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Hostellerie de Levernois – Burgundy

Burgundy countryside

Serene Hostellerie de Levernois

Allow us to recommend a memorable stay at the tasteful 5-star Hostellerie de Levernois in the heart of the Côte de Beaune.  An esteemed member of the Relais & Chateaux, the hotel is situated on the edge of a golf course in an 11-acre park that offers a seemingly endless air of tranquility.

The intimate estate includes several room and suite selections and exceptional dining to make the hostellerie the ideal base for exploring the wine country of Burgundy.  Indulge in a charming  lunch at the Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau on the river, before exploring area vineyards and tasting rooms – bicycles are available for your use.  And at the end of the day, a glass of wine on your private terrace is essential to be beginning of a pleasant evening. Read more…

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5 Charms of Provençal Avignon!

Papal city of Avignon France

Avignon overlooking the Rhone River

We hate the numbers ‘game’,  but there are so many reasons to visit this enchanting city….one must limit!

1.  Provençal Avignon owes its very history and much of its attraction to the Papacy.  The medieval politics of the early 14th century led Pope Clement V to move the papacy to Avignon, under the protection of Philip the Fair of France.   His successors came along, and Benedict XII and Clement VI felt the need to locate the great Palais des Papes overlooking the Rhone River in the center of the medieval city. The imposing palais offers a magnificent, stark white contrast to the vivid blue skies of southern France and the sprawling square beneath the palace. Read more…

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French Riviera – Stunning Hotel Choices!

Nice, France

Petit Palace terrace views

Of course we would love to be in France right now, but why not look forward, dream a little, imagine an over-the-top stay along the Riviera.  Grand idea – let’s take a look at two very charming Cote d’Azur hotels and the “stars” associated with them.  The 3-star Belle Époque style residence, Le Petit Palais in Nice is a smaller, elegant residence located in the heart of Cimiez.  The 5-star Grand Hôtel Cap Ferrat is all one would expect of a luxury hotel by the Mediterranean. Read more…

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Elegant Retreat Near Normandy’s Coast

Normandy France Coast

Port-en-Bessin, Normandy

Though stained with the blood, burial grounds and memorials to lost young soldiers; the vast Normandy landscape tells multiple stories.  We feel the weight and sad wonder of history, struggle and loss; yet this magnificent land unfolds in soft, rolling farms and golden hay fields that embrace an existence made possible by that very history. Read more…

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Refreshing Lake Annecy Retreat

Annecy France

Gorgeous lakeside views from the Abbaye de Talloires

When Florida temperatures and electric bills suddenly elevate by 30 percent, I wander to cool places in my mind. I can’t think of a more refreshing mental escape than Lake Annecy. Tucked up against snow-capped ridges in the East of France, this pristine lake – the 3rd largest in France – displays a lovely turquoise invitation to boat, swim or simply enjoy a magnificent visual feast.

The city of Annecy welcomes visitors entranced by her location, history, cuisine and hospitality; but several villages and enticing inns surround the sprawling lake. I think I may have discovered an ideal retreat in the Abbaye de Talloires on the Southeast shoreline of the lake.

Annecy France

Appealing rooms with panoramic views

Certainly the locale’s history, dating as far back as 866 A.D., is intriguing, but let’s be candid here. That’s a lovely addition to the overall atmosphere, but panoramic lake views, ultra-comfortable rooms and brasserie dining by the lake engulf my imagination and quest for cool weather and beautiful outdoor views.

We have always wanted to return to Annecy for a more thorough exploration, but I’m afraid we can’t make the trip at the moment. We certainly can take our cooling mental journey and add this lovely retreat to our “Bucket List” for real travels in the future.

Annecy France

Can you imagine a relaxing French-style lunch by the lake? I can!!!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

And don’t forget – my book Fired Up for France:  The Promise of Paris – now available in E-book (pdf) and print!

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‘Les Calades Provençales’

France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

Renowned for its extraordinary fountains and talented favorite son, Cezanne; Aix-en-Provence manages a lovely blend of enchanting culture, vibrant youth and stimulating history.  But wait – the marketplace alone adds a huge dimension to the city, and the restaurants entice you at every bend in the road!  We arrived in Aix during the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales” and were able to meander along the stunning, tree-lined Cours Mirabeau to take in the original works of dozens and dozens of craftsmen and women.   

A quiet, personable potter demonstrated ease with his wheel.  Bright, hand-painted scarves drifted from canvas awnings.  With every turn of the head, we immersed ourselves in this treasury of talent – exotic jewelry, perfumes and ceramics, intricate wood creations and handsome textiles.

We stopped to chat – yes, in halting French but quite adequate – with a lovely young woman with a trés chic array of hand-crafted shoes and sandals.  The talented designer, Veronique Baron, epitomized the charming, soft-spoken French woman.

artisan fairs in france

The talented potter in Aixx

Born in la Drome, Veronique carries on the proud traditions of her father and grandfather.  Early on, she designed shoes in her father’s workshop.  After earning her degree in shoe design and practicing her talent with freelance work, Veronique realized her dream with the birth of  “Dans la garrigue”.  In the heart of a sunny pine forest, she creates each shoe and purse, piece by piece in her atelier (workshop).

Isn’t that kind of chance encounter one of the priceless rewards of travel?  In the midst of one of the most beautiful cities of France, we made this small connection that added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the artisan fair and the city itself.

Naturally, we needed some time to absorb our experiences and stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes.  We capped our lovely adventure with delicious ham and cheese gallettes, salad and pichet of wine with a strolling guitarist to perfect our Aixoise moment.

Aix en Provence

Veronique’s hand-crafted shoes

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Italy, France – Travel Early and Often!

Duomo, Florence Italy

Charming cafes overlooking the magnificent Duomo

“Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life.”  Rick Steves

Florence, Italy.  The Duomo bells ring, at 7:45 a.m. –an unusual alarm clock that follows a warm evening with family in a room filled with vibrant students.  Through Jacksonville University in Florida, Leo’s sister and brother-in-law offer summer programs of art history, photography and painting in France and Italy.  We were fortunate to be included in the farewell dinner celebration for the end of their studies.

The student group of 15 young people, aglow with new experiences and the kind of relationships forged through sharing all things new, trade group photos and insider memories.  They may have an ever-so-small idea of the imprint they will carry with them from their sojourn in Italy.  The molecules of imagination have been stimulated.

The students gathered from Maine and Ohio, West Virginia and Florida.  They seem to recognize the unique privilege of participating in a life-changing program and summer.  Their families and friends will welcome home students who are different, who are better equipped and more motivated to dive off the board into the pool of possibilities life offers.

Florence Italy

“David” watches over the bustling Piazza della Signoria – the original David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia

We-are well beyond the clear-eyed face of youth but our ventures have been similar.  It IS never too late to learn, to set aside old fears and needs for security to pursue new roads of travel, learning, and culture.

Our mature eyes absorb the naked truth of Alpine ridges against the sky and the fickle faces of sunflowers turned away from the sun.  We exchange bonjours and ciaos with kind and interesting people. We see the pride enmeshed in each fine craft that has evolved from generations of artisan development.  Each adventure renews our feeling that we’ve just begun.

All of us feel the tumult in the world these days with so much suffering and displacement, adversarial politics, economic fears and ongoing security threats.  How easy it is to focus on the negative and even to let your fears guide your decisions about travel.

Annecy, France

Mountainous peaks hover over Lake Annecy

We can attest that travel so broadens your horizons that you re-gain your perspective and refresh your spirit to address challenges that lie ahead.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Villa Mauresque – Boutique Riviera Hotel

France Travel

Villa Mauresque, Saint Raphael

Words and music for “I Went to a Marvelous Party” were written by Noël Coward in 1938.  The song offered a first-person exposé of five parties the playwright-composer-singer attended on the French Riviera in the frantic era of amusement of the Train Bleu society of the 1920s and 1930s. While that particular vignette sparks your curiosity, you need only drive along the jeweled coastline of the Cote d’Azur to imagine the haute lifestyle of that era.

These touches of history merely pave the way to introduce an enchanting hotel on the Mediterranean near Saint-Raphael.  No less than renowned author Somerset Maugham initiated the incubator for the hotel, when he purchased the 9-acre estate of Villa Mauresque.  Prior to transforming to today’s elegant hotel residence, the villa hosted great literary and society guests in one of the Riviera’s most tantalizing social salons and was Maugham’s secluded home, until his death in 1965.

France Travel cote d'azur

Author and artist named suites

Around 2005, discretion and good taste led the way in converting the Moorish-inspired mansion into an extremely welcoming hotel.  The walled property keeps the world at bay, while you take breakfast on the terrace at the edge of the Mediterranean.  Or from your private port, you might tackle windsurfing or a quieter canoe ride.

The Villa was designed by Chapoulard in 1860, one of many of his neo-Moorish imprints along the fabled coast.   The boutique hotel has been carefully curated to offset serene ivory walls with bold tapestries and painted doors; and only 11 luxurious suites and bedrooms welcome guests to refined comfort.  Two on-site small villas also are a part of the property, available for rental and even engaging a chef-prepared meal en suite.

