La joie de vivre

Last week was BC’s Fall break, and many of our group went to France, including us Ramages. After Italy, France is perhaps our favorite country to visit. It has so much culture, so much Catholic history, so much good food, and so much else to offer. Being in France one experiences the joie de vivre, “the joy of living.”

We had planned to visit the prehistoric caves at Lascaux in the south of France, but the trains all got booked up and we “had to” stay in Paris most of the trip except for a day trip to Chartres and our last day in Toulouse. Here are some highlights of the trip, and then you can enjoy the pictures that hopefully tell the story better:

  • Jen and I commemorated our very first date in the same restaurant in Chartres, 6 years and 2 kids later
  • Visiting Toulouse and its Eglise des Jacobins, where we knelt before the tomb of St. Thomas Aquinas and prayed for his intercession
  • Getting to browse Notre Dame cathedral without a tour group and without an agenda. Lots of time soaking in the stained glass and ornate colored wood carvings on the inside, and figuring out the figures and gargoyles carved on the outside. Getting to walk around the grounds meditatively with our family, enjoying the scenic Seine river and the church’s famous flying buttresses.
  • Walking through the Rodin Museum and its lush gardens lined with statues. I was never interested in modern sculpture before, but I developed a fascinating with this 19th-century impressionist sculptor once I learned that some of his key works were inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. The gardens also offer a great view of the Eiffel Tower with The Thinker in the foreground.
  • The astounding stained glass in Sainte Chapelle, a chapel virtually encircled in glass and built by St. Louis to house the crown of thorns.
  • The Cluny medieval museum in Paris where you can see alot of great pieces up close instead of being 100 feet below them. The museum was built on Roman baths, which also gives you an indication of Paris’ place in world history.
  • Eating “fast food” crepes, croque monsieurs, croque madames in Parisian parks, and eating a few nice meals in Parisian restaurant.
  • The Eiffel Tower, sparkling gloriously in the night at the top of evening hours
  • Musee D’Orsay, where we got to spend quality time in front of Van Goghs, Monets, and Rodins among others
  • The Louvure: we spent 7 hours in this place with 2 kids! It boasts collections from Egypt, Rome, Greece, ancient Mesopotamia (biblical period and earlier findings), the Renaissance, and more. Best of all: we got to skip the hour-long security line twice because we had kids.
I have so many pictures relevant to my teaching and to the faith from this trip, I feel sorry for my students who are going to get inundated with all of my glorious illustrations inspired by this trip! Thanks to Benedictine College for offering us the opportunity to be over here, to teach great material, and to be with great students, to be students ourselves for a semester.

Matthew Ramage



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