Farewell, Damanhur

My amazing week in Damanhur is coming to a close. The night before our departure we had our closing dinner at Old Mill of Bairo, a totally luscious farm-to-table restaurant.

We enjoyed a traditional Italian meal- antipasto ( three items), first course, second course, dessert, and of course, wine.

The owner thoughtfully prepared vegetarian first and second courses for me and the other vegetarian in our group. My risotto first course was so beautiful and delicious I forgot to take a picture. I did, however, remember to take a picture of my second course-an amazing, fluffy spinach souffle.

Last Day

I felt like we were completing a beautiful circle when we ate our last lunch together in the same cafe where we had shared our first lunch when we arrived. Although the salads were different, we had another beautiful array of salads and great bread. Tigrilla introduced Tarrabah,the talented chef/owner, who created our wonderful meals.

Tigrilla also introduced two other Damanhurians who were in the cafe. One of them was Orango, the head of Meta Action, which focuses on putting spiritual thought into action.

The other, Barys, was introduced as a child of Damanhur because he was born here.

After lunch, a friend and I walked around the Open Temple before boarding our van for Milan to fly home. Once again, it felt like coming full circle. We visited the Open Temple on our first day in Damanhur and again on our last.

Final Thoughts

As I leave Damanhur, I am so thankful for the people who played a role in this amazing journey.

My dear friend Bev organized the trip, guided us through the powerful week, and initiated the transition from fourteen seekers to one powerful group.

Tigrilla and Crotalo our Damanhurian teachers, orchestrated our experiences, shared their knowledge and opened the door to the beautiful mystery of Damanhur.

My amazing group of fellow seekers were a constant source of support, inspiration and fun. I feel lucky to have gotten to know each of them.

When I started this journey, I knew one roommate a little bit and the other not at all. I am leaving with two new friends. We stayed up late talking about so many things-our Damanhur experiences, life, love, women’s rights, and on and on. And, oh, how we laughed- hard and often.

It will take time-probably lots of time-to understand everything I learned and experienced this week. I am looking forward to the journey.

Meditating With Nature

After two rainy days, we were thrilled to have two beautiful sunny days. For the first time since we arrived, we could clearly see the snow-topped Alps in the distance.

Luckily, our indoor activities were on the rainy days and our outdoor activities were on the sunny ones.


On our first sunny day we met at the Commune di Vidracco (Municipality) in the village where we are staying.

After we posed for a group photo, Elfo, the mayor of Vidracco and one of three Damahurian Sages greeted us and told us about the history of Vidracco. The three Sages share the leadership role left vacant when Damanhur founder Falco Tarassaco passed in 2013.

After he finished his brief history of Vidracco, Elfo led us down a little trail to an old mill.

He gave us a tour and history of the mill. It had been used to grind maize, chestnut, wheat and hemp.

Meditating with the Plants

Leaving the mill, we followed Tigrilla down a forest path to a little grassy area by the river.

Soaking in the welcomed sunlight, we listed to Tigrilla talk about using nature as inspiration to more deeply connect with ourselves. She guided us in a meditation and then gave us time to find a plant partner.

A tiny, one-of-a-kind wildflower called to me. My little flower and I spent a peaceful half hour being in the field together.

After our meditation, a member of our group led us in a beautiful peace dance. It seemed like the perfect way to end our morning.

Sacred Woods

I thought our first sunny day was amazing, but our second sunny day was even better.

In the morning, my dear roommate and I walked to the crea for a cappuccino and pastry. Not only were both delicious, my total bill was only 4 euros. Not sure how that is even possible.

The we climbed into our vans and traveled to the Sacred Woods

The Sacred Woods are outdoor temples that sit on top of the underground Temples of Humankind. Each space in the Sacred Woods corresponds with a chamber of the temples below. Just as in the Temples of Humankind, we were not allowed to take pictures once we went inside.

After walking deep into the Sacred Woods, Tigrilla led us through a beautiful tree meditation. After our meditation, we walked to lunch at a nearby nucleo.

