A warm place

Imagine this…

Beige buildings.
Sandy deserts.
Date Palm trees.
More Date Palms.
Cloudless skies.
Bright sun.
Forty degree C.
Wide, straight, well-marked highways.
Panameras, Range Rovers and many Land Cruisers in the city.
Wandering camels, a little further away.
Concrete and glass tall buildings.
Low-roofed, two-story houses with stone-paved alleys.
Was that smell wafting in the evening air that of a Shwarma?
Pita bread with Tandoori Chicken, Hummous with a fresh Olives and a bowl of freshly chopped Tabouleh!

We are somewhere in the Middle East.

Contrast this view with…

Green trees.
More greener trees.
Trees with dew drops dripping down.
A casual drizzle.
Fresh smell of earth.
Crying Crickets.
Colourful blooms.
Group of cyclists whizzing past.
Bright blue skies.
Floating clouds.
Twelve degree C.
Winding, narrow roads.
Wooden houses.
Fragrance of a wild flower, that seems so familiar but completely unknown.

Far away from home…
This is French countryside.

When I stopped for a short break and a bite, en route Giverny from Chartres, a Shwarma was the last thing that came to mind. There it stood. Le Vallon de Chérisy. Cherisy is a village of Eure et Loir, in a green, the quiet of the countryside Drouaise, borders of Yvelines, on the borders of the Eure Valley, 5 minutes from Dreux.




rum baba

The service was quite personal and the food was good. The dessert – Rum Baba with Pineapple and Vanilla Ice Cream – was indeed a delight.

The place for the night stay was still about 30 miles away. But what is a 30 mile journey for the E350?


75b Rue d’Orchampt

The Man Who Walked Through Walls by the French writer Marcel Ayme begins:

“In Montmartre, on the third floor of 75b Rue d’Orchampt, there lived an excellent gentleman called Dutilleul, who possessed the singular gift of passing through walls without any trouble at all. He wore pince-nez and a small black goatee, and was a lowly clerk in the Ministry of Records. In winter he would take the bus to work, and in fine weather he would make the journey on foot, in his bowler hat.

Dutilleul had just entered his forty-third year when he discovered his power. One evening, a brief electricity cut caught him in the hallway of his small bachelor’s apartment. He groped for a while in the darkness and, when the lights came back on, found himself outside on the third-floor landing. Since his front door was locked from the inside,…”


Set in Paris’s Montmartre district, the stories by Marcel have spawned a number of films, including Jean Boyer’s 1951 classic Garou Garou, le passe-muraille and Yvan Attal’s Les Sabines starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as a musical, Amour, which won the Prix Molière in France before an English version conquered Broadway.

Today in Montmartre a sculpture of The Man Who Walked through Walls, created by the legendary actor Jean Marais, can be found in the Place Marcel Aymé, paying tribute to the great author and his work.


Finding a parking always proves tricky in any city. More so in Paris.

For someone who memorises the local street maps and drives with a staunch dependency on the GPS, it is not quite difficult to locate proper car parks; paid or free. However, being able to park closer to the point of destination gives a strange feeling of achievement.

In this case the destination turned out to be Saint-Germain. Intention was to walk the alleys in a completely lost manner and to do some window shopping. A soft drizzle added to the depth of the situation. Hooded jacket came handy. In any case an umbrella would be the remotest option with a camera fitted with extra-battery compartment and a heavy glass. Drizzling made the already crowded restaurants more tightly packed. No one could enjoy the life drifting by from the wicker chairs on the pavement, casually covered with deep coloured awnings, thanks to the rain.

Missed out on the reflected lights on rain-drenched cobblestones the city is famously known for, this time. There will always be a next…




yellow van




Town of Annecy

From the parking lot at Musée de la Grandé Chartreuse, there is no return!
In other words, the way you enter is a one-way. One must drive around the museum and join the road to Saint-Laurent -du-Pont. Here D520 somehow meets D1006 leading to Chambéry. Driving further north in the A41 with a toll of less than Euro 5 would take us to Annecy.

Mid-April is beginning to bring in all the flowers of the season. Mostly tulips. Walked off to the car park. It is a long way to Mont Blanc.



Being weekend, the parking areas of near Palaise de l’Isle was packed to capacity. Driving down the road by the lake-side D1508, a parking was found. No parking fee. From the car park, it is a few minutes walk back to the medieval part of the city.

canal bank

The canal was lined with restaurants. Took up an empty table just outside the entrance to a cafe. Ordered an Oignon Pizza and an Espresso. The pizza needed a few gentle reminders every 20 minutes or so. But then, who is in a hurry?

Thiou canal

Crossing one of the many bridges across the Canal du Thiou takes us to the famous street Rue Saint Claire. The place was crowded and so were the shops.


