March       2005
VOL. 9      NO. 1
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

                                     and Special Offers from Special Chambres d'Hôtes

The Strong Euro vs 
         The American Traveler
  Special Offers from Special Chambres d'Hôtes

Paris Enigmas
     by Arthur Gillette

Ici et Là

Le. . . uh, Menu
     by Marcia Mitchell

Stonemasons of the Creuse
  by Wanda Glowinska-Rizzi

           from Stonemasons of the Creuse

Argot:  Parlez-Vous French Slang? 
  by Arthur Gillette

   with an insider's look at
   Rodez and its Environs
     by Thomas Smith-Vaniz

Health, Safety &  Packing Tips 

As the majority of our subscribers are American, we are publishing the following article.
Our apologies to those of our readers who are not American and to whom this article does not apply.
We hope you will still find it of interest and useful when you visit France.

Since 2003, the slide in value of the US dollar, most notably against the euro, has made quite an impact on Americans who want to travel to Europe.  Although it might be an advantage for companies exporting American goods, it can devastate a reasonable, let alone a tight, travel budget and certainly hurts the European travel industry.

The March 18th exchange rate puts the euro at a value of $1.33, (or conversely, $.75 equals one euro),  quite a turnaround from the spring of 2002 when $.94 bought one euro giving the two currencies similar value. 

We do not, however, want to discourage anyone from traveling to Europe, especially France.  If you traveled under more favorable economic conditions in the past when you might not have been particularly frugal, traveling there today will just mean paying closer attention to expenses so that you will get the most for your money.  Saving in one instance can allow for spending a bit more somewhere else.

Accommodations usually take the biggest bite out of a travel budget, since many find it easier to economize in other ways.  A great deal can be saved by flying through airline miles programs,  reserving rental cars from home getting the price guaranteed in dollars,  or dining less expensively by eating in bistros or taking picnic lunches into the countryside.  However, if where you stay is as important to you as it is to us, you still want comfort, cleanliness, safety, ambiance and a great location. Such lodging doesn't come cheaply.

That's why we want you to know of three wonderful places that are making a very special offer to American travelers for 2005:  parity between the euro and the US dollar!  That's right ~ one euro will equal one dollar!  A room that is 115 won't cost $153, but will cost $115 per night.  Whether for one night or a period of several nights, a great savings, about 25%, can be realized.

The reasons to stay in such luxury accommodations are really quite compelling:  you receive personalized attention and get to know your hosts, the tranquility of the countryside versus a city hotel is conducive to a restful stay, and the prices are often better.  For example, you receive breakfast in most cases in the price of your room for which hotels charge extra.  Click on property names in each case to access web pages offering detailed descriptions including many photos and historical notes as well as contact information.

Château de Garrevaques
Château de Garrevaques, in the dramatic Tarn region of France and very near Toulouse, invites Americans to take advantage of its € 1 = $1 Spa Package in 2005: three half-board days and three visits to the spa, for just 550 to € 620  per person (wine included) at their brand new facility on the grounds of the château.  Rooms are air-conditioned and have lovely canopy beds and en suite bathrooms.  Two new gourmet restaurants on the property complete the picture.  

                                                                                             continued on page 4 

Look inside

  to read about the Stonemasons of the Creuse and their contributions to many of the great buildings of France. 


>   to sharpen your French skills with a peek at French slang from our favorite raconteur and linguist, Arthur Gillette.


> to find out what's worth exploring in the bucolic Aveyron region of France ~ from Thomas Smith-Vaniz, an expat American living there with his French wife and three children.


>   to learn some tips for health, safety and packing for your next visit to France.  This feature article will make it easy to know what to take, what to know and how to protect yourself from the unexpected.


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

Question from the last issue:   An 18th century English visitor to the French capital noted, "Why, there are more tennis players in Paris than drunkards in England!"   In the Robert French dictionary, 'tennis' is listed as an English-origin word first used in 1836.  What is its real etymology? 

Answer:   Real ("Royal") Tennis was imported into England around the time of Henry VIII ~ note the tennis area at Hampton Court Palace near London. The origin was the French jeu de paume (palm game), played exhaustingly with heavy solid wooden rackets and a high net, and still today boasting a French federation with several dozen certified players.  Upon serving, a player would shout to his opponent 'Tenez!' (take), which the literal-minded Brits adopted, but pronouncing the final 'z'.  The remains of one jeu de paume court are still visible today in the ground floor lobby of a hotel at 54 rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, on l'Isle St-Louis.

Our new question:  What is the Parisian public thoroughfare that bears the same name over the longest distance?

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

[See the answer to this edition's question revealed in our June issue]



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polish them to become more fluent and more comfortable speaking when in France.
Champs Elysées offers interesting and helpful products to perfect your skills
at your own pace.  Click on the above banner to learn more.

[If you are interested in advertising in FRANCE On Your Own, contact]

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