Lunch at a Nucleo

Most Damanhurians live in communes called nucleos. Each nucleo is devoted to a specific field such as education, healing, seed saving and solar energy. The nucleo that hosted us for lunch serves as custodians of the labyrinths in the Sacred Woods.

Nucleo resident Lucertola Peppe welcomed us. Like other Damanhurians, she has taken a new name. In order to strengthen their relationship to nature Damanhurians take the Italian name of an animal and plant. So, Lucertola’s name in English is Lizard Pepper. The Italian language is definitely more beautiful than English.

When we arrived, approximately fourteen residents of the nucleo were eating lunch at a long table. As I watched them interacting like one big, happy family, I definitely felt the lure of living in a nucleo. And if being part of a large, supportive family isn’t luring enough, the Sacred Woods is their back yard, and an incredible view of the river and mountains is their front yard.

Afternoon in the Sacred Woods

After lunch we returned to the Sacred Woods and walked some of the labyrinths. There are about thirty labyrinths encompassing ten miles of paths in the Sacred Woods.

A labyrinth is a single path twisting and turning through several concentric circuits to arrive at a central goal.

Most of the circuits in the Sacred Woods are labyrinths, but a few are mazes, which means they have multiple paths. I found a picture of a maze in the Sacred Woods online.

One labyrinth was outside the gates, so I was able to take a picture of it. The sticks in the labyrinth are designed to aid people with visual impairments walk the labyrinth independently.

As we left the Sacred Woods we saw an interesting gate. Since it was outside the entrance, I was able to take a picture of it.

I loved my time in the Sacred Woods and know I will remember it always.


I began my day with a wonderful small-world moment. Waiting for coffee at the crea, I met Israel, an artist who had just completed a thirty-day artist residency in France. He was making a one-day stop in Damanhur and was preparing to visit the Temples of Humankind. As we chatted, I discovered he is from Fort Meyers, just an hour south of Sarasota, where I live. Amazing how we can travel to the other side of the world and meet someone from close to home.

Energized by a fun encounter and great coffee, I joined our group for a road trip to Turin, capital city of the Piedmont region. Main stop-the Egyptian Museum, the sixth most visited museum in Italy. Depending on the reference, it is the oldest or second oldest Egyptian museum in the world.

Before entering the museum we took refuge from the rain in one of the two main covered galleries in Turin while Crotalo told us about the most important artifacts we would see.

Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum houses one of the oldest collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world. There are more than 37,000 items in the museum. My first impression was how well the museum organized and labeled the vast collection.

Crotalo pointed out highlights in the museum collection. An 1847-cm long entire “Book of the Dead” written on papyrus spans one whole wall. The “Book of the Dead” is a set of funerary formulas, including the funeral kit to guide the deceased to the afterlife.

I learned that pyramids had another small pyramid called pyramidions on the top. We saw the limestone Pyramidion of Ramose. Symbolizing the pinnacle of a king’s power and divine connection, pyramidions represented the king’s ascent to the afterlife and eternal rule.

And or course, we saw mummies.

And not just human mummies. Egyptians viewed animals not only as pets but as incarnations of gods. They buried millions of mummified animals at temples honoring their deities. We saw an entire small room devoted to animal mummies. I saw cats, a cow and some other animals I could not recognize.

Sometimes the body of the deceased was wrapped in funerary nets attached to the bandages. The beautiful nets were composed of cylindrical beads strung together in a rhomb pattern.

The Egyptians used special beds and headrests to facilitate dreaming. Different heights of headrests facilitated different types of dreams. I’m not sure how anyone could sleep, much less dream, in the uncomfortable looking beds.

Crotalo pointed out the hawk’s eyes on the side of a coffin. The eyes served as protection and reminder that the person can still see outside.

After the museum, we walked to an Italian restaurant for lunch, and I had an amazing eggplant parmigiana.

Magic Turin

Located where three energetic lines intersect, Turin is considered a spiritual place. So, it seemed appropriate that the Savoy royal family, who had a castle in Turin, were interested in magic. They created an alchemy garden under the castle that we visited in the afternoon.

We walked through the castle arch and into a lovely garden. I imagined what it looked like without the crane and apartment building in the background.

The Shroud of Turin

The Savoy royal family owned the Shroud of Turin and agreed to give it to the Pope under one condition. The shroud must remain in Turin-forever. So, for over four centuries the shroud has resided in Turin’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

The Cathedral was closed when we first arrived to see the shroud. Most of our group went for coffee, but a few of us decided to explore a bit while waiting for the Cathedral to open. We didn’t want to get lost and miss meeting our group, so the tall bell tower next to the Cathedral served as a perfect landmark. We never wandered so far that we could not find the bell tower.

Walking around, always in sight of the bell tower, we discovered an outdoor market. Unfortunately, the market was closing by the time we arrived, but an indoor part of the market was still open, and we enjoyed looking around.

We then met the rest of our group in front of the Cathedral and went in to see the shroud. The Cathedral was beautiful and it was interesting to see how they presented the shroud. I remember The Shroud of Turin being the cover story in Time magazine many years ago, so I knew it must be a big deal.

It is a big deal. By far, most people in the Cathedral were visiting the shroud. But, here is the rest of the shroud story. You can’t see the actual shroud. What you see is a copy that hangs above the home of the shroud. And it may not be the real shroud. Carbon dating suggests the shroud is a fake. Actual or not, fake or not, it was a nice final stop in Turin.

The Temples of Humankind

Today we visited The Temples of Humankind, the most well-know part of Damanhur. The totally hand-dug, multi-level temples are located inside the foothills of the Alps. Adorned with sacred symbols, paintings, stained glass and tile, they are unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Begun in 1978 when Damanhur founder Falco Tarassaco and others began excavating deep inside a mountain, they were mostly completed by 1991. Inspiration for building the temples came from visions Falco had of ancient temples when he was eight years old.

The temples were built in secret because they would not have qualified for building permits. When the Italian government discovered the temples and checked them for safety, they found the temples exceeded safety requirements and gave them retroactive approval.

Before entering the temples, we gathered outside the entrance for a group picture.

As we entered the temple we noticed another spiral across the road, Although clouds covered most of the view, the snow-topped Alps are in the distance.

Time in the Temples

We were lucky to be able to spend almost a full day in the temples. In the morning we visited each of them and learned about the art and sacred symbols. We walked through narrow, art-filled hallways and up and down steep stairways to reach each temple.

After lunch, we returned and meditated in each temple. In silence, we moved from temple to temple for each meditation. The gongs, chimes, bowls and voices used during our meditations were the only sounds.

We were not allowed to take pictures, but I don’t think a million pictures could capture the temple’s scale, intricacy and artistry. The pictures below are from on-line articles.


After our powerful and moving day in the temples, we enjoyed a relaxing meal at an Italian (what else!) restaurant. Crotalo recommended a wonderful local red wine.

First Day in Damanhur

After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Milan and boarded mini-vans for a two-hour drive to Vidracco, home of the first city and historical center of Damanhur.

Vidracco will also be our home for the week. Our group of fourteen is staying in apartments in three different buildings in the town. I am sharing an apartment with two other women. Although we each have our own bedroom, we share one bathroom. The back of our apartment overlooks a lovely view of cows and a little stream.

The Damanhur Crea Center

The largest building in Vidracco used to be an Olivetti typewriter factory. Today it houses the Damanhur Crea (a market and cafe), research center, and art shops.

Selet, the showroom for Selfica products crafted at Damanhur is a beautiful shop in the Damanhur Crea Center. Selfica,discovered and developed at Damanhur, is an advanced energy technology for healing and awakening. Some of the selfica items include jewelry, pens, and necklaces.

Exploring Damjl

After a healthy fresh-salad buffet, we traveled to Damjl, the capital of Damanhur. Crotalo and Tigrilla, our guides for the week, led a walking tour of the Open Temple. They also explained the significance of what we saw and gave us an overview of some of the major Damanhurian guiding principles.

