Monday, May 29, 2023

Bonjour Paris, SNCF, Travel Experiences


I came back to Paris Sunday Afternoon. 

Bonjour Notre Dame ๐Ÿ‘‹ Very warm with lots of pleasure boats on the Seine.

My departure from Toulouse train station was at midi/12:29 & almost uneventful. I’d still be waiting for the bus ๐ŸšŒ but Bonnie (my long-distance tour guide) told me my hotel was just a 10-minute walk to the Gare/train station so I hoofed it. 
It was HOT ๐Ÿฅต 

The TGV to Paris was delayed 15 minutes ⏰ Plus we had to change tracks ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ  I didn’t see much fashion in Toulouse…except this cool Parisian waiting with the rest of us. It was HOT HOT ๐Ÿฅต 

I’d forgotten to bring a hand fan. ALWAYS an essential in France in the summertime ๐Ÿ‘ AC/air-conditioning is a rarity except in supermarchรฉs & on the Riviera.

SNCF kindly gave everyone free water bottles ๐Ÿคธ‍♂️

My car was voiture #13 (my lucky ๐Ÿ€ number ๐Ÿคธ‍♂️) seat 62. I was stuck way in the back, facing the wrong direction, next to a window ๐ŸชŸ & beside a guy who wanted to put his head down on the traytable & sleep ๐Ÿ’ค ๐Ÿ˜ต‍๐Ÿ’ซ

Not so lucky for someone who wanted to paint ๐ŸŽจ during a 5-hour train ride. Plus get up & down constantly to avoid getting even more SCIATICA !! 

Luckily ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿคž๐Ÿ‘I found 2 empty seats ๐Ÿคธ‍♂️and spread out

And got cracking ๐ŸŽจ

Painting non-stop till we arrived at Austerlitz station

A couple of years ago I won a prize ๐Ÿ† from SNCF for the
 Dans Le TGV contest  'things you do on the train' = 200€ of travel vouchers! I went to Nice ❤️ ๐ŸŒด 

If there had been a train painting contest yesterday I would have won it ๐Ÿ˜‚ I was In the FLOW State. Time raced by.

Plus Toulouse was beautiful & inspiring. 

Watercolor has always been famous for it’s
portability ๐Ÿงณ 
You can still find antique travel paintboxes at Green & Stone in London. So many artists, particularly the Brits, traveled the continent and painted like mad.

I used to have a nice collection of small travel paintboxes

But mostly they are impractical, useless toys. I need more paint, more colors then these tiny tins can provide. But watercolor newbies keep falling in love ❤️ with them. Buyer beware

I was moaning how my hotel room was bare 
bones, yet with very little space and no distractions (no pictures on the wall) you can setup, paint and get in the flow!

While back at home, I’m surrounded by too much stuff. Chaos ๐Ÿ˜ต‍๐Ÿ’ซ Why is it always like this when you return from a trip? Does this happen to you? The simplicity of a hotel room vs. your home living space ๐Ÿ  

What to do? 
Time to throw out stuff? Yes!๐Ÿ‘

Travel is full of surprises. You go off with well-laid plans. Then everything changes. 
I was planning to sketch only in these little Clairefontaine notebooks ๐Ÿ““ I never touched em. 
Instead I went to the art store in Toulouse & bought big sheets of watercolor paper & got into the flow๐Ÿ‘ (*buying individual sheets of paper is cheaper and better quality than buying bound sketchbooks in my opinion).
What kind of unexpected changes have you experienced traveling, dear PBers?
Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast! If you liked this post & want to support it, buy my Paris letters and watercolors or forward to someone who might enjoy it. Cheers, Carolg ❤️


  1. Anonymous6:00 AM

    WONDERFUL! Anabel

    1. Anonymous7:23 AM

      Thanks darlig ☺️

  2. Anonymous6:40 AM

    I am a totally different kind of traveler…I research the place to death! ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿป
    With Google maps of course. ๐Ÿ˜
    I know everything about where we are staying; stores, restos, bus routes. ๐Ÿ—บ
    You’re a more adventurous by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of traveler. ๐Ÿงณ Chelmsley

