Europe 1979 – 15 – France and Back to Britain

Betty sitting on a ledge over a bay in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo

Our tour included a stop in Monte Carlo. Here I remember walking through a casino and being shown rooms where only the wealthiest of the wealthy could go.

I had a picture of the inside of one of those rooms, but I couldn’t find it. Just kidding! I have no idea of what the inside of one of those rooms looked like. We were only told about these very private rooms. The only place I’ve gone in a casino is the buffet, and that’s only if there’s a deal available.

Our next stop was France. Our border crossing into France was in stark contrast to when we entered East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Going into the eastern communist countries involved hours of waiting and being given serious instructions for when the border agents entered our bus.

Entering France felt like a party. It probably took two minutes – long enough for the border agent to enter our bus and look down the aisles at all the passengers. I remember the agent, who was male, saying, “There’s a lot of pretty girls on this bus. You’ll have to leave a couple of them here, and then you can continue on.” Then with a laugh and a wave, we were off. No one even looked at our passports.

Fruit market
Nice, France 1979

In the morning when we woke up in Nice, we heard a lot of commotion. We looked out our hotel room window, and there was a fruit market! It only was there for the morning though. We hurried down and bought some fruit.

Whatever street our hotel was on led to the riviera. And whatever street that was, was lined with shops. For some reason, the “dress” shoes I had brought along on the trip had broken, and for some reason, I felt I needed to replace them – in France. I walked up and down that street going into various stores. Of course, the timing was tricky as many of the shops were closed during the traditional afternoon siesta. I shopped early in the afternoon, went to the beach, and went back to some shops later.

The price of a pair of shoes was exorbitant, but eventually I found a pair I could afford. Those shoes were just okay, but since they came from Nice, I kept them a long time after my trip, wearing them out, and getting my money’s worth.

Most of our group went to the beach in the afternoon. Of course, there was talk that women were allowed to go topless here. The riviera was crowded, and yes, there were some women who were topless while sunbathing on the beach. Later, talk on the bus was that some of our own had followed that famous saying, “When in Rome…”, except instead of Rome, it was Nice.

After Nice, we went to Paris. We visited the Palace of Versailles. According to Google, the Palace of Versailles started out as a hunting lodge, and became a true palace under Louis XIV. The purpose, back then, was to show off his wealth. I guess it is impressive, but opulence for opulence sake doesn’t impress me. I liked the gardens the best.

Gardens at the Palace of Versailles
1979

I’m not sure where we stayed in Paris, but the view out our hotel window was a train station.

View outside hotel room window showing a train station
Paris, France
1979

We visited the Eiffel Tower, and I went all the way to the top.

View from Eiffel Tower showing Arc de Triumph
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
1979
Blurred picture of Betty with lit up Eiffel Tower in the background

We visited Notre Dame. The pictures I took attest to my love of stained glass as well as symmetry. I love how light shines through glass, and I love the calm order of symmetry. Even after 42 years, I still like the same things.

Outside of Notre Dame's stained glass rose window
Circular Rose Window
at Notre Dame
View inside of Notre Dame's stained glass rose window
Inside of Circular Rose Window
at Notre Dame

This next picture isn’t very good at all. However, it is the area damaged by the fire in April 2019. Here is an article about the fire. The article includes a much better before picture as well as pictures after the fire. The article also has a picture of the rose window lit up by the flames.

View inside Notre Dame.  The picture is pretty dark but does show three stained glass windows.
The Arc de Triumph.  The picture is very slanted.

In the evening, we attended a show at the Moulan Rouge in Paris. There we saw an extravagant show with amazing sets and costumes. A few of the dancers were topless. I remember seeing a woman swinging on a vine in a jungle scene and thinking, “I think she’s topless.” Like the riviera in Nice, the show wasn’t bawdy or sexual at all. It was just that way.

After Paris, we headed back to Britain. Our last night was spent in Brighton. All I remember about Brighton is that we tried to stay up all night to savor every moment with the friends we had made on this wonderful tour of Europe.

I know there is much I have forgotten, and I know I don’t have the exact order of locations visited. A few memories didn’t quite fit in along the way.

Like the time in Germany when we were in a restaurant and no one spoke English. There I ordered a hamburger and was surprised when I got a ham sandwich.

Or the time we celebrated the 4th of July at the American Embassy in Vienna. There we had a free meal – maybe hot dogs and hamburgers – and most memorably – free soda! A can of soda cost $1 back then. We asked if we could take some with us when we left, and we were encouraged to do so – as there was plenty. I think we all stuffed as many cans of soda that we could into our pockets and purses if we had them. We felt like we were in one of the private rooms in Monte Carlo and had hit it big!

But you know. We had hit it big. We were young, college kids visiting Europe in 1979. How lucky we were to do and to see all that we did.

I am so glad I had you, my dear readers, along for my journey back. Like my first trip, I was a bit cautious. I wasn’t sure any of you would be interested in a trip I took way back in 1979! But you all added to my journey back with your comments and your insight. You made it fun and enjoyable. Plus, I learned a few things along the way. Thank you!

View of the sun setting over an ocean
Waiting in the harbor
Ostend, Belgium

29 comments

  1. What a fantastic way to close this series, Betty! I felt as though I was right there with you … searching for “dress” shoes in Nice, visiting the Moulin Rouge … all of it. Thanks for taking us along on this wonderful time travel adventure to Europe in the 70’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Terry. And you are so welcome. You all have made it a joy to write and share these memories. I hope someday to be reading a post from you about your visit to Switzerland. Hope you have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I sure hope too that someday you’ll read a post from me about a visit to Switzerland. The way things are looking in Europe these days, that could be farther off than I had imagined it would be.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I did keep in touch for a while with a couple of the friends. But as time went on, we lost touch. It would be fun if we ever did reconnect. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Hope you have a great week ahead!

      Like

  2. What a perfect ending to the story! I believe it is interesting as well as educational, to see places through the eyes of others. Thank you for sharing the journey–the sunset picture of the harbor is mesmerizing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome. It was also interesting to see the trip through the perspective of today – with all the changes – like those in Germany, Czechoslovakia and others. Have a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Cathy! I enjoy reading about your current adventure – which is a huge one! Looks like you are making awesome progress on your home. Have a great week!

      Like

  3. What a lovely end of the trip. In those days you certainly have seen the most amazing and famous sites. It was a pleasure to go on this trip with you and read about your impressions. Great fun and surely for you remembeing a lot and bringing back memories. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I did have fun remembering. I had to laugh when I thought about how we stuffed cans of soda in our bags and pockets! Hope you have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Betty, thanks so much for bringing us along on your reminiscence of your trip. I thoroughly enjoyed it particularly all of your photos. I have been to Europe many times but no where the number of different places you went on this trip. What an incredible journey as a college student you were able to take. It is wonderful to have all those memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, David. Remembering this trip has me thinking about maybe someday visiting Europe again. I am so glad I took that trip,and now I am glad I captured some of the memories on my blog. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved reading all of your posts on Europe. A trip to Europe was never in the cards for me at that age, so I enjoyed riding beside you on the bus and taking in the sites.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You mentioned how lucky you were to visit Europe in 1979. I agree. Separated by an ocean, Europe, especially in 1979, was an expense most could not afford and the time needed to make such an trip was not available to most working people. You did it as a young student. I did it years later as a retired Grampa.

    I loved following along as you told you story. It brought back memories of places like the Eiffel Tower. We also went to the top. I wonder if you took the stairs like we did? There was only one elevator working and the line was half a mile long to ride it. So Grammi and I took the 674 steps to the second floor. From there we rode up to the top where we could see all of Paris.

    We are indeed the lucky ones. I count my blessings everyday. I hope you go back someday and retrace your adventure. That would be a story to tell. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I took the stairs. I was twenty. It wasn’t a big deal then! But even now, I’d take the stairs. I’d go slower, but I’d take the stairs. And probably some Tylenol, too. 🙂 It was a wonderful adventure. Who knows what the future holds? It’s possible Dan and I would visit Europe. But for now, we are focusing on our travel trailer travels. I’d love to see and do even a fraction of all that you and Grammi have seen and done. Whatever Dan and I are able to do will be a blessing from above that for which we are ever grateful. I know you are, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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