Basically, Damanhur is a laboratory for applying spiritual principles to develop a new way to live in peace and harmony. Crotalo explained that Damanhur is not a religion but rather a spiritual philosophy.

The first stop on our walk was the Earth Altar, one of five altars in Damanhur dedicated to the five elements.

Spirals are an important image in Damanhur because they amplify feelings, sensations, and communication with other dimensions. We saw numerous spirals on our walk.

Damanhurians create art everywhere. Murals adorn many of the buildings.

Columns, statues and tile work, all with special meaning, filled the grounds.

After an exciting first day, I realized a week here will introduce me to only small part of what makes Damanhur a special place. People spend years, sometimes a lifetime, learning all the mysteries of Damanhur.

Damanhur, Italy

About a year ago a friend told me about her experiences in Damanhur, a magical place in northern Italy. “I want to go there” I immediately said after hearing her stories. “I think we can make that happen” she immediately responded. Luckily for me, she is a person who makes things happen.

And she makes things happen in a big way. Thanks to the talents and efforts of my amazing friend Bev, fourteen people from the Sarasota, area are traveling together for a special, week-long program in Damanhur.

The Federation of Damanhur is a commune, ecovillage, and spiritual community in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Turino (Turin), Damanhur is an active, multi-lingual community.

History of Damanhur

Italian artist, researcher and healer Falco Tarassaco (1950-2013) founded Damanhur in 1975 as a social and spiritual experiment. Based on solidarity, sharing, love and respect for the environment, Damanhur is both a federation of communities and a worldwide movement that inspires people who want to make a positive mark in the world.

Why Visit Damanhur

The Temples of Humankind are the most famous part of Damanhur. A travel show host called them the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

These beautiful temples, which are entirely dug by hand into the heart of a mountain, are decorated with mosaics, stained glass, sculptures, wall paintings and other works of art.

Of course, I am excited to see the beautiful temples, but I am more excited to live in and learn from a community of people who are dedicated to living in harmony with the earth and all humanity. At a time when peace feels elusive and the future scary, Damanhur feels like the perfect place to visit.

Introducing Damanhur

The more I talked with family and friends about Damanhur, the more I realized how little I knew about this special place. So I was happy to find a short YouTube that gives a nice introduction to Damanhur.

When I was in college, I fantasized about living in a commune. Unfortunately (or maybe not), my sense of responsibility and my parents’ expectations for how I would use my college degree kept me from exploring that fantasy.

Now, more than fifty years later, here I am about to live in a commune for a week. Although I don’t know what my lodging will be like or exactly what I will be doing each day, I know I will love it. Let the adventure begin!

Farewell, Paris

We spent our last few days in Paris enjoying as much of this beautiful city as we could.

After strolling the busy Champs Elysees, we stopped at a little bistro. Looking out the window we noticed a number of young women dressed up and posing for pictures on the corner. One woman dangerously posed in the middle of the intersection.

We could not figure out why people wanted their pictures taken on a busy intersection. Our server told us the Eiffel Tower was visible at the end of the street around the corner. Not quite getting the appeal of that particular spot, we still had to take a picture when we left.

Visiting Our Old Neighborhood

Ten years ago we did our first long-term stay in Paris. We rented an apartment in a lovely residential area in the 16th arrondissement for a month. It was the first time we had ever stayed in one place for so long. I still remember Paul asking me if I would get bored. Silly man. We loved it and weren’t quite ready to come home when it was time to leave.

So, we decided to visit the neighborhood we enjoyed so much. Since it was Sunday, most of the businesses were closed, but we found Le Village d’Auteuil, a lovely bistro right off the square for lunch.

Escaping the cool, rainy day, we sat in the cozy bistro, reminiscing about the wonderful times we had there. Before we left, the sun emerged and we enjoyed a beautiful walk to Place du Trocadero.

Place du Trocadero

Situated across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, Place du Trocadero is a popular spot for a picture-perfect view of the Eiffel Tower.

It also provides a stunning view of the Paris skyline.

I have always seen at least one bride at Place du Trocadero and today was no exception.