France Travel

Overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez

Speaking of dining, a Michelin-star Chef provides inviting cuisine in “Le Bougainvillier” restaurant with elegant indoor or terrace dining with unparalleled views of the Gulf of Saint Tropez.  Atypical of many Riviera resorts, the restaurant open throughout the year to offer … fillet of John Dory from our sea, roasted green asparagus in Provencal style or perhaps roasted lamb chops from the Quercy region

Enough.  You must browse the Villa’s site for more information to choose from artist- and writer-named rooms and suites that range from Monet’s 225-Euro room to Baudelaire’s Suite Prestige with sea view at 1,300 Euros per night.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Artisans in Aix-en-Provence

France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

During a delightful 3-day visit to Aix-en-Provence, we enjoyed the added benefit of the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales.” Aix is famous for its many fountains and talented favorite son Cezanne, so it’s not surprising that artisans are celebrated here.

At any moment Cours Mirabeau offers an enchanting, tree-lined boulevard; but the fair magnified the magic. Elegant hand-painted scarves danced in the breeze, while artisans warmly greeted visitors explaining their crafts, demonstrating the potter’s wheel and generally serving as welcoming ambassadors in this dynamic city.

Hand-crafted shoes and sandals, exotic jewelry, perfumes and pottery spread all along the boulevard. The cobbler followed generations of the art of shoemaking; the silk scarves were painted by hand.

French dining

Greoux-les-Bains

After a pleasant stroll to examine the many gorgeous crafts, we stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes.  Ummm – delicious ham and cheese galette, a pichet of wine and a strolling guitarist made for a relaxing Aixoise experience.

We would offer a hearty thumbs up to any planning a trip to this lovely area. An easy drive from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area immerse you in an enchanting landscape, exceptional architecture and abundant dining choices.

You might wander through Cezanne’s landscape and stop for dinner in Greoux-les-Bains or take in the grand Pont du Gard aqueduct; but parking yourself at a café along the boulevard provides plenty of enjoyment!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Île Saint-Louis Magic!

Paris watercolor

Capturing the charm of Ile Saint-Louis, Paris

Favorite places in Paris – how does one choose!  We always seem to return … again and again … to that charming petite island in the center of the Seine –  Île Saint-Louis.  It seems we have wandered about every square inch of the island, along the quays, through galleries and boutiques, in every sort of restaurant and café.

Our flood of memories includes our charming vacation rental overlooking the school yard, where children played happily and lined up ever so politely for snacks.  Stopping for lunch at our favorite crêperie – Au Lys d’Argent, we enjoy delicious quiche and crepes with a pichet of wine, before heading across the street to the little shop that always includes a lacy leaf or other such decorative item on our purchase.  Down the street, the chocolate shop whispers “visit now”, so of course we do!  Again, our purchase is carefully tucked into an elegant bag.

Stepping inside of the historic and charming Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church (dating to 1675!) offers quiet moments of reflection among the quaint rush-seated chairs under soaring ceilings. We even stopped by the church on a crisp March evening to leave a raincoat and some sweaters with the priest in the hope they would be shared with someone in need.

Paris watercolor

Along the Seine in Paris

Walking along the river, stopping at sunset to watch the golden light fall across Paris, the island offers us such special moments and so much gratitude for the privilege of enjoying The City of Light!

 

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Wandering the Loire Valley

Travel the Loire Valley

Sunset over the Loire River

I suppose everyone has a different approach to travel, some probing the history and points of interest of a given area and others taking a more laissez-faire, let-it-unfold approach.  Whichever method appeals to you, discovering different areas of France offers abundant delights!  We have found it quite interesting to go back and research about an area you have experienced first hand.

I came across a nicely written and very thorough article that profiled the city of Bourges in the Loire Valley.  While reading of historic churches and age-old customs, my mind whisked backward to a remarkably hospitable weekend in the area.

A former Parisian invited our friends and us to visit with him in a tiny hamlet about 30 minutes from Bourges.  We managed to pack a ton of discoveries into that one weekend.

En route from our host’s country home to Bourges, we stopped in the quaint artist hamlet – La Borne – for a delightful slice of culture in a petite community.  We walked the streets of Bourges at night during the Lumiere extravaganza, when mystical lights cast their glow upon church courtyards and centuries-old, timbered houses.  On the steps of the renowned St. Stephan’s Cathedral, I picked up a couple of tiny red and pink tissue hearts, the sweet mementos of a wedding held earlier in the day.  We have the deepest respect for the city and its’ storied past.

Loire Valley

La Borne artist hamlet

But now I move on past the sophisticated travel to our deepest memories –

…. Of golden wheat fields stretching, stretching for miles up soft hills capped here and there with a couple of trees, standing as sentries, it seemed, overlooking this ‘bread basket’ of France.

…. Of steaming bowls of coffee enjoyed in the morning in the front yard, as we heard the plans for the day

…. Of an enormous, rhinestone blanket of stars setting the blackest of black nights ablaze with light

…. Of a whimsical house with all sorts of glass art – now, I see, named La Cathédrale de Jean Linard

…. Of narrow country lanes winding through the country, and shuttered homes built inches from the road – they always, always cloak their windows in delicate French lace

…. Of our little trek to La Borne, where 88 village artists give birth to imaginative ceramic  works of art

Loire Valley

The wheat fields, cows – the bread basket of France

And so we traveled in the footsteps of the Gaulouis and years from now will still enjoy this warm quilt of Loire countryside memories.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Those Appealing French Doors

colorful doors in France

La Porte Accueillant – The Welcoming Door

I don’t think I stretch any limits in guessing that at least 90 percent of visitors to France take one or two photos – if not many more – of French doors. And, no, I don’t mean those double-glassed doors we come to think of as “French doors”.

I mean the doors of many colors – deep green or bright blue, russet or yellow. Doors with interesting grills or set beneath an arbor of grapes. Honestly, these portes to the inner home have such an appeal, that we can scarcely pass them without a click!

During my first trip to France, I noticed the wonderfully grand entrance door to my friend’s early 19th century building.  Then, we were off to the Loire Valley and wandering through Blois, when I saw a deep red door with a rustic, old wrought iron knocker.  In Bracieux, a small village, an entry with a windowed-door was dressed with a quaint, cotton lace curtain.

Needless to say, I was hooked; but I know a part of my curiosity lay in imagining the life beyond the door.  Was a family within or an elder lady with her little dog?  Or was an immigrant family behind that door feeling gratitude for their opportunity to live and work in France?

Doors of France

Gordes, France

Sorry – don’t mean to wax poetic, but it was a distinct memory that evoked my desire to paint “La Porte Accueillant”.  My husband and I stayed a couple of nights at a lovely gîte – La Pradasse – in the small town of Ayguesvives near Toulouse.  One day we wandered along a  country road canopied with beautiful plane trees, until we came to a small town – Villefranche-de-Lauragais – not our ‘destination’, just a place to stop for lunch and explore.

Doors of France

Roussillon, France

We enjoyed lunch in a little brasserie, before exploring a town that had battened down for the extended noon meal. What I most remember was walking along narrow streets with inviting doors and bright shutters closed to the mid-day heat.  We could hear the murmur of voices and even the sounds of cutlery against porcelain, as the residents of those little homes gathered for their meal.  So, it really wasn’t so much that those particular doors were beautiful, but they served as the portals for those who lived behind them.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photos and text, all rights reserved

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Villa Grecque Kérylos – Cote d’Azur

Cote d'Azur

Villa Kerylos – Cote d’Azur – © P. Louzon

At the very least, I always think of Paris as the bookends of any trip to France.  Of course the City of Light offers the natural entry point to France, but Paris also is home to our dear friends and so many of our favorite haunts – my, oh my – aren’t we unique!

Don’t limit yourself though, as enjoying the countryside of France offers such diverse landscapes and adventures.  If your itinerary includes a trip to the Côte d’Azur,  include a fascinating visit to the Villa Grecque Kérylos on the Mediterranean.  The Villa is one of the most spectacular sights along the Mediterranean between Nice and Monaco.  Visitors are able to wander among gardens of olive and pine trees, oleanders and iris and enjoy panoramic views of Cap Ferrat on the Côte d’Azur.

The Library itself is one of the most imposing rooms in the Villa with a gallery that occupies one-and-a-half floors. Designed with every comfort and convenience in mind, the library faces east for maximum morning light and is furnished with oak pieces positioned around a mosaic of Prometheus and Hera and filled with authentic objects from daily life in Ancient Greece.

And as long as you are so close, don’t forget to make a little side trip to Èze, our favorite seaside village. There is nothing quite like a glass of wine overlooking the sun-washed sea!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

 

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Stay at Le Château de Chambord!

Chateau Chambord, France

Chambord’s chapel in the Loire Valley

South of Blois in the Loire Valley, the 18th-century Château de Chambord rises at the heart of over 5,000 hectares (12,000+ acres) of ancient forest.  Chambord was the personal chateau and hunting sanctuary of King Francois I, and today is the largest enclosed forest park in Europe.

Our first encounter with Chambord destined our return.  We attended the light show —  “les clairs de lune de Chambord” — a fantasy light show production created to recall the hunting of deer and boar, fox and pheasant by guests of King Francois.  We arrived shortly before sunset to stroll through the grounds surrounding the Château.  Couples shared ice cream or light snacks under an outdoor arbor.  Others dined on the patio of a hotel restaurant.