    1. Anonymous6:53 AM

      I used to be like that - I was the Map ๐Ÿ—บ️ Queen ๐Ÿ‘‘
      I lost my skills & the free time to research ๐Ÿ”ฌ ๐Ÿ˜ต‍๐Ÿ’ซ when I moved ๐Ÿงณ to Paris
      Not that as if PLANNING AHEAD was ever a skill with me.
      Bonjour ADHD

  3. Anonymous6:41 AM

    I wonder if every travel destination falls short for you because you’re already living in paradise…or close to it! ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Paris has it all…everything you need; food, art, beauty, familiarity. Dorrance

    1. Anonymous6:43 AM

      Even living in wonderful, beautiful Paris, you still need a change of scene to wake you up ๐Ÿคธ‍♂️
      If anything I need to get away more often ๐Ÿ‘ PB

  4. Sounds like you had a fun trip! I totally forgot that it must have been warmer down in Toulouse...good you had AC in your room! And happy you found a two seat on the train so you could paint and take some breaks to stretch your legs <3 those breaks are important! Beautiful paintings of the buildings and the doors in Toulouse, the colors are gorgeous! Xx, Solli

    1. Anonymous6:49 AM

      Thanks Solli ❤️ I let loose with the paint ๐ŸŽจ
      Toulouse was inspiring
      No I did not have AC in the room! but fortunately it was comfortable enough
      And very good for painting PB

  5. Anonymous6:45 AM

    I am totally useless in heat. ๐Ÿฅต
    Not my optimal time to travel
    Much prefer chilling in my hammock by a lake ๐Ÿ– Lara

    1. Anonymous6:46 AM

      Oh me too ๐Ÿ™ Give me a pool or the ocean or a lake
      Anything but hot streets with not much shade ๐ŸŒณ ๐Ÿ™ PB

  6. I love how you share your spontaneous and intuitive process. Your « studio space » looks like a mirror of my own. No matter how hard I try, or how much space I have, it always fills up like a hodge podge! But how the time flies painting on the plane tray or anywhere, sometimes from the screen on my point and shoot. But isn’t it exciting?! Will you have a post on Urban Sketchers? Love that you opted to paint on larger wc paper…in the flow. Thanks you for taking us with you.

    1. Anonymous7:22 AM

      Glad to hear from a fellow messy artiste Jerie ๐Ÿ‘
      I did not get to participate in the various USK events
      The thought of joining 900 people at a picnic or a sketchwalk was daunting, considering the sciatica could kick in at any moment :((
      I’m much better now, but I missed out.
      The same thing happened at the Amsterdam USK event - there was a heatwave & I stayed in my room awith the AC & missed out.
      I am not the most sociable animal ๐Ÿฆ” ๐Ÿ˜ต‍๐Ÿ’ซ

    2. Anonymous7:23 AM

      You can find more pictures & info on USKToulouse instagram !!

  7. Not certain what kind of a traveler I would be now as I haven’t traveled anywhere in some time. I was not a flaneur in Paris. Had to have everything mapped out. After so many trips I felt I knew the city well enough that I could have and should have ambled around. Old habits are hard to break! You always amaze me with how you can paint even in the smallest spaces and turn out such lovely work. Glad you went and glad you are home.

  8. Anonymous7:15 AM

    What are your impressions of Toulouse? Could you see yourself returning?? BL

  9. Anonymous7:25 AM

    I Love ❤️ seeing again the Cool Parisian in the last picture to mark the end of your story

  10. Loving everything in this post, Carol -- especially the fact that you can paint on a train and have it turn out the way you want (versus not "oopsie!" Or are they happy accidents?) Those blue doors are to die for. They remind me of the blue doors leading from rue du Temple into my friend Jerry's old courtyard in his previous apartment. Sigh. And loved seeing your watercolor palette array. I'm with you on the small travel sizes. I have some of those two and the only time I ever really use them is for one color in one of them that is hard to match or mix. I'm not world's best mixer, though working on it. And know what you mean about simple space for working -- it's why I'm more productive at the cottage; fewer visual (and other) distractions. Trying to go through those simplification tasks at home -- it's harder than it looks!

  11. Bonnie L8:47 AM

    Re the ‘cool Parisian’, how do they stay all buttoned up in jackets & scarves in such warm weather and never break a sweat?? I want her secret!