However, it is not as picture-perfect as it has been in past years. Place du Trocadero is one of more than seventy construction projects going on in Paris in preparation for the 2024 Olympics.

A bit unsightly now, it will be beautiful when it is completed. Budgeted to cost over 72 million euros, the renovation includes gardens that will stretch from Place du Trocadero across the river to the Eiffel Tower.

Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso

We took a lovely walk through the Luxembourg Gardens to get to the “Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso, The Invention of Language” exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum.

Marking the fiftieth anniversary of Picasso’s death, the museum organized an exhibit on the story of the extraordinary friendship between the two icons of the 20th century.

Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, is known as one of the co-founders of the cubist movement.

Perhaps best know for her famous quotation, “A rose is a rose is a rose”, Gertrude Stein was an American writer. Her early support of Picasso is considered critical to his success. Living in France from 1903 til she died in 1946, Stein influenced many artists of the time. Many of these artists’ works were displayed.

Although it was an interesting exhibit, we were expecting more Picasso and less Stein. There were just a few Picasso paintings displayed.

There was an interesting display of Andy Warhohl’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century. Gertrude Stein is the second picture from the left on the top row.

Last Meals in Paris

On our last day in Paris we wanted our meals to be special. For lunch, we discovered the charming La Crepe Rit du Clown not far from the Luxembourg Museum.

We ate galettes, a type of savory crepe made with buckwheat flour.

After lunch we returned to the museum and had luscious pastries at Mademoiselle Angelina’s Tea Room. Every pastry is a work of art. We almost hated to take a bite of the cubist pastry created by Angelina’s head pastry chef in honor of the Picasso exhibit.

And for dinner, we had-pizza! But not just any pizza. Casa di Peppe, located just 30m from our apartment, is the European champion of Neapolitan pizza. We had tried for days to get a reservation.

We started with a luscious broccoli veloute with tiny pan-fried carrots. Google Translate did not give us a definition for veloute. We expected sauteed vegetables and got a creamy broccoli soup. It was delicious, and now I know what veloute is.

The pizza was good, but the end of the evening was the best part. As we were leaving, I asked the owner if I could take a picture of his huge pizza oven. He took my phone, escorted us to the kitchen and gave me one of the paddles. The cooks gathered round and he took our picture. They were all laughing and having so much fun. I think it must be a wonderful place to work.

It was a perfect ending to our last evening in Paris.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Like I feel at the end of all great trips, I am both sad to leave and happy to be going home. I am going home with wonderful memories of great food, incredible wine, beautiful art and architecture, friendly people (yes, most Parisiennes are friendly) and gracious lifestyles.

And, unlike I feel at the end of other trips, I know I will return. Paris, a bientot!

French Food

We love walking tours and we love food, so a walking food tour sounded perfect for us.

The food tour we selected focused on Le Marais, one of the two districts in Paris to escape the 19th century urban renewal orchestrated by Napoleon III in the 19th century. The Latin Quarter, where we are staying, is the other district.

Because it was overlooked in the 19th century modernization efforts, Le Marais is one of the few Paris neighborhoods to retain its original medieval streets and architecture.

We met Toma, our guide, in a small park in Le Marais to begin our day exploring the hidden gems of small family-run food businesses.


Toma first took us to Poilane, a third-generation bakery that makes traditional bread. Unlike in most other French bakeries there was not a baguette in sight. We tried croissant, pain au chocolat, and shortbread cookies.

I learned that a bakery must bake on-site to use the words “boulangerie” or “patisserie” on their sign. Poilane can not use either designation because it bakes off-site in a big wood-fired oven.

Toma explained why there was a large, somewhat strange-looking box in the tasting room. One of the Poilane sons was friends with Salvador Dali who inspired him to make furniture out of bread. The bread armoire we saw will last about three months and then be replaced with a different bread-dough creation..


Leaving the bakery we walked a short distance to Marche des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris. Established in 1628, the name (Market of the Red Children) refers to the site of an orphanage that was near the market. The children in the orphanage were clothed in red, the sign of charity.

