The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                                          PAGE TWO

Long Flight?  Here's a Travel Tip 

Purchase travel socks!  Available in both men's and women's sizes, travel socks provide gradual compression, stimulate blood flow and eliminate swelling of your legs and feet.  Serious health risks are associated with poor circulation on long airplane flights, often resulting in the formation of dangerous clots -- now considered a more prevalent threat to life than Aids and breast cancer combined!

The socks we purchased can be found in the TravelSmith catalog, or you can order on line from their web site at  The brand name is Travelsox®,  manufactured in Italy, patented in the US and registered worldwide.  Available in navy blue or black, and although priced a lot higher than your average pair of socks, Travelsox® will help you to stay healthy and comfortable on those very long flights to your vacation destinations. 

Ici et Là

This column is intended to advise you about cultural events, news and happenings
in France or France-related events taking place in the United States 
between now and the publication of our next issue.

o  Picasso to Thiebaud - from the collection of Stanford University Alumni and Friends runs from February 18 through June 20, 2004 and includes 64 masterpieces of painting and sculpture from 1901 through 2002  - at the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts.  Admission free.  Disabled access. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

o  A Rush to the Lot-et-Garonne - A clever campaign was launched on November 18, 2003 to lure Parisians away from their stressful and crowded environment to the bucolic simplicity of the Lot-et-Garonne  département (47) of southwestern France.  The advertisement began, "You have 15 days to leave Paris", and, to the surprise of many, it was a great success!  This sunny and verdant area of Aquitaine became the destination of people who were promised by the government of the Lot-et-Garonne assistance with finding jobs and homes, schooling for their children and help with their projects!  The region is seeking an infusion of young families with entrepreneurial energy, so they believe they have as much to gain as those eager transplants.  Traffic problems and commuting times in and around Paris were the primary concerns of those people answering the ad, but pollution, crowds, crime, gray weather and expensive housing rounded it out.  Because of the favorable response, the December 2nd deadline was extended.

o  Napoléon's Eyewitness:  Pierre Clément Laussat and the Louisiana Purchase -  through March 2004 at The Historic New Orleans Collection, Louisiana.

o  Manet and the Sea - the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents this exhibit February 15 through May 31, 2004.

o  Genius of the French Rococo, the Drawings of François Boucher (1703 - 1770) and Boucher's Mythological Paintings - January 18 through April 18, 2004 at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

o  Art Deco:  The French Aesthetic - through October 2004 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

o  Old Masters and Impressionists:  The Golden Ages of French Painting - through April 11 at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama.

o  Festival of France -  the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.,  through April presents French contributions to the world of art and celebrates the cultural and historical ties between France and the United States.  Works of dance, theater, music, film including the Opéra Comique, Les Arts Florissants, the Lyon Opéra Ballet and Paris Jazz will be represented.

o  Poème de l'amouret de la Mer  - by Chausson will be performed by soprano Waltraud Meier with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra March 25 through 27 and March 30 at the Symphony Center, Chicago.

o  Degas Bronzes - over 150 wax and clay sculptures were preserved in bronze after the artist's death and will be on display at the Phoenix Art Museum February 29 through June 6, 2004.

o  Gauguin Tahiti - this international exhibition will travel to Boston and can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts from February 28 through June 20, 2004.

o  Haute Couture -  Fashioning the Modern Woman is the title of the exhibit running through April 10, 2004 at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City.

o Cherbourg Becomes US Civil War SiteOn June 19, 2004,  the Normandy port city of Cherbourg will be declared an official site of the American Civil War.  Why Cherbourg?  One of the last maritime phases in the Civil War took place near Cherbourg on June 19, 1864. The CSS Alabama, which terrorized North American trade on the world’s oceans (447 vessels inspected, of which 65 were sunk during a 22-month campaign) docked at Cherbourg for urgent repairs. The [Union] frigate USS Kearsarge was alerted, entered the port of Cherbourg and engaged in artillery combat. The CSS Alabama suffered a fatal hit and sank seven nautical miles at sea off the French coast. 

  • In 1984,  a French Navy mine hunter, equipped with high performance sonar equipment, located an unidentified wreck at a depth of 60 meters The discovery of the Alabama’s famous motto on the helm “God helps those who help themselves” enabled the wreck to be identified. Under the direction of the United States Navy and the French Ministry of Culture, and with the help of numerous volunteers from the CSS Alabama Challenge association, more than 1000 dives have been made. About 200 artifacts have been brought to the surface such as the impressive Blakely cannon (3.5 tons) currently on loan from the American government and on display at La Cité de la Mer.  For more information, visit the official web site of the city of Cherbourg at or [Source: French Government Tourist Office]
o  The 2004 Tour de France Route  - The French are promoting "In Advance of Lance" for the upcoming Tour de France.  As Armstrong goes for his 6th victory in this grueling event, the private company, Discover France,  offers several week-long cycling excursions during the 2004 Tour de France that take vacationers right on the race’s course.  Designed for seasoned, fit cyclists (although non-riders can join several of the departures), these trips take small groups of riders along segments of the Tour de France route one day before the racers.  Contact Discover France for more information, prices  and other details at or call them at 1.800.960.2221 in the United States. [Source: French Government Tourist Office]

60th Anniversary of D-Day

The French Government Tourist Office wants to remind World War II Veterans that the most important element of the D-Day events in 2004 is the red carpet welcome that will be bestowed upon the veterans and their families who will visit Normandy next June. Visits will be arranged on behalf of the individual units that participated on D-Day.  Veterans are encouraged to check with their unit organizations for specifics regarding a visit in time for the ceremonies scheduled for June 5 and 6, 2004.  For more information about the events scheduled and for a list of American tour operators specializing in D-Day, please check the Western France Tourist Board web site at

In a special endeavor to honor the veterans, an insigne de poitrine (commemorative pin) will be awarded to each participant.  It resembles an official medal and has been commissioned by the Normandy Regional Council.  Complete information including a request form, dates and location of distribution is available on the Normandie Mémoire web site at  Pin distribution will begin on June 5th and continue throughout the year.

Historic Restaurant Closes 

Lutèce, New York City's 43 year-old landmark French restaurant, served its last meals on Valentine's Day evening to an overflow crowd of loyal patrons and admirers.  For six consecutive years in the 1980s it was selected as the best restaurant in America by the Zagat Survey.

Open since February 16th, 1961, almost 43 years to the day of its closing, Lutèce was known for its elegant décor, exquisite cuisine and celebrity guests.  There was a time during its heyday when reservations were needed months in advance, but those days were no longer.

For many years it was the center of Chef André Soltner's world, and he made it the success it was.  But ten years ago he retired after a 22-year stewardship and sold the restaurant.  The restaurant was just not the same to its long-time customers,  and gradually various economic factors came together to play a part in its demise, including the attack on the World Trade Center.

Soon to follow in Lutèce's footsteps will be another Manhattan restaurant offering style, fine French food, and dining elegance to its patrons, La Côte Basque.  Its owners say they will close their doors in March.

Holidays in France

It helps to know French holidays when you are traveling in France when many businesses will be closed.   Please be aware of the following dates from now through July:

          April  4, Rameaux (Palm Sunday)
          April 11, Pâques (Easter Sunday)
          April 12, Lundi de Pâques (Easter Monday)
          May 1, Fête du Travail (Labor Day)
          May 8, Fête de la Victoire (VE Day 1945)
          May 20, Ascension (Ascension Day)
          July 14, Fête Nationale (National Day / Bastille Day)

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