Fans of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the novel and the musical, should recognize this name on the Arc de Triomphe: Lamarque. The Paris riots that followed the funeral of General Jean Maximilien Lamarque is central to Les Misérables in that it provided Valjean the opportunity to save Javert and Marius Pontmercy.
These buildings are located just to the right of the San Mateo-Hayward bridge. In the minutes before sunrise, the illumination from the building lights pair well with the emerging sunrise and the reflection in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.
I had to look up these buildings on Google Maps and they appear to be part of the Gilead Sciences campus in Foster City, California.
During lunch, I saw a Lockheed C-130 Hercules circling around Moffett Field. I think the plane was performing a touch and go because I would see it descend and take-off shortly after. Because the landing was obscured by the surrounding buildings, I was not 100% certain.
During one of its revolutions, another plane took off from Moffett Field. I was tracking the C-130 through the viewfinder and the appearance of another plane startled me.
I saw the C-130 Hercules take off from Moffett Field a few times. This photo has a mix of the old and new. Google is building its Bay View campus in the foreground while Moffett Federal Airfield Hangar 2 and 3 are in the background. At the top of the mountain, you can even see Lick Observatory.
On a quiet morning, I stopped by the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge just before sunrise. I could see some cars beginning their daily commute across the bridge while the sky was faintly illuminated in pink and purple hues. The water was glassy and still, except for a few early rising ducks who were already gliding across the San Francisco Bay.
Take the Ouigo Train to Rennes. From the Paris Montparnasse station, SNCF offers a number of direct TGV trains to Rennes. The lowest cost option is the morning Ouigo train, which costs about $20 for a one-way ticket. The regular SNCF trains are much more expensive and cost $80-100 for a one-way ticket.
Download the Ouigo App. The Ouigo train I traveled on was clean and comfortable. I paid a nominal fee for the large luggage I brought on board and also opted for the seats with an electrical outlet. Installing the Ouigo app was essential since I did not have access to a printer. I could just show my boarding pass from my phone.
Rennes to Mont Saint-Michel Bus. The journey from Rennes train station (Gare de Rennes) to Mont Saint-Michel is serviced by a bus that runs four times a day: 9h45, 11h45, 12h45 and 16h45. So, the morning Ouigo train (7h06 – 9h07) is perfect for catching one of the connecting buses. The noon Ouigo train (12h14 – 13h53), on the other hand, drops off passengers right in the middle of the afternoon gap. If you don’t want to wait 3 hours, then the alternatives are hiring a private car or renting a car.
Tidal Schedule. The Mont Saint-Michel Tourist Office publishes a tide schedule, if you want to plan your visit around high tide. I visited during low tide and it was quite dry around the island, except for that sliver of water I found that created the perfect reflection.
Hotels. Staying overnight at Le Mont-Saint-Michel offers a number of advantages. In the evening, once the crowds depart, the restaurants and shops begin closing and the streets empty. As the pace slows, I was able to walk around the island without having to navigate through a sea of fellow tourists. During these hours, it’s easier to compose photos with nobody in them.
Shuttle Bus. The complimentary navette travels from the parking lot to Mont Saint-Michel, with a stop at the off-island hotels and restaurants. The bus (and pedestrians) both cause vibrations on the bridge as they pass by. If you are using a tripod for long exposure photos, you need to take that into account.
I.M. Pei’s iconic pyramid marks the entrance to the Louvre museum. In the evening, tourists saunter around the courtyard taking selfies, while illuminated by the soft glow emanating from the pyramid. With the water fountain and reflecting pools, the Louvre is a photographer’s delight at night.
After departing the Louvre, I crossed the street and entered into Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois. This was not a planned destination, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Unlike Notre-Dame or Sainte-Chapelle, this gem was quiet and contemplative with little foot traffic. Perfect for taking a few photos.
The brilliant stained glass windows greeted me as I walked into the church. Usually, I am completely focused on what is ahead that I forget to turn around and see the organ. This time I remembered.
The Louvre Museum always presents a spectacular view. The challenge when approaching this location is dealing with the multitude of tourists that congregate here, even after the museum has closed. On a recent visit, the regulars were joined by numerous couples taking engagement and wedding photos, along with their photographer, assistant, and assorted flash paraphernalia.
Waiting for that brief moment for the scene to clear requires a touch of patience.