Other than a few exotic fruits, every product in the beautiful market is made in France.

Because there is a large Moroccan influence in Paris, the Moroccan stand was larger than most of the others. We had Moroccan green mint tea, poured the traditional way in a long stream above the cup. Drinking the wonderful tea took me right back to my time in Morocco.

We also tried a Moroccan crepe, a delicious fusion of French and Moroccan cuisine.


My favorite stop of the day was Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier, winner of the best French chocolatier award for 2023-24.

We sampled a milk chocolate, a dark chocolate and a French macaron. I didn’t love macarons until I tried Jean-Paul’s. It was heavenly. Perhaps because a macaron is only good for three days and I’m pretty sure previous ones I had were older than that.

Jewish Quarter

From the chocolate shop we walked to the Jewish Quarter in Le Marais.

After Israel and the US, Le Marais is home to the third largest population of Jewish people. Quaint shops and restaurants line the narrow streets.

We ate bourekas, a little handheld Jewish pie that looked like an empanada. Paul loved it and wanted to return later for another one.


As we walked to our lunch place, we noticed the neighborhood looked familiar. We were surprised to find our food tour stop was where we randomly stopped for lunch the day before. Little did we know that we had previously eaten at such a noteworthy restaurant.

We did not notice the double awning when we were there the day before. Although I didn’t quite understand Toma’s explanation, it is because there are two of chef Xavier Denamur’ five restaurants together on the same corner.

Our delightful server from the day before remembered us and came over to give us a high-five. And surprise, surprise, we had more soup a l’oignon. We loved it the day before, so eating it again was fine with us.


Paris is a wonderfully diverse city whose food culture has been influenced by many ethnic groups. Aleph, where we went after lunch, is a perfect example of this beneficial fusion.

The owner is a Syrian pastry chef who combines elements of Syrian and French pastry traditions to create unique little desserts. We tried an amazing angel-hair filo dough nest with a little dollop of cream on top. Mine was lemon and bergamot.

Hard to believe we had more food to sample, but we did and our next stop was at Lauren Dubois Fromagerie, an amazing cheese shop.

Toma chose three cheeses: compte, brie, and goat cheese with an ash rind.

We then walked to our final stop, a wine shop, to enjoy cheese and wine. In a cozy little room above the wine shop, Toma consulted with the owner and chose a white and a red wine.

Taking bread and cheese from her little red bag, she created a lovely tasting board for us.

We spent almost four hours tasting our way around Le Marais, learning about the wonderful French cuisine.

Baguette Baking Class

I make bread. I make pretty good bread. But I do not make a good baguette. We decided to take a baguette baking class and see if we could recreate the wonderful bread we love here.

We didn’t plan to take the bread class the same day as our food walking tour, but a few days before the class we got an email asking if we could come a day early. Since we had a few hours between the tour and the class, we explored more of Le Marais and enjoyed a cappuccino at a little cafe.

Expecting a large group since we thought we had been added to another group, we were surprised to find we were the only people in the class. And we had two, not one, Parisienne bakers to teach us.

It was a good thing we had one-on-one instruction because working with the dough was trickier than I thought it would be. A big no-no , which I often did, is adding more flour when the dough feels too sticky.

Transferring the baguette on to the linen baking cloth is a delicate process and the only time you don’t need to worry about using too much flour.

Taking the baguette class definitely increased our bread-making confidence. Hopefully our results at home will come close to our class results.

After walking more than eight miles, we returned to our apartment, a little tired and very full. Since we had pretty much been eating non-stop all day, we skipped dinner and instead savored the memory of the wonderful French foods we had eaten .

Notre-Dame de Paris

After our aborted trip to Notre-Dame de Paris yesterday, today we went to visit the iconic cathedral.

Notre-Dame represents the heart of Paris for me. I remember being so moved by the holiness inside the cathedral the first time we visited Paris in 1993 that I returned for a second visit a couple of days later.

Like so many people around the world, I was devastated to see the fires that damaged so much of the cathedral on April 15, 2019. I was anxious to see what had been done to restore Notre-Dame.