Annecy was a short break en route Chamonix. The place is so lovely that one needs a few days to imbibe all its beauty.

French Alps

The drive from Grenoble to Annecy was memorable for two reasons. Bright, sunny day made the visibility high and the 360 degrees view of brilliant scenery made driving the winding roads exciting. A short stop once in a while took away precious time-to-destination. Photos such as the one seen here made it worthwhile…


Early April still saw some snow on the ground. Rain and more snow was on the forecast for the coming days in the higher regions en route Mont Blanc.


Lilies and a Frog

Monet’s Garden in Giverny (Les Jardins et la Maison de Claude Monet) leads to an exit near the gate from a back lane. The exit is a flight of steps leading down a tunnel crossing the paved road D5 between Vernon and Sainte-Genevieve-les-Gasny. The famous pond in the Japanese inspired water garden with its water lilies lies on the other side of the road.






Where there is a pond; there is a frog. No matter how much these frogs tried, Monet is never known to have painted even one.


As Rick Steeve mentions in his website on Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, the true subject is not really the famous water lilies, but the changing reflections on the pond’s surface — the blue sky, white clouds, and green trees that line the shore.


The Stag

As the legend goes, Hubertus, born in the seventh century, seeks comfort and distraction on lonely hunts after the death of his beloved wife Princess Floribana in childbirth.

One Christmas Eve, he encounters on one of these hunts the wondrous image of a splendid red albino stag carrying a shining cross between its antlers. Through this vision, Hubert is moved to transform his life. He lays down his high ranks of office and distributes his wealth among the poor and the church.

St. Hubertus has been the patron saint of hunters and animal protectionists in northern Europe. The saint and the stag were depicted in a stained-glass chapel-window and atop Château d’Anet, both almost over an hour’s drive towards west of Paris.



The Château can be seen on the right side of the road from Vernon to Chartres. Logo of Jägermeister, the German digestif made with herbs and spices, carries the stag with the cross between.

White Sail

On that summer day, the temperature at the little town of Vernon touched 28 degrees centigrade. While for Europe this might have been a warm, hot day, to the normal standards of the gulf region, it was indeed cool. At the time of departure, Bahrain was basking in a mild 38 degree centigrade with a promise of touching 40s.

Looking to the right while walking away from Vernon over the Clemenceau bridge on Sienne, the tiny yacht with a solo sailor donning pure white sails caught itself on the camera. The circular polarising filter cut most of the light reflecting from a silver Sienne.


Chartres Cathedral

Town of Chartres, the capital of the Eure-et-Loire department, lies about 50 miles SW of Paris on the Eure River, north central France. The famous Gothic cathedral was completed in the 13th century. The town was severely damaged in World War II, but since rebuilt.

The drive from Paris to Chartres was pleasant. At times, the highway allowed to cruise at 130 kmph legally. Wheat and Corn fields spread for miles in undulating geography. Unlike England, there were no much opportunities for a quick break as M&S shops were not seen en route. The town was worth exploring with its half timbered buildings that epitomises the beauty of medieval architecture.

By dusk, God makes the sun paint the Chartres Cathedral by its last rays to a rich golden hue.


As the sun goes further down, His creations strive to better that by bringing each stone on the cathedral alive by breathing life to every saint depicted. Laser lights precisely paint each single detail and then transform the entire building to a dazzling masterpiece even God would have wowed! Night fall happens after well after 10 PM.





From another angle…





Good Morning! Coffee…?


Waking up is difficult after a hard day only if you sleep. The thought of missing the train to Hannover kept awake with frequent consultation of the clock blinking on the telly at the Kempinski. The double-windows kept the noise from the empty street down away as it did that of the passing trains. Both S and U bahns passed near the hotel but did not proved to be noisy in any way. After a shower and change, it was time for breakfast – at Reinhard.

Reinhard’s im Kempinski, Berlin, Germany – with its great location on the Kurfürstendamm, welcomes guests with a comfortable and distinctive atmosphere.

With honey-coloured wooden shelves, chequered tablecloths and a lovingly designed interior as well as with its wonderful terrace and fantastic location on the Kurfürstendamm, Reinhard´s appeals with a cosy atmosphere in a smart brasserie setting and French-inspired cuisine. The restaurant serves down to earth, seasonal cuisine with international influences from France and Italy. Favourites include the traditional classic, “Das Geheimnis aus dem Kaiserhof”, and the “Mata Hari” salad which made Reinhard’s popular more than 15 years ago. There is also a daily changing lunch and dinner menu.


The breakfast menu was good. The early morning views of the Kurfürstendamm street with the traffic beginning to build was an excellent complement to the fresh coffee served.