    Glad you are home with a new perspective on chez vous…that’s what travel is all about, non?…gaining a new perspective?

    Love your Toulouse watercolors. You’ve really captured the colors of La Ville Rose. ❤️

  12. Anonymous9:17 AM

    I always take my travel paint kits on excursions. I am interested in what sets you use the most. I could not tell by the photos. I am thinking you fill empty pans with your choice of colors???
    BTW-your photos of your supplies would make a nice watercolor itself!

    1. Anonymous11:44 AM

      I will show my paintbox soon
      I use mostly old fashioned Winsor & Newton large full-size pans - some I fill myself or buy ready filled pans. Nothing too fancy. I learned the basics and more from David Dewey in class and from his book, The watercolor book ๐Ÿ“• still available on Amazon ☺️

  13. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Carol, do you have breakfast out most mornings in Paris?
    Is a small salad usually included?

    My favorite breakfast is a veggie omelette egg whites.

    dry cappuccino

    enjoy your emails. Kirk

    1. Anonymous10:16 AM

      N O !
      Only on special occasions or for Research ๐Ÿ”ฌ ๐Ÿฅ ☕️
      I get up too early for places to be open..4:30am is late for me PB

  14. Anonymous10:50 AM

    I wouldn't paint in a public transportation to avoid disturbing other travellers. I read a book or just relax.

    1. Anonymous11:36 AM

      How would I be disturbing others?
      I wasn’t making a lot of noise like the yowling cat going to Toulouse
      Watercolor is not smelly like oil paints ๐ŸŽจ
      Most passengers were sleeping & could care less.
      Not one person said anything to me one way or the other ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

    2. Anonymous11:38 AM

      And I think it would provide wonderful entertainment! Most normal people would love to see it on public transportation. Paint on, Carol!

    3. Anonymous11:39 AM

      THANKS ๐Ÿ‘

  15. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Such a joy to travel thru France with your blog. I truly admire your watercolors, you make it look so effortless.

    1. Anonymous11:39 AM

      The perfect watercolor compliment ๐Ÿ‘
      Watercolor needs to LOOK easy but takes years of practice ☺️

  16. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Really enjoyed your travel shares, Carol! Can see you had an inspiring and lovely time. Actually, you painting corner at the hotel seemed quite nice! Thanks for sharing! Enjoy the summer...Carol in plaino Plano TX

    1. Anonymous12:54 PM

      Thank you ☺️
      I’m trying hard to make my home PAINTING CORNER more open & less cluttered ๐Ÿ‘ like at the hotel

  17. Anonymous1:05 PM

    I love to knit on the train. But I’ve also been known to journal and occasionally sketch.

  18. Anonymous9:12 PM


  19. Anonymous11:46 PM

    The Senior train pass is great! It pays for itself quickly (49€)
    Have you been to Grasse?
    I love your architectural paintings!

    1. Anonymous11:48 PM

      Thank you
      I visited last year & did a post on Grasse
      I would love to go back!

  20. So impressed that the TGV has a great (and rewarding!) competition for Things You Do On the Train :) and that you won it! I cannot imagine our sad and dilapidated railway system in Oz doing anything that innovative and fun. Also impressed by your painting on the move skills :))

    1. Anonymous1:23 AM

      Trains are of HUGE importance in France.
      One of the great things about living here and I don’t take advantage enough or I would be off somewhere every weekend!
      There are so many Pont holidays/bridge or 3-day vacations in addition to the big 2-month summer vacance and trains are often the best, most reasonable way to go. They are well-supported by the Govt. Plus the French like to travel within France. Trains ๐ŸšŠ are IT! ☺️

    2. Anonymous1:24 AM

      The funny thing is the slightly rocking train makes for better paint marks !

  21. I loved this post - my father went to Paris in the late 1920s to study art - a kid from North Carolina who spoke no French, got on a ship with another budding artist and they went to Paris. Very brave, in my opinion! He studied at l'Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and traveled south to Cassis and environs. He painted watercolors and I still have a large pile of them, with several framed in my house -- and treasured. I love the colors and textures of the watercolors. He went on to teach art, design insignia for the Air Force during WWII, and own a small graphic design firm. When he retired, he started painting again and teaching. Thank you for this post -- and for reminding me to appreciate him today.


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