on canal in Paris


Canal reflections in Paris


There are canal boat tours available to tourists as well, and one day we took a ride along a canal with the tour company Canauxrama.

Canal boat tour in Paris

Tour boats cruise the canals around Paris.

Almost as soon as we left the dock, we motored through a very long tunnel that runs underneath a city park. There were openings in the ceiling of the tunnel that are large grates in the ground in the park. The shafts of light coming down through these openings made fantastic patterns.

In the tunnel on canal boat ride Paris

Shafts of natural light pierce the darkness of a long tunnel on the canal.

Much of the canal ride went under foot bridges and through various lock systems in the canal.

Canauxrama canal boat ride Paris

Our canal boat went under many foot bridges.

A lock is a place that separates two portions of the canal where the water sits at different levels. The boat stops in the lock and gates close in front of it and behind it so it is kind of sitting in a bathtub. Then water is either poured in or drained out of the lock, raising or lowering the boat from the level it was on to the level where it is going. Then the gate in front of the boat opens and it sails out into the next section of the canal.

Canal lock doors open on Canauxrama boat ride Paris

The gates of the lock swing open to let us into the lock.

Entering canal lock on Canauxrama boat ride Paris

As we entered the lock we could see the front gates ahead of us. Another set swung closed behind us.

In one lock our boat entered at a low level and then water flooded into the lock to raise us up. A wonderful double rainbow formed in the spray of water that was filling the lock.

Canauxrama boat ride canal lock fills Paris

Like a bathtub filling, tons of water pours into the lock creating a spray with a rainbow!

We saw some neat sights as we floated along this canal. “La Geode” is a fantastic and enormous sphere of mirrors!

La Geode Canauxrama canal boat ride Paris

We floated past “La Geode.”

Canal scenery Canauxrama canal boat ride Paris

A picturesque scene along the canal.

All this walking and canal boat riding got our appetites going, and fine food, of course, is a national pastime in France. There is a boulagerie — or bakery — on every street corner, and people eagerly line up to get their baguettes and croissants at their favorite shops.

In line at a Boulangerie Paris

Frequent visits to the local boulangerie are an important part of everyday Parisian life.

Once inside, the array of selections is immense!

Inside a boulangerie in Paris

Man does not live on bread alone… Well, maybe Parisian men do!

Eating outside is an integral part of life in Paris too, and apparently no matter how cold or how hot it is, Parisians love to kick back with a drink or a bite to eat and chat with each other or do a little people watching as people go by on the street.

Dining on the streets in Paris

Parisians love to dine outside at all seasons of the year!

But when you don’t hae time enough to hang out at a sidewalk bistro, gourmet food is very easy to find and take with you on the go. Specialty food shops abound, from high end butcher and meat shops to fancy fruit shops to elegant cheese shops.

Gourmet meat shop in Paris

A gourmet butcher and meat shop.

Fruit shop in Paris

Beautiful fruits at the fruit shop.

Cheese shop in Paris

The cheese shop.

If you’re in the market for the best of the best, these little gourmet shops are the way to go. But Paris has plenty of supermarkets too, and these grocery stores even sell low-end Wonder bread if that’s what you’re after. However, the brand isn’t Wonder. It is Harry’s American Sandwich Bread!

Harrys American Sandwich bread in France

The French version of Wonder Bread is Harry’s, and it’s intended use is American Sandwiches.

The trend of rating eggs by the lifestyle lived by the hens who lay them has caught on in France just as in America, and I was amused to see “Oeufs plein air” or “Outdoor eggs.” We’ve seen “plein air” artists painting with oils on canvas out in the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho, and it made me laugh that these chickens were “plein air” too!

Oeufs Plein Air in France

Cage-Free eggs are laid by hens who live in “plein air,” reminiscent of artists who paint in “plein air.”

We also found Kellogg’s trusty Frosted Flakes renamed “Frosties.” During our travels in Mexico we discovered Frosted Flakes were called Zukaritas there and Tony the Tiger had thick dark eyebrows and spoke Spanish, of course. But in France his eyebrows are petite and his French is undoubtedly both fluent and spoken with a perfect Parisian accent.

Kelloggs Frosties in France

Tony the Tiger lives a good life in France.

We saw lots of American food joints too, from McDonalds to Chipotle Mexican Grill to Ben & Jerries. I grabbed a Starbucks latte late one afternoon — they are the only coffee shop that sells decaf lattes for those late afternoon indulgences — and I got a huge kick out of the way my cup was labeled.

Starbucks coffee in France

Something lost and something gained in translation.

The Paris Metro is famous worldwide for making all of Paris easily accessible while also confusing tourists and locals alike with its extensive pedestrian tunnel systems that can lead you to the wrong line or in the wrong direction if you aren’t paying attention.

Lots of the stations are wonderfully decorated to match whatever neighborhood they are in. At the station for the Sorbonne — the elite university in Paris — the ceiling was decorated with the signatures of France’s most famous authors. From Racine to Victor Hugo, they were all there.

This was a very classy touch that could inspire some clever renovations at the Harvard subway station on Boston’s Red Line.

Cluny-Sorbonne Metro Station Paris

The Sorbonne University Metro Station is decorated with the signatures of France’s great writers.

The Gare de Lyon train station had some classy touches as well, and we stopped for a few minutes to listen to a fellow playing the grand piano there. The piano is available to anyone to play, if the spirit moves them. But the audience is large and they hang around for a while, so Chopsticks just won’t cut it!

Gare de Lyon train station piano playing Paris

Pianists entertain folks at the Gare de Lyon train station.

Paris is famous for its luxurious gardens, and we strolled through the Tuillieries on a beautiful sunny day, ice creams in hand.

Tuilleries Garden Paris

The Tuilleries Garden.

As we turned one corner we saw a “plein air” artist capturing the beauty of the scene on her canvas. But the memory of those “plein air” eggs at the supermarket came back to me and I had to giggle. That term had always seemed so high brow to me before.

Plein Air Painting Tuilleries Garden Paris

An artist paints in “plein air.”

The Luxembourg Garden is even more beautiful than the Tuilleries, and as we approached the manmade pond on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon we noticed it was filled with little sailboats.

Sailboats at Luxembourg Garden Paris

Toy boats fill the water at the Luxembourg Gardens.

These boats are available to rent, and the kids just love them. You use a stick to push the boat out into the water, and then it sails away. Then you have to run to the other side to catch the boat and push it back out to sea again. I would have been all over that as a kid!

Child with a sailboat Luxembourg Gardens Paris


Kids play with Sailboats at Luxembourg Garden Paris


Luxembourg Garden Paris France

Luxembourg Garden

As you can see, Paris is an absolute feast for the senses in every way. Over at the Louvre I was blown away once again by the ornate and stately architecture.

Triumphal arch Louvre Museum entrance Paris

Triumphal Arch at the Louvre Museum.

Louvre Museum Paris

The stately buildings of the Louvre were a fortress in the 12th century.

Some modern glass pyramids positioned near the Louvre’s entrance and an angular manmade pond out front create a wonderful juxtaposition of the very old with the very new.

Louvre Museum Paris


Fountain at Louvre Museum Paris

A modern angular water feature blends old and new at the Louvre.

Glass pyramids Louvre Museum Paris

Glass pyramids at the Louvre entrance.

Speaking of the very old, the ground was broken for Notre Dame Cathedral in 1163 and the cathedral was completed in 1345.

Notre Dame Cathedral spires Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral.

That roughly corresponds with the time frame of the ancient Indians (Anasazi) in the American southwest and the ancient Khmer Empire temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Notre Dame Cathedral ramparts Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral.

Even though I’m not a city gal by any stretch of the imagination, I was absolutely charmed by the city of Paris.

Marie de Medici Fountain sculpture Paris

Statuary at the Marie de Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Garden.

From the grand architecture to the bustling city streets and bistros to the funky river boats lining the Seine to the fancy gourmet food shops to the colorful gardens and fabulous canal system to the whimsical statues gracing every corner and garden, it is easy to see why Paris is nicknamed the City of Light.

Statue in the Luxembourg Gardens Paris

Dancing like nobody’s watching in the Luxembourg Garden.

Top of the Bastille monument Paris

The “Spirit” or “Genius” of Freedom atop the July Monument at the Bastille (2nd 1830 Revolution – 1830).

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Locations of these various sites in Paris on Google Maps

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