France  (August 15-22, 2007)
Dear Readers,

Thank you again for visiting my journal. This past week provided a truly memorable experience. I was invited to give a concert at the historic and magnificent castle of central France, Ainay-le-Vieil. It was part of a 3-day festival and I was to give a recital the opening night. To top it off, the festival performers had the privilege of living in the castle during their stay - a most unique experience offered to no one else. The castle dates back to the 13th century, so to get to live and sleep in such a place, among its original furniture and antiques, is certainly one I'll long remember. For the remainder of my time I was free to explore the castle, roam around the town, and get to know some terrific people.

I was due to fly back to Chicago on the 20th, but (being my birthday), I decided to spend the day exploring Paris, something I haven't done in a very long time. Obviously, one day is not much to see one of the most beautiful cities, so I set out bright and early and decided to spend the day on foot, experiencing as much as I could. The morning took me by the Louvre (unfortunately closed), followed by Sainte-Chapelle and then Notre-Dame Cathedral - which provides a truly incredible view of the city from the north tower (as well as of some most intriguing gargoyles). Much of the afternoon was spent exploring the bustling and always-interesting winding streets of the Latin Quarter, until finally walking west along the Seine toward the Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, and (of course) Eiffel Tower. As it started to get dark, I headed back to where I started the day, only to witness the city transform at sunset into an even more energetic and lively place. Actually, it's quite surprising how much you can do in one day!

It's now 7am and I'm sitting at the Paris airport about to board my flight for London. Seems it's time to go, so sorry for the rather short entry, though I hope you enjoy the photos! Thanks again for visiting my website, and until next time...

Yours truly,
Ashu

Ainay-le-Vieil
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Inside the castle
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In front of the castle
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From the castle entrance
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Inside the courtyard From the castle rampart The castle's moat
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Behind the Chateau Outside the exterior walls Gated entrance
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Inside my room Stone staircase Decorated ceilings
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Stained glass windows Living room One of the gardens
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Another garden Extension of the moat Local market day
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Fresh strawberries Cheese selection Leaving the castle, wine county
Paris, France
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the Seine Louvre in the morning another view at dawn
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The glass pyramid Notre-Dame Elaborate entrance
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Famous stained glass window Another view Looking up
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A mocking gargoyle A pensive gargoyle View from atop Notre-Dame
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View of the Seine The Louvre, at dusk The Obelisk of Luxor
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Champs-Elysées Arc de Triomphe Eiffel Tower
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From below Architectural marvel Bridge over the Seine
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View from Pont Neuf the Latin Quarter Flying over London
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