Savvy Travel Decisions

Savvy Travel Decisions travels to France for a report from Bernard Venom


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FRANCE:  

 

Paris Sunset

 

LANGUAGE: The official language of France is French.

 

The French are very proud people and are particularly fond of their language.  Most speak fluent English as a second language, but many will not understandably volunteer to address you in English unless you make at least a rudimentary attempt at speaking French.  The French tend to be reserved and are not as gregarious or outgoing as some Americans.  This is sometimes misinterpreted as aloofness and an indication of unfriendliness by the French hosts toward visitors, which is a total falsehood. 

 

Some tourists, Americans included, often exhibit obnoxious and demanding mannerisms that their hosts find disrespectful and inappropriate.  Be respectful of your hosts and you will, in turn, be respected.  Act as you would wish a foreign visitor to behave as he or she visits our shores.  Learn a few phrases of French, even with mispronunciations; it will go a long way toward demonstrating an understanding and respect for your hosts.  Try it - you’ll be amazed at the positive responses.  Ask yourself a simple question: if you are unwilling to be absorbed into, and learn, some French culture, why are you visiting? 

 

CURRENCY:

 The official currency of France is the Euro.

 

PINCHING PENNIES: TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP

Restaurants: By law, a tipping service fee is included in the total meal bill.  Additional gratuity is discretionary.  Tipping is more prevalent in Paris than other areas of France.  If you intend to leave an additional tip, do not add it to the credit card charge.  Instead, to make certain the waiter gets the gratuity, leave cash on your table.  Never tip more than an additional 5%, even in deluxe restaurants!  It is considered bad form. 

 

Snack in a café: For a cup of coffee (20 centimes tip); if bill is Euros 20, leave tip of Euro 1. 

Upscale restaurants: Tip Euros 20; tip hat check: Euro 1 per coat

Taxis: Airport to City Center: 5% - 10% gratuity.  Shorter rides: 1 - 2 centimes

Concierges: 5 - 20 centimes

Hotel baggage porters: 1 centime per suitcase, more if extra heavy

 

HOURS

Lunch is leisurely.  The French like to savor and enjoy their meals and detest being rushed.  It is not uncommon in small and/or remote areas that literally everything comes to a standstill and closes for one-to-three hours during the lunch “hour.” 

 

Even in Paris, plan on the banks and many shops to close during the luncheon break, generally 12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m. 

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE

January 1: New Years Day

March 21, 2008; April 10, 2009: Good Friday - observed only in Alsace and Lorraine

March 23, 2008; April 12, 2009: Easter

March 24, 2008; April 13, 2009: Easter Monday

May 1, 2008; May 21, 2009: Ascension (Labor Day)

May 8: World War II Victory Day

May 11, 2008; May 31, 2009: Pentecost

May 12, 2008; June 1, 2009: Whit Monday

Last week of June - first week of July: SPECIAL NOTE: Transporters have traditionally gone on strike during this period! 

July 14: Bastille Day

July 24: Festival of St. Eloi-French Basque - observed only by Metal Workers nationwide.  (If the holiday falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, many Metal Workers take off the Monday and proceeding Friday as well).  This is not an official holiday.  Banks and businesses remain open. 

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

November 1: All Saints Day

November 11: Armistice Day

December 25: Christmas Day

December 26: Second Day of Christmas - observed only in Alsace and Lorraine

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN FRANCE

French citizens normally vacation during July and August. 

Third Tuesday of November: Seasons New Beaujolais wines   For more information, please visit: http://www.eaccfrance.com

Entire month of July: The Tour de France - nationwide bicycle race with international acclaim

 

HIGH SEASON: High Season is during late May, June, July, August, and December.

 

SHOULDER SEASON: Shoulder Season is during April, early May, September, and January.

 

LOW SEASON: Low Season is during October, November, February, and March.

 

 

 

AVEYRON:

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN AVEYRON:

 

    
 
 

The best time to visit in Aveyron is during September and October.  If you enjoy water sports, biking, and hiking, be sure to visit during June, July, and August.

 

 

 

 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN AIX-EN-PROVENCE

 

 

 

First three weeks of July: The Aix-En-Provence Lyric Festival and European Music Academy - world-class and new music and opera.

 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE:

Aix-En-Provence is Provence’s quintessence: Exquisite French cuisine, art, music, museums and fountains. 

 

 

 

ALBERT:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN ALBERT

Mid-March: Animal Film Festival

 

 

 

ANTIBES:

 

 

Antibes is a sleepy French Riviera resort west of nearby Nice.  It offers a large port and yacht basin. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ANTIBES

 

 

 

In addition to yachting, Antibes is known for its Musee Picasso with its collection of over 150 of the famous artist’s works. 

 

 

 

AVIGNON:

 

Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN AVIGNON

July: Performing Arts Festival 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN AVIGNON

 

    
 

Avignon’s cultural offerings consist of museums, palace, medieval fortress Pont St. Beneze, which are all clustered in the walled city.  

 

 

 

BAERENTHAL:

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BAERENTHAL

The best time to visit Baerenthal is during the months of June, July, and August.

 

 

 

BIARRITZ:


 

Biarritz is located in the Bordeaux Region.  This posh seaside resort was once a summer mansion retreat for Napoleon.  Today, upscale travelers visit Biarritz for its luxury spas and glistening beaches.  Golf, horseback riding, tennis, surfing, casino gaming, windsurfing, rafting, fishing, and bull fighting are all available in Biarritz.  

 

 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BIARRITZ

The best time to visit Biarritz is during the months of July, May, and September.

 

AVOID: Be sure to avoid visiting during August, due to the large crowds.

 

 

 

BORDEAUX REGION:

 

 

 

This is wine country central; a quick 3 hour LTV express train ride from Paris.  By 2015, technology will lessen the travel time to only two hours!  Spectacular backdrop is provided by the Pyrenees Mountains. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BORDEAUX

The best time to visit Bordeaux is during March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October. 

 

AVOID: Be sure to avoid November, December, January, and February. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BORDEAUX

Sip wine and take wine tours.  Is anything else necessary?  

 

TASTY DINING IN BORDEAUX:

 

 

 

Route des Chateaux at Chateau Cordeillan-Bages.

 

Specialties of the region: duck confit, andouillette, foie gras, and liquid-nitrogen infused cuisine. 

 

 

 

CANNES:

 

Copyright by E.J. Landford 

 

Cannes is a small, palm-lined French Riviera beach resort catering to the jet set.  Glitzy resorts and shops filled with exclusive wares abound.  In addition, Cannes provides: casinos, an attractive mountain location, and beaches, although most beaches are private. 

 

MAJOR FESTIVALS AND EVENTS IN CANNES:  

Three days in the second week of January: Cannes Shopping Festival - fashion shows. 

 

 
Cannes by night 

 

Mid-May: The Cannes Film Festival is the resorts’ most important annual celebrity-filled event; lodging is sold-out months in advance. 

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN CANNES

The best time to visit Cannes is during June, July, August and September, the months which represent the Prime Season.

 

April, May and October are pleasant, slightly cooler, and less expensive. 

 

AVOID: December, January and February, which are considered off-season, the coldest months of the year. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN CANNES

Half the sport of frequenting Cannes is the snob appeal of ogling the privileged set.  One comes to Cannes to see and be seen.  Have-nots will not be successful getting beyond the velvet ropes.  It’s best to stick to the minimal local sightseeing: exploring the Musee de la Castro (Fidel?) in a medieval tower, and then leave town. 

 

 

 

Don’t expect to find Bingo games in Cannes’ three casinos.  Aunt Sarah will have to search for slots elsewhere.  Come evening, formal wear is appropriate at the Casino Cruisette.  

 

If bored, you can always make a dramatic Cannes arrival statement by rowing your new seven-foot wood boat into Cannes Harbor and anchoring it next to the multi-million dollar mega ship yachts of the Wall Street Brokers, Bankers, Kings, Ponzi-scheme Wheelers and Dealers, movie stars and politicians. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN CANNES

 

 

 

Sorry, but you won’t find a Dollar Store or K-Mart in Cannes.  Jump in your Brinks armored car and peruse the elegant shopping lures along the Rue d’Antibes.  The great unwashed will feel a bit unwelcome here. 

 

 

 

CHAMONIX:

 

 

 

Chamonix was home to the first Winter Olympics in 1924.  Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s tallest summit at 15,774 feet.  Chamonix is popular with British skiers.  Chamonix is a three hour automobile drive from Geneva or Zurich. 

 

 
 

Acote d’ Azur: (French Rivera) The best beach is at St. Tropez. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN CHAMONIX

The best time to visit Chamonix is at the end of June through early July. 

 

 

 

COLMAR:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN COLMAR

 

 

 

First two weeks of July: The Colmar International Festival - a premier arts event. 

 

 

 

CORSICA:

 

Corsica is a popular French island and beach playground located to the southeast of France and west of Italy.  The island offers water sports galore.  Corsica has a rocky coastline.  Who would of thunk it? 

 

 

 

Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, behind only Sicily, Sardinia, and Cyprus!  Corsica’s population is slightly in excess of 300,000 residents. 

 

LANGUAGE: The official languages of Corscia are Corsican and French. 

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN CORSICA

The best time to visit Corsica is during May, June, July, August, and September: The so-called “dry months,” albeit an occasional potent electrical storm. 

 

AVOID: Be sure to avoid the months of March, April, October and November, due to the cold and rainy weather with occasional snowing in the higher altitudes.  November and March are the rainiest months.  Snow is commonly present into June at higher altitudes. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS ON CORSICA

 

 

 

Tour Casa Buonaparte, the house where Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, the islands’ Capital. 

 

 
 

Visit the medieval fortified town of Bonifacio, the work of the Crusading Knights of St. John.  Bonifacio’s cliff-side setting cuts right into the rock face. 

 

TASTY DINING ON CORSICA

Corsican cuisine is a fusion of French-Italian.  Pastas and pizza are popular.  Cured meats, rabbit, boar, and lake trout are predominately featured on menus along with sheep’s milk cheese. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN CORSICA

 

 

 

The Rue de la Repubique is the place for shopping. 

 

 

 

DIJON:

 

Dijon is a gastronomic center.  Along with Beaune, Dijon is the center of Burgundy wine production. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN DIJON:  

The best time to visit in Dijon is during late-September and October.

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN DIJON

 

 

 

The third Thursday in November: Beaujolais Nouveau festivals are held throughout the area. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN DIJON

 

 

 

DUNKIRK:

 

ANNUAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN DUNKIRK:

Flemish Festival - colorful parade of mischievous paraders. 

 

 

 

EZE VILLAGE:

 

 

 

Eze Village offers luxurious lodging. 

 

 

 

GRASSE:

 

 

 

Grasse is the center of France’s perfume industry. 

 

 

 

GRENOBLE:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN GRENOBLE

Mid-March through the first week in April: Grenoble Jazz festival

 

 

 

LE MANS:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN LEMANS

June: 24 Hours of Le Mans

 

 

 

LYON:

 

Lyon is the second largest city in France.  It is known worldwide for its cuisine. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN LYON:  

The best time to visit in Lyon is during September, October, May, and June.

 

AVOID: July – August, as the weather is hot and humid.  November, December, and January is a popular gateway for skiers heading to the French Alps. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN LYON

Mid - late March: Les Musicades - International Chamber Music Festival

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN LYON:  

 

 

 

 Visit the extensive Roman ruins (Lyon was once a Roman colony), Parc de la Tete d’ Or - Frances’s largest rose floral gardens.  

 

 

 

Visit St. Jean Cathedral and the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. 

 

 

 

Check out the city’s many fine museums. 

 

TASTY DINING IN LYON

  

 

L’ Auberge du Pont de Collonges, located 2.5 miles outside Lyons, is Paul Bocuse’s finest dining temple, although Argenson, Est, Nord, Sud and Quest, all Bocuse restaurants in Lyons proper, are excellent.  Agricole, Gaston Restaurant, L’Epicerie, and Les Enfants Terribles are other outstanding places to dine. 

 

 

 

MAGNY-COURS:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN MAGNY-COURS

 

  

June 22, 2008: Formula One Grand Prix

 

 

 

MARSEILLES:

 

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille Harbour, France

Europe’s busiest port city is also one of Europe’s oldest cities.  It is small and densely populated.  Navigating the city is difficult due to its hilly terrain.  It has transformed itself from an ignored, rough-around-the-edges metropolis to a second tier destination. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN MARSEILLES:  

The best time to visit Marseilles is during June, July, September, and October, for the best weather.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN MARSEILLES

Explore the Old (Vieux) Port. 

 

  
 

Important museums include the Musee d’Archeologie Mediterranee of Egyptian Antiquities and The Musee des Beaux Arts. 

 

 

 

MENTON:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN MENTON

 

  

Mid-to-late February: The Menton Lemon Festival - one of the most popular events on the Cote d’ Azur

 

 

 

MOUSTIERS-STE-MARIE:

 

 

 

Moustiers-Ste-Marie offers fine, luxurious lodging.

 

 

 

NANCY:

 

Nancy is the capital of the Lorraine Region.  Nancy is filled with Art Nouveau treasures.

 

 

 

 

 

Place Stanislas is considered one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. 

 

  
 
 

Do not miss the Musee de l’ Ecole de Nancy or St. Stephen’s Cathedral - one of the world’s most impressive displays of leaded glass artistry. 

 

 

 

NICE:

 

Nice is a once proud, now somewhat tacky French Riviera resort.  The real money and wannabe money set is in Cannes and Monaco.  Nice is more suited for the European middle-class.  After seeing Monte Carlo and Cannes, Nice is unappealing to most Americans. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN NICE

 

Mid-July: Nice Jazz Festival

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN NICE

Once you tire of the beaches and being bumped by pick-pockets and propositioned by the high-priced prostitutes plying the Promenade des Anglais, you may wish to try a little sightseeing, albeit what there is of it and leave town for greener pastures. 

 

 

 

The beach is not even white sand, its tiny pebbles!  Beach life here is reminiscent of Venice, California, with roller-bladers and carnival atmosphere! 

 

Major sightseeing attractions include The Old City, The Flower Market (fresh flowers and local produce), and The Naval Museums. 

 

 
   
 

Art lovers will want to flock to two exceptional local museums: the Chagall (drawings and sculptures) and Matisse Museums (Matisse made Nice his home).  The Musee Picasso is in nearby Antibes (see separate Listing). 

 

 

 

NIMES:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN NIMES

Late May - first week of June: Feria de Cote 

 

 

 

PARIS:

 

Aerial View of Paris 

 

Numerous unsuccessful attempts around the world have been made to replicate the romanticism of the “City of Lights” with its monuments, culture, and cuisine.  There is only one - Paris. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN PARIS

The best time to visit Paris is during the last two weeks in April, May, and early June. 

 

September and October can be cool, but are generally more crowded with tourists. 

 

AVOID: Be sure to avoid July and August, as Parisians vacation during this time and many Paris restaurants and shops close.  Airline tickets are more expensive during the summer months. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN PARIS

 

  
 

Mid-July: Bastille Day

 

 

 

End of July: French Open Tennis Tournament

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN PARIS:

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: If you intend to do considerable sightseeing while in Paris, you may wish to seriously consider a purchase of THE PARIS PASS.  At $122.00 (as of 2010) for a two-day adult pass, $212.00 for six days, it’s not inexpensive.  Consider, however, that the PARIS PASS provides admission to over 55 museums, attractions and the Metro.  In most instances, it also enables you to enter venues through special PASS “express” lines.  Not only is the PASS convenient, but it will also save you both time and money. 

 

THE LOUVRE

 

 
Louvre Museum at Sunset 

 

The obligatory sights: Musee du Louvre is closed on Tuesdays and most holidays.

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: The admission fee (bring cash: euros) is practically double if you choose to visit before 3:00 p.m.  Sundays are less expensive.  The first Sunday of each month is free.  Purchase your admission tickets in advance and avoid the tedious long lines awaiting purchase of admission.  The ticket is good all day.  If you tire, leave, rest up, and return later in the day.  Be forewarned that entry to special exhibits requires a separate fee.  A seemingly out-of-place glass pyramid serves as the Louvre’s main entrance.  Be wary of pickpockets that frequent the sidewalks around the Louvre.  Limit your possessions, as security can be tight at times.  Try to get beyond the Mona Lisa and the Masters and explore the other galleries.  You’ll be richly rewarded with marvelous Egyptian antiquities, sculptures and paintings.  Hungry?  Several restaurants of convenience are housed in the pyramid.  

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: The Louvre is least busy Wednesday and Friday evenings between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  The museum is open until 9:45 p.m. both evenings. 

 

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

 

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, France

 

 

EIFFEL TOWER

Be sure to visit The Eiffel Tower at night - on hourly intervals, the tower sparkles with spectacular flashing lights five minutes of every hour.  The Eiffel Tower is undergoing a $267 million renovation including additional elevators, shops, enlargement of restaurant, and improved access for the disabled. 

 

 

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Rather than wait in long lines for an hour or two, you can now reserve timed entry on the internet.  

 

Before you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, decide how much you wish to see of this gigantic Erector Set.  You have a choice of visiting only the First Level to see the movie and exhibits chronicling the history and construction of the tower, plus visit the potty rooms.  Your second choice is how high you wish to go - legally.  In lieu of the elevator, you can hoof it (my aching feet!) up 714 steps, in the enclosed staircase, to level two.  The Second Level, which is 37 stories high, houses the luxurious and expensive Jules Verne Restaurant.  The restaurant is accessed by private diners through the only elevator on the south leg of the tower.  Jules Verne Restaurant offers lunch at an average cost of 60 - 75 Euros per person, plus tax and gratuity.  For dinner, expect 150 - 200 Euros per person, plus tax and gratuity.  Did anyone order wine?  Skip the mints!  Timing your dinner at dusk, you can watch a spectacular strobe-light show that takes place the first ten minutes of every hour commencing at dusk.  You need to reserve months in advance.  To make reservations, please call Jules Verne Restaurant at 01-45-55-61-44 or visit their website. 

 

 

 

This all adds up to a very expensive dining experience, particularly if you’re unsuccessful in wrangling a window table.  Middle of dining room table and no window view?  You might as well have dined in a dungeon; you could have had a less expensive and superior meal elsewhere.  For these prices you could afford to hire the snappy waiter as your personal butler!  Wire home for money!  Help!  There’s nothing like Paris on $1,000 a day (by noon)!  


 

Unless you enjoy standing in long lines or have hired an influential tour guide who can and does routinely cut lines (who ever said life was fair?), ascending the Eiffel Tower can be frustrating.  Keep in mind that after conquering line #1 to gain access to the Tower elevator (not the Jules Verne elevator), you stop at Level Two, where, surprise! - you encounter another long line to access the elevator to Level Three. 

 

The elevators to the Third Level tend to be very crowded.  The elevator entrance is on the Second Level.  Since you’re not dining at Jules Verne, you can glance at the line and determine whether you wish to purchase a “supplemental” elevator ticket to Level Three.  Get the picture?  The higher you travel in the Eiffel Tower, the more it costs you!  Save yourself frustration.  Unless you covet heights, the views from the Second Level are every bit as good as the Third Level.

 

Excluding the Jules Verne elevator, the Eiffel Tower has three elevators.  Two may be operating on a given day, but one of the three, curiously, is always out-of-service for maintenance.  Six million tourists visit the Eiffel Tower annually. 

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Avoid Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to miss out on maximum crowds.  The Eiffel Tower opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at midnight June 13 - August 31, Easter weekend, and spring vacation.  Try to visit the Eiffel Tower in the early morning hours.  From January 1 - June 12 and September 1 - December 31, operating hours are 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. 

 

You will be required to pass a security check.  There is no baggage check service at the Tower. 

 

 

 

The Musee d’Orsay is the other obligatory art museum you should visit.  Avoid the long lines that predictably form when the museum opens in the morning.  Instead, plan your visit for the excellent 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. two hour guided tours.  Thursday evenings are a good time to visit. 

 

  
 

Only Paris has the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.   

Historic view of the Arc de Triomphe - World War II

 


Arc de Triomphe 

 

 

Arc de Triomphe
 
 
Traffic on the Champ Elysees, Paris 
 
 
 

The Palace of Versailles is a mere 40 minute train ride from Paris.  Plan on a half day visit.  The Palace reflects the extravagant seventeenth century tastes of King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.  Check out the Grand Appartements, the Hall of Mirrors and the Gardens.  Ambitious visitors can rent a rowboat and navigate around the Grand Canal.  Expensive luncheons are available at Les Trios Marches, overlooking the Versailles grounds.  

 

 

 

If you must, Disneyland Paris is a handy 40 minute train ride east outside Paris at Marne-la-Valle.  It’s changed a lot since its opening as Euro Disney back in 1992.  The addition of Walt Disney Studio Park in 2002 helped.  It’s no longer ignored as a distasteful Yankee intrusion on French soil.  Veteran Disney Park connoisseurs will be surprised how much more modern some of the Paris adaptations are of the Disney classic rides when compared to the stateside parks.  Like Florida, Disney covers all bases when it comes to revenue, offering a choice of seven, and counting, hotel-resorts to stay, plus plenty of shopping areas.  Your family will love you if you give them a break from visiting churches and museums. 

 

 

 

 

The best time to visit Disneyland Paris?  Low-season rates are Mid-April, May, June through mid-July and mid-September, October, November through mid-December, and mid-January, February through mid-March.  During these months, expect the lowest lodging rates and fewer crowds.

 

The most expensive and crowded time to visit is during mid-December through the mid-January holiday period, mid-March through mid-April spring break, and mid-July through mid-September: during European summer vacations. 

 

TASTY DINING IN PARIS:  

You don’t fly to France to chomp on McDonald’s burgers.  Even New York and Las Vegas now enjoy outposts of Paris’ world-class restaurateurs: Alan Ducasse, Joel Robuchon, and Guy Savoy.  Michelin three star awards are feverishly coveted.  Three-star dining, unfortunately, is most often accompanied by stratospheric pricing.  If out of your wallet’s range, instead opt for a one or two star establishment. 

 

For that matter, non-rated spots will suffice, thank you.  Try Café Charbon or the tiny Le Severo, closed on Saturdays, for great steak frites, Ma Pomme and Robert et Louise. 

 

 

 

Feeling flush with money?  Best bring lots of it.  Tallivent is the one place to splurge.  It ranks among the world’s finest and seldom disappoints.  Tallivent is located at 15 rue Lemennais, 8e.  For more information, please call 01-44-95-15-01.  The menu is large, the portions small, but superb.  Reservations are required months in advance.  Perhaps they are verifying your credit worthiness? 

 

  
 

Aux Lyonnais is one of Paris’ grand old bistros, now under the direction of acclaimed chef, Alan Ducasse.  Expect Lyonnais specialties: the scallops in mustard sauce is always a winner.  The simple décor remains undisturbed harkening back to the 1890’s: potted palms, etched glass, and globe lights.  The menu is French with no translations.  The bistro is located at 32 rue St. Marc, 2e and can be reached by calling 01-42-96-65-04. 

 

 

 

Tiring of fussy gussied up French cuisine and have a hankering for a prime hunk of moo-cow steak?  Head straight to Les Halles and the ancient Aux Pied du Cochon, 6 rue Coquilliere 1er, and its minimalist décor.  Les Halles offers huge cuts of beef.  The French onion soup ain’t bad.  For more information, please call 01-40-13-77-00. 

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN PARIS


Moulin Rouge at night

 

Nightlife, these days, tends to be DJ’s playing pulsating volume music in trendy, flamboyant decoration-of-the month clubs, jazz dens, or girls.  The clubs change name and theme faster than you can swat a fly.  Nothing you can’t do back home.  Le Crazy Horse remains the most spectacular of the flesh clubs - bring a thick wallet as ogling the girls doesn’t come cheaply. 

 

The older Geritol set still patronizes the Lido and the Follies.  They may have closed in Lost Wages, but they both still pack in tourists to their costume-filled, tired old-fashioned revues.  Lots of unsuspecting tour groups file in nightly.  Yawn. 

 

 

 

REIMS:

 

 

Reims is home of the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral.  The city offers luxurious resorts. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN REIMS

 

 

 

Notre Dame Cathedral will be 800 years old in 2011. 

 

Outside Reims are the underground Champagne Cellars of Dom Perignon. 

 

 

 

STRASBOURG:

 

Strasbourg, in the Alsace-Lorraine Region, is the regional capital located on the French-German border in a highly scenic region known as Alsace.  Both French and German are spoken. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN STRASBOURG

October is considered off-season, as it tends to be less crowded and lower lodging rates are offered. 

 

Area’s Alsace cuisine is a blend of French-German.  Pate de fois gras originated in Strasbourg. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN STRASBOURG

Notre Dame Cathedral’s Gothic spire is notable. 

 

  

Visit the European Union Parliament Building. 

 

 

Local boat cruises on the Rhine River are worthwhile. 

 

 

 

ST. TROPEZ

 

 

 

St. Tropez, in the French Riviera, is a pricey, upscale beach resort.  The city is a great hub for exploring the Provencal towns to the west and the Cote d’ Azur.  St. Tropez is popular April through August. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN ST. TROPEZ

The best time to visit St. Tropez is during May, July, August, and September, when it’s less crowded. July and August are Peak Season. 

 

 

 

VILLEFRANCHE:

 

 

Villefrache is the ocean port for Nice and Monte Carlo. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN VILLEFRANCHE

The massive town’s sixteenth century fortress dominates the landscape. 

 

TASTY DINING IN VILLEFRANCHE

Seafood is the specialty.