History & Greatness Part II: From the Shores of France
May 30 – June 2, 2010

PathNorth Experiences are place holders in our lives; they create time and space for us to recharge, build meaningful relationships and seek guidance along with others who are on this journey of life.  By committing to taking part in one or two (or more!) of these experiences, we commit to making ourselves available to be touched, to grow, and to experience life more deeply.  The PathNorth Experience: History & Greatness Part II: From the Shores of France can only be described as unforgettable.  It was the perfect analogue to last year’s trip to England.

On Sunday, May 30th we set our sights on Paris to begin our unique journey.  Our first day began much like the first day of summer camp - members reconnecting with friends they had not seen in a while and greeting new members who would soon become friends.  That evening we enjoyed drinks at the home studio of French artist Anthony Palliser who spoke about his life’s work.  Anthony spoke about his own journey of how to recognize when a painting is actually “complete”.  As he matured, he realized that toiling longer on a painting did not necessarily make the painting better or more refined.  At a certain point, he discovered, when his work said what he wanted it to say, then it was complete.  A lesson that certainly resonated for many of us as we thought about how that translates into our own lives.  It was memorable to interact with a leading artist and to better understand his craft. (the following link has more information about Anthony Palliser - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OldBoqwrwPY)

Afterwards we gathered at La Grande Cascade for dinner and listened to the likes of Olivia de Havilland, Philippe Bourguignon and Georgina de Foix.  Ms. De Havilland, Oscar winner and the last living star from Gone with the Wind, stood for a moment and addressed our group like only a true Hollywood star could.  De Havilland is ninety-four, extremely graceful and positive. She spoke of gratitude for what PathNorth was doing by convening such people in such places!

Philippe Bourguignon, former head of Euro Disney and Club Med brought his perspectives on the differences between French and Americans and sparked interesting conversations between our gathering of forty French guests and the American PathNorth members.  Georgina de Foix, former member of the French Cabinet, concluded the evening by sharing candidly about going from being famous for her high government ranking to being infamous for her public trials and national scandal.   While Minister of Health, the French blood supply was tainted with the AIDS virus, and Ms. de Foix was held criminally liable.  Her journey was amazing. As one guest noted, there were “so many deep discussions and open exchanges about life, politics, principles and faith, etc. which will remain memorable!”

On Monday, May 31st Secretary John Dalton graciously hosted and led our group on an emotional tour of Normandy.  At Normandy American Cemetery a member’s son, Randy Drew Jr., who joined us on our trip, performed a wreath laying ceremony in honor of those whose lives were lost.  We were also greeted by the widow of a soldier buried at the cemetery and listened as she shared with us her life’s story of searching sixty years to find her husband’s remains.  We ended the day sharing insights around the dinner table at a beautiful French chateau.  One member recounts that “this trip in its entirety and specific parts (Normandy, etc) really caught me off guard.  So many places, people, conversations and new ways to think about all.  I’m still processing and telling everyone - although as we said: ‘You had to be there!’” 


Stan Smith was the ultimate host for our day at Roland Garros for the French Open.  He offered unbelievable tennis insights and game trivia as we dined in the Adidas Suite for lunch.  We then watched exciting matches between Francesca Schiavone and Caroline Wozniacki and Robin Soderling and Roger Federer from center court!

Our closing dinner represented Paris at its best!  The city lights glowed as we cruised down the Seine River aboard the private yacht, Le Montebello.  Stan Smith gave awards to grateful guests and everyone reflected on the unique and special time we had together.  We were all floored when one of our French guests stood and through a translator said that spending just one day with our group changed his impression of Americans for the better. 

Our goal for this experience: to create a space for candid sharing and personal growth, was far surpassed by the experience itself.  One member humorously observed that upon returning state side he found himself listening to French music while cleaning his boat.  He said he doesn’t speak French but somehow he felt exactly what they were saying.  We hope you enjoy the pictures from this amazing time, and we also hope to see you at one of our upcoming experiences.  Life is short.  Invest in relationships and your well-being and development.  Da Vinci urged that we ‘never stop learning.’ 

2-5       EXPERIENCE: Pinot Wine Crush in Oregon
Host: Member Martin Barrett at his vineyard in Oregon        

28-31    First ANNUAL CREATIVITY WEEKEND on the Eastern Shore
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland                 
Host: PathNorth and Laity Lodge

Join us. You will never be the same!


J. Douglas Holladay


Questions? Please contact 202.467.2079

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