The Plane Truth

A friend forwarded an article to me this week about one of my favorite travel destinations. My heart sank.  It seems trivial at first read, but for the first time in my life I realized we experienced a place that will no longer be part of the travel world for the foreseeable future.  It was a painfully short read.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23447511

The plane trees along Canal Du Midi

The plane trees along Canal Du Midi

The Canal Du Midi in Southern France is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a favorite with boaters around the world.  The engineering genius of connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the spectacular beauty of tree-lined canals, locks, tow-paths and villages will be markedly changed when all 42,000 trees that line the bank are destroyed.

Biking through the vineyards along the Canal

Biking through the vineyards along the Canal

I went back into my photo archives to find pictures that capture the incredibly beauty of the place, but it’s difficult. We have a few photos and memories of piloting our hire boat through the canal, the chaos of “all hands on deck” to man the locks, the emotional moment of watching endless shooting stars stream overhead and the magic of dining topside beneath the plane trees at Carcassonne.   Will people still ride bikes along the tow-paths and through the neighboring vineyards?  Will they still stop at the tiny village bakeries to shop and pick up the morning croissants? Will local wineries fare well without boaters tying up along the canals and wandering up for an afternoon tasting and a few bottles of the local vintage?

Enjoying a local vintage...topside on Canal Du Midi

Enjoying a local vintage…topside on Canal Du Midi

Lock keepers managed to find hidden stashes of apple tarts and home made wines to share

Lock keepers managed to find hidden stashes of apple tarts and home made wines to share

So many bridges and locks...

So many bridges and locks…

Moored at Carcassonne

Moored at Carcassonne

Boating under the canopy.

Boating under the canopy.

In 50 years or so, it may return to its former glory, but the knowledge that I’ll probably never see it again nor will my children…is heartbreaking.

Friends and family for a topside dinner

Friends and family enjoying a topside dinner

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Unpacking Paris


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[audio http://baetlanguedoc.blog50.com/media/02/01/128839201.mp3]

My first trip to Paris was in 1995 with three children (8,7 and 1). My husband and I spent most of our time feeding the pigeons in Tuileries Garden, too intimidated to take 3 children into a series of museum galleries, much less a nice restaurant.  I did insist  the children gaze upon the Mona Lisa (Miss R’s famous line: “It’s SO SMALL, Mommy!”) and bask in the beautiful colored windows of Notre Dame (where Miss B loudly announced “Look Mommy!  THAT’s where Esmerelda prayed in the movie!”). Miss M was still a little blob and swears she doesn’t remember anything, which is likely true. Fast forward 15 years, and we’re back again…and again, and again. I can’t explain my attraction to this city.  The charms of Paris are obvious…the Eiffel Tower, the lights, the Seine, the museums, the food, all of which are worthy of admiration and a trip from anywhere.  But with so many other places in the world I haven’t seen, what is it about Paris that keeps me coming back?  Is it the romance and history, the food and architecture?  Perhaps…

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Is it because Paris is such a walkable city, even when you don’t know where you’re going…

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because Parisians believe there should always be flowers, even when it’s snowing in February…

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or is it the seamless melding of old and new?

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The glorious architectural eye-candy?

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Is it because Paris inspires the expression of love and romance…

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and an appreciation for the finer things in life?

Or a better way of living, if only for a day, a week, a month?

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What is it about Paris?