Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books
Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!
Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.
Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.
I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at KOTO.org at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.
One more thing: Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook.
Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Podcasts Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Podcasts Travel Writing & Books
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Peter Mayle and his books officially put Provence, one of many wonderful regions in France, on the map about two decades ago. Although Provence and other parts of the south of France have become increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, the French have appreciated these regions for their sun-drenched richness, transcending landscapes and beloved traditions for centuries. Thankfully you can still count on these prized destinations wooing you as assuredly as finding a Cavaillon melon in a Provençal market—oh, they taste so sugary sweet.
For lovers of the south of France or those just looking for a bit more information about Provence and beyond, there’s Julie Mautner and her Provence Post. Julie avidly posts bushels of fresh information and other news on her popular blog. Listen to our Travel Fun interview below to hear Julie and me talk about Provence, other parts of the south of France, the French and more. If you gaze at the beautiful images that Julie provided for this post you’ll feel transported to this redolent land filled with rosemary, lavender and thyme. And if you’re thinking about planning a trip, know that Julie can help out there as well.
Click on the play button below to hear Julie talk about The Provence Post and more.
For more on Provence read my stories Pondering Provence, Sizzling Sensations from Saint-Tropez and Elizabeth Bard Talks About Lunch in Paris, Love and Provence.
Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Paris Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel: Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Paris Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel
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I don’t think there’s a woman out there that hasn’t dreamed about falling in love in Paris. C’mon, admit it to yourself. See, I told you—I’m sure you’ve allowed just a shred of this fantasy to play out in your head at least once in your life. Many women indulge themselves with full-blown visions of strolling hand-in-hand with a lover alongside the Seine or sharing a tête-à-tête in a cozy French bistrot over a savory coq au vin and a good Bordeaux with the man of her dreams. Others just allow a glimmer of a romance flash through their minds. I bet there are some men (those sensitive types!) that have thought wistfully about love in Paris as well. I may be biased but Paris is surely the most romantic city in the world.
What makes it so? Well, it would take a whole book to divulge that—the decor, the mood, the ambiance, the food and wine. Elizabeth Bard does just that in her book “Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes.” I found it to be a terrific read. And I know Paris, love and the whole bonne salade of it all. Elizabeth has done a wonderful job at describing the sights and tastes of the moveablefeast that is Paris. (I haven’t yet tried the recipes she shares, but they seem wonderful and quite easy which is actually what most French cooking is all about.) And of course, Elizabeth meets a love, a Frenchman, and we are swept into their lives like a tourist on a fourteen-day European tour. Fortunately she provides many opportunities for us to savor their moment as well.
French Provinces Restaurants Shopping: French Provinces Restaurants Shopping
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With Deauville and the G8 summit in the news right now, I’ve found myself dreaming of this princely Norman town by the sea. How I loved to go there for weekend getaways from Paris, especially during spring when the bucolic scenery of Normandy—this renowned apple-and-cheese region of France—is most verdant.
A speedy two-and-a-half-hour drive from the capital, Deauville rates high on the list of favorite Parisian weekend destinations. Aside from socializing, gambling, and playing golf, the favorite thing to do in this pristine seaside resort is to walk along les planches, one of the most famous boardwalks on earth. Even on blustery days you can spot pleasure-seekers strolling along as the wind snaps at the myriad brightly colored parasols and their thick sashes of contrasting hues.
Another activity that scores major points as a popular Deauville pastime is shopping. One look around this perfectly manicured storybook town and you can see why: Big-name boutiques abound. Set up mostly on the streets surrounding the casino, these chic showplaces look like satellite shops of their larger mother houses back in Paris. If you walk inland toward the heart of the commercial district, you’ll see further evidence that Deauville is the Norman town à la parisienne; the impeccable half-timbered houses, the irreproachable flower beds, and their Haussmann-like alignment of streets create a look far more refined than what you would expect in a quaint Norman town. There are so many traiteurs (a more upscale version of our delis) here that you’d think that you were in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. Between these pricey takeouts and the plenitude of restaurants, it’s clear that second residence dwellers don’t cook at home much. Visitors also regale in these food and wine lovers’ boutiques, since there you’ll find a wagon-full of fine comestibles such as farm-fresh cheeses, cider, Calvados and more.
My All-Time Favorite Dining Spot on the Northern Riviera
Les Vapeurs Brasserie
Obtaining a table here for Saturday lunch is like finding a quiet spot on the beach during the month of August. Here you can at least reserve in advance—just like les habitués who ritually race up the highway from Paris in time for the midday meal aux Vapeurs, THE unofficial start of the weekend. Once here, you will be greeted by effusive salutations of bonjour madame, bonjour monsieur in typical politesse française, but the hurly-burly of this popular seafood restaurant keeps the waitstaff busy enough that they won’t fawn over you—in fact, you may be left to debone your exquisitely prepared sole meunière all on your own. Their moules meunières taste just as delectable, and if you want to order like the locals, you’ll have the mussels, then the sole, followed up by fraises melba (strawberries and whipped cream)! As you languish on their lobster-red banquettes, you’ll have a fine view of the marvelous photos, advertising posters, and neon signs that plaster the yellowed walls like mementos in an old scrapbook.
160/162 quai Férnand-Moureux, Trouville; tel.: 02.31.88.15.24; Brasserie: Moderate-Expensive; Open year-round; www.lesvapeurs.fr
The above text was adapted and excerpted from my book, “The Riches of France: A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces.” It’s currently out of print, but still may be obtained through amazon.com and other booksellers. Although published by St. Martin’s Press over a decade ago, the information is still quite current since most of the places and establishments I included in that book are wonderful bastions of French tradition.
For more information on the Normandy region of France and more, visit us.FranceGuide.com, the official Web site of the French Government Tourist Office. For Deauville specifically, go to Deauville Tourisme.
Thank you to Atout France, CDT Calvados, Jacques Lorin, Elizabeth Parker and Jêrome Meslin for the use of the above images.
French Life French Provinces Paris Podcasts: French Life French Provinces Paris Podcasts
Ah, Paree. There’s nothing like Paris. And it’s true, the City of Light can be delightful in April.
But where does one begin? There’s so much to see and do in the French capital. And how about gaining more insight into zee French? I lived there eleven years, have written four shopping and touring guides to Paris and the French provinces, and I’m still looking to inform myself about France and its countrymen. So where do I turn for lots of helpful information and insightful stories about Paris and the French provinces? Why, BonjourParis.com, bien sur.
I interviewed Karen Fawcett, the driving force behind Bonjour Paris, this past fall on my Travel Fun radio show. Listen to our chat below to hear how Bonjour Paris has been the definitive guide to Paris since 1995. And the range and depth of their reporting doesn’t stop with Paris. (Although every bon parisien has believed for centuries that their fair city is the center of the universe. In truth, moi aussi for a while!) Thankfully Bonjour Paris gives the rest of France its due, another reason why this informative Web site has earned a leading presence on the worldwide web for all things French.
Karen is funny and insightful, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear more about this much-loved land from someone truly in-the-know.
Thank you to DaliParis and Karen Fawcett for the above images.
Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Hotels Paris Podcasts: Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Hotels Paris Podcasts
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If you’ve caught any coverage of the Tour de France, you’ve seen some glorious shots of the French countryside dotted with fairy tale-looking castles and elegant manor houses. Families still live in most of these impressive dwellings, many of whom have lived there for centuries. And even better, some of these families of long lineage open up their stately residences to visitors on a nightly or even weekly basis. (Yes, you can easily rent your own château in France for your destination wedding, family reunion or other exciting event.)
But how do you go about connecting with these people, some of whom may be just familiarizing themselves with the Internet? Enter Diane Ohanian, French château expert par excellence. Diane created au Château some ten years ago, a company and e-newsletter that dials Americans into château life in France. In my Travel Fun interview with Diane (and through her au Château Web site and newsletter), I’ve found her to be an incredible resource on French châteaux and on French life in general. As an ardent Francophile for more than two decades, Diane has made it her mission to suss out some of the most glorious and welcoming abodes in the gallic land. Indeed au Château is a great English-language resource for travelers looking to stay in historic places.
Click on the play button below to hear what Diane has to say about château life in France, French hosts and what she appreciates most about life in France. Hint: it has nothing to do with traffic jams and fast food.
Three châteaux have been featured in the above images including Château de la Motte d’Usseau, Château du Fraisse and Château Sallandrouze. (For Château Sallandrouze, please check with Diane directly at email@example.com for this property’s availability.) Note that au Château boasts nearly eighty members on their site, so you have a variety of experiences to chose from in every corner of France.
Diane on the French as Hosts
“They’re excellent hosts, warm and friendly. The nobility is nice, too. Not at all condescending. I hope it’s not a disappointment when they (travelers) find out that they (the noble families) are like everyone else.”
“The Paris Neighborhood Cookbook: Danyel Couet’s Guide to the City’s Ethnic Cuisines,” by Danyel Couet and David Loftus
Listen to what Diane has to say about this book in the above interview.
Art & Culture Fashion & Style French Life French Provinces Paris Travel: Art & Culture Fashion & Style French Life French Provinces Paris Travel
I’ve been thinking lately about a couple of major gatherings I attended for the tourism industry last fall. Both of my beloved lands were covered: France and Colorado. The French event, entitled French Affairs ’09, put on by Atout France (also known as the French Government Tourist Office and Maison de la France), took place in New York City. I attended one full day and evening of this grand gathering of largely travel suppliers and tourism representatives, many of whom had traveled from as far away as France and Tahiti to promote their products and destinations to some of the most attentive travel experts in the U.S. It was a whirlwind day, marked by fine wine and cuisine, tons of networking and colorful multi-media presentations of some of the most alluring regions of France and many other exotic French-y locales, such as Guadeloupe and Saint Bart’s. (Some of our favorite island get-ways also fall beneath the umbrella of the French Tourism Office, hence the name Atout France, which I interpreted as a play on words of sorts meaning all of France although the exact translation of atout is asset. Are you confused yet? )
Now that this year’s tourism season is well underway in France, I’m thinking about how it seems to be shaping up, especially in view of the somewhat jittery feelings that were echoed last fall as the French travel experts touted their products and services. The elephant in the room—the world’s bad economy—was not dwelled upon too much and instead most everyone projected a wistful c’est la vie attitude. Perhaps it was the copious amounts of French wine served at the luncheon, the farewell cocktail and the closing dinner, that contributed to such elevated spirits amid so much recessionary doom and gloom. But I think it had more to do with the fact that the French have seen hard times before and with such extraordinary tourism destinations as Paris, Burgundy, the Côte d’Azur, Saint-Martin and much more, worrying doesn’t make much sense anyway.
So here we are with the euro at a four-year low against the dollar. Who could think of a better time to visit France? Sure, there might be a few concerns about flight cancellations due to ongoing eruptions from Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland’s troublesome volcano. But at least lately glittering images from Cannes have overshadowed that news. No, it seems as though there are more reasons for going to France in these upcoming months than what we’ve registered in a while. Here are a few of my favorites:
Don’t miss the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Petit Palais, the first-ever retrospective of this revolutionary French fashion designer. You have until 29 August to view this much-talked-about show.
Antibes Juan les Pins
The celebrated Jazz à Juan festival marks its 50th anniversary this July. As the longest running jazz festival in Europe, it promises to be steamy hot with a lineup that includes George Benson, Diana Krall and Maceo Parker. There’s nothing like being serenaded by world-class jazz as a cool breeze blows through the nearby palm trees.
The Impressionists drew inspiration from the many varied subjects of this beloved region of France, including its verdant countryside, its ports and its major sites. (Claude Monet captured the many different allures of the Rouen Cathedral in more than thirty paintings.) This year the region of Normandy pays homage to the indelible mark left by the Impressionists by launching the Normandy Impressionist Festival that runs through September. Expect lots of culture, fun events and great restaurant and lodging packages both in Rouen and throughout the region.
These happenings and more were highlighted at this French travel industry event. Find out about others—islands included—at FranceGuide.com, the French Government Tourist Office’s official site. There you’ll also find links to some attractive travel deals.
We’re ramping up for the summer season in Colorado now. It’s still pretty bleak here in the mountains but that should all change by mid June. I’ll report on the Colorado tourism industry event and how the season is shaping up in an upcoming posting. As you know, spring is the time to be in France. Here, it’s still mud season and snow remains in the forecast for the mountains the next couple of days. Tant pis, c’est la vie.
Thank you to Catherine Lancien et Carole Loisel, the Musée des Beaux Arts de Rouen and Rouen Tourisme for the use of the above image.
Cycling French Life French Provinces Paris Podcasts: Cycling French Living French Provinces Paris Podcasts
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The 2010 Tour de France route was posted just over a month ago which means that hotels along the course are booking up fast. There’s still time, however, to plan a trip to take in some of this renowned bike race next July. Renowned Tour photographer, Graham Watson, will tell you how. Read about what I wrote about Graham and his book, “Graham Watson’s Tour de France Travel Guide,” here. You can also listen to Graham speak about the Tour and more by clicking on the play button here: