September  2004
VOL. 8         NO. 3
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter


A Postcard from the  Creuse
  by Wanda Glowinska-Rizzi

Ici et Là

Restaurant Pierre, Burgundy
   by Robert Sachs


  • The River
  • The Département

    Paris Enigmas
    by Arthur Gillette

    Peter Mayle in Paris
    by Marlane O'Neill

    Street Markets of Paris...
    by George Medovoy

French Wine Report: 
    Château Angélus
    by Panos Kakaviatos

Creuse Countryside - copyright Office du Tourisme
The Incredible Creuse

                                                                                        by Wanda Glowinska-Rizzi

When summer's over this year and you're looking through the postcards that everyone has sent you,  I'm sure there will be cards from highly exotic and terribly expensive places.   Some of them may make you wish that you were there while others make you think, 'not in a million years!'  And, who knows?  Slipped in among the golden beaches and dramatic mountains you might find a card showing rolling green hills, soft blue sky and wide-open spaces.   It piques your curiosity,  and you turn it over to read the caption: Creuse (en Limousin) France. You may wonder just where the Creuse might be.   If the idea of walking in a rural paradise appeals to you, you'll look it up in an atlas or you'll make inquiries at your nearest travel agent's office.  Let me be a postcard to tell you all about this unknown area of France that still considers itself 'a secret yet to be discovered'. 

"The Creuse? Where's that?", I often hear. The Creuse is one of the three départements making up the Limousin Region in the center of France.  It's a highly agricultural area with one of the lowest population densities in France -- an interesting ratio of 130,000 inhabitants to 400,000 cows.  And,  not just any old cow either -- the internationally renowned Limousin race come from this area.  Well, cows are one thing, and I know that personally speaking, when I've seen one, I've seen them all! 

There are many other things to do and see here that would please everyone, except those who hanker after bright lights, discos and a UV factor of 10!   The Creuse, being agricultural, is full of the wide open spaces that one sees in a David Lean film or Monet painting (I'll tell you about him further on).   Set in the foothills of the Massif Central,  it's hilly without being mountainous and wooded enough not to make you feel totally exposed like a fly on a wall.   This countryside makes it ideal for walkers, horse riders, off-and-on-road cyclists  . . . lakes and rivers abound which makes it an angler's paradise,  and the wildlife is never far from view. In the south of the département is Lake Vassivière, one of Europe's largest man-made water sports complexes.  Eleven hundred hectares for swimming, snorkeling, wind-surfing, sailing, speed boating, water skiing and fishing.

If you wish to get a little closer to wildlife, there are a number of animal parks. One of the most interesting is the Animal Park of the Monts de Guéret. Here you can see wolves in their natural habitat, a habitat they existed in until 1937 in this area. Alternatively,  you can see the reindeer at Azat-Châtenet or the bison at le Palais near Bourganeuf. 

Or,  perhaps you like nature a little more organized?  Well,  there are parks and gardens aplenty to see and visit.  The variety is quite pleasing: the Rose and Herb Garden, the Garden of Seven Themes, the Medieval Garden, the Giant Labyrinth, the Organic and Wild Garden, and the Traditional Garden.  Unfortunately,  you can't get out your trowel and start digging. However, they should give you some ideas of what you can do back home. 
                                                                            continued on page 4

Look inside

>   to read about the "Spirit of the Village"  - the discovery of one Parisian neighborhood, its street markets and its people. 


>   to eavesdrop on a recent visit between two authors and Francophiles, Marlane O'Neill and Peter Mayle.


> to enjoy another French Wine Report -- a behind-the-scenes look into the fascinating world of winemaking in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France.


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

Q. France officially calls the region around Paris 'L'Ile de France'. True, when viewed on a map, the area of Greater Paris does look like something of an oval island.  But, that's probably not the 'L'Ile' in question.  What is the real etymology?

A?  Look for the answer in the November issue of FRANCE On Your Own, but, in the interim, perhaps you can discover on your own how this term came into use.

Contact Arthur Gillette to take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris by enjoying
one or more of his Paris Through the Ages Strolls.  Email:


Etonnez-moi - Astonish me

 Etonnez-Moi prides itself in unique and carefully-chosen gifts, 
        romantic accessories and antique linens found in shops, flea markets 
        and artist ateliers throughout Paris and the south of France.  Click on the
         banner to visit their web site or send an email with your questions.

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