September         2005
VOL. 9                 NO. 3
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  The Warm & Wonderful Southwest 

The Warm & Wonderful Southwest

Paris Enigmas
     by Arthur Gillette

Ici et Là

2007 Meet Lafayette in France Tour
   by Donald Miller

Women Traveling in France ~
  on their own

  ~ a village deep in the heart of Provence
   by Arthur Gillette

Gorges du Tarn
  France's Grand Canyon
  by Thomas Smith-Vaniz


Château Meyre

Château Meyre
luxury lodging amid the vineyards

French Wine Report: 
  Two Historic Tastings in Médoc
  by Panos Kakaviatos

As this is being written, our bags are packed, our days in Paris are planned, train tickets are in hand, a rental car is reserved in the Loire, and reservations are made at some incredible country chambres d'hôtes ~ although it may not seem like it, our destination is the southwest of France.   After a few days in Paris, we'll take a train to Blois to retrieve our vehicle (to avoid driving in Paris) and gradually and enjoyably wend our way in a southwesterly direction, stopping en route to visit friends and associates and, hopefully, make the acquaintance of some new ones!

Traveling by car in France has always been a pleasure for us, although we will now have to be more vigilant about speed limits as the rules of the road are being strictly enforced, resulting in fewer highway accidents and fatalities.  We do prefer the freedom that having a car provides and are drawn to little hamlets and out of the way villages.  As long as we can find a boulangerie or a tiny family-run restaurant for a quiet, country lunch, we are ecstatic.  We've chosen the southwest for this visit,  as we are enticed by its beautiful countryside, interesting history and the prospect of once again reaching the Atlantic Coast after exploring villages and vineyards along the way.

We hope that our fellow travelers focus not only on the places they go and where they stay but that they take part in special activities when they get there ~ activities that make the best memories.  Ours have included a canal cruise in Strasbourg, a visit to les Mines Bleue in the Pays de la Loire, time spent with friends in a Vaucluse village during the grape harvest, a ferry trip to Îles de Porquerolles, and a wind-blown Jeep ride through the Camargue.  The many historic strolls we enjoyed in Paris with Arthur Gillette brought that city's history to life for us ~ none of these experiences will be forgotten.

This trip will add another stroll in Paris to our list, but it will also include an attempt at horseback riding (after a hiatus of decades!) at a château near Pau.   And, while in the southwest, we hope to venture into Spanish Basque country along the Atlantic Coast, if we can tear ourselves away from one of our favorite French Basque coastal destinations:  St-Jean de Luz!  After a long overdue return to Bordeaux wine country, we'll take the TGV back to Paris to spend one night (at least) on a houseboat on the Seine offering a close-up view of the Eiffel Tower.  We'll share some of the highlights of this trip with you in our December newsletter.

This issue of FRANCE On Your Own revives two articles from much earlier print versions of our newsletter with tips on travel in France for women on their own and a visit to the Médoc peninsula of Aquitaine  ~ wine country at its best!

Don't miss our excellent articles by expats and experts on France,  the always fascinating French Wine Report, our cultural calendar (Ici et Là), and, of course, all the other tidbits of information provided to entice you to call your travel agent or go onto the Internet to arrange your next visit to la Belle France ~ on your own!

Look inside

  to read about the upcoming exciting tour in celebration of General Marquis de Lafayette.


>   to be taken along on a visit to Provence, to a little village which is off the beaten path where life is good and stress passes you by.


> to 'attend' a feast and find out more about the wine producers of Bordeaux through our French Wine Report with Panos Kakaviatos.


>   to visit a charming bed & breakfast that is also an award-winning wine producing estate on the Médoc near Bordeaux: Château Meyre ~ part of our regional feature.


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

Question from the last issue:   What is the origin of the name Montparnasse (as in boulevard du)?

Answer:   It refers to the Greek Mount Parnassos, considered in antiquity to be the home of the Muses.  In the Middle Ages, the Parisian quarter, now bearing the Gallicized version Montparnasse, was in fact a desolate area of abandoned quarries.  Students found them romantic, however,  (and pretty much beyond the reach of university authorities) and would go there to declaim poetry ~ and perhaps undertake other pursuits less linked to the Muses!

Our new question:  What is the origin of the word 'bistro'?

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

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


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