As we got closer to the cathedral, I kept looking around each corner for my first glimpse of Notre-Dame. Finally, we turned down a street leading to the cathedral and I saw scaffolding and a giant crane.

The closer we came to Notre-Dame,the more scaffolding and equipment we saw.

Until I saw it, I could not imagine the enormity of the restoration project.

An impressively detailed timeline of the the scope and progress of the restoration project lines the sidewalk by Notre-Dame.

I felt sad about the damage to the cathedral but inspired by the supporters and talented craftspeople who were working together to restore Notre-Dame. Estimates for the restoration cost range from 860 million to over one billion euros. The wealthy French families behind LVMH and Kering pledged 200 million euros and 100 million euros respectively. LVMH owns brands Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.

The crowd visiting Notre-Dame seemed more subdued than in past years. An accordion player by the cathedral added a sweet touch to the day.

Lunch in the Marais

Leaving Notre-Dame we walked to the Marais district for lunch. We found an interesting bistro that promoted food transparency and organic food. I had soupe à l’oignon that was both tasty and healthier than any I had ever eaten.

The busy servers were personable and friendly.

More Adventures with French

After amusing the servers with my French the night before, I was happy to have a more successful communication experience today. Paul wanted to visit some wine shops and see about shipping wine home. I think I asked the right questions and understood the answers, all in French!

I was a little humbled when went to get cheese for dinner, however. Communicating what we wanted was no problem, but I did not communicate very well when it came to how much we wanted. No matter what I said, the fromager seemed to be telling us he couldn’t give us a larger amount. It was definitely a “lost in translation” moment. In spite of my French challenges in the cheese shop, we went home with enough cheese for a lovely dinner.


Once again, being flexible saved the day. We started the day walking to Notre Dame de Paris to see the cathedral restoration progress. About ten minutes into our walk, the rain started, the wind blew and the temperature dropped.

Just as we were questioning if we wanted to spend the day outside, we passed the Pantheon. An intriguing art exhibit poster outside the building caught our eye and we decided to change our plans.

After joining the queue to enter the Pantheon, we looked around and saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

The Pantheon (temple to all gods) has an interesting history. Louis XV originally intended it to be a church honoring St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.

However, before it was finished the French Revolution had started, and the Pantheon was transformed into a mausoleum for distinguished French citizens.

Entering the beautiful 18th century building, we immediately noticed the beautiful dome in the middle.

A pendulum hangs from the highest point of the dome. It is a copy of the one used by Leon Foucault at the Pantheon in 1851 to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.

La Convention Nationale, the Pantheon’s major sculpture is at the far end. It features soldiers on the right and the National Convention on the left. It was this National Convention who ordered the executions of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette in 1793.

After touring the main level, we carefully walked down a steep, narrow spiral staircase to the crypt below.

Interment in the Pantheon’s crypt requires a parliamentary act for “National Heroes.” Currently the remains of seventy-five men and six women are interred there. The most famous are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and Marie and Pierre Curie.

Special Art Exhibit at the Pantheon

Since a number of the great names honored by the Pantheon shared a commitment to abolishing slavery, the National Monuments Center organized a two-part exhibition focused on the fight against slavery.

We Could Be Heroes, the first part, is currently on display. Raphael Barontini’s colorful and monumental installation creates an “imaginary pantheon.”

I loved the special art exhibit and felt it added an unexpected delight to our Pantheon visit.

Lovely Afternoon

By the time we left the Pantheon, the rain had mostly stopped and we found a place to have a light lunch. Because the few inside tables were full, we sat outside. My dear husband, whose comfort range for outside dining is about five degrees, almost happily stepped out of his comfort zone and ate in the fifty-five degree weather . I think he is becoming more French.

After lunch we strolled around the Marais district and discovered another little outdoor market.

We ended our day with a lovely dinner at Madamador. Although it doesn’t happen as frequently as before, both the hostess and the server greeted my French with an amused smile. They were kind and I honestly think the French appreciate my humble attempts with their language.