February               2009
VOL. 13                 NO. 1
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  Come Away with Yourself 

Come Away with Yourself
  by Marcia Mitchell

Paris Enigmas

Ici et Là

At the gates of Château de Vault de Lugny. Copyright Marcia Mitchell 2009.  All rights reserved.

Marcia Mitchell
at Château de Vault de Lugny

Musée du Quai Branly, Paris 
  ~ The Jazz Century coming in March

Featuring:  the Médoc

Pharmacies in France

Franco-American Portraits
  ~ Glenn Cooper's 'Twelve Babies' - 
       Paris Rental Apartments
  by Arthur Gillette

The Bordeaux Wine Experience
  ~Exclusive Tours / A Château B&B

                                                                                         by Marcia Mitchell

August was bearing down on Provence when the man of my house suggested I hit the road. I must reassure you, as I did myself, that it was out of love as much as impatience. I was working on a book and complaining constantly about distractions—something that comes naturally, and in droves, to a charming medieval perched village like ours in the summer season.

I gave serious thought to his suggestion. It was at least five minutes before I was packing my things and marking a fluorescent pink trail along the Loire River on my map. 

When I was living in the United States, the idea of a woman traveling by herself to Europe ~ or anywhere for that matter ~ was considered risky business. Parents sent their girls to experience European culture in exchange programs and senior years abroad, but if you were somewhere between graduate school and Elderhostel, you weren't supposed to go running off to some foreign capital.  It wasn't until I turned fifty that I took my first solo trip abroad to Paris on the occasion of my last divorce. (. . . three relatively functional husbands and not one could be persuaded to take me there.)  My biggest surprise was that instead of feeling alone in that city of lovers, I felt included in everyone else's love. It filled the air like a wonderful fragrance, and there was enough to go around. It made me curiously happy. I came back wondering why more American women didn't just get up and go to Paris. 

Then I picked up the book that changed my life: At Home in France by Ann Barry. This middle-aged, single woman, a writer/editor with a day job and just a few weeks of vacation time each year, had not only traveled to France by herself for many years, she had bought herself a house there! 

I lived in that book with Ann as she arrived in her fairytale village at the beginning of one of her too-short vacations. I was with her as she was schooled by her French neighbors; as she went for her morning runs, aware of being a curiosity; as she set out to explore la France Profonde with only a change of clothes and a copy of Logis de France. I was there in her precious hours chez elle, bringing home a full basket from the local market, cooking in her tiny kitchen, sipping a feisty Bergerac rouge by the fire with a good book in her lap.

It wasn't until the book ended that I discovered that Ann Barry didn't live to finish her story. She died of cancer at the age of fifty-three. 

"What are you waiting for?" said a friend of mine who'd just gone a round with cancer. "Go get your house."

I did get my house, and the new love who came here with me has stayed on. Now I see him in the rear view mirror, waving and calling out,  "Love you! Have fun!"

It's a wonderful thing to drive away with those words ringing in your ears. You're both loved and free to do what you want ~ how often do those two conditions coincide?
                                                                                                      continued on page 2

Look inside

  because this edition of our newsletter takes you to Beauvais and Arras with Arthur Gillette...to explore both cities' centuries of diverse architecture.  And, wait until you see the photos!


>  if you are a wine lover or just someone looking for a peaceful and lovely region of France to visit.  Our Feature on the Médoc might tempt you to spend some time biking through vineyards or sitting on empty Atlantic beaches.


> so that you won't miss an exciting exhibit at the new Musée du Quai Branly in Paris:  The Jazz Century running March through June promises to be one of the most important attractions in Paris this year!


> if you are interested in renting an apartment for your next stay in Paris.  Read Arthur Gillette's interview with entrepreneur Glenn Cooper in this edition's Franco-American Portrait.



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

Question from the last issue:  What and where is the oldest living tree in Paris, and where did it come from?

Answer:  Most probably it is the large locust, propped up by cement crutches, in the Square René Viviani, just next to St-Julien le Pauvre Church on the Left Bank across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral.  Thought to have been planted ca. 1600 it is, curiously, not only not Parisian nor is it even French in origin, but came as a seedling or sapling from America!

Our new question:  What is the oldest church in Paris?

Contact Arthur Gillette,  and take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
 by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages StrollsEmail: armedv@aol.com

[See the answer to this edition's question
revealed in our May 2009 issue.]


Wine Travel Guides - photo © Nigel Blythe/Cephas

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