28 December 2008

The Most Beautiful Picture Ever Taken

Memories may be ephemeral but photographs are not. Of all the photographs taken during my life, this picture is the most beautiful. It was taken in Giverny, France at the home of Claude Monet. The day started as a rainy, mostly overcast day before we got on the train then the short bus ride to his home. Once there, the sun came out and made it clear to me why Monet loved his home and made it the backdrop for many of his paintings. Every step provided a different view of the property and a potential painting. For those of you who have been there, you know what I mean and for the rest, I encourage you to go. If not for the freeway adjacent to Monet's property, it would have been exactly as it was way back when he lived there.

I have to admit that France is a country of beauty, and of the 95 countries I have been to, it is certainly one of the most amasing. Paris, not only the captial of France, but a world capital, may seem daunting at first, particularly so if you do not have a command of French, but eventually it becomes easy to explore. The Metro system could not be easier, especially if you are able to learn from your mistakes. Dining is to Paris what green and rain are to Ireland. My favourite section of Paris is Montmarte because it presents the greatest variety of shops, cuisine and things to see other than touristy views.

I remember feeling that I would not love Paris, or France before my first trip, but I was wrong - way wrong. From walking along the Seine; being at the top of the Eiffel Tower or sitting in Jardins et Palais du Luxembourg -- there is no one single place in the world which presents a greater array of beauty. I have been fortunate enough to have been to Paris at least ten times and to have seen a great deal of Paris during those visits. I don't know if I will ever return, but I will always have great memories. The best moments in my life.