Upon our return to Metz on Wednesday from Rheims, we began the process of packing up our suitcases and bidding farewell to a city that we enjoyed so much. We went to the Metz Synagogue yesterday and met with the Grand Rabbi to thank him for the warmth of his community; we took a last look at the lovely cheese in the Covered Market; we walked around the central part of the city and said goodbye to our neighborhood baker.
Jean was incredibly wonderful and drove us - and our six suitcases - to the Lorraine-TGV station this afternoon. We were able to get on and off the train without too much of a problem (this is always the worst part of traveling in France) and we are at a hotel near the airport for our final night in France.
As has been the case for most of our travels, we start walking around a city in France and we find a synagogue. And this one in Rheims was quite a jewel. Consecrated in 1879, the synagogue served Jews from Alsace and Lorraine who had moved west as a result of the German Annexation.
We were fortunate to be at the synagogue at the right moment - a group of people were meeting inside, and David asked if we could take a peek at the sanctuary. The synagogue is still in use and serves a community of about 200 families.
And a Jewish colonel in the U.S. Army intervened to return the synagogue to the Rheims Jewish community after the liberation of Rheims in August of 1944.
Our first stop in Rouen was a visit to an exhibit at the Beaux Arts Museum entitled, "A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pisarro and Gaugin in Rouen." The exhibit had opened on June 4, so we were among the first to see the incredible paintings gathered from collections around the world. The exhibit included ten out of 30 paintings in Monet's Rouen Cathedral series that he painted in 1892-1893.
Here are my additions to the series...
Rouen Cathedral, 3 pm
Rouen Cathedral, 9:15 am
This exhibit has inspired a summer's worth of events taking place in cities throughout Normandy, from exhibits to concerts to theatre. One of these events was held yesterday in an abbey church in Rouen, where amateur artists painted away.