Savvy Travel Decisions

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


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FRANCE:

 

Paris Sunset

 

 

 

DOCUMENTATION: valid in-force Passport from USA. Valid for maximum 90 days stay. For other nations, please check with French authorities.

 

LANGUAGE: 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 out-going 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 reponses. Ask yourself a simple question, if you are unwilling to be absorbed into and learn some French culture, why are you visiting? 

 

 

CURRENCY: Euros 

 

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: 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:  Paris is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard time.

 

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 noon - 2:00 p.m. 

 

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE:

 

 

 

January 1: New Years Day

 

March / April: Good Friday-observed only in Alsace and Lorraine

 

April 2, 2018 & April 22, 2019: Easter Monday

 

May 10, 2018, May 30, 2019: Ascension (Labor Day)

 

May 8: WWII Victory Day

 

May 20, 2018, June 9, 2019:  Pentecost

 

May 21, 2008 & June 10, 2019: Whit Monday

 

June-last week to 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 preceding 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   www.eaccfrance.com

 

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

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN FRANCE:

AVOID: July 1 - August 31: Most French are on vacation and take to the highways traveling to the south and beach areas. The traffic can be horrific. Lodging availability becomes critical, particularly in southern France. 

 

In August, many Parisian shopkeepers close as they take their personal vacations. 

 

HIGH SEASON: Late May, June, July, August, December

 

SHOULDER SEASON: April, early May, September, January

 

LOW SEASON: October, November, February, March

 

FRENCH CUISINE:

Have you ever wondered what constitutes a typical French Bistro vs a French Brasserie?

A French bistro is small, typically seating under 75 diners. The menu, featuring the cuisine of Lyons, is simple and reasonably priced, offering a choice of ala carte or pre-fixe. Wine is the preferred beverage. The tables are often bare or simply covered with paper or oil cloth. Both lunch and dinner are served. It is owner operated by a family. 

 

A French Brasserie, while like a Bistro, is open for longer hours, the menu features the cuisine of Alsace, and the beverage of choice is beer.

 

 

 

ALSACE:

 

From Strasbourg on the north to Mulhouse on the south, the distance is a 70-mile stretch.

One could easily spend 5-6 days exploring the area.

 

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN ALSACE:

Late August through October is both wine and cabbage harvest time Most tourists are gone by early November.

Late spring and summer are the busiest tourist season months

AVOID: Easter time-very crowded.

 

ALSATIAN WINES:

The area produces stellar White varietals: gewürztraminer, Muscat, pinot gris, Riesling.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ALSACE:

The picturesque Alsace Wine Route with its multitude of small wineries covers 105 miles from Marlenheim to Thann. Wine tastings and tours.

 

SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN ALSACE:

The luxurious Hotel des Berges situated aside the banks of the III River, is an easy choice. A bonus: It is adjacent to the award-winning and world famous, Auberge de I’ III restaurant.

 

TASTY DINING IN IIIHAEUSERN, ALSCACE:

Michelin Three-star Auberge de I’III: is the epitome of ambiance, service, and cuisine-near perfection.

 

Dinner begins with cocktails and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. The table is yours for the evening-you are never rushed. Plan on spending three hours. Your meal is cooked to order.

The unpretentious waiters speak English. Dining room overlooks river.  Reservations are difficult to secure, especially on weekends. Reserve months in advance. 2 r. de Colognes-au-Mont-d’-Or

 

RIQUEWIHR, ALSACE:

Typically overrun by tourists; it is the most visited town in Alsace.

 

STRASBOURG, ALSACE:

Strasbourg, Alsace is a blend of German dialect and French fashion. Sauerkraut co-exists with foie gras. 

Strasbourg is a one-hour 48-minute TGV train ride from Paris or a two-hour auto trip from Frankfurt, Germany International Airport.

 

The city’s impressive Gothic cathedral is known for its stone work and intimidating gargoyles. Take the spiral staircase to the belfry for outstanding views of the city. Admission fee.

 

 

 

 

AVEYRON:

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION:

 

September, October

 June, July, August for water sports, biking, hiking

  

AIX-EN-PROVENCE:

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

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

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

 

ALBERT:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

Mid-March: Animal Film Festival  

 

ANTIBES:

 

Antibes is a sleepy French Riviera resort west of nearby Nice. It’s mainly used as 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. The collection is displayed in the former Chateau Grimaldi, Hours: Closed Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 2 and the month of December. Place Mariejol.

 

  

HEARCHACHON AND BASSIN D’ ARCHACHON:

Hearchachon and Bassin d’ Archachon is a fashionable salt-water swimming resort area located on the southwestern coast of France.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ARCHACHON AND BASSIN D’ARCHACHON:

The Dune du Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe; it is very popular with paragliders. It stretches from Arcachon to Cap Ferret.

The Bay is known for its oyster beds.

 

Many luxury villas dot the landscape-vacation retreats for the wealthy.

 

 

AVIGNON:

“The City of Popes” was the center of European religion for over 70 years when the Popes first moved here in 1309. It all began with Pope Clement V .

The walled city of 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: museums, palace, medieval fortress Pont St. Benzene, are all clustered in the walled city.  The city center is small and condensed.

 

Pont d’ Avignon, aka Pont Saint-Benezet, an arched bridge, (built in the 12th century), that stretches half way across the Rhone Valley, was made famous by the children’s song of the same

name. The bridge survived over 400 years of pedestrian traffic by pilgrims, merchants, and the military, only to collapse in 1603. Irreparable, nowadays, you can walk onto the bridge and use it as a vantage point.

Explore the 25 rooms of Palaris des Papes, the 14th century papal palace, the largest Gothic palace in the world. It was home to eleven Popes. The Popes lived the life of luxury and obviously did not disavow nor sacrifice material things. Nowadays, it is a medieval era museum.

 

TASTY DINING IN AVIGNON:

La Miranda Hotel Restaurant is housed a former Cardinal’s palace. Great for an elegant lunch or dinner.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN AVIGNON:

Les Halles is a bustling morning market

 

 

 

 

 

BARBIZON:

Barbizon is a small picturesque village near Fontainebleau, just outside Paria. (see separate alphabetical listings for Fontainebleau and Paris)

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BARBIZON:

Visit the Museee Departmental des Peintres de Barbizon. Sketches of famous artists scribbled on the walls-it was once an art school. Priceless artworks are also on display

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN BARBIZON:

The five-star luxury Hotellerie du Bas-Breau is a member of the prestigious Châteaux & Hotels Collection.

 

TASTY DINING IN BARBIZON:

Les Birches, with its whimsical décor, is a popular luncheon choice.

 

BAERENTHAL:

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION: June, July, August

 

 

BAYEUX:

(See separate alphabetical listing for Normandy)

 

BIARRITZ (Bordeaux Region):

 

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

Surfing is a major magnet for tourism. World championship surfing events take place annually in Biarritz.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BIARRITZ: July, May, September

 

AVOID: August: crowded. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BIARRITZ:

 

Of Biarritz’s six beaches, La Grande Plage is the consensus best.

 

Le Musee de lar Mer is one of the world’s most striking aquariums.

 

The Art-Deco Casino remains a functioning gambling venue.

 

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN BIARRITZ:

 Le Regina Biarritz (1907) has been totally restored to its former glory days with elegant Belle-  Époque inspired rooms, pool, and spa. Dramatic lobby with multi-storied atrium.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN BIARRITZ:

Rue du Port Vieux is the resort’s main shopping street.

 

BORDEAUX REGION:

 

This is wine country central-the heart of France’s largest wine growing region; a quick 3-hour LTV high-speed express train ride from Paris. By 2015, technology will lessen the travel time to only two hours! Spectacular backdrop provided by the Pyrenees Mountains. 

The area sports over 13,000 grape growers and 7,000 wine-making properties

 

Bordeaux has a youthful population. An estimated one-third of the population is under age 25. Many first-time visitors will be surprised to discover that Bordeaux is a port city-a port as in water, not just as in wine. Bordeaux is located on the Garonne River, near the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers and the Gironde Estuary. The Garoonne and its canal connections stretch across the south of France all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The Gironde connects to France’s Atlantic seaboard.

Visitors are often puzzled to see ocean going ships and riverboats co-existing in Bordeaux’s riverfront terminals.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BORDEAUX:

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October.  The climate is Mediterranean.

 

AVOID: November, December, January, and February. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BORDEAUX:

The Bordeaux region east of Cadillac produces over 450 million bottles of wine annually. The wine regions:

The right bank of the Dordogne River. Explore the Pomeral and Saint-Emilion regions: for ruby red Merlots and Cabernet Francs. Visit Chateau Siaurac to visit its winery.

The citadels on the Blaye along the right bank of the Gironde Estuary and Borg along the right bank of the Dordogne River. Visit the Maison  des Vin des Cotes De Bourg (sells over 150 different wines of the Bourg region.

Head north on the left bank of the estuary to Medoc for expensive wines such as Chateau Mouton Rothchild, Chateau Latour, and Chateau Margaux.

 

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

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP:

If time is limited and you wish to sample the area’s Bordeaux wines, we recommend that you visit the Bar a Vin, a bar and wine school.  Wine tastings (not free, but instead at a reasonable cost) of over 60 wines by the glass. Located at Ecole du Vin.

 

Wine More Time and Aux Quatre Coins du Vin are other good choices to sample and enjoy the area’s wines

 

Bordeaux wines are considered some of the finest in the world. The University of Bordeaux is one of the world’s top viticulture and enology centers.

 

Cite du Vin is a new multi-media museum/cultural center that explores wine civilization. Ultra-Modernistic structure

 

The 19th century Saint Pierre Bridge is an iconic stone bridge across the Garonne.

Bordeaux is more than just wine, offering over twenty museums and monuments:

The CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art (1960’s to present day)

The Musee des Beaux Arts (330 paintings from Titian to Picasso)

Museum of Free Creation (unrefined art)

Place De La Bourse (includes the Miroir D’ Eau-the world’s largest reflecting pool)

Place De La Comedie (original site of the Roman forum and present-day home to the impressive Grand Theatre (Opera National and the Ballet National De Bordeaux perform here.

The new Cite des Civilizations du Vin, is a high-tech museum that provides visitors with a comprehensive introduction into the world of wine. Some twenty themed areas provide a historical and contemporary immersion into wine growing, production process, and consumption.

You may wish to consider purchasing a Bordeaux Metropole City Pass to save on museum admissions and public transportation.

 

The Esplanade des Quincunxes is the largest square in Europe. It hosts fairs, festivals, concerts and sporting events.

 

Stroll the waterfront promenade to view the Jardin Des Lumieres (Garden of Lights).

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN BORDEAUX:

 

The 130 room five-star InterContinental Bordeaux-Le Grand Hotel (1789) is the preferred choice for lodging.

 

TASTY DINING IN BORDEAUX:

 

Route des Chateaux at Chateau Cordeillan-Bages.

 

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

 

The narrow streets of the old St. Pierre District are lined with restaurants.

 

La Tupina is a wise choice for its authentic southwest France country fare. Think rotisserie roast beef, duck, oysters from Areachon Bay, foie grass, and canneles (little ridged cakes with caramel frosting and creamy soft interior). Reservations are required.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN BORDEAUX:

Rue Sainte Catherine. 3.75 miles long, is said to be the longest shopping street in France.

 

The Chartrons Distict is home to antique dealers, second-hand shops, and designer shops.

 

Chartrons Market takes place on Sundays: local oysters, cheese, fresh fish, produce, baked goods, foie grass, inexpensive wines.

 

Marche  de Capucins , a covered market just south of Old City, dates back to 1797. 40 vendors sell everything from meat, poultry, fish, produce, cheese, bread, olives, confections, and wine.

 

 Mollat Bookstore is one of the largest independent bookstores in France. 25,000 square feet, 15 departments, and over 2 million books.

 

Jean d’ Alos is a renowned cheese purveyor. Groups of five or more can tour the cheese caves with notice.

 

BRITTANY:

 

Brittany is one of 18 regions of France. It is in the west of France. Brittany borders the Normandy and Pays de la Loire regions.

 

 

 

RENNES, BRITTANY:

 

The city’s cobblestone streets and half-timbered multi-storied residence give an aura of medieval France. The city has blossomed in recent years and now is known for its culture and nightlife.

 

 

 

MAJOR EVENTS & FESTIVALS IN RENNES:

 

Second week of December: Trans Musicales-up and coming musical acts and DJ’s perform throughout the city

 

 

 

TASTY DINING IN RENNES:

 

LeCoq Gadby offer Michelin Star One Star dining in a former mansion turned boutique hotel. 156 Rue d’ Antrain. Telephone: 33 (0) 2-99 38 05 55.

 

 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN RENNES:

 

Marche des Liches, a four-century old sprawling market takes place every Saturday morning in the historic city center. Be sure to sample the Breton specialty kouign-amann-a yummy melt in your mouth pastry that consists of buttery bread-like dough layered with caramelized sugar.

 

 

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN RENNES:

 

The city’s lively nightlife is centered along Rue St. Michel., coincidentally nicknamed “The Street of Thirst.”

 

 

 

VITRE, BRITTANY:

 

 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN VITRE, BRITTANY:

 

Medieval jousting tournaments still take place in Vitre-a small town seemingly obsessed with its past.

 

 

 

The Rue de la Baudriere is lined with 14th century houses.

 

 

 

The town’s former castle is now a museum.

 

 

 

CANNES:

 

Copyright by E.J. Landford 

 

 

 

Cannes is a small palm lined, French Rivera beach resort catering to the jet set. Glitzy resorts and shops filled with exclusive wares. 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:

 

June, July, August and September represent Prime Season months. 

 

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

 

AVOID: December, January and February 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. Best stick to the minimal local sightseeing: exploring the Musee de la Castro (Fidel?) in a medieval tower, and then leave town.

 

La Croistte, Canne’s boardwalk is a great place to engage in people watching. You’ll likely see people roller skating aside wannabe celebrities dressed to the nines. Subtlety is not some people’s strong suit.

 

In search of a panoramic view of Cannes? Climb to the top of the hill of the Le Squat neighborhood to the monastery. Soak in the view.

 

 

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. 

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN CANNES:

The 74 room Grand-Hotel Du Cap Ferrat,-a Four Seasons Hotel, is reserved for the privileged class-a place the rank and file see only in passing from the tour bus windows. A night here would pay several months on your mortgage back home. 71 Blvd. du General de Gaulle, saint jean Cap Ferrat.

 

In similar class is the Hotel Belles Rives.

 

In other words, unless you just won the lottery or are about to inherit a small fortune, don’t even think of staying overnight in Cannes.  Also perish all thoughts of dining in Cannes. For the cost of a meal, you could add an addition or a swimming pool to your home. There are no McDonald’s or KFC outlets here.

Soak in the rarified air and move on.

 

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 of the toney boutiques along the Rue d’Antibes and Rue Meynadier. The great unwashed will feel a bit unwelcome here. 

 

Forville Market is an early morning fresh produce, cheese, seafood, olives, and flower grower/merchant assemblage, predictably frequently visited and carefully perused by local gourmet restaurant chefs in preparation for the day’s menu.

 

 

 

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 auto drive from Geneva or Zurich. 

 

Acote d’ Azure: (French Rivera)  Best beach is at St. Tropez. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION:

 

The end of June to early July. 

 

 

COLMAR:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

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. 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.  While part for France for over 200 years, Corsica has distinct and unique customs, language, and cuisine.

 

LANGUAGE: Corsican, French. 

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN CORSICA:

 

May, June, July, August, and September: The so-called “dry months” albeit an occasional potent electrical storm.  May and June the shrubland is in full bloom and fragrance.

. Mountain hikers and beach sunbathers will prefer July or September.

 

 

AVOID: 

 

March, April, October and November: cold and rainy weather with occasional snowing 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:

 

The interior of the island is mountainous. The harbor is filled with yachts. The Tramway de la Balagne, a small rail line, travels the scenic rocky coastline from Calvi to IIe Rouse, making 15 stops on command only. It operates only April-October.

 

Public transportation is limited and undependable. The best means of getting around is a rental auto.

 

Tour Casa Bonaparte, 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 cliffside setting cuts right into the rock face. 

 

The best beaches are on the southeastern coast: Plage de la Palombaggia , Cerbicale, and Plage de la Folacca.

 

A great day outing is to take a boat trip from the Bonifacio marina to the beautiful island of IIe Lavezzi.

 

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, John Dory fish and lobster. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN CORSICA:

 

The Rue de la Repubique is the place for shopping. 

 

 

 

 

COTE D’ AZUR:

(The French Riviera) is the Mediterranean Sea winter playground for the international rich and famous so called “jet-set.”

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS ON THE COTE D’ AZUR:

See separate alphabetical listings for:

-Antibes

-Cannes

-Monaco (see separate listing apart from France)

-Nice

-Saint Tropez

 

 

 

DIJON:

“I say old man; would you please pass the Grey Poupon?” Yes, you are in mustard town, but Dijon is also a gastronomic center. Along with Beaune, Dijon is the center of Burgundy wine production. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN DIJON:

 

Late-September, October

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

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

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN DIJON:

Dijon is the former home of the Dukes of Burgundy.  The area is alive with rainbow-hued houses to palaces and medieval churches.

 

The Musee des Beaux-Arts is significant to its exceptional collection of ancient and Middle-Age artworks.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN DIJON:

Les Halles Market: This covered market is one of the grand food markets (fresh meat, seafood, cheese, produce), of France. The Market’s ironwork frame was designed by Gustave Eiffel, as in the Eiffel Tower. It is open four mornings (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday) a week. Halles Centrales de Dijon, chez Salaisons de Campagne 2100

 

 

 

DUNKIRK:

 

ANNUAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

FLEMISH FESTIVAL: Colorful parade of mischievous marchers. 

 

EPERNAY:

Along with Reims are the major champagne producing areas of France. Epernay is accessible by train from Paris, a 1.5-hour train ride.

A rental auto is a necessity to tour the area unless you are part of an escorted tour group.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN EPERNAY:

(Also see separate alphabetical listing for Reims)

Villa Bissinger is home to the International Institute for the Wines of Champagne. You can attend a two -hour primer on the basics of champagne and enjoy a tasting of four champagnes.  Workshops are offered at 2:30 p.m. on the first Saturday monthly April-October. Reservations are required. 15 Rue Jeanson Av., www.villabissinger.com

 

Moet & Chandon and Mercier are both headquartered on aptly named Avenue du Champagne.

Moet & Chandon , in, offers an impressive tour of its facilities, including a vist to its 17-mile-long cellars. Hours: Closed January. Open daily mid- March-November: 9:30 a.m-11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m-4:30 p.m. and Monday-Friday the remainder of the year.  20 Ave de Champagne.

TASTY DINING IN EPERNAY:

La Cave a Champagne (The Champagne Cellar) offers a nice menu paired with champagne tastings.  Open for lunch Thursday-Tuesday and dinner Thursday-Monday. 16 Rue Gambetta

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN EPERNAY:

C. Comme, a local champagne bar, offers 350 varieties of champagne. Hours: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., till midnight on Friday and Saturday. 8 Rue Gambetta.

 

 

EZE VILLAGE:

 

Eze Village offers luxurious lodging. 

 

 

FONTAINE:

Fontaine is a tranquil small town.

 

CHATEAU FONTAINEBLEAU:

No, you’re not in Miami Beach at the namesake Fontainebleau Resort-you’re in the tiny village in France, a village known as a great country escape with superlative dining. It’s a convenient side-trip extension when visiting the Palace of Versailles.

Fontainebleau has also become a favorite weekend escape for Parisian’s, as Paris is a mere one-hour drive. Chateau Fontainebleau is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was formerly the royal hunting grounds for Francois I. It was Napoleon’s favorite residence.

Nowadays it is a popular walking, rock climbing, and air painting locale.

Chateau Fontainebleau is less crowded than Versailles, receiving around 300,00 visitors annually vs Versailles’ 7.5 million!

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN FONTAINEBLEAU:

The Chateau Fontainebleau was where the Royals, from the Capetian Dynasty to Napoleon II, relaxed and entertained. Tours include Napoleon II’ elaborate theater and Marie Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir.

 

Hiking and biking the area’s parks is very popular.

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN FONTAINEBLEAU:

 

The boutique 27 room Le Demeure du Parc is in former 17th century structures. A perfect blend of modern comforts couple with Old World ambience. The luxury property opened in 2015.

 

TASTY DINING IN FONTAINEBLEAU:

Visit Marche De Fontainebleau on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday mornings for an extraordinary open-air food market

 

L’Axel Restaurant and Le Table du Parc (in the Le Demure du Parc) are excellent choices for dining.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN FONTAINEBLEAU:

Parisians flock to La Chocolaterie for pastries created by chef Frederio Cassel.

 

The nearby village of Barbizon is packed with art galleries.

 

 

 FRENCH ALPS:

 

 

 

CHAMONIX (FRENCH ALPS): is France’s oldest ski resort.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN CHAMONIX (FRENCH ALPS):

There are more than six ski areas in the vicinity. The most famous are Argentiere and Vallee Blanche. Purchase of the Mont Blanc Unlimited Ski Pass entitles you to also ski the Italian side of Mont Blanc.

 

Non-skiers can enjoy the spectacular cable car ascent to Mont Blanc.

 

TASTY DINING IN COURCHEVEL (FRENCH ALPS):

Cheval Blanc holds the distinction of being the only new Michelin Three Star Award recipient in France in 2017. Its owner, chef Yannick, is no stranger, however, to Michelin, as he owns similar Three Star recognition for his Paris restaurants: Pavilion and Ledoyen.

 

MEGEVE (THE FRENCH ALPS):

 

A chic ski town beneath Mont Blanc.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN MEGEVE:

Since the 1920’s when the Rothchild’s first favored Megeve with their presence in hopes of developing it as a rival to Switzerland’s St.  Moritz, Megeve has managed to attract its share of the rich and famous for its winter sports activities of snow skiing, snow-shoeing, horse sleigh rides, to name a few.

Megeve is decidedly highbrow; with such exclusivity, the great unwashed are unwelcome. Glitzy ski lodges, gourmet dining, and upscale shopping are in great supply.

 

The slopes are uncrowded. There are 275 miles of ski trails and 107 chairlifts and gondolas.

 

SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN MEGEVE:

Arrive in an armored car brimming with cash. You will need it for the fancy digs.

Les Fermes de Marie opened in 1989 is a series of nine transplanted luxury chalets. The chalets are linked underground to a posh world-class spa. Concierge, Heli-skiing, cooking classes, Choice of Gourmet dining in an old barn and two other restaurants.

 

The 23 room Domaine Du Mont D’Arbois, is another Rothschild owned property. The luxurious alpine lodge and adjacent chalets exude poshness-the very finest of amenities including an indoor/outdoor pool, spa, 18-hole mountainside summer golf course, and gourmet dining.

 

 

 

GIVERNY:

(See separate alphabetical listing for Normandy)

 

 

 

GRASSE:

 

Grasse is the center of France’s perfume industry. 

 

 

 

GRENOBLE:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

Mid-March thru 1st week April: Grenoble Jazz festival.

 

 

 

IL de RE:

A stylish island popular with Parisians as a popular escape for the city’s affluent class. Some have tabbed it “The Hampton’s of France,” a reference to NYC’s upper crust Hamptons. It’s an alternative to the ostentatious vulgarities of the Cote d’ Azur.

It was connected to the mainland in 1988.

 

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT IL de RE:

 

The 19-mile-long island’s structures are all painted cream with green, blue or gray shutters and have terracotta roofs. The island’s main town is St Martin-de Re, a fortified port town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The island produces fleur de sel, highly prized sea salt, that is exported worldwide.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS ON IL de RE:

Island towns include Ille de Re Rochelle-a favorite of French movie stars, politicians and fashion designers, and

Saint-Martin-de-Rey, a fortified town

And

Ile d’ Oleleron

 

 Le Bois-Plage-en-Re is the island’s longest and most popular beach.

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST ON II de RE:

The small 20 room Hotel De Toiras is the preferred choice. Amenities include posh furnishings, high-tea lobby, and La Tabled’Olivia (elegant formal dining room).

The Toiras’s sister hotel, the Villa Clarisse, also classy, has a contemporary décor, heated pool, and spa.

 

TASTY DINING ON IL de RE:

Seafood is abundant: fish, oysters

The top restaurants are La Baleine Bleue (seafood), L’Escailler (rustic seafood bistro), and Le Chat Botte (upscale dining).

 

TASTY TREAT ON IL de RE:

La Martiniere: is said to be one of France’s ten best ice cream makers. It’s a must for visiting tourists. The Sicilian pistachio, the extra salty caramel, and the grapefruit sorbet are three popular choices. Two locations in Saint Martin and one in the port of La Flotte.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN IL de RE:

The island produced honey is a good buy at the daily La Flotte Market. Fruit, vegetable and flower vendors.

 

 

 

 

LE MANS:

The mere mention of Le Mans conjures up images of auto racing. The Le Mans Grand Prix dates back to 1906.

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

June 16-17, 2018: 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is a sports car endurance race. A nine-mile track of public roads are blocked off for the 24-hour race event

Fear not if you can’t attend. There are similar, albeit lesser mile, 24 races for trucks, motor cycles, and classic autos throughout the calendar year, especially April and July..

 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN LE MANS:

There’s much more than just racing to see and do in Le Mans.

 

The city’s impressive and well preserved Roman wall fortifications (1,300 yards long with 12 towers) are second only to Rome’s ad Istanbul’s.

 

Plantagenet Old City with its narrow cobblestone streets lined with immaculate conditioned 14th century timer-framed homes, is impressive.

St. Julian’s Cathedral is over a century old. England’s King Henry was baptized here.

 

Visit the Museum of Archaeology and the Musee de Tesse (art museum)

 

 

Racing: You can tour the race courses and visit the excellent museum that is filled with race memorabilia and classic autos.

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN LE MANS:

Do not miss La Nuit des Chimeres evening light show that takes place throughout the summer. The light show takes place at Eight locations, but not simultaneously. Walk at a brisk pace and you should be successful in seeing all eight lighting displays.

 

 

 

LENS:

A former down-at-its heals, economically depressed, coal mining city (population: 36,000) in northern France. What is remarkable about Lens is that Paris’s Louvre chose the town as its first sister satellite museum. Lens was selected to jump start its dismal economy, provide culture for the vicinity, and attract tourism to the area. Lens is a 1-1/4 hour drive from Calais.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN LENS:

The $190 million Louvre-Lens consists of four understated and modern connected glass, brushed-steel, and aluminum one-story rectangles. It was designed by Japanese architects. It is surrounded by a 48- acre park. Rotating world-class artworks from the Paris Louvre are displayed. Unlike the Paris Louvre where art periods are displayed in separate galleries, all painting periods will be on display in a single gallery in Lens.

  

LOIRE VALLEY:

A region of France known for its Old World heritage of elaborate chateaus, castles, and elaborate gardens. Unless you are part of an escorted group tour, a rental auto is a necessity to get around as the chateaus and gardens are scattered throughout the Loire Valley. Bicycling is also popular.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN THE LOIRE VALLEY:

Chateau de Chambord is the grandest and most visited chateau in the Loire Valley. Dating back to 1519, the immense chateau includes 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. Hours: April-October: 9:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. November-March: closes at 5:00 p.m., Located in Chambord.

Other significant area chateaus include the Chateau de Chenonceau in Chenonceaux and Chateau dangers in Angers.

 

Top gardens include Chateau de Villandry (established in the 1750’s) in Villandry, Chateau d’ Usse in Rigny-Usse and Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire (over 700 gardens; at their best late April to October).

 

The city of Orleans is home to a major art museum that is worth visiting.

 

TASTY DINING IN THE LOIRE VALLEY:

The best restaurants are in the towns of Angers and Saumur.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN THE LOIRE VALLEY:

The town of Amboise host a nice riverbank food market on Fridays and Sundays.

 

Loches offers a market on Wednesday and Saturday.

 

  

LOURDES:

 

Southwestern France sacred spiritual center. Is it free? Six Million people visit annually to pray, and for some hoping to seek a miracle cure. It all began in 1858 when a 14-year-old girl reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in a grotto near Lourdes. Lourdes is one of Christendom’s most sacred sites.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN LOURDES:

 

Soak in the icy baths and pray that your ailments whatever they might be are cured. After you’re through drying, if I could have but a few minutes of your time, I have some prime agricultural land in the desert that I would to discuss selling to you at a great bargain price.  I also have some Ben Gay ointment reasonably priced.

 

As you might imagine, Lourdes Christianity collides with commercialism: there are budget lodging and tacky souvenir shops galore throughout the town.

 

 

 

LYON:

 

Lyon is the second largest city in France. Known worldwide for its cuisine- some say: “The French Capital of Gourmandise.” Many a visitor visits Lyons to partake of its exceptional dining venues. Only Paris, London, and Brussels have more Michelin starred restaurants.

 

Lyons is a World Heritage Site with its Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces, Old City, and redeveloped waterfront.

 

 Many French celebrity chefs have originated from Lyon: Alain Chapel Paul Bocuse, Serge Bruyere, Daniel Bouland, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, to name a handful.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN LYON:

September, October, May, June 

 

AVOID:

 

July-August: hot and humid. November, December, January: popular gateway for skiers heading to the French Alps. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN LYON:

 

Mid - to late March: Les Musicales - International chamber music festival.

1st weekend of December: Festival of Lights: spectacular annual event when the city becomes alive with spectacular lighting displays.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN LYON:

If you intend to use Lyons public transportation, purchase a Lyons Card. It will also save you  money on museum admissions (22 museums). Choice of one, two, or three-day cards. It can be purchased online at www.lyoncitycard.com or at the Lyons Tourist Office on Place Bellecour.

 

Often overlooked, but a personal favorite is the incredible murals of the Trompe L Oreil.

The murals are unlike any other in the world as they literally enwrap a structure. Lyons has over 150 of these murals. The most significant and an absolute do not miss is La Fresque des Lyonnais-what appears to be an ordinary multiple story building. View from the Vieux Lyon side of the Saone River. On closer perusal, however, you will note that the face of the structure has been completely painted over. Super imposed on the balconies are depictions of 31 famous people of Lyons’s history.

Located close to the Saone River at 2 Rue de la Martiniere and 49 quai Saint Vincent.

 

Don’t miss visiting Fourviere Hill. Visit the extensive Roman ruins (Lyon was once a Roman colony).

    Remarkably still functioning is a 15 B.C. Roman amphitheater. Descend the steps to the Le Vieux Lyon.

 

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere was built in the 12th century. 

 

 

Le Vieux  Lyon is a successful urban restoration of an area of heretofore neglected and in disrepair structures. It is an assemblage of Gothic and Renaissance architecturally significant residences, shops and courtyards that has been transformed into an area of beauty. Craft shops,  art galleries, and fine dining restaurants line the area’s cobblestone streets. The area is pedestrian only.

 

Hollywood celebrity phonies should thank Lyon’s Lumiere brothers, Louis and Auguste, for pioneering movies so that they today can amass their fortunes and lecture the poor unwashed on for whom they should vote come election time. The Lumiere’s invented Cinematograph in 1894-1895. The Musee Lumiere is the family mansion where the movie industry began. They also are credited with discovering the photographic slide technique and an early form of 3-D. The museum’s 21 rooms chronicle the invention of cinematography. Auguste Lumiere also invented, a prosthetic for WWI amputees and a non-stick gauze for treating burns-a healing treatment used up into the 1970’s.

 

The fascinating Musee Miniature et Cinema displays highly detailed miniature movie sets and costumes, along with miniature movie props of Harry Potter wands, pirate ships, scenes from ‘Alien,’ and “The Inglorious Bastards,’ and even a Statue of Liberty should not be overlooked.

 

Lyon Confluence is a more recent 350-acre re-development of former wasteland into modern day apartments, shops, restaurants, and a science museum.

The modernistic all-glass/steel Musee des Confluences aka simply: Confluence Museum, the area’s centerpiece, is a dazzling, enormous museum dedicated to anthropology, science, and history. Exhibits on evolution, mankind, animals, and death, the controversial museum finally opened in December 2014, six years late and five times over budget. It deserves a definite look-see.

 

The Musee des Beaux Arts displays works by Picasso, Matisse, and Rodin.

 

 

Parc de la Tete d’ Or - Frances’s largest rose floral gardens.

 

Visit the Gothic St. Jean Cathedral to view the rare, 14th century astronomical clock. SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Try to visit at either Noon or 3:00 p.m., when a rooster crows and a series of automates appear to herald the Annunciation. Be there early as the clock tends to run faster than on time!

 

 

Also visit the narrow passageways of Croix Rousse Hill (“Workers Hill”), occupied by silk workers during the mid-1800’s. Nowadays, you’ll discover shops and every day except Monday, a daily outdoor market.

 

 

The 15th century Gadagne mansion is now the Musee du Vieux Lyon and a marionette museum.. 

 

 

Check out the city’s other many fine museums. 

The Musee Historique des Tissus traces the development of Lyon’s past prominence as a center of European and Oriental weaving and fabrics. The museum’s shop sells high quality silk scarves.

 

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs, housed in an exquisite 18th century mansion, is filled with superb furniture, paintings, drawings, bibelots, silver, porcelain, and glass.

 

Wine enthusiasts will want to explore the nearby Beaujolais region with several family owned wineries.

 

 A short-day trip outside (a one-hour drive south) of Lyon is the town of Hauterives with its Le Palais Ideal, the work of French postman Ferdinand Cheval. Cheval carved a fairy-tale like stone palace over a 33-year span in his back garden. It is an odd sight-a hodgepodge of part Angor Wat, part Medieval castle, part Hindu temple, Swiss chalet-you name it. Bizarre it is. It has inspired concerts, art shows, and recitals at the site. Worth a look-see if you enjoy folk art. Admission fee.

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN LYON:

Cour Des Loges in the Old Town is the place to stay. Nicely furnished rooms and large baths. Courtyard setting; Roman décor; -peace and tranquility. 6 Rue du Boeuf, Telephone: 00 33 47277444.

 

TASTY DINING IN LYON:

Bouchons are certified Lyonnaise taverns-a good choice for a reasonably priced lunch.

 

Paul Bocuse has six brasseries in Lyon.

 

 Destination Dining: L’ Auberge du Pont de Collonges ,aka Paul Bocuse or Bocuse, is 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.

 

First impressions of L’Auberge du Pont Collonges? The exterior is gaudy, painted a garish bright red, orange and green-hardly becoming to what is considered a temple of gastronomy.

The dining room interior is considerably more subdued: linen tablecloths, photos of the chef everywhere, and well- spaced tables.

 The restaurant has received the highly coveted maximum Three Star Michelin award since 1965. Classic French menu-tableside preparation. Large wine list-all French wines. Pre-fixe and ala carte menus-very expensive. English friendly waiters. Hours: Open daily for lunch: Noon-1:30 p.m., and dinner: 8:00-9:30 p.m. Plan on spending 3-4 hours dining. Don’t expect to see Paul Bocuse-he was 91 years old in 2017. Fear not. Bocuse’s well- trained staff of successors are easily capable of carrying on the tradition established by Bocuse.50 Rue de la Plage 69660 Collonges au Monti d Or., +33 4 72 42 90 90. On premises gift shop.

 

 Agricole, Gaston Restaurant, L’Epicerie, and Les Enfants Terribles are other outstanding places to dine. 

Troisgros, another Michelin Three-Star award winner, is farther afield, 37 kilometers from Lyon.

It is located across the street from the train station in Roanne. Celebrity chef Michael Troisgrow, the third generation of the Troisgros family carries on the tradition. Additional locations have spread to Moscow (Restaurant Koumir), Tokyo (Cuisine Michael Troisgros in the Hotel Century Hyatt), and Paris (Hotel Lancaster). In addition to Michelin, it has been acclaimed both as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, and by another source, as the world’s 25th best restaurant.

 

30 kilometers south of Lyon in the town of Vienne and La Pyramide, a legendary dining institution dating back to 1822, founded by the late Fernand Point. On Fernand’s passing, his wife carried on until her death in 1986. The restaurant was sold and well-respected chef Patrick Henriroux was hired to re-store the legacy. The restaurant is the recipient of Michelin’s Two Stars. Popular entrees include John Dory and monkfish.

 

La Mere Brazier: Michelin Two Star Award winner. The namesake chef of this classic café passed away in 1977, but her legacy carries on. 12 Rue Royale, telephone: 00 33478 231720.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN LYON:

Places des Jacobins is the center of Lyon’s best shopping

 

Lyon food halls are in La Croix Rousse, the old silk weaving area and Quail Saint Antoine Both are closed on Mondays

 

Les Halles is another of Europe’s grandest food halls. One could easily spend hours strolling the huge indoor food hall. It is owned by celebrity chef Paul Bocuse.

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN LYON:

Quai Augagneur is the place to enjoy live music barges on the Rhone River.

 

 

MAGNY-COURS:

 

 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

 

 

June 22, 2008: Last time the French leg of the Formula One Grand Prix was held in Magny-Cours. June 24, 2018 will see the return of F1 racing to France with a race in Marseilles. Races are run year round at the Magny-Cours International Circuit.

 

 

 

 

 

MARSEILLES:

 

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

 

 

 

Europe’s busiest port city and gateway to Province is also one of Europe’s oldest cities (France’s second oldest). 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, politically corrupt, crime infested, metropolis to a second- tier destination. The city literally has a new coat of paint: Culture is blossoming, the docks have been spiffed up, new hotels are opening, and the city enjoys a new improved tram service. 

 

Marseilles has attracted the second largest concentration of artists in France, second only to Paris.

 

Marseilles was named ‘The European capital of Culture in 2013. It is now a mere three- hour high-speed TGV train ride from Paris.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN MARSEILLES:

 

June, July, September, October for best weather 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN MARSEILLES:

 

Explore the Old (Vieux) Port, where Marseilles was born, that has been totally revitalized, now sporting thriving restaurants, an exceptional food hall-especially the fish market, ship yards, and many impressive restored historic structures with their obligatory terra cotta roofs. It is easily walkable, a Pedestrian only zone.

 

La Canebiere, leading from Old Vieux Port, is Marseilles main boulevard, their version of the Champs-Elysses. Marseilles’ version pales in comparison.

 

Important museums include the:

 

Musee archeology Mediterranean of Egyptian Antiquities and,

 

The Musee des Beaux Arts. 

 

Musee Cantini: Impressive collection of Picasso and Miros artworks displayed in a 1694 townhouse.

 

Musee d’ Histoire de Marseilles: chronicles the history of the city.

 

Musee des Dock Romains

 

Chateau d’ If: the 16th century fortress where the Count of Monte carlo was fictionally imprisoned.

 

Stroll the narrow cobblestone lanes of the Panier Quarter. Check out the panoramic views from Notre Dame.

 

 

Enjoy a boat ride into the calanques (fjord-like inlets).

 

There are endless day side-trip possibilities outside Marseilles:

Tour Province and nearby Cassis. View the Calanques: white limestone cliffs and the areas’ fjord- like inlets that are so revered by swimmers; Calanque En Vau is the best.

 A one-hour drive west of Marseilles brings you to La Celle and the Hostellerie de L’Abbey-a restaurant/country inn owned by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse.

Late July through August is ideal to travel the Lavender Route toHaute Orovence to observe the purple flowers, famous for their perfume scent.

To Senanqu, north of Gordes to photograph the iconic and highly photogenic Abbaye Notre Dame de Senanque. The nearby medieval village of Forcalquier is also worthwhile visiting.

A 30-minute drive to Aix En Province. Visit the studio of Paul Cezanne and Jas de Bouffan, his family home and gardens.

An hour’s drive to Arles and the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation.

 

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN MARSEILLES:

The 194 room InterContinental Hotel Dieu is an impressive $160 million conversion of a Marseilles landmark hotel, the former Hotel Dieu. Panoramic views of the Vieux Port. Amenities include contemporary interiors, a fitness room and a spa.

 

 

The 126 room AC Hotel Marseille Velodrome (Marriott) is in the Prado area. It is convenient to Calanques National Park, Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, and the Vieux Port.

 

The Golden Tulip Marseille Euromed is in the city’s Joliette neighborhood.

 

 

TASTY DINING IN MARSEILLES:

 

Marseilles signature dish is bouillabaisse. Quality is paramount-anything costing under E40 per person is suspect. Inquire as to the ingredients, as you may not be familiar not necessarily be enamored with all the ingredients-how do you feel about eating scorpion fish, conger eel, weaver fish, gurnard?

One of the best is Michelin Three Star Award winner  Le Petit Nice. The chef cooks 70 varieties of fish.

 

Le Mole Passedat enjoys Michelin’s Three Star Award. Choice of buffet or seafood or La Table-more formal dining

 

Alcoyne (in the Inter-Continental Hotel Deu) is operated by Lionel Levy, a protégé of Alain Ducasse. Deconstructed bouillabaisse is a specialty.

 

 

Restaurant Michel: (since 1946) Local favorite for special occasion dining.  Bouillabaisse is the specialty. 6 Rue des Catalans.

 

L’Epuisette: Outstanding sea views and seafood. Bouillabaisse is a specialty. Michelin One Star Award. Closed Sunday & Monday.  Open for L & D Tuesday-Saturday.

 

Les Halles de la Major: popular food hall

 

Les Docks: former docks transformed into a pedestrian friendly, shopping and entertainment area.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN MARSEILLES:

Marseilles’ famous soap and bath products are a good buy and are great souvenirs for the folks back home.

 

Le Four des Navettes  (since 1791) is famous for its baked orange-flavored cookies in the shape of little boats.

 

High end boutiques line the Cours Julien.

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN MARSEILLES:

Le Trolley Bus is the oldest nightclub in Marseilles. Dancing. Underground cave decor-claustrophobic to some. Open Thursday-Saturday. Extremely loud.

 

La Friche la Belle de Mai is a former tobacco factory converted into an art and performance center. It attracts a young, multi-ethnic crowd.

 

 

 

MONTPELLIER:

This old city of squares and tree lined promenades enjoys a sunny climate and is convenient to Mediterranean beaches. In recent years, striking contemporary buildings have sprouted on the landscape. Many of the new structures enjoy the design of prestigious worldwide pedigree architects.

 

 

MENTON:

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

 

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

 

 

 

MOUSTIERS-STE-MARIE:

 

Mousier-Ste-Marie offers fine, luxurious lodging. 

 

 

 

NANCY:

 

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

 

NANTES (BRITTANY):

(Please separate alphabetical listing for Brittany)

 

 

NICE:

 

Once proud, now somewhat tacky French Rivera resort. The real money and wanna-be 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. 

 

A mere twenty miles separate Nice from Cannes.

 

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 Promenade, lest one forget, received unwanted publicity in 2017 when a terrorist motorist intentionally mowed down and murdered several pedestrians.

 

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

 

Major sightseeing attractions include: 

 

The Old City: an area of winding cobblestone streets with boutiques and restaurants. An antique fair sets up every Monday in Cours Saleya.

Visit the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM), Despite its relative newness, this stunning new structure is already one of the top ten visited museums in France.

 

The Flower Market (fresh flowers and local produce), and: 

The Naval Museums. 

 

Art lovers will want to flock to two exceptional local museums: the smallish Chagall Museum (drawings, paintings, mosaics, stained glass, and sculptures by Mark Chagall) and the Matisse Museum displaying paintings, sculptures, and drawings; (Matisse made Nice his home). The Musee Picasso is in nearby Antibes (See separate Listing).

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN CANNES:

Look for perfume, olive oils, antiques

 

NIMES:

 

Nicest of the southern France cities, a city of well- preserved classical monuments.

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:

It takes place the Wednesday before Pentecost to the Penecost Monday. Late May - 1st week June: Feria de Cote is a popular 5-6-day festival centered on Spanish bullfighting. Events include A major parade, outdoor nightclubs, concerts, bull runs through the city.

 

The third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of September: Harvest Feria: more spontaneous than the Pentecost Feria and more family oriented.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN NIMES:

Arena of Nimes: The local arena, a 24,000 seat Roman amphitheater built in 70 A.D, hosts live bull fighting. Bullfighting twice daily at 11:00 a.m. and at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

THE NORMANDY COAST:

 

NORMANDY:

A region of Northwestern France, perhaps best known for its WWII beachheads and Saint-Michel. It is characterized by lush green agricultural- landscapes and dramatic coastline and sea cliffs.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN NORMANDY:

May through early July and to a lesser extent, August

 

AVOID: The winter months are rainy.

 

 

CAEN-HUPPAIN PORT-en-BESIN: (THE NORMANDY COAST). The largest invasion in history took place here in 1944 during WWII.

 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN NORMANDY:

Unless you are traveling with an organized tour group, a rental auto is a necessity to cover the area’s major sights.

 

AMBOISE, NORMANDY:

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN AMBOISE, NORMANDY:

Clos Luce is the last home of Leonardo da Vinci.  The beautiful old chateau contains models of several of Di Vinci’s inventions: a parachute, a flying machine, a helicopter, and an armored tank.

 

BAYEUX, NORMANDY:

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BAYEUX, NORMANDY:

The Musee de la Tapisserie displays the Bayeux Tapestry, said to be the world’s most celebrated tapestry. It recounts the Norman invasion of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Rue de Nesmond.

 

Notre Dame, well endowed with arches and Gothic details, was consecrated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror.

 

 

FECAMP (THE NORMANDY COAST):

 

There’s something fishy about this small coastal resort city of 20,000. It seems that its economy has been dependent back to the late 19th century on commercial fishing. It has always been recognized as a major fishing boat port.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN FECAMP (THE NORMANDY COAST):

 

Visit the new) Fisheries Museum (scheduled to open in February 2018). Housed in a former fish packing plant, the museum chronicles the history and importance of fishing to the city.

 

Fecamp has long been the home of B&B and Benedictine liqueurs. You can tour the Palais Benedictine distillery and museum.

 

GIVERNY, NORMANDY:

 

From 1883-1926, Monet spent more than 40 years living and painting in Giverny.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN GIVERNY, NORMANDY:

Maison et Jardins de Claude Monet: Visit the Claude Monet Foundation, home to the artist for 43 years, and its exquisite gardens, a subject of many of the artist’s finest paintings. It is said that the flower gardens of irises and gladioli, and the water garden with willows, lily pads, and violet wisteria along the banks, are in themselves literally works of art. Hours: Open 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. April-first week of October.

 SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: If you wish to visit without encountering mobs of fellow travelers arriving by group bus tours, schedule your visit for a Monday or Tuesday or after 3:00 p.m. any day.

Once inside 84 Rue Claude Monet, Vernon, Telephone: 33-2/32-51-28-21.

 

TASTY DINING IN GIVERNY (NORMANDY):

Restaurant Musee Baudy is open for lunch and dinner. The traditional p[lace to dine when visiting Giverny. Open: Late March to November 1. Rumors of possible closure, so call ahead. 27620 rue Claude Monet, Telephone: 33 (0) 2 32 21 10 03.

 

MONT ST MICHEL, NORMANDY

 

It is an unforgettable experience, as evidenced by the fact that it ranks as one of the most visited sights in France. The complex’s series of ancient structures and abbey rise dramatically from the sea on the distant isolated island Often photographed, nothing beats visiting first-hand; it , along with Omaha Beach, will be the highlights of your Normandy itinerary.

 

The complex will require a lot of walking, but your lasting memories of the experience will be richly rewarding. Once inside Mont St. Michel, you can walk along the Grande rue (the main street) on a paved way, which climbs progressively. At the top of the street are 350 steps leading to the Abbey. There is no elevator.

 

The ugly causeway that connected the island to the mainland was finally removed in 2015, the

result of ten years of engineering effort that removed the silt from the Bay

 

You must park your vehicle and take a shuttle bus to Mont St. Michel. The parking area is immense. Try to park as closely as possible to the end of the parking lot in the direction of the Information Booth-origination point of the shuttles. Otherwise, you may risk a 10-15-minute walk from your parking spot just to get to the Information Booth. It gets worse: The shuttles do not come to the parking lot. You must walk to them!

How convenient? The thoroughfare that you must walk to the Information Booth just happens to be lined with restaurants and souvenir shops!

 

 Retrieve a parking ticket at the parking lot entrance before getting on the shuttle. Note the location that you parked. It is important that you keep the parking ticket on your person as you will need it when leaving Mont St Michel to pay the timed parking fee before exiting. Payment is made at payment machines near the information booth (partially concealed and to the right of the nearby restroom building).

Shuttle buses (a 12 -minute ride) transfer visitors from the Information Center to within 400 meters of the entrance to Mont St. Michel

The shuttles are disabled friendly with curb leaning ramps and with capacity for two wheelchairs.

Hours: Closed: January 1, May 1, December 25; Open: July and August (maximum crowd season): open daily 9:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; March and October: Open Monday-Saturday: 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (closing at 5:00 p.m. in October, Sunday:9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.;

Easter holiday -end of September: 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Late November-Late February: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Admission to St Michel is free. There is, however, a parking fee for automobiles. There also is an admission fee to enter the Abbey, the museums, and an additional fee to attend the 7:30 p.m. candlelit evening service.

Mass in the Abbey is celebrated everyday (except Mondays) at 12:15 p.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: To avoid crowds, arrive after 4:00 p.m. as most of the tour buses will have departed by then.

 

Is visiting Mont St. Michel worth the hassle? Yes, unless you are severely mobile challenged, in which case, you wish to reconsider.

 

OMAHA BEACH, NORMANDY:

 

The site of the D-Day Landing of Allied Forces on June 6, 1944. The area now is popular for summer second homes.

 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS AT OMAHA BEACH, NORMANDY:

An absolute must be to visit to the Memorial Peace Museum, built in honor of those who sacrificed their lives in the epic battle.

 

View the remains of the artificial Mulberry port near Arromanche-les-Bains-a place where the allies resupplied their lines during the liberation of France.

 

Visit Sainte Mere Eglise, the heart of the American Airborne’s D-Day operations. Visit the parachute-shaped Airborne Museum. Also, visit Utah and Juno Beaches.

 

 

Visit Omaha Beach Cemetery and its interpretive center. View the gravesites of the courageous soldiers who died in battle. Walk through the Pointe Du Hoc Ranger Memorial and see where the 2nd Rangers scaled 100-foot cliffs on D-Day to seize the enemy’s fortified position.

 

The American Cemetery is where 9,387 soldiers rest. It is beautiful and peaceful-a fitting tribute to the brave American men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we can today live in freedom. It is unfortunate that every citizen cannot view and learn from this site, so that memories of their sacrifice are not lost in vain and complacency by today’s populace and the future generations to follow.

A little-known fact: 20,000 French civilians died in Normandy with 100 days of the invasion. Their deaths are honored at the Civilians in Wartime Memorial in Falaise.

 

The D-Day Experience, located next to Dead Man’s Corner Museum, opened in 2015. D-Day items used in the 1944 invasion are on display in a former airplane hangar. Not only do you experience a mock briefing for paratroopers headed to Normandy on D-Day, but you get “to ride” aboard a C-47 aircraft. Well, kind of-a simulation, including incoming anti-aircraft fire!

 

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST NEAR OMAHA BEACH, NORMANDY:

The 29-room luxurious Chateau La Cheneviere is the area’s classiest lodging. Its location is ideal as a hub for area sightseeing. Gourmet dining room. Port-en Bessin, Telephone: 00 332 31 512525.

 

ROEN, NORMANDY: “The City of Impressionism.” Roen is 85 miles or a two-hour drive from Paris.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ROUEN, NORMANDY:

Rouen’s main thoroughfare is the rue du Grtos Horloge. Nearby is the impressive Notre Dame, a Gothic cathedral immortalized in paintings by Claude Monet.

 

Also significant is the Place du Vieux Marche, the site where Joan of Arc was executed.

The Historical Jean d’Arc, an interactive museum dedicated to Joan of Arc, opened in 2015.

 

The Musee des Beaux-arts houses one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionism artworks.

Artists are attracted to the city for the scenery incorporated in their artworks. It has resulted in what is commonly now referred to as the Rouen School of Impressionism.

 

TROUVILLE, NORMANDY:

 

Historic beach resort for Parisians. Nice sandy beaches.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN TROUVILLE, NORMANDY:

The picturesque nearby fishing port of Honfleur is extremely scenic and often is a subject of a photographer’s lens.

 

 

 

 

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. 

Population: 11 million.

Close to 2 million Americans visit Paris annually.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN PARIS:

 

Last two weeks April, May, Early June. 

 

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

 

The least crowded time to visit is during the winter months. Cold temperatures are the offset.

 

AVOID:

 

July and August: Parisians vacation and many Paris restaurants and shops close. Airline tickets are more expensive during the summer months. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN PARIS:

3rd Saturday in April: la Nuit Europeene des Musees: This special event takes place once a year when all of the major museums stay open all night and admission is free.

 

Mid-July: Bastille Day.  Much merriment: The night before Bastille Day neighborhood fire stations hold firemen’s balls with street dancing. A large parade takes place along the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day, followed by fireworks at night at the Eiffel Tower.

 

End of July: French Open Tennis Tournament. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN PARIS:

Paris is served by two major airports:

Charles DeGaulle International and

Orlay International

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP:  If you intend to do considerable sightseeing while in Paris, you may wish to seriously consider a purchase of THE PARIS MUSEUM PASS ( CARTE de MUSEES). At $122 (2010) for a two-day adult pass, $212 for six days, it’s not inexpensive. Consider, however, that the PARIS MUSEUM PASS provides admission to over 60 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 PASS includes admissions to the Louvre, the Rodin Museum, Musee d’Orsay, and Versailles, just to name a few.

The PASS can be purchased at any of the participating museums, at Paris Tourist Information Centers, or online at http://en.parismuseumpass.com

 

 

The first Sunday of every month from October to March, the Centre Pompidou, Musee d’ Orsay, and the Louvre, offer free admission.

 

Don’t even think of renting an auto when in Paris. The traffic is challenging and the parking costs astronomical.

 

The Paris subway is efficient, safe, clean and well run. The Routes are named after the Destination.

 

Taxis are plentiful and for the most part, honest. Nighttime fares are more expensive than daylight.

 

CENTRE POMPIDOU:

Chances are that unless you are an arts connoisseur, you are unfamiliar with the Centre Pompidou. You therefor will be surprised to learn that its annual visitation exceeds the Louvre.

The museum structure is distinctive 20th century modern-recognizable for its colorful tubing and exterior escalator that runs the length of the building. The museum opened in 1977.

In fact, Pompidou is the most visited sight in France, with its collection of 20th and 21th century modern and contemporary 60,000 artworks. The period from 1905 to 1960 includes

works by Matisse, Picasso, Dubuffet, etc. The period from 1960-to the present day includes works by Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Anish Kapoor, etc. The 6th floor rooftop provides

panoramic views of Paris. On premises cinema, library, café and gift shop.

Hours: Closed Tuesdays. Open Monday, Wednesday-Monday 11:00 a.m.-9;00 p.m., open till 11:00 p.m. on Thursday. Closed major holidays. Ad mission for non- French citizens.

Located at Place Georges Pompidou-75004, La Marais-4th Arrondissement.

 

 

THE LOUVRE: 

 

 

 
Louvre Museum at Sunset 

 

The obligatory sights:  Musee du Louvre (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 added in 1989 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. Visit the Denon wing and then move on to the iconic ‘Winged Victory of Samon thrace’ sculpture and Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People.’. Next, the Apollo Gallery, and finally, the Sully Wing with ‘Venus de Millo.’ Try to get beyond the Mona Lisa and the Masters and explore the other galleries displaying over 35,000 artworks. You’ll be richly rewarded with marvelous Egyptian antiquities, sculptures and paintings. Hungry?  Several restaurants of convenience are housed in the pyramid.  

Should you decide to return to the Louvre a second day: Visit the Richelieu wing to view the opulence of Napoleon III’s reconstructed apartments.

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: If you arrive at the Louvre and must purchase a ticket, instead of entering through the Pyramid entrance, purchase your ticket at the entrance at the at the Galerie du Carrousel in Rue de Rivoli. Closed on Tuesdays.

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

Avoid the first Sunday of every month-a free day-the crowds are enormous.

 

The Jardin des Tuileries, with their 16th century splendor, is just west of the Louvre.

 

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL: 

 

 

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, France

 

 

Gothic style. Medieval style architecture. Magnificent stained glass and rose windows. It was built atop a Roman temple to Jupiter and was completed in 1302.

Over the centuries, the cathedral fell into disrepair. Only after Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ was published in 1831, was interest rekindled to commence renovation of the structure. The spire was rebuilt in 1860.

A little-known bit of trivia; Notre Dame served for a brief period until 1831 as a warehouse.

If energetic and willing to climb 238 steps to the towers, you’ll be rewarded with great views.

 

 

EIFFEL TOWER: 

 


 

The Eiffel Tower (visit at night - on hourly intervals, the 1,063-foot latticed iron work tower sparkles with spectacular flashing lights five minutes of every hour). The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, is undergoing a $267 million renovation: additional elevators, shops, enlargement of restaurant, improved access for the disabled.

 

Interesting trivia: Over the years, 250 million have visited the tower.

The tower is painted three different shades of brown: the darkest at the top and the lightest at the bottom. The shading is intended to make the structure’s color uniform from top to bottom during atmospheric haze conditions.

Hard to believe, but the tower was painted once a gaudy red and another time: yellow!

 

 

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Savvy 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 of it 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) THE ENCLOSED STAIRCASE TO LEVEL TWO.  The Second Level (37stories high) houses the luxurious and expensive (Lunch: average 60 - 75 Euros per person plus tax + gratuity; dinner:  150 - 200 Euros per person plus tax + gratuity. Did anyone order wine? Skip the mints!)  Jules Verne Restaurant, accessed by private diners only elevator on the south-leg of the tower. 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. Telephone: 01-45-55-61-44 or reserve online. This all adds up to a very expensive dining experience, particularly if you’re unsuccessful in wrangling a window table. Middle of diningroon 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 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-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 12and 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. 

 

MUSEE d’ ORSAY:

The Musee d’Orsay is the other obligatory art museum you should visit.

The Musee d’ Orsay displays the world’s largest collection of impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings. The museum building, a former train station is, a stunning piece of architectural brilliance. The half-glass dome provides welcome brilliant natural light at the entry level.

 

Begin at the fifth floor where most of the well-known Impressionist paintings (1848-1914) are displayed

 

Here’s betting that you end up enjoying the Musee d’ Orsay more than the Louvre. 

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Avoid the long lines that predictably form when the museum opens in the a.m. 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.  Unless you are financially destitute, try to avoid the first Sunday of every month. Yes, its free admission day, but you’ll stand in line for hours-hardly worth the aggravation. Purchase your tickets in advance online. Closed Mondays.

.1 Rue de la Legion d’Honneur, +33 (0) 40 49 48 14.

 

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

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 Arc de Triomphe: is impressive. It’s iconic. But did you know that you can climb to the top of the Arch and its rooftop terrace for outstanding panoramic viewing of the city? Dusk is a spectacular time to visit. Yikes! 234 steps and no elevator!! Believe I’ll just stand here and admire the Arch, thank you.

 

A little background: The Arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his war victories. Construction was suspended from 1814-1826. The Arch was not completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis Philippe. Napoleon died (1821) long before the Arch was completed.

 

If you look closely, you will note that the Arch is engraved with the names of generals who

commanded troops during Napoleon’s regime.

The Arch was designed by Jean Chalgrin based on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Paris’s version is much taller, but otherwise has the same proportions. Several reliefs on the Arch commemorate Napoleon’s major battles. 30 shields at the top of the Arch list the names of Napoleon’s successful battles. The Arch also incorporates the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers from WWI-a feature added in 1921. The Eternal Flame is re-lit every evening at 6:30 p.m.

 

 Located in the middle of Place Charles DeGaulle (a circular square from which 12 streets radiate from), at the border of the 8th, 16th, and 17th Arrondissements. The streets are named after French military leaders. 

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Access to the Arch is via an underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grandee Armee side of the circle. DO NOT attempt as a pedestrian to cross the Arch’s traffic circle to access the monument-it is all but guaranteed suicide.

 

MUSEE RODIN:

Musee Rodin: is housed in the former mansion/studio of famous sculptor/artist Augusta Rodin.

Spring is an ideal time to visit as the museum’s gorgeous rose gardens are in bloom as you view ‘The Thinker,’ ‘The Kiss,’ and other iconic statues. Closed Mondays. 77 Rue de Varenne.

 

THE PLACE de la CONCORDE:

 

PLACE de VEENDOME:

 

Take a romantic dinner cruise on the River Seine. You can skip the dinner and just do a day cruise. If the thought of a river cruise doesn’t exactly ring your chimes, reconsider as in Paris, the Seine allow you special views not otherwise available on land. The Seine literally bisects Pairis’s East and West Banks.

In selecting a river cruise, be selective. There are many boats plying the Seine. The best is:

 

Vedettes du Pont-Neuf  (cruises begin at Pont-Neuf bridge)

Bateaux Mouches

 

Stroll along the Quai Branly, the thoroughfare that runs along the left bank of the Seine between the Point d’Alma and the Eiffel Tower, an you’ll encounter the Musee du quai Branly, a four-story structure whose walls are covered in vegetation from roof to sidewalk!

 

Green thumb and/or enjoy beautiful flowers?  The Parc Andre Citroen is built on the former Citroen auto plant site-a beautiful display of natural plants and flowers plus a central lawn area. Greenhouses house exotic and Mediterranean plants plus a series of themed gardens.

 

Still another botanic treat is a visit to La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne (1899). A vast display of roses.

 

Jardin des Tuileries: This UNESCO World Heritage site is a huge park with walking paths, ponds and even a working merry-go-round.

 

Jardin du Luxembourg is Paris’ favorite park. It dates to Napoleon days.

 

 

 

The Musee de la Musique (The Museum of Music) offers a huge collection (over 7,000 instruments) of musical instruments from early horns to Stradivarius violins to modern synthesizers and electric guitars. Great for families and people with disabilities: blind or deaf, Music performances on most days. On premises café. 221 Avenue Jean -Jaures 19th, 01-44-84-45-45.

 

I can think of a number of places preferable to go strolling, but many enjoy visiting the quietness of Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Many famous French are buried here plus Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.

Guided tours on Tuesday and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. entrance is off Blvd. de Menilmontant.

 

Speaking of cemeteries. If you’re really into the macabre, consider visiting the Paris Catacombs. Yikes! Dem bones-dem bones. Yuk! A neck bone here, a shin there. Looks like an arm bone farther afield. Ah, look at those skulls!! Tens of thousands of bones piled high or artistically formed into a chandelier or coat of arms. An estimated 40,000 people’s bones, some dating back to the 18th century. Personally. The Venom far prefers viewing the Terra Cotta Warriors over piles of creepy bones.

 

Cognacq-Jay Museum, a former 18th century aristocrat’s mansion with an impressive art collection, is nearby the Picasso Museum.

 

 

 

DAY TRIPS OUTSIDE 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 17th century tastes of King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.  Check out the Grand Apartments, 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. 

 

Visit Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny (see separate alphabetical listing)

 

Visit Fontainebleau (see separate alphabetical listing for Fontaine)

 

 

If you must, Disneyland Paris is a handy 40-minute train rise ride east outside Paris at Marne-la-Valle.  It’s changed a lot since its opening as EuroDisney 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. 

Like its other parks, Disney offers a Fast pass system allowing to to skip lines. Translated: fork over more money if you don’t like waiting in lines! Timed entry to the attractions.

 

Best Time to Visit Disneyland Paris? Low-season rates are Mid-April, May, June till Mid-July and Mid-September, October, November till Mid-December, and Mid-January, February till Mid-March: lowest lodging rates, least crowded. 

 

Most Expensive and Crowded: Mid-December till Mid-January Holiday period, Mid-March till Mid-April Spring Break, Mid-July till Mid-September: European summer vacations.

 

North of Paris is the charming village of Auvers-sur- Oise, where Vincent Van Gogh painted some of his finest works, completing 80 paintings in 70 days, just prior to his suicide in 1890.

Van Gogh is buried in a local cemetery.

Chateau d’ Auvers is an interactive museum of the Impressionism art movement.

 

 

 

IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHTS REST IN PARIS:

Paris sports an abundance of world-class luxurious hotels. They are listed, not necessarily in order of preference or grandeur.

 

The historic Ritz Carlton (1898) is scheduled to re-open in early spring, 2016 (after an extended closure on August 1, 2012), to complete an extensive total restoration of the luxury property. The Ritz Carlton, with its modernization and newly updated opulence, has downsized from an original 159 rooms to a total of 142 rooms including 71 guest rooms and 71 suites: Spa.

 

Plaza Athenee Since first opening in 1913, the hotel has enjoyed an envied prestigious reputation for luxury Louis XVI and Art-Deco accommodations. Some rooms provide exceptional views of the Eiffel Tower. Outside dining in the beautiful courtyard during the Spring and Summer months.: Gourmet dining room. Spa. Impeccable service.

 

The elegant 224 room and suite Four Seasons Hotel George V, is the only hotel in Europe with three Michelin starred restaurants; Le Cinq is a Michelin Three Star Awardee, whereas Le George and L’Orangerie each enjoy Michelin One Star Awards. 31 avenue George V, near Champs Elysee.

 

 

The landmark (built in 1758), 124- room Hotel de Crillion (Rosewood Hotels & Resorts) re-opened in 2017 after being closed for a four-year total restoration to assure its continued reputation as being one of the world’s most luxurious hotel properties. The re-opening included addition of a swimming pool, and a Michelin One Star dining room.

 

The 190 room Le Bristol Paris is a favorite of diplomats. Old-world luxury.

 

The elegant seven-story Le Meurice enjoys a great location, between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, right across from the Tuileries. Rooms are decorated in the style of Louis XVI. Celebrity Chef Alain Ducasse is at the helm of the two Michelin Starred restaurants. Hotel amenities include a spa and sun terrace.

 

The luxurious 101-room Shangri- La Hotel (built in 1892) faces the Eiffel Tower; Request a balcony room overlooking it. The structure was formerly the mansion of Napoleon’s grand-nephew. Amenities include a spa, two of its three restaurants are Michelin Award winners, and an indoor swimming pool 10 Avenue d’Iena.

 

La Reserve Paris

 

Montaigne

 

Moderate Priced alternatives:

Hotel Saint-Germain-Des-Pres: is decorated in Belle-Epoque style, some would say by an interior decorator out of control on steroids. Every square inch is seemingly covered in wallpaper, not always in harmony with the velvet fabrics and other room decorations. Marble baths.  Popular with American and British vacationers.  If you want color, this is the place. Subtlety is not its strong suit. The good news is that the nightly rate is a third of the deluxe hotels. 36 Rue Bonaparte, 43 26 00 19.

 

The boutique 27 room Hotel Novanox offers a modern décor alternative. Large baths. 155 Boulevard du Monparnasse, 46 33 63 60.

 

 

TASTY DINING IN PARIS:

 

You don’t fly to France to chomp on Mc Donald burgers. Even New York and Las Vegas now enjoy outposts of Paris’s 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.

Many Paris restaurants are closed on Sundays.

 

Guided Foodie tours of St. Germain des Pres are becoming increasingly popular. The walking tours the food intensive neighborhood, include visits to specialty shops, including butchers, cheese makers, chocolatiers, confectioneries and bakeries featuring macaroons, chocolates, French pastries, eclairs, etc., including tastings at each. Other tours offer a progressive dinner at three-four restaurants.

 

When in Paris, understand that you are dining in THEIR chef’s restaurant kitchen-not yours. Never request that the chef alter his menu for your tastes. Food allergies are an exception to the rule.

Meals are a leisurely affair, meant to be savored, not consumed like a marathon hotdog eating competition on the seashore. In Paris, one dines not simply out of necessity, but rather to enjoy the cuisine. If the pace of service seems slow, chill and relax.

A dead-giveaway to identify non-European diners, Americans, is that Americans always dine with a fork in their right hand. Europeans typically have a knife in their right hand and a fork in their left, but do not deposit the knife on the table between bites.

 

If you are a coffee drinker, understand that coffee is never served with the entrée or dessert. It is always served at the end of the meal.

 

In most restaurants, you will need to request that your waiter bring your bill.

 

Guy Savoy, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, has opened his restaurant in the historic Monnaie de Paris-The former French Mint (1864). The restaurant had been at its previous location on Troyon for 28 years. The new rooftop restaurant honors the owner’s classic menu prepared by a staff of 35 chefs and cooks.

The dining room’s windows overlook the Seine and the Louvre.

The old  Troyon location will concentrate on seafood

 

For that matter, non-rated spots will suffice, thank you. Try Café Charbon or the tiny Le Severo for great steak frites (closed Saturdays), 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. Address:  15 rue Lemennais, 8e. Telephone: 01-44-95-15-01. The menu is large, the portions small, but superb. Reservations required months in advance. Perhaps they are verifying your credit worthiness? 

 

Aux Lyonnais is one of Paris’s grand old bistros, now under the direction of acclaimed chef, Alan Ducasse.  Expect Lyonnais specialties: the scallops in mustard sauce are always a winner. The simple décor remains undisturbed harkening back to the 1890’s: potted palms, etched-glass, and globe lights. Closed Sundays and Saturday lunch. French menu - no translations. Address:  32 rue St. Marc, 2e, Telephone: 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, oysters, trotter. The French onion soup ain’t bad. The entry door has brass pig’s feet door handles. Telephone: 01-40-13-77-00. 

 

Another must be the old-timer, classic bistro Chez George. Starched linens, uniformed waiters, no nonsense menu that has withstood the test of time. Fish dishes always good. 1 Rue du Mail 2nd Arr., 011 33 1 42 60 07 11.

 

The Art-Deco La Coupole (1927) in Montparnasse still packs them in for basic dishes like oysters, soups, salads, and grills. 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 14th, 01-43-20-14-20.

 

 

 

Le Pharamond (1832) is an old-time French Bistro serving the cuisine of Normandy. The little changed original décor is like out of a time warp. 24 Rue de la Grande Truanderie  7500, First Arrondissment, (behind Les Halles), Closed Mondays, at lunch and Sunday for dinner, +33 1 40 28 45 18.

 

another old-timer is Le Procope (1686). It’s a great choice for lunch. Large portions of seafood at reasonable prices. Escargot, onion soup, Coq au vin, lobster. Its dripping with décor: Voltaire, Napoleon Bonaparte,  Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson have all dined here. Napoleon’s cap is on display along with busts and paintings of famous guests. 13 Rue de I’Ancienne Comedie 75006, Telephone: 133 1 40 45 79 08.

 

When you tire of pigeon under glass, sautéed calf’s brain, rabbit with figs, foie grasse, and the like, and simply seek a bowl of pasta, rush on over to Le Monteverdi-where the Parisian chefs dine on spaghetti on their days off.  Nice comfortable décor. Must be good, as the place has persevered for over 40 years and counting.  Closed Sundays. 5-7 Rue Guisarde, Sixth ARR., Telephone: 33-1/42-34-55-90.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN PARIS:

Shopaholics will be delighted to know that merchants are now permitted to be open on Sundays.

Large department stores like iconic Galeries Lafayette, were heretofore required to remain closed on Sundays.

 

Champs-Elysees: is located on the Right Bank of the Seine.

Pierre Herme is nicknamed “The Picasso of Pastries.” His bakery sells cakes and macarons that literally are works of art-a shame to eat. Hours: Open daily 10:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m., 133 Avenue des Champs Elysees.

 

 

The so-called Left Bank of the Seine has been more resistive to change than the hipster Right Bank. For a glimpse into the cobblestone Paris of old, stroll the Latin Quarter and the boulevards of St. Germain-des Pres.

 

 

Le Bon Marche is Paris’s Nieman Marcus. It carries Louis Vitton and Dior plus a large selection of lingerie and hosiery.

 

Monoprix is Paris’s Target. Good for souvenirs at a fraction of a price sold elsewhere.

 

Gourmet food merchants tend to congregate along the Rue de Bretagne.

 

A feast for the eyes and belly: Visit Carrefour Bercy. A mega gourmet supermarket of butter, mustards, wines, and everything yummy. Place de I’Europe 94220, Clarenton le Pont (a suburb of Paris), 01-43-53-86-00.

 

Marche d’ Aligre Bastille is the consensus best open-air street market in Paris. Merchant stalls selling cheese, baguettes, split-roasted chickens, olives, quail eggs, produce, fruit (apples). Hours: Thursday and Sunday: 7:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.  Blvd. Richard Lenoir.

 

Clothing? The hundreds of stylish boutiques of Saint-Germain-des-Pres

 

Chocolate? The top chocolatiers of Paris are:

La Manufacture Chocolat Alain Ducasse, as in the same Master Chef Alain Ducasse of worldwide culinary fame. 40 Rue de la Rouquette 75011.

Patrick Roger: is known for his chocolate sculptures, including life sized apes and orangutans. Several locations in Paris.

Jean Paul Hevin:  Be sure to have a hot chocolate, large variety of chocolates. Saint Honore location.

Jean Charles Rochoux:  chocolate truffles are a specialty.

 

  Rue de Charonne is a hodgepodge collection of vintage clothing stores and small one-of

-a-kind specialty boutiques that attract Paris’ young Bohemians.

 

No one has ever accused the French of being overly discreet when it comes to the most sex.  Boulevard de Clichy is the place for neon lights and sex shops.

 

 

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. 

 

Talented local bands perform at La Fleche d’Or, is a small and hip music venue in the old railroad station in east Paris.

 

If you enjoy music, you might grab a copy of the Parisian magazine ‘Pariscope,’ that is published every Wednesday. It’s a handy reference for current music happenings.

 

PROVENCE:

A geographical region in southeastern France.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN PROVENCE:

(Also see separate alphabetical listings for Marseille and Cote d’Azur)

 

There’s a chain of ten tiny French Mediterranean islands off the coast of Provence. Access to the islands generally originates by ferry boat from Marseille.

The ten islands include IIe-d’if, Ratonneau, Pomegues, Porquerolles (largest if the ten islands, car free), Bendor, Ile des Emblez, , Le Levant (primarily a naval base + nudist colony), Poriegues, Port Cras, (Sainte-Marguerite, Saint-Honorat are both accessed from Cannes),Ratonneau and Pomegues, within stone throw of each other, are connected by a dyke.

 

If you are inclined to want to visit the islands, a recommended itinerary is to visit:

Spend several days in Porquerolles and Emblez

Take Day Side Trips to Ile drive, Ratonneau (fortified and one-time prison island), Pomegues, and Sainte-Marguerite

Skip: Bendor (little to see or do) and Saint-Honorat

 

 

 

RENNES:

(See separate alphabetical listing for Brittany).

 

 

 

REIMS:

 

The historic town of Reims is home of the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. It is home to several Luxurious resorts. It is a city of waterways. Reims is a 2.5-3-hour drive from Calais. From Paris, it is a one-hour train trip, a half-hour longer to Epernay.

You will need an auto to explore the region, unless you are part of an escorted group tour.

 

(Also see separate alphabetical listing for Epernay)

 

A Champagne Primer:

Blanc de Blanc: is made using only Chardonnay grapes. A bouquet resembling pear and plum

Blanc de Noir:  is made using only black grapes pinot noir or pinot meunier). A full-bodied bouquet, often rich and refine with great complexity.

Rose (pink champagne): most often served as an aperitif, it is made by adding a small percentage of red pinot noir to white champagne.

Prestige Cuvee: is made with grapes from top-classed grand cru vineyards. Typically, expensive to purchase.

Millesime:  Vintage champagne produced from a single crop during an exceptional year.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN REIMS:

 

Notre Dame Cathedral will be 807 years old in 2018. 

 

 

The prestigious names Dom Perignon, Mumm, and Taittinger are all represented in the Reims area.

 

Outside Reims are the underground Champagne Cellars of Dom Perignon.

 

The name Mumm, founded in 1827, is synonymous with fine champagne.  Tours of the stored 25 million bottles concludes with tastings. Hours: Daily: 9:30 a.m-1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. except abbreviated hours and closed on Sundays during November and December. 34 Rue de Champ de Mars

 

Taittinger is perhaps the best best to follow the process of champagne making. It cellars, dating back to the 4th century was dug by monks. Hours: Open daily April-mid November:  9:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Shorted hours and closed on weekends the remainder of the year. 9 Place Saint-Nicaise.

 

The impressive wine museum, The Musee de la Vigne ET du Vin, belongs to the Launois -Oger family, champagne makers since 1872. Two hour guided tours in French or English of the century old winery equipment. Tour hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

 

ROUEN:

(See separate alphabetical listing for Normandy)

 

 

STRASBOURG:

(Alsace-LorraineRegion):  

 

Strasbourg is the regional capital located on the French-German border in a highly scenic region known as Alsace. Both French and German are spoken. The cuisine is a blend of German and French, with beer, sausages, sauerkraut, and pickled cabbage commonly featured on restaurant menus.

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN STRASBOURG:

Late November-early December: Christkindelsmarik (Christmas Market) is one of Europe’s oldest, a tradition dating back to 1570. Over 300 stalls with holiday merchandise. Located at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN STRASBOURG:

 

October is considered off-season. Tends to be less crowded and lower lodging rates. 

 

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

Bredele are tasty traditional Christmas biscuits.

 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN STRASBOURG:

Strasbourg’s architecture is more German than French, with predominately half-timbered structures. 

 

The town’s pink-sandstone Notre Dame Cathedral’s Gothic spire is notable. 

 

Visit the European Union Parliament Building. 

 

Local boat cruises on the Rhine River are worthwhile.  Enjoy a river cruise that passes the medieval waterfront facades of the Petite District and the dramatic glass paneled European Parliament.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN STRASBOURG:

Search for cookie cutters-a great souvenir of your visit.

 

 

 

ST. PAUL de VENCE: is a 16th century walled town overlooking the Mediterranean coast.

 

 

 

TOULOUSE:

 

City in southwestern France. The city is the epicenter of Frances aeronautics industry.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN TOULOUSE:

Canal cruises are very popular.  Choice of with dinner (L’Occitania Cruises) or without meal cruises (Les Bateaux Toulousains Cruises). Sailings are from the quail de la Daurade.

 

Cite de L’Space is an interesting tour possibility. Replicas of Frances’s space program are on display.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN TOULOUSE:

Les Abattoirs, is a former slaughterhouse turned art gallery and exhibition center.

 

 

 

ST. TROPEZ (FRENCH RIVERIA):

 

St. Tropez, a former fishing village until the 1950’s, is nowadays a pricey, upscale beach resort. A great hub for exploring the Provencal towns to the west and the Cote d’ Azur. Popular April through August. 

Like Cannes, St. Tropez caters to the so-called beautiful people-some would be less kind and simply call them for what they are: self- important phonies. Men accompanied with young women (perhaps their daughter?) are everywhere. Difficult to fathom, but the average great unwashed working class, however, is more welcome here than in Cannes. Be forewarned that this is decidedly the epi-center of conspicuous consumption. Residences are for sale for $2 million and up.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN ST TROPEZ: May, July, August, September (less crowded). July and August are Peak Season.

St Tropez is at its busiest during the summer.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ST TROPEZ:

Don’t be shocked to encounter topless beachgoers in St Tropez-it has been tolerated to decades.

 

The La Ponche Harbor district is home to multiple restaurants and nightclubs.

 

Place des Lices hosts an outdoor market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Several food vendors are typically present.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN ST TROPEZ:

The shops are brimming with over-priced designer brands, places where the customers are more concerned with the labels than the item’s appearance. One’s up-men- ship is prevalent amongst the clientele.

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN ST TROPEZ:

Les Caves du Roy Club, (located in the Hotel Byblos), attracts the here to be seen glamour crowd during the summer months.

 

 

 

VILLEFRANCHE:

 

Villefrache is the ocean port for Nice and Monte Carlo. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN VILLEFRANCHE:

 

The massive town’s 16th century fortress dominates the landscape. 

 

TASTY DINING IN VILLEFRANCHE:

 

Seafood is the specialty. 

 

 

 

 

VONNAS:

 

TASTY DINING IN VONNAS:

 

Restaurant Gastronomique Georges Blanc is a proud Michelin Three Star Award winner, Hours: Dinner only Wednesday-Sunday. Closed entire month of January. +33 (0) 4 74 50 90 90, credit cards accepted. Located one hour drive north from Lyon.

The 20 room, 12 suite hotels, about the restaurant, gets mixed reviews. It is a Relais & Chateaux property. Be sure to request one of the larger rooms.