Wait – hotel?  There is actually a quaint hotel overlooking this magnificent chateau?  With little hope that it would be affordable or available for the one night we would have between gite rentals, we had to check.  When we were able to book a room at a reasonable $75 rate, we felt as if the king himself had invited us to his retreat!

Francois I chateau, Loire Valley

Chateau de Chambord

Prior to the show, we watched families gather on the lawn with children, couples take to rowboats to enjoy an end-of-day outing.  France bestows these blessings on a public entranced by history and tradition.  Chambord’s information pamphlet reinforces this gift:

“It is to the passion of Francois I for hunting, that we owe the existence of Chambord, designed both as a meeting place and a belvedere for observing the hunt.”

Alas, when we returned a few days later,  Francois was not on hand to greet us.  Still, we wandered the grounds and imagined the privileged guests and game hunting of 300 years past.  Visitors biked and hiked through the many lanes that lace through the forest.  Others gathered for the equestrian and falcon shows.

This night, we would see the light show from our dining table on the terrace.  Indeed, with our exceptional bottle of local Vouvray and delicious French fare, we felt like guests of the king!  When the park closed, only the hotel guests and Château staff shared this enormous sanctuary.  Chambord remains a national hunting reserve and home to an abundance of wild creatures that roam free.  No, we didn’t encounter a graceful stag or menacing boar, but the crisp night sky offered us millions of stars to illuminate our stay.
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

 

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Brantôme en Périgord – Luxurious Eden!

Brantome, Dordogne France

Refined, four-star Relais & Chateaux hotel

We’re all aware of the Garden of Eden, but I believe I’ve discovered the “Island of Eden”!  Tucked away in the Dordogne department of southwestern France, the small village of Brantôme en Périgord enjoys unparalleled natural beauty. Just imagine with me. Beyond a fascinating history and appealing architecture, the village is situated in the middle of the River Dronne and often is referred to as the Venice of Périgord.

Naturally the perfect setting calls for extraordinary accommodations, and Le Moulin de L’Abbaye fulfills that desire without hesitation. This member of the prestigious group of Relais & Chateaux luxury hotels has entertained guests for well over thirty years, offering a picturesque and enticingly refined base from which to explore the beauty of the Dordogne. Spacious and well-appointed rooms are split between the three historical houses that make up the hotel that is poised alongside the original mill pond. The main reception and gourmet restaurant are located in the inviting ivy-covered mill that was the center for milling the village’s grain, weaving its wool and ultimately providing electricity to the 2,000 inhabitants. Today, the weekly market each Friday imbues the provincial village with the quiet buzz and color of local artisans and farmers.

Brantome en Perigord France

L’Abbaye elegant rooms

From a variety of accommodation sizes and types, guests look out over the 16th century Pont Coudé Bridge and the medieval garden and Abbey founded by Charlemagne. With no effort, I can picture dinner on the terrace with the lights of the bridge and village illuminating the evening … walking about the village to explore galleries and boutiques … a lazy boat tour or canoeing along the river.

And history abounds in this part of the old pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Over more centuries than we can contemplate, inhabitants included the Celts, Romans, early Christians and the very monks whose early monastery evolved into the remarkable abbey present today. After wars and plagues, Brantôme emerged, established notably by Charlemagne as a leading religious destination.

Dordogne France

Overlooking River Dronne

Should you choose to explore the surrounding landscape, the area is home to many ‘plus beaux villages de France” …Saint-Jean-de-Cole, Saint-Amand-de-Coly, Limeuil, Beynac …the charm seems endless. When you return, stop in for pizza and wine on the outdoor terrace of the popular Bar du Marche in the main square. If you share our partiality to delectable crepes, stop in at the hospitable and savory L’authentique.

 We’d love to hear from you

Copyright © 2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Poised Above Saint-Tropez

Cote d'Azur

Overlooking Saint-Tropez in a 25-acre garden setting

Saint-Tropez may not be your first thought for a restful exodus from your madcap daily existence, but the Château de la Messardière offers precisely the serene, tucked-away retreat you desire.  Set among parasol pines and cypress trees in a 25-acre estate, the luxury hotel looks out over carefully-tended gardens and spectacular views of the Mediterranean.

“But it’s not on the beach.  But it’s not in town.”  True, delightfully so.  Poised above the beaches, bustling squares and star-studded bars of Saint-Tropez; the hotel surrounds guests with a calm, tasteful retreat, expansive spa and beauty services and exquisite dining.

St. Tropez

Spacious accommodations with stunning views of the Mediterranean in the distance

Request a room or a suite with a view, so you can enjoy your morning coffee or evening glass of wine overlooking the sea.  Your spacious and elegant lodging combines with the kind of continuous, attentive   service that makes you feel very much a welcome guest.

Imagine your choices.  A walk through shaded gardens with the scents and sights of the Var region’s beautiful fauna and flora. Quiet moments with a book in the luxurious pool area, where stunning mosaic tile designs reflect those of the relaxing spa.  And speaking of tranquility, with subtle lighting, numerous personal services, a serene tide pool and Jacuzzi; the spa is the “genuine oasis of peace and relaxation” the hotel promises.  And from the sweeping terrace overlooking the beaches of Pampelonne,  you choose from a creative mix of French classics and Mediterranean cuisine in the “L’Acacia” restaurant

The largest of Saint-Tropez hotels with 117 rooms, the five-star Château de la Messardière also includes a stimulating art gallery that features a number of international artists, as well as the works of Victoire de la Messardière, a descendant of the original 19th-century owners of the chateau.  And for those times when the buzz of Saint-Tropez calls, the hotel’s 24-7 shuttle whisks you to town in five minutes.

Saint Tropez, France

5-star comfort along the Cote d’Azur

The entire management and staff of this delightful hotel understand the meaning of hospitality.  For all of the Chateau’s natural beauty and accoutrements of luxury,  you will appreciate that personal and professional service among your many pleasant memories.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Hôtel de Crillon Reimagined

Paris luxury hotels

Overlooking Place de la Concorde – ©Atout France/Hôtel de Crillon

Two years into the renovation of the renowned Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, we still can only imagine the changes taking place. Many of us would wonder at any change to this veritable institution directly across the street from the American Embassy. Yet, in 2013 came the announcement about the closure for renovations and the forthcoming change in management to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

Beyond tantalizing mentions of the auctioning of an abundant number of hotel accents, furnishings … and wine; the fate and future of the hotel has been cloaked in mystery. Now, though, we learn that no other than Karl Lagerfeld has been commissioned to apply his creative genius to the design of two suites.

luxury hotels of Paris

Junior suite – ©Atout France/Hôtel de Crillon

Acclaimed not only for fine craftsmanship but for blending history ‘with an edge’, perhaps even Mr. Lagerfeld feels a slight hesitation in tackling this Parisian landmark. Of course I am wrong about that – what designer wouldn’t jump at the chance to create a signature suite in one of the world’s finest hotels?

Under Rosewood’s core philosophy – A Sense of Place® – Mr. Lagerfeld will apply his unparalleled talent in the marriage of 18th century heritage with 2015 ‘je ne sais pas’.   Overlooking Place de la Concorde, the Hôtel de Crillon has witnessed abundant history from the reign of French Kings to the fall of Napoleon’s Empire and the birth of the League of Nations.

I hope that Karl Lagerfeld and the myriad designers involved in this renovation find the ideal balance of respect for heritage with light touches of the contemporary world in which we live. While my personal prejudice sways away from ultra-modern treatments of grand old buildings, I recognize that some might lean in the opposite direction.

Some describe the magnificent hotel as “…a living testament to the very best way of life France has to offer.” Alas, we all simply must wait and see for the unveiling of this monumental project in 2016.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Le Prieuré – Elegant Avignon Retreat

Retreat to the French countryside

Le Prieuré – hotel in the country by Avignon

Gift-giving season is here, and who among us wouldn’t cherish the gift of travel in France?  While we love the refined manoirs within the storied walls of old Avignon; we would easily enjoy experiencing a private setting with easy access to the historic area.  Le Prieuré,  just across the Rhône in Villeneuve- lès- Avignon, would definitely fit that bill!

The owners promise a stay that is both authentic and elegant. You’ll first want to book your stay at Le Prieuré, though keep in mind their seasonal closure may run to mid March, 2012.  A member of the distinguished Relais & Chateaux collection of luxury hotels and restaurants, Le Prieuré is a former 15th-century convent, magically transformed into a welcoming hotel and perfumed by the priests’ trellised garden of roses and wisteria.

Lavish Provençal style mixes with contemporary convenience in the carefully restored rooms and suites, that guarantee an intimate and comfortable stay. You may be surprised at the rich heritage and treasures in the village.

The dominant tower on the skyline – Fort Saint André and the Philippe le Bel Tower – remind us of Avignon’s alliance with the Holy Roman Empire and the need to protect the Benedictine abbey and town.  And the municipal museum in the Pierre-de-Luxembourg mansion displays exceptional art, notably religious works from ivory carvings to 17th century paintings.

The charming village becomes the focal point for performances and festivals throughout the year; due to their strategic location where Provence, la Camargue and Languedoc come together. Of course, you will visit the lovely old streets of Avignon to enjoy its’ special blend of history, striking architecture and inviting collection of shops and restaurants.

But the delight comes with your return from those lively moments to seal each and every memory with a quiet glass of wine on the balcony.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Provençal Retreat – La Cabro d’Or & Spa

Avignon France

Tranquil gardens of La Cabro d’Or

On the first day of the hottest month of the year – throughout out America and particularly in Florida – let’s just get away.  Let’s imagine an escape to a lovely Provençal farmhouse, surrounded by natural beauty and infused with unnaturally warm hospitality.

We arrive at our Relais et Chateaux hotel and restaurant – La Cabro d’Or & Spa – in a magnificent garden setting in the valley of Lex Baux de Provence.  The Alpilles mountains stretch across the landscape; where olives and wine share the fertile land, and the jagged white rocks of the Val d’Enfer provide a delightful contrast.

at home near Avignon FR

Exceptional cuisine in a warm setting

Your Maîtres de Maison, Geneviève and Jean-André Charial, perfect the mood of peace and quiet with graceful rooms, elegant living areas and a dining room and terrace that celebrate the incomparable cuisine of the land.  Imagine confit tomatoes and asparagus from the garden, suckling pig and scallops from the seas.  Following the seasons, the cuisine and wines mirror the rich land that surrounds La Cabro d’Or.  We shall end at least one meal with a magnificent creation – bourbon vanilla, grand cru chocolate mousse and Camargue salt.

historic sites of Provence

Daudet’s Moulin, Provence

We will slide through the cool water of the huge pool, stop here and there in the garden, explore the historic villages of the area and, perhaps, discover a special antique in Saint Rémy de Provence or visit the famous Windmill of Daudet.  And at day’s end, we will yield to tranquil farmhouse evenings.

One guest perfectly described his La Cabro experience: “…There is one thing that stands out above all others: the freedom to do just as you please.”

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Luxury Redefined at Hôtel de Crillon

Hotel de Crillon, Paris

Crillon lobby elegance!

The renowned Hôtel de Crillon, right next door to the American Embassy in Paris, is about to complete a two-year renovation. Slated to reopen next year, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world will present a bright new face in order “to meet its clients’ highest standards.  Really?

Far be it from me to question the tastes and/or decisions of those who cater to those who likely spend as much on a stay at this magnificent hotel as many would spend on six months’ worth of mortgage payments! That disclaimer aside, you can be certain that the Crillon had not fallen into musty disrepair! Rather, like a bored homemaker shoving furniture about or painting a wall to freshen the home; the new management wanted to make a dual statement of refined continuity and techno-luxury progress.

Paris hotel Luxury

Signature style – what is coming at Hotel de Crillon?

I stand among many who appreciate the Hôtel de Crillon and, in fact, have some very fond memories of brushing up against her opulent presence. Many years ago during my first visit to Paris, my good friend once again demonstrated ‘the world is my oyster’ style. Dressed for a casual walk and a bit sodden with the Paris mist, she insisted we duck into the hotel for a visit to the restroom and gift shop. So discreetly imposing was the grand edifice, I balked at the thought quickly theorizing that such a visit would equal attending an upscale event in shorts and flip flops!

No, no, my friend assured me, and we entered … with her darling dog in the lead. A uniformed gentleman nodded with an appropriate smile, and we traversed the marble foyer and descended elegant stairs to the toilette. Certainly quite serviceable and inviting, the rest room nonetheless did not equal that of The Ritz; though I don’t intend to cast aspersions.

Then, we enjoyed moments of hushed French-style conversation with the gracious attendant in the gift shop, as we looked among porcelain keepsakes, sumptuous leather goods and light-as-air silk scarves. Despite my initial misgivings, it was a delightful experience … and certainly memorable.

I had no idea that the genteel tenacity of my friend offered such benefits!  Well indoctrinated now to the Crillon’s egalitarian hospitality, on another occasion I waited to meet my friend in the hotel lobby….that famous, gleaming lobby with quietly efficient hosts and elegant guests.  I marveled at the thin, fine leather boots of a statuesque young woman attached to the arm of a quite dignified gentleman.

Imagine, then, my sorrow on reading about a tourist who had the same thought to take a peek inside, perhaps a good ten years after our adventure.  As this lady approached the door, a guard at the front explained that only hotel guests could enter in order to protect the privacy of their guests.

Now, I only wish we had stopped in for a glass of wine, as my daughter and I did one evening at The Ritz; but that is another story, and I am well satisfied with my Crillon memories at the moment.  In fact, even ambling along the sidewalk in front of the hotel is quite an experience.  Elegantly uniformed livery men oversee a stable of sleek, black vehicles, every ready to spring into action for in-or outbound guests.  A stately tall black man leaves the hotel in what appears to be the attire of African royalty.  There is an indescribable hum of service and wealth and privilege that is interesting to see, a window on a world most of us do not encounter … on a regular basis.

Enjoy the big and little moments of your life.  And, as they say, “act as if” and perhaps you will be welcomed into otherwise hallowed ground!

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Historic & Enchanting Provence

Historic Provence chateau

Château des Baux de Provence – ©C. Recoura

Tucked away on a rocky outcropping in the foothills of the Alpilles mountains, Château des Baux de Provence is a centuries old historic sent poised above the dramatic valleys of Provence. More than 20 years ago, the District of Les Baux-de-Provence called upon the expertise of Culturespaces to develop and manage this cultural and historic gem. Their efforts have been so successful that Château des Baux is now second only to the Papal Palace of Avignon as the most visited monument in the PACA region.

Towering over the village, the site of the Castle of les Baux de Provence is listed as a Historic Monument and offers visitors stunning views of the whole region – views that offer insight into the strategic location of this embattled area. Dramatic ruins, buildings and war relics trace the storied history of this region, where conflict was as common as the Mistral winds that sweep the area.

Overlooking Alpilles mtns.

Château des Baux de Provence – ©C. Recoura

Across from the cemetery that overlooks the Val d’Enfer (Hell Valley), the Chapel of Saint Blaise, for example, is a quaint 12th-century edifice built by the guild of wool carders and cloth weavers. Famous Provencal painter Yves Bayer and poet André Suarès have their final resting place in the cemetery.

Beyond managing this magnificent site, Culturespaces has wisely partnered with local hotels and restaurants to suggest every convenience for interested visitors. One of our favorites is the hotel Mas de l’Oulivié just 2 kilometers from the village of les BAUX DE PROVENCE, one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France”.

The charming 4-star hotel is the ideal ‘home away from home’ from which to explore the beautiful landscape, architectural heritage and historic sites of the area. An intimate hotel, there are only 25 exceptional rooms and 2 suites, each designed to provide its own character and special views to the countryside or landscaped garden. Set in an olive grove, the garden has more than 120 species of trees as well as a landscaped swimming pool tucked into a rocky, natural setting.

Beyond historic sightseeing, visitors can choose from cycling and horseback riding, golf and shopping in local markets. Naturally local olive oil is a favorite purchase!

 

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Retreat to Josephine’s Garden

Josephine Baker in Paris

Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds

Paris visitors are never at a loss for unique excursions, not the least of which is an appealing new exhibit that opened at the beginning of April.  Just west of Paris at the Musée des Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau, is an intimate and fascinating expo – Joséphine, La Passion des Fleurs et des Oiseaux.

Mais oui, the exhibit focuses on Empress Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds, no doubt an influence from her early Creole childhood. The Château itself showcases her refined taste and informal gardens, but this particular exhibit expressly « proposes to revive the passion Josephine vowed to flowers and birds. »

Though forced to divorce Napoleon for lack of producing an heir, Josephine maintained her title and devoted herself to botanical pursuits and collections at Malmaison.  Your visit provides a quiet retreat from the city, where you can easily imagine the country manor life of the Emperor and Empress.

Paris exhibits

Reproductions of Empress Josephine

The Musée boutique offers special reproductions of Josephine’s porcelain and jewelry- nice mementos or gifts from your visit.  The exhibit runs until the end of June, and is easily reached by taking the metro to La Defence and the bus 258 to the Château stop.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Meert – # 1 Palate Pleasure in Lille!

Lille, France

Patisserie to royalty in Lille

Today we seem to live at the speed of  light, hooked to little electronic gadgets that nag us – with our permission, thank you – throughout every waking moment.  That’s all the more reason  to appreciate Meert.

Nothing happens in France overnight, least of all a blossoming friendship or a thriving patisserie.  No, the maturation of either requires patience, tender care, growing trust and a touch of vision.  And so it is with Meert.  Over 250 years ago – in 1761, to be precise – a sweets and chocolate shop was born at 27 rue Esquermoise in Lille. Some ten years later, the addition of Meert’s famous ice cream inspired the reverence of the Count of Lille and transformed the establishment into one of Lille’s most fashionable sites, proving once again that the touch of royalty ‘gilds the lilly’.

Flash forward to 1839, when the decision was made to renovate the establishment.  The creative team included the architect César Benvignat – the official architect of Old Lille, painter Stalars and sculptor Huidiez; who combined their brilliance to create the impressive, ornate oriental style you find at Meert today.  Ten years later, Meert became the official supplier of King Leopold I and concocted one of the stellar products of the store – the famous vanilla-filled waffle.

Along the way, the house added a first-in-class restaurant poised along a sun-bathed interior courtyard with a 19th century glass roof.  Now, the distinguished clientèle enjoys the multi-faceted historic boutique, traditional tearoom and gastronomic restaurant all presented in the extravagant and tasteful surroundings of Maison Meert. A second restaurant at Lille Printemps has been added, as well as two Paris locations in the Marais and Saint-Germain, in Bruxelles and Roubaix.

Now, about that infamous waffle….

Ten years ago, the EphéMeert waffle appeared beside the traditional vanilla waffle that is particularly known for its’ flavorful Vanille de Madagascar.  Flavors range from praline and puffed rice, pistachio and morello cherry to blackcurrant and violet flavors.  You can be certain that the enticing combinations are tucked away quite carefully in the little tattered notebook that guards the Meert’s cherished secrets!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Golf Retreat in the Dordogne

Dordogne luxury retreat

Château des Vigiers golf retreat

Near Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion, the 16th century Château des Vigiers is an appealing golf retreat – a blend of classic and contemporary.  The 4-star Château is regal, set like a Grand Dame in the undulating Dordogne landscape with a spectacular 27-hole golf course.   The beautifully restored centerpiece and resort have been designated one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.

A little side note is interesting.  I know France hasn’t much of a golfing tradition.  Perhaps, with so much beauty, culture, history and “je ne sais quoi”, they simply haven’t the time or desire to chase a little white ball around grassy knolls.  But there was one notable French golfer who made history more for his loss than Paul Lawrie’s win at the British Open at Carnoustie.  In a virtual bow to the theme of the movie “Tin Cup”, in 1999 Frenchman Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18thtee with a healthy 6-stroke lead. To make a long story short, he made one bad decision after another, spending twenty excruciating minutes working his way in and out of the barns and water.  Though his triple-bogey took him into the playoff, he would not walk away with the Claret Jug.  An interesting story, but let’s get back to our golf escape.

You will enjoy distinct room choices, from a classic Chateau room to spacious patio wing rooms with your own terrace overlooking the gardens or golf course.  All rooms are beautifully furnished with every comfort.  And you can cap off your round of golf with a visit to the beauty and spa centre.  After enjoying a leisurely lunch, by all means explore Saint-Emilion and local vineyards.

4-star luxury hotel, France

Golfside dining

At day’s end, dine “al fresco” on the scenic terrace overlooking the lake, while the wine steward uncorks your favorite rosé from the wine cellar.  Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Basque Luxury – Saint Jean-de-Luz

Down in Basque country in southwestern France, everything from the language to the regional cuisine is decidedly unique. Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a happy, sauntering kind of village of about 15,000, a lovely retreat to visit.

Imagine a relaxing “Cote Basque” seaside and lively fishing port with medieval, Moorish and Spanish influence; and you’ll begin to envision the charming resort. On the Bay of Biscay, almost as far south as you can go in France without entering Spain, the town sports a blend of Spain’s Andalusia and Basque building styles – definitely the prototypical “Old World” charm.

Consider a luxurious getaway at Le Parc Victoria , when you plan your visit. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, the hotel is just minutes from the beach and offers a sheltered 19th century setting from which to explore the village.

The enticing beach offers a bit of everything – boutique shopping and sporty surf shops, casino, hearty Basque dining, brightly-colored fishing boats and plentiful sun for beach worshippers. The village is on the bank of the river Nivelle; and the port is on the estuary, just short of the point where the river joins the ocean.

St.-Jean-de-Luz Beach

Begin your discovery ‘tour’ at Place Louis XIV – the main village square. The King married Marie-Therese here in 1660, thus uniting Europe’s then two most powerful countries. The Eglise St. Jean-Baptiste is the one notable historic attraction in the town. On Place Louis-XIV, visit Maison Adam, the confectioner who has satisfied many a sweet tooth since 1660, specializing in the flavor of almonds, caramels and fruit confits. Indulge in shopping along pedestrian rue Gambetta for leather goods, brightly-colored Basque textiles, mouth-watering chocolates and macaroons.

But there’s far more to the exceptional Basque cuisine than sweets. The Basque gastronomy pulls from the land and sea, from French and Spanish cuisine. Fresh seasonal ingredients and simple, home-style cooking techniques produce Basque pumpkin soup, wild mushroom omelets, ewe’s milk cheese spread, grilled fish and Basque tapas.

One of your daily pleasures should be a walk at sunset along the promenade. When you look over the calming waters of the Atlantic, you won’t quite believe that this port once was a center for privateers. Today it is pleasure, not pirates, that attracts vacationers to set aside the daily routine for a restful stay by the ocean.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Top 4 Paris Moments!

Paris ballet and opera

Opera Garnier – CREDITS: Atout France/ Benoit Roland

Each of us approaches trip planning in a different way.  Some need the security of detailed plans; others prefer a more devil-may-care approach, allowing moments to unfold and surprises to occur.  Regular readers know, of course, that I fall into the latter group!

This Top 4  Moments in Paris provides for some magnificent experiences, while keeping your agenda open for that spontaneous glass of wine in the Marais or ducking into that little Librarie in search of old etchings  or books.  Not in any particular order, I recommend a mix of culture, couture and fantastic flea market shopping.

First, I would hasten to purchase tickets on line for a performance at the Opéra Garnier, one of the most elegant venues in all of Paris.  You can easily purchase tickets on line, and you will enjoy the luxury and luminosity of the performing arts in the refined setting of Opéra Garnier.  The location is central to everything – near Galeries Lafayette – so you can find an ideal spot for a little aprés Opera drink or late dinner.

Museums, Paris

Jaquemart-Andre Museum, Paris

Also on a sophisticated but so approachable note, plan to visit the Jacquemart-Andre Museum.  One of Paris’ ‘beauty marks’, the museum welcomes you home to the refined world of the former owners.  If possible, try to go for the Saturday or Sunday brunch – quite an elegant affair held from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in The Café Jacquemart-André.  You also have the option of late-night openings during certain seasons, but be sure to check the museum website for specific nights and times.

Remember now that I am just offering you a few specific recommendations, but I fully expect you to wander the city.  Be sure to enjoy quiet walks along the Seine and duck into a fabulous Brasserie for an unparalleled chocolat chaud.

One of our favorite streets for reeling in the grandeur of Paris is the fashion world of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.  Shall we drop a few names?  Hermès, Lanvin, Givenchy, Dior ….  Some of the world’s most exclusive designers are set in sparkling shops amid five-star hotels.

We stopped for a carafe of wine on the street overlooking Estée Lauder – a perfect spot for watching distinctly upscale shoppers sating their appetites for finery.  You will be just around the corner from Place Concorde and the Palais de l’Élysée – official home to the French president – so you won’t lack sightseeing opportunities.  Our most notable experience was stopping at a sidewalk cafe and looking up to see the handsome, fully-outfitted French Republican Guard marching down the street – quite a sight!

Now, we shall explore one of the most famous of all flea markets in Paris – Les Puces (The Fleas), more formally known as Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.  Dress comfortably, as you will literally comb through acres of treasures in the world’s largest antique market.  Naturally, such adventurous shopping will stimulate your appetite; so stop in at one of the flea market cafes for a breather and an excellent tureen of soup (that happened to be our lucky find on a very chilly day!)  The market’s best hours are on Saturday and Sunday from 9 or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Be prepared, plan a bit but not too much, and look forward to perhaps the most memorable Paris visit of your life!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Paris Dining Guides

Fabulous Paris retaurants

La Grande Cascade – Paris

Whether you have visited Paris one or a hundred times, you will always be on the lookout for excellent dining choices.  We have enjoyed scenic park-  and riverside dining, simple bistros and elegant brasseries; and we always welcome new information and insider tips.

Allow LuxeEuro to introduce a valuable resource for your Paris trip planning and search for dining options.  There are so many excellent choices for atmosphere, price and cuisine; and Paris Best Restaurants provides an exceptional guide. Easy to use. Comprehensive.  Reservations and ‘coupons’ available.

The team at Paris Best includes food addicts, who aim to provide visitors with up-to-date information about the best restaurants in Paris.  They are independent, with no commercial relationship with the restaurants they list; and as important, they are well organized with listings by categories of cuisine and arrondissements. Cuisine categories run the gamut from Michelin-starred and Brunch options to Terrace & Garden and Exceptional Views.

Beyond helpful menus and prices, they include reviews that simply add more detail and credibility to help you make your choice. Let’s look at a couple of listings.

In the 16th arrondissement, La Grande Cascade is a rather fascinating choice in an ancient hunting lodge dating back to Napoléon III. Discreetly poised in Bois de Boulogne, the restaurant is especially nice on sunny days on the pleasant terrace. The gastronomic cuisine from chef Frédéric Robert includes a la carte offerings like Roasted Filet de Saint-Pierre with almond, summer truffles in ravioli, butter à la parisienne and far more. Definitely haute cuisine Française!

One of Paris’ most historic – and famous – restaurants overlooks the Place du Tertre on

Paris restaurants

Place du Tertre, Montmartre

Montmartre. Founded by Catherine Lemoine in 1793, Chez la Mère Catherine is warm and inviting with traditional and rustic antiques. The ever-evolving typical French cuisine includes Honey Confit of Suckling Pig, Ginger Grilled Frog’s Legs and Sea bream with Mango Coulis. Cabaret singers entertain every evening, while you enjoy your dinner in the romantic atmosphere of the Montmartre village.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Sweet Luxury at La Bonne Étape

Provence Luxury lodging

La Bonne Étape – balcony views

I have a new mind ‘game’ for those nights, when sleep is a fighting proposition instead of an easy transition from wakefulness to sweet dreams.  I’ve never been a sheep counter.

Lately, though, I comb through my memories for beautiful views … from patios and courtyards to balconies and seaside overlooks. And instead of fretting about things left undone or chores for the morrow, I am lost somewhere in France … and then sleep settles in and feels welcome.

Perhaps that’s just one of many reasons I am taken with La Bonne Étape. One of their delightful descriptives – “Cosy corners for your sweet dreams” tells me they understand my search for beautiful sights and peaceful sleep.

The lovely 4-star Relais & Chateaux post house dates to the 17th century and has been carefully looked after by generations of the Gleize family. Jany Gleize is the current proprietor – Chef de Cuisine and Maître de Maison.

His personal touch permeates La Bonne Étape from the charming, lacy balconies and almond-green shutters to a kitchen that pours forth the Provencal recipes of his grandmother, Gabrielle. I always research places we visit and write about, and I was most impressed with what I found on TripAdvisor.

Each comment by a guest of La Bonne Étape was responded to – in detail – by Jany. That is the sign of one who pays attention, who cares enough to make things perfect for guests – though doubtless we all know there are some folks who cannot be satisfied!

Each room is uniquely situated and decorated to exude its own character and comforts. Some rooms overlook the organic garden; others offer a view of the pool or the rolling landscape of Chemin du Lac. More elaborate first-floor rooms offer inviting private terraces, and all accommodations include modern comforts – air conditioning, Wi-Fi, en-suite baths and satellite television. In all, La Bonne Étape offers 18 rooms and suites in a delightful boutique hotel atmosphere in the countryside of Provence.

Jany presides over two enticing restaurants, where le Chef produces exceptional regional classics from local herbs and produce and his own kitchen garden to enjoy in the more upscale La Bonne Étape or in the more simplified Au Goût du Jour.

Within easy reach, you can discover the sunlit wonders of Provence – the stunning Gorge du Verdon canyons and winding river, countryside biking or rounds of golf, a visit to the Citadelle de Sisteron. Take in the local markets or search out antique shops. Picnic by the gorge or horseback ride along the rolling landscape. No two days need be alike in this magnificent area of France.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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Best French Villages to Visit

Famed chef Alain Ducasse’s La Bastide de Moustiers

Hilltop and valley villages anoint the French countryside like little pearls strung lazily across the landscape. Each, it seems, is centered on a petite chapel, and many claim riverfront privileges with ancient stone bridges and willow-protected river banks. While there are hundreds of scenic and historic villages in France, we have to begin somewhere! Enjoy a glimpse of two of our favorites.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie

At the western end of the striking Gorges du Verdun, Moustiers Sainte-Marie is a remarkably beautiful village in the Emerald Valley. Moustiers is home to just 600 residents but host to thousands of visitors, many who come for the valued “faience” pottery produced here.

The traditional pottery village straddles a small rocky canyon and a stream that splits the village and adds the pleasant sounds of rushing water to the overall charm of the town. High above the village a semi circle of rocky cliffs are linked by a forged iron chain, from which the golden star of one of the knights of the Crusades is suspended. It’s quite a striking sight and symbol. Under the protective star, the village unfolds with narrow streets and passages and welcoming shops and cafes. Everywhere the views upwards and outwards prompt you to stop, look and listen.

At the village center, the 12th-century Notre-Dame church, with its four-level Romanesque bell tower, is watched over by the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel, high above the village and beneath the gold star. You gain a sense of how “young” we are, in that the chapel was built on the same spot as a Marial temple that dates to 470 A.D. You will definitely want to carve out some time to wander through faience stores, before finding that perfect umbrella-covered table for a delightful lunch.

Roussillon

Roussillon’s main square

On the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse, Rousillon is an ochre-red village that is small enough to easily explore but filled with charm and color. Wandering along her narrow streets takes you through a maze of bright colors – coral buildings with bright blue shutters, vivid yellow with green accents, deep earth colors and red tile roofs. One of the 141 villages in France rated as a Plus Beaux Village (Most Beautiful Village of France), Roussillon’s color stems, in part, from the former ochre mines at the base of the village. In fact, there is evidence of Roman occupation, when the mines were operating.

The village square was one of our favorites, lively with outdoor cafes, the Mairie’s (Mayor’s) handsome building and the 19th-century clock, bell tower and sundials of the church. Stretching out from the square are charming boutiques with pottery that reflects the joyous colors of the area.  We simply stopped to listen to the chanteuse, who entertained from the middle of the village square – magnifique!

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French Gift of Pure Luxury

Le Bernard Loiseau in Burgundy Franche Comte

Le Bernard Loiseau Relais & Chateaux Property

Naturally,  you can count on an elite organization like Relais & Châteaux to assemble a French gift of pure luxury. Drawing on their many superior lodgings and gourmet restaurants, the organization presents very enticing “Gift Box” offers.

The “A la Carte Dream” for two includes either one weekend night or two weekday nights in a double room, a three-course dinner for 2 (sans drinks) and 2 breakfasts to be enjoyed from Sunday to Thursday at one of their 127 global properties.

I can’t imagine a more memorable gift, one that combines comfort and relaxation with refined hospitality.  The range of R & C properties is nothing less than spectacular, as you can easily understand from a couple of profiles.

Step off a little side street at the peak of the Provencal village of Castillon-du-Gard into a world of handsome Renaissance architecture and panoramic views. Le Vieux Castillon hotel and restaurant blends sun-drenched cuisine, refined decor and unparalleled hospitality for that oh-so-ideal sojourn in Provence.

And in the Burgundy region, it is Le Relais Bernard Loiseau that provides a spectacular welcome. Tucked away in the village of Saulieu, the cuisine is a top attraction as is the historical breakfast room and the sumptuous lounges and guest rooms.

In every sense, your Relais and Château selection guarantees an experience that imprints luxurious memories for all the days to come. Other gift selections are available and are beautifully boxed and presented with a copy of the Relais and Châteaux Guide.

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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Les Prés d’Eugénie – Aquitaine

One of three Guerard dining choices Aquitaine France

One of three dining choices

If we can no longer continue to invent and as a result find pleasure in our creativity, then we must ask why.”

—Chef Michel Guérard

Introducing a phenomenal property today, bienvenue to the charming village of Eugenie-les-Bains in southwest France and to the incredibly refined Les Prés d’Eugénie.  One of the prestigious properties of the Relais & Châteaux Association, Michel Guerard’s accommodations could be described as a gated enclave in a serene setting just steps from a village that could as easily be part of that pristine principality of Monaco.

Their own signature description is an “echo of colonial India”, and it is accurate – refined, elegant, a mix of antique furnishings and original paintings within a tasteful setting.  Every single element seems designed to inspire warm hospitality in this Landes department in Aquitaine.

Monsieur Guérard’s story and his success are apropos and interesting.  Early on a celebrated French chef, Michel and his wife, Christine, bought the existing chateau and property in the early 1970’s with the thought of creating an ideal south-of-France experience.  Such was the birth of Eugenie-les-Bains and Les Prés d’Eugénie, a retreat with beautiful, lush grounds, a relaxing spa and a country restaurant – Fermes aux Grives.

Chef Michel masters his style of cooking, one of the first of the nouveau cuisine that blends the bounty of the area with the artistry of the chef.  One might expect a lofty air from such a property, but no – warmth and courtesy abound.  You can enjoy a bike ride in the country or a Michel bottle of wine on your own garden-oriented terrace.  In no time, you can visit glamorous Biarritz on the Atlantic or cross the Pyrenees to San Sebastian.

My ‘bucket list’ definitely includes a visit with Michel and Christine!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Beaumontois en Périgord

France Dordogne

Beaumontois en Périgord

Today we have a combination of amusement and revelation in recommending a sparkling little jewel in Dordogne.  First, there is the lovely old bastide town of Beaumont du Périgord in southern Dordogne.

On the humorous side, I admit to being unaware of the ville’s existence, until my Parisian friend sent me Julia Stuart’s first novel, the Matchmaker of Périgord.  Stuart’s novel is the fictional side of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, in which she captures so many of the endearing (and not so) idiosyncrasies of provincial French in the story of the barber turned matchmaker.

So that is the amusing side of our introduction to the old mill town, but we move along now to make your acquaintance with an historic ‘mill house’ that proves you needn’t boast five stars to offer charm, warmth and refined but ‘home-like’ lodging.

Given the owner’s talents and passions, none of that hospitality and grace is surprising at Moulin de la Ville Beaumont du Périgord.  Your hosts combine the professional interior design of Sue with the Michelin Star master craftsmanship of Chef Steve.  Is it any wonder that the resulting Chambre & Table d’hôte is infused with their inspired talent?

Dordogne FR

Chateau in the Dordogne region

Less than a quarter mile from the center of the village, the old mill and house combine delicate and thorough restoration, contemporary comforts and historic Moulin features in an appealing streamside country retreat.  Breakfast on the verandah?  Mais oui!  A visit to the night market?  De rigueur!

The medieval bastide town and surrounding countryside invite you to explore and absorb the scenic treasures, history and hospitality of southern Dordogne.

Do not take our modest word for it, but do take the time to visit their site.  Like us, we think you will find that a peaceful retreat, exceptional hospitality and fresh, gourmet meals are not the sole province of sophisticated star-bedecked lodging.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Théoule sur Mer Retreat

Mediterranean France

Theoule’s stunning views!

We are particularly fond of smaller hotels with charming French architecture, so we definitely want to add the appealing 5-star Yaktsa Tiara Hotel to our wish list! The location along the French Riviera.  The limited 21 rooms and suites.  The serene Moroccan-Asian influence.  In fact subtlety exudes from the more intimate Théoule sur Mer location, well away from the glitzier Cannes and Saint-Tropez destinations.

As any of us would expect of a 5-star hotel, Yaktsa Tiara features stellar service, extraordinary views of the rugged, red-rock shoreline of the Riviera, spa services and comfortable rooms opening to private balconies and patios.

The hospitable staff is ready to help you plan outings to the many beautiful sights in the area (Cannes is just a 20-minute drive).  One suggestion they will undoubtedly make  – lunch at L’Aguille overlooking the Bay of Cannes.

theoule-sur-mer

Theoule sur Mer beach

We have some gorgeous beaches in Florida, but I have no difficulty imagining our wrapping up in our own discreet world at the end of the day.  Perhaps we would wake to a swim in the pool or a good read in the poolside, umbrella-covered daybeds.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Why Visit Montreal in New France?

Montreal - New France

Lovely Queen Elizabeth views over Montreal

A line in one of my favorite movies, Shirley Valentine, reminds me of my initial reaction to Montréal.  Shirley said, “What am I to do with all these feelings?” Even in contemplating what to share in this post, I don’t know where to begin.

Montréal is very much a part of France – “New France”, that is.  This cosmopolitan city is a stunning mix of old world charm and chic contemporary, village warmth and metropolitan excitement. And, keep in mind that Montréal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. One guess as to the first!

Perhaps some of my lasting impressions might prompt your first …. Or 12th visit!  First, The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel –  so grand, so comfortable, so delightfully perched above the rail system and a maze of tunnels and shops. When frigid arctic air rests over Montréal; you can shop, dine and explore the city in the weather-protected underground labyrinth.

Montreal New France

Old Montreal’s boutique restaurants

From the moment this luxury hotel opened in 1958, royalty and robust international business leaders have been enthusiastic guests.  During our delightful stays, we appreciated the distinctive guests that had gone before us – the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, General Charles de Gaulle, Jacques Chirac, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama ….  Louis Malle also enjoyed the comforts of the QE, as did John Lennon, who held his famous ‘bed-in’ in 1969 in Suite 1742, where the song Give Peace a Chance was written and recorded.

Vieux Montréal’s cobblestone streets encouraged us to wander here and there, into shops with Inuit carvings and ornate Indian dolls, artisan figurines and gorgeous textiles. Much as we would in Paris, we stop to watch a while over coffee on a café terrace. Dinner along Place Jacques-Cartier is warm and intimate, tucked up against thick stone walls with fire-warmed hearths. And horse-drawn carriages simply tipped my mind backwards to what life must have been in days past.

Perhaps Montréal had the perfect upbringing from the city’s initial 17th-century founding as Ville-Marie. The site of Old Montréal was fortified and under French control until the mid-18th century. The British arrived – still very much a source of contention today – but the Ville evolved to a bourgeois city, as a political and commercial center of Upper and Lower Canada.

Today, Montréal combines Victorian showcase architecture with sleek, contemporary designs. With a reverence for heritage and an embrace of innovation, the highly multicultural city demonstrates her personality across cuisines and festivals, shops and creativity, in haute fashion and traditional Canadian lore.

I haven’t even touched upon McGill University, where my grandfather was an engineering student in the early 1900’s, or Mont Royal or the Saint Lawrence River. More… later.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Musée d’Orsay – Elegance and Art

Paris museums

Stunning sculpture of the d’Orsay

I am drawn to sculpture, to the fluid lines, the grace and the seemingly impossible artistic mission of creating such alluring works from sometimes drab raw materials.  A favorite destination for immersion in this fine art form is the Musée d’Orsay on the banks of the Seine in Paris.

From the moment you enter, the ‘sculpture’ of the museum itself is so appealing.  We can thank historic preservationists for the transformation of the magnificent d’Orsay from the Orsay railway station to the stunning museum we enjoy today.

As the Universal Exposition neared in 1900, the French government recognized the need for a more centrally-located station than that of the Gare d’Austerlitz.  Three architects contributed to the Beaux-Arts design – Lucien Magne, Emile Bénard and Victor Laloux (the latter designed the extraordinary station clock that looks over the grand hall of the museum), who were challenged to integrate the new station into its elegant environs.

“The station is superb and looks like a Palais des beaux-arts…” – painter Edouard Detaille, 1900

Clearly they accomplished their goal, but plans for an expansive modern hotel complex threatened its destruction.  Fortunately revived interest in 19th-century architecture generated a declaration of the d’Orsay as a Historical Monument in 1978, when a commission was established to create the museum.

The sculptures of the Musée d’Orsay

The debut of the museum in December 1986 included 1,200 sculptures, mostly from the former collections of the Musée du Luxembourg, the Louvre and from state loans.   The 19th century marked a prolific period for sculpture.  Then the ‘mood’ of the people sought to proclaim triumphant social progress, while the politicos wanted to carve their beliefs in bronze and stone.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris

View from D’Orsay rooftop

Fortunately, we are able to enjoy the many legendary works of art under the changing daylight that streams through the museum’s glass roof.   Among the diverse sculpture collection are Rodin’s The Age of Bronze, Bourdelle’s head of Beethoven, works by Belgian sculptor Constantin Neunier and Edgar Degas’ enchanting Small Dancer.

Over three-and-a-half million visitors enjoyed the Musée d’Orsay in 2012, a number that continuously increases over time.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to join those fortunate visitors, we suggest you rectify that oversight on your next visit to Paris!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Corsican Luxury Resort – Calvi

Corsica France

Villa Calvi, Corsica

Today the spotlight is on a dreamy Corsican resort on the port of Calvi.  The five-star Hotel La Villa is poised between the mountains and the Mediterranean with spectacular views of the sea.  The Villa’s Chef – Sébastien Sevellec – has earned the prestigious “Rising Chef” award for his “…hymns to Corsica that this son of a fisherman has created, having worked at this property for 12 years now …”

The Villa’s extraordinary pleasures begin with stunning views of the bay, easily enjoyed by taking in one of the Chef’s savory menus at La Terrasse or one the other restaurant offerings at the resort.  Imagine a seaside lunch of poisson freshly caught in the bay of Calvi!

Established over fifty years ago, Relaix & Châteaux sets the standard for excellent hospitality in over 500 associated luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants throughout the world.  I particularly appreciate their emphasis on the genuine hospitality and uniquely authentic regional cultures and tastes their properties represent.

Whether you fancy an intimate Villa experience in Italy or an elegant Château in France, you will discover a world of pleasure for that very special holiday you plan.  We carry their directory with us when travelling, so we can discover unique restaurants or lodging, we would not otherwise have located … like Bernard Robin – Le Relais in the quaint village of Bracieux.

Wishing you a delightful Relais holiday or memorable gourmet meal!

We welcome your comments and recommendations!
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Collioure 4-Star Seaside Resort

Collioure FR

Collioure – Le Relais de Trois Mas

“There is nowhere else in France a sky with a deeper blue than the sky of Collioure…”  HENRI MATISSE

Though the anchovies for which Collioure is known might not be enough for a draw for you, make no mistake that this charming seaside ville is well worth visiting.  Along the Côte Vermeille, the village lies where the Pyrenees plummet down to the Mediterranean.  The landscape is striking and varied – a mix of craggy cliffs and sun-drenched beaches, hilly vineyards and colorful villages.  Add a number of châteaux and castles, and you have a lovely, laid-back seaside venue with proud traditions of culture and heritage.

Long the inspiration of countless artists, even a style of painting was born here in the “City of Painters”.  With Henri Matisse’s vivid, untamed paintings, Fauvism came to life.   Artists still are drawn to the area, and art galleries and museums are plentiful.

French Mediterranean restaurants

Port side dining in Collioure

The area really is Catalonian, a blend of France and Spain, where the Spanish rhythm of life dictates late lunches and dinners.  The unparalleled choice of lodging is the 4-star “Le Relais des Trois Mas”, tucked along the bay facing the sea.  As one might suspect, the Mas enjoys spectacular scenic views and offers rooms beautifully decorated and named after painters who have visited Collioure.It’s the perfect place from which to explore the historic sites (such as the lovely Notre Dame des Anges), to enjoy the Catalan-influenced cuisine and to take in the tranquil Mediterranean beaches.

We welcome your recommendations and comments.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Hôtel Cour des Loges – Lyon – Bienvenue!

Lyon France

Cour des Loges lobby, Lyon

Nothing quite imprints the distinct feeling of history like staying in the former mansion of an Italian silk merchant. Tucked discreetly along the cobbled lanes of Vieux Lyon, Hôtel Cour des Loges offers exactly that experience. You feel as if the old merchant’s staff welcomes you, but alas – they are contemporary concierges well schooled in warm, refined hospitality (as you might expect of a 4-star luxury hotel).

Every glance through the hotel, from the arched reception and dining rooms to your own handsomely outfitted boudoir provides an agreeable blend of antique and contemporary. The hotel actually is a complex of 14th to 17th-century buildings that encircle a glass-covered courtyard.

After checking in, ask your concierge about nearby “traboules” to explore. The passageways first were used by workers in the silk industry and later by members of the Resistance to evade capture by the occupying Germans. They weave through the old city with a mystique of their own, hiding the stories of long ago.

Cour des Logees

Merci garcon! Parmesan hand scooped!

Our friend provided an after-dinner tour, pushing open a door here and there, that appeared to be the entrance to a home or apartment. We followed him along silent corridors, around corners and through other doors, only to exit a few streets away.And speaking of dinner, you will want to enjoy a memorable experience at the hotel’s Café-Épicerie, a restaurant that artfully mixes contemporary décor with stone walls, graceful arches and silk tapestries. Our excellent waiter guided our menu choices and scooped fresh parmesan from a large cheese wheel to accent our selections. The experience reminded us that dining is not eating.

After a restful night, head to the interior courtyard for a delicious breakfast buffet. We look around the upper and lower arches imagining the life of the original owner and his family in Renaissance France. You cannot fail to absorb the ancient life, the stories and history of this unique Lyon dwelling. The hotel serves as a wonderful anchor, after wandering up the hills and by the rivers of this remarkable city.

We welcome your comments and recommendations!
swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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“Platinum” Cruises Through France

Tournon France cruise

Viking Cruises – Tournon

Do you know the movie The Bucket List?  Rob Reiner’s comedy stars none other than Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two terminally-ill men, who take a last road trip to do all of those things they want to do before they ‘kick the bucket’.

VikingCruises

Serene riverside dining through France

Not to discourage any and all desires to fulfill, before the curtain falls; we have our own “Platinum Bucket”.  We would prefer to fill our bucket with Dom Pérignon Champagne and indulge in some extraordinary adventures in France.

Certainly one addition to the bucket would be a Viking River Cruise through France – either the short version from Paris through Normandy or the indulgent 15-day excursion that extends your initial trip to Avignon, Arles and beyond.  Accolades for the Viking cruises are plentiful, and they have a number of French and European cruise choices available to discerning travelers.

Cruise Critic Editors chose Viking River Cruises Longship as the Best New River Ship in 2012. With six new longships recently launched, Viking has exceeded high expectations with state-of-the-art engineering, balcony cabins, suites and expansive, atrium-style common areas.  They have applied their more than 175 years of experience to provide carefully-planned itineraries on extraordinarily comfortable ships. Viking crews pride themselves in providing the kind of personal attention that makes your cruise equally comfortable and exciting. National Geographic even features Viking in their The 10 Best of Everything awards.

We prefer the “Platinum” route, so we choose the combo cruise that runs the length of France. Viking combines their abbreviated Normandy adventure with a cruise through the southern regions of Burgundy and Provence.  With visits to Avignon, Arles and Lyon and many points between, can you imagine a more delightful itinerary? Touches of Monet and Van Gogh. Cuisines of Lyon and Avignon. Cobblestone streets and soaring Gothic architecture. And the magnificent sights of Paris need no description.

Viking Cruises France

State-of-the-art Cruise Ships

A ‘thumbnail sketch’ may inspire you to explore the possibilities for yourself. Imagine a comfortable, spacious stateroom with your own balcony. Expansive sun decks offer 360-degree views, as do observation lounges and bars with panoramic windows. Wireless internet service, boutique, library – they’ve thought of every comfort and convenience to spoil you.

Talented chefs labor to provide a mix of fresh, seasonal local vegetables, regional specialties and menus adapted to your tastes. From pleasant and complete breakfast choices to your five-course dinners, you will be well nourished for active days and pleasant evenings.

Your itinerary takes you from Avignon to Arles, from Romanesque ruins to wine tastings at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Tournon, Vienne and Lyon stimulate the senses and the imagination. A visit to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, offers wine tasting that takes on an entirely new experience in the famous cellars. After a night docked in Chalon-sur-Saône, you will ride through Dijon to Paris; where you board your second ship, after stimulating city and museum tours.

Visit the comprehensive website of Viking Cruises to learn more about this and other cruises through France.  We think you will agree that this adventure belongs on your Platinum Bucket list!

We welcome your comments and recommendations.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
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Le Grand Colbert – Paris

Le Grand Colbert Paris

Beautifully-appointed brasserie – Paris

We would love to be ‘regulars’ at Le Grand Colbert in Paris.  The brasserie is authentically ‘old school’ Paris, with lovely mosaic tile floors that match those in the nearby Galerie Vivienne. Soaring ceilings and brass and glass globes, over-sized floral displays to fit the scale of the rooms.  Banquettes and movie posters – yes, this IS the place where they filmed “Something’s Gotta Give”!

Some call Le Grand Colbert a real table Parisienne.  I rather like a description of their customers.  “They welcome and serve a cosmopolitan clientele among which are actors, top models, designers, movie stars, businessmen, tourists and some regulars.”  That’s why we want to be a ‘regulars’ in a world of irregulars.

We ducked out of the cold into a welcoming tea room atmosphere and indulged in their pièce de résistance – chocolat chaud.  Across the room a small family celebrated with a birthday cake.  Behind etched glass screens, a handsome business couple murmured no doubt of important matters.

Le Grand Colbert brasserie

Near Galerie Vivienne in Paris

With all of the choices for fine dining in Paris, you really don’t want to miss this lovely brasserie.  Expect a mix of elaborate seafood trays and gratin dauphinois, steak with sauce bérnaise and their specially roasted free range half chicken with savory herbs.

You enter a world of comfortable tradition in the décor and in the menu.  You will leave with the feeling that you have indeed touched part of the heart of Paris.

We welcome your comments and recommendations.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

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Four Classic Bordeaux Properties

Stunning window - Bordeaux france

Chateau Grand Barrail

All 5-star rated by the prestigious Five-Star Alliance of exceptional hotel properties in France, keep these four Bordeaux properties top of mind.

Rated among the “Best Travel Web Sites” by The London Times, Five Star Alliance remains focused on   appropriate luxury properties for business and pleasure travelers.  Not only does the organization hand-pick hotels, they manage to leverage their influence to secure advantageous rates.  Offering the highest levels of 24/7 service, Five-Star takes extra precautions to assure safeguarding clients’ privacy and security.

Four exceptional choices in and around Bordeaux include a mix of large and small property choices in a variety of settings and styles.

Hotel Château Grand Barrail, for example, is a 19th century Château set in the heart of stunning vineyards in Saint Emilion, arguably one of the world’s most famous wine regions.  In a mix of traditional manor splendor and modern comforts and amenities, the Grand Barrail offers you a choice of 33 rooms and 9 suites.

Bordeaux France

Serene and elegant Chateau Mirambeau

Of a similar size and taste, Château De Mirambeau includes 23 rooms and suites between Bordeaux and Mirambeau.  The Renaissance-style castle is the magnetic jewel at the heart of a lovely park, where indoor and outdoor pools and two tennis courts keep guests active.  Within the sumptuous chateau, the deft combination of elegant fabrics, furnishings and crystal chandeliers evoke a grand era and the quintessential ‘art de vivre à la Française’.  One captivating highlight is the Cognathèque, a relaxing room wholly devoted to wine and cognac tastings.  And what better region to reveal the treasures of the vineyards?

The Regent Grand Hotel Bordeaux

Bordeaux grandeur!

The Grand Hotel Bordeaux provides a city experience in the heart of Bordeaux, where stimulating shopping, dining and recreational options … include, but are not limited to, visits to popular wineries. The ‘haute’ re-design of their 150 rooms and 22 suites includes such five-star amenities as a Bose® wave music system and high-speed, wireless Internet access.  Naturally, you needn’t ever set foot from the hotel, as on-site gourmet restaurants and relaxing spa treatments are perfectly capable of meeting every guest’s desire and preference.

Finally, Five Star highly recommends yet another variant in luxury Bordeaux region properties.  The Relais De Margaux is a 4-star Deluxe Hotel with 100 guest rooms and expansive outdoor amenities – swimming pool, tennis court, volley-ball pitch, a Par 71 18-hole golf course and quite an enchanting private harbor. And did we mention gastronomic dining choices and terraces with panoramic views of the Gironde estuary?

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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Brasserie Georges – Fine Dining, Lyon

Lyon France

Art Deco Brasserie, Lyon

Ernest HEMINGWAY Table 10

COLETTE Table 20

Auguste RODIN Table 15

Jules VERNE Table 17

… Just a few of the renowned diners at the ultra-popular Brasserie Georