My 2011 and a few pictures


In Brittany, the new year started the way the old one ended - Very cloudy, quite cold and windy. The beach below our home was totally empty except for a few birds.

Back to Paris, Popeye went away again round the world... (Almost.) I travelled back and forth from Brussels to Paris as usual. And I was in Paris when my Canadian nephews turned up there.

We spent such a fun evening together at Café de la Paix, right by Opéra Garnier. And then we were driven all over town by a friendly taxi driver who kept telling us stories about Paris, most of them totally inaccurate!

 The Monet show ended on January 24th at the Grand Palais in Paris. I managed to go there several times. I have never seen so many people at an art exhibit before! But it was worth it...


We spent the whole month in Brussels, cleaning and sorting our belongings, again and again. We did manage to take a few walks from time to time... 

La porte de Hal
A romantic vision of some Middle Ages ruins... Very close to...

Institut Bordet
the Cancer Institute... I am not kidding. Very welcoming entrance, isn't it?

We were invited to have some tea at our Chinese friends' home. A very traditional ceremony. Complete with some outstanding tea and ancient cups. It was an amazing experience.


 We were devastated when our wonderful black cat, Byerly, expressed very clearly he couldn't stand pain and suffering anymore.

Swee' Pea came back to Paris for an astrophysics event. Since he was supposed to entertain some friends, Popeye and I moved to a nice hotel overlooking the Tuileries and with a wonderful view... Well, I know. Spring was not really sunny and the Eiffel Tower looked quite sad and lost behind rain and fog. But we enjoyed the view anyway while it lasted.

Our dear Marc-Antoine and Marie-Claude stopped in Paris for a couple of days on their way in-between Thailand and Montreal where they live. They wanted us to know that they were getting married in Montreal, early September and they said that we had to be there! (You'll find our answer in "September".) This is the way we packed them... and their luggage when we drove them back to the airport in Swee' Pea's ancient Land Rover.

Right after they left, Spring started! Amazing. Parisians had been so sun deprived that hundreds of people flocked together on every available lawn. Here by Swee' Pea's appartment, close to the Invalides.


A very tired Swee' Pea was cramming for the (French) CNRS exams... while wishing he were back to Pasadena and Caltech... He left a few days later.

And then we left Paris too and went to Madrid, for the umpteenth time, I know. I was delighted to go back to El Prado and to take long walks through the city. Actually, I was quite shocked to see how bad the Spanish economy was. Madrid was filled with empty apartments and offices for sale. It still looked like a bustling city because there were so many tourists around. So many tourists, yes and so many beggars too.

Some inventive ones...

 and some very desperate ones...

All of them very Spanish... Those pictures were taken a few days before the "Indignados" invaded the Puerta del Sol. We were gone by then.


May was rather calm and quiet even if in Brussels, we went through another sad moment. Our friend Niruj was definitely leaving Holland to settle in India.

 Even the best Belgian beer did not convince him to stay with us.

So we went back to Brittany... And there it became even worse since our dear Henri passed away the minute we drove back to Brussels. We went back to Brittany for his funeral.

Brittany was still torn apart between clouds and sun. Let me tell you that the clouds won again and again.


Whenever you want to see seagulls going crazy, come boating with usIt is a must whenever we have children on board. We bring stale bread and throw small pieces in the sea. One seagull will appear from nowhere and all of a sudden, tens of them fly over to the boat and start fighting for crumbs. We obviously did love "The Birds" and do not fear seagulls.

We learnt a lesson one night in June. (Well, not exactly... We knew this already!) Children do not get cold as easily as adults! It was quite chilling outside. The children's parents tried to get them to wear warm clothes. To no avail! Lucky children!

We finally made up our mind to go to Giverny, late in June. To admire Monet's white water lilies in his garden. What a wonderful experience!


Early July, we got to meet my Canadian sister's husband who was then working in Germany. He obviously enjoyed a lot teaching chess on the Seine bank.

We spent Bastille Day in Brittany. Summer was finally there... for one day! But we enjoyed our first long dip of the year (and almost the last one).

I had such a nice birthday surprise. We flew to Toulouse and then spent a few days around in Southern France where I come from. We stayed in Carcassonne but we went back to my village, Arfons.

And we did climb up and around the four cathar "châteaux de Lastours" which was something we had done like... one century ago... It was hard but fun.



 Guess what! It still was very cloudy and windy in Brittany... Very dry too. So many clouds and no rain. So cold!

We did manage to go boating a few times but only a few times... The "children" were delighted!
Some even tried wakeboarding. But not for too long!


So, yes! We made it to Marc-Antoine and Marie-Claude's wedding in Montreal. Three magical days! 

We went to rest in Brittany. Well, I did. Popeye came over every week-end. Summer was there... finally! So we went boating a lot.

End of September, there was one of the most fabulous spring tide ever... Mostly because it was very hot and sunny... I followed those clamdiggers and went to work on my project around mussel beds. I love spring tides because the sea recedes so far that one gets to see things that remain hidden all year long... rocks, ancient mussel beds, fields of algae... It's like walking on the bottom of the sea!

And then one horse came suddenly out of the sea! Sort of!


 October was very summery... We were glad we had left our boat in the harbor. It had been quite a long time indeed since we had enjoyed boating so much.

Popeye was working though. He had to go to Spain for business. Barcelona, this time. I had not been in Barcelona for the longest time (twenty-five years at least). I was amazed how much it had changed and I loved it. It looked amazingly protected from the economy crisis.

I overdosed on Gaudi of course! And I loved every minute of it!

Barcelona is built by the sea. Did you know that Christopher Columbus sailed from there when he discovered the 'New World'?

From Barcelona, I went straight back to Brittany. Well, it was rather wintery there... I almost flew right back to Barcelona!


2011 was quite a different year for me! I even went with Popeye to the Paris Masters! Something I never thought I'd ever do. Well, I did it and I have to admit that it was worth it. Poor Tomas Berdych really was kneeling down. What else could he do against Roger Federer? Exciting event!

 My pleasure... Paris Photo, one of the greatest events for me, year after year. Hundreds of great pictures from all over the world... even from NASA!

November turned out to be very nice after all. We took walks in our favorite garden ever (except for Père Lachaise) - the Montparnasse Cemetery where young people in love smooch on benches by the graves!


Different year indeed! Another Popeye's dream came true. I went with him to the Paris Boat Show! Hundreds of boats there... from all over the world. Quite incredible and so many people there... marveling at them.

Wow! It snowed in Brussels... One 'wintery' week... Only one!

We spent Christmas in Brittany with Swee' Pea, as usual... except that we left on the 29th to go to....

Venice! The city I always wanted to go to. My dream came true...

complete with a fantastic New Year's Eve concert at La Fenice
I loved Venice. Every minute of it.

2011 ended in Venice. 2012 started in Venice with my loved ones. What more can I ask for?

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Nancy said...

What a beautiful summary of your year! I love Venice, too!

Myrna said...

Wonderful recap of the year! :o)