December          2006
VOL. 10               NO. 4
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  Wine from Paris!  ~  A "Great Vintage from a Small Mountain" 
                                                                                        by Arthur Gillette
                                                                                    photos by Jeff Berner

Wine from Paris! 
  ~ A 'Great Vintage from a Small Mountain"
  by Arthur Gillette

Paris Enigmas

Ici et Là

Paris Uncovered:
  ~ The Tower of Fearless John
   by Arthur Gillette

 Petite Pleasures
  by Maxine Schur

The Bookshelf: 
  ~ The Packing Book 
  a book by Judith Gilford

Letters from Occupied France
  ~ Our newest series for history buffs
  by Arthur Gillette

Arc de Triomphe / Champs Elysées.  Copyright 2006 by Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

          Arc de Triomphe, Paris

FEATURE:  The Auvergne
  ~  The Cantal and Haute-Loire 

French Wine Report:
  ~ Bandol:  Surprising delights from 
  by Panos Kakaviatos

Every September/October, the vendanges (grape harvests) are possibly France’s supreme Bacchic experience. I decided not to miss the 2006 edition and took myself to a friendly little vineyard not too far from my suburban Parisian home.  It boasts but a rather modest 1,700 vines strung out over only some 1,500 square yards and producing a mere 450 liters of red (Gamay, Pinot Noir…) and white (Sauvignon, Riesling…) per year.

At the vendange festivities, a junior drum corps.The appointed day arrived and, on the face of it, the harvest looked pretty run of the mill, replicating similar activity wherever French wine is produced.  With a stark blue sky above from which shone an autumn-cooled sun, the team of pickers worked their orderly way along the vines, looking like a row of pistons by turns bending to pull and snip some grape bunches, thereafter deposited in wooden buckets, then straightening up to move to and bend over the next vine. 

But that was just the 'face of it'. In reality, this was an exceptional vineyard and vendange indeed!  First, the hillside, on which the pickers labored, sloped due north, anathema to vintners almost anywhere else in France. Secondly, the harvest was observed from behind the plot’s chain link fences by a large crowd of people, some dressed in peasant and/or medieval garb. Thirdly, the vineyard was surrounded by four- and five-story apartment houses; from a window of one (an Art Déco jewel) a diapered baby waved to and gurgled at the pickers.

Sheep at the Montmartre vendange festivities
Was I dreaming? No. This was the annual grape harvest at the Clos Montmartre, a tiny vineyard atop Paris' highest hill!  How did such an anomaly come about?

Cheap Housing or Wine?

Around the second century B.C.,  Roman occupants of Gaul began to convince the native population of the advantages of wine compared with the then locally popular mead.

                                       [Mouse over photos for captions]          CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Look inside

  as this issue will focus on the hidden treasures as well as the little-known happenings in Paris!


>  to read our review of The Packing Book, a 'must have' for anyone whose vacation comes close to ruin by too much baggage.


> to join us as we continue our visit to the dramatic and beautiful region of the Auvergne.


>   for an exclusive tour for FRANCE On Your Own readers of the vineyards producing Bandol wines in the country's south ~ it's Part Three of our French Wine Report entitled 'France Wine Travel'.


>   and accompany Maxine Schur as she samples some pleasures she would do without at home ~  'naughty' temptations found around every corner in Paris!

  PARIS ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your Knowledge of Historic Paris
                                                                                                by Arthur Gillette

Question from the last issue:   What is the origin of the word gibet (gallows), as in the infamous Gibet de Montfaucon near today's Place de Stalingrad, where in the Middle Ages as many as 14 people were hanged at the same time?

Answer:   It's the Arabic djebel (mount), as in Djebel Tarik ('Tarik's Mount') from which comes Gibraltar!

Our new question:    Ever wonder why the French capital is called Paris? There are almost as many etymological theories on this subject as etymological theoreticians! So don’t get your hopes up – I don’t have a definitive answer. But, I have researched the enigma and hope that some of the major explanations advanced will intrigue you as much as they do me.

Contact Arthur Gillette,  and take advantage of his truly amazing knowledge of Paris
 by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages

[See the answer to this edition's question revealed
at some length in our March 2007 issue!]


Rentals in Paris / rue Vavin apartment

Rentals in Paris is the way to make yourself at home while in the
City of Light without running over budget.  Lovely, completely renovated,
stylish apartments in the best neighborhoods can be 'home away from home'
for a week or more.  Click on the photo above for information.

[Reach many thousands of Francophiles by advertising in FRANCE On Your Own, email]

                                                                                                                                                    next page page two
©1998-2006 Cold Spring Press   All Rights Reserved