Re­turn­ing to Paris with en­thu­si­asm

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - RON PRADINUK

AF­TER re­turn­ing from Paris in early Oc­to­ber of this past year, I wrote about my en­thu­si­asm for the peo­ple and the places we vis­ited. Then in Novem­ber the ter­ror­ist bomb­ings took place that shook the coun­try, along with the rest of the world. At that time I wrote I had made it my de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­turn to that coun­try and city as soon as I pos­si­bly could. And now by pure co­in­ci­dence the op­por­tu­nity has pre­sented it­self. Even as you read this column to­day, I will be tak­ing in many of the im­por­tant lo­ca­tions on the western front of the First World War. My visit is in re­sponse to an in­vi­ta­tion from the French Tourism Board. Next year is the cen­te­nary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It, along with other bat­tles, saw more than 11,000 Cana­dian lives lost on French soil dur­ing what be­came known as the Great War. While the visit is to com­mem­o­rate the sac­ri­fices of the First World War, the re­gion is filled with other sites of his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern sig­nif­i­cance. The Notre Dame Cathe­dral of Amiens is listed as a UNESCO World Her­itage site. The Hor­tillon­nages float­ing gar­dens have been cul­ti­vated since the Mid­dle Ages and the new Lou­vre-Lens Mu­seum is a com­ple­ment to its Paris cousin. Un­like the tra­di­tional older build­ing hous­ing the Lou­vre in Paris, this one is a sin­gle­storey blend of glass and metal, set in a land­scaped park on the site of an old pit­head in Lens. While in Europe, I will take the op­por­tu­nity to visit the gravesite of an un­cle rest­ing in the Holten Cana­dian ceme­tery in the Nether­lands. Like France, and much of the rest of Europe, they have shown their grat­i­tude to rest of the world by work­ing with the many na­tions who helped in­sure their free­dom over two world wars, by keep­ing up the main­te­nance of the ceme­ter­ies and the sites of the most his­toric bat­tles. And dur­ing this trip, I cer­tainly will spend a few days in Paris. Over the next weeks I will re­port on those ex­pe­ri­ences. for at this stage, in the United States air car­ri­ers are ex­pect­ing a ban­ner year. Book­ings for most air­lines are very solid, and other than con­cerns about long line­ups at se­cu­rity, U.S. based air­lines are giddy at the prospects of achiev­ing all time high rev­enues and prof­its. Oil prices are down, as are fares to some de­gree, and there seems to be an air of con­fi­dence in that na­tion that is show­ing it­self in a will­ing­ness to travel. There are some signs that Cana­di­ans may be spend­ing more time vis­it­ing their own coun­try this year. This of­ten trans­lates more into tire trade busi­ness than air­line book­ings. Yet I have a sense that our most east­ern prov­inces may be sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fi­cia­ries this year. This is a con­clu­sion drawn by ob­ser­va­tion and not backed by re­search. The num­bers of peo­ple who have told me they will be go­ing to Nova Sco­tia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick this year has sur­prised me. For those who are not choos­ing to take a longer dis­tance jour­ney this sum­mer, a Man­i­toba stay­ca­tion can be a per­fect al­ter­na­tive. With all our fairs and fes­ti­vals it is easy to find some­thing new and dif­fer­ent to do ev­ery week from now un­til late fall.


Per­haps this sum­mer you’ll va­ca­tion on the East coast?

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