Father Tom Lumpkin is a tireless advocate for the poor in Detroit. He is a quiet community hero, and was a perfect choice for our Untours Giveaway. Read about his good works here. He and his sister traveled to Paris with us on a free Untour, our small thank you to a man who has helped so many in his community. Here is the first half of his Paris journal.
What follows is a petit journal of my Paris trip. A five-star thanks to the Untours folks for making it possible. Words cannot express my appreciation! Another five stars to Ann, my “big sister,” for nominating me to receive it, then becoming the perfect travel companion. This was the vacation of a lifetime! Merci beaucoup!
Wednesday, May 4th
A lovely first day in Paris. Were met at the airport by Jennifer, our Untours rep, and a driver who got through very heavy morning traffic to our apartment in the city.
The apartment is very well situated and very nicely laid out. We’re on the third floor, overlooking a busy street not far from Notre Dame cathedral. I spent the afternoon walking the streets by our lodgings, doing some grocery shopping with Ann, and going with her to a nearby church for the Vigil of Ascension. The day was sunny but somewhat cool – temps in the 50s. In the evening we ate supper at the apartment: brie and baguette with a Cote du Rhone red wine. It’s now 9 p.m. and it’s getting dark. Bedtime!
Thursday, May 5th
Ascension Thursday is a national holiday, the beginning of a four-day weekend. Probably explains why there was no early a.m. traffic outside our apartment and tons of people in the cafes and parks and streets the rest of the day. Lovely weather.
Ann wasn’t feeling well so I took a morning walk by myself to the “heart” of the city: the island in the middle of the Seine from which the rest of Paris spread out. It’s where Notre Dame cathedral is. Walked a little way along the Seine, stopped to rest in a beautiful small park at the tip of the island, then returned by a slightly different route to see Les Halles – a stunning modern work of commercial architecture.
In the afternoon Ann was feeling better so we took our first metro/subway trip back to the Isle and Notre Dame. The great rose windows at each end of the transept are so beautiful. In the evening we met with our Untours host Jennifer and one other couple for a great dinner at a restaurant a few blocks away from Notre Dame on the left bank. As we left the restaurant we had an unforgettable view of an illuminated Notre Dame. It’s hard to believe I’m here. This is so unlike my everyday life!
Friday, May 6th
A warm, sunny afternoon in Montmartre. Ann and I had lunch at a café there and then took a 2 hour English-speaking “walking tour” around the district. Quite good. We heard its history and saw the places where famous painters lived for a while. (Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir ). Walked mostly through quaint narrow streets. Only at the end did we come to the crowded touristy area around Sacre Coeur. Came back to the apartment for a light supper and then spent an hour on the balcony, watching the passersby below as the sun set.
Tomorrow we venture to Chartres!
Saturday, May 7th
A wonderful day at Chartres. Left our apartment at 9:30 a.m. and returned around 9:30 p.m. Chartres is a little over an hour from Paris and we found it quite easy to use the train system. I have a memory from my student days of Chartres being the best of the great cathedrals. The overall design attempts to create a heavenly experience and I find it quite successful. All day long I had the recurring thought – what a wondrous thing to be here, in this place, and sharing this time with my sister!
Sunday, May 8th
A warm, sunny morning. I’m sitting quietly in my room. The floor-to-ceiling window is open, letting in the sights and sounds of some (not a lot) street traffic below. On a balcony across from us a young couple is sitting at a table, enjoying each other and the view. Below them, a young man is tending his flower pots. I’m reading today’s Gospel: That they all may be one as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, that they all may be one in us. I’m feeling these words – a felt communion with everyone and everything. Communion: this is what life is meant to be about; this is the direction towards which, with all our fits and starts, we are heading.
In the afternoon we took the metro to the Marmottan-Monet Museum, which houses a good deal of Claude Monet’s works. Then we walked to a very interesting restaurant that Jennifer had recommended. Finally, we took a boat ride up and down the Seine and saw the City of Lights at night. Went right up to the Eiffel Tower, which was spectacularly illuminated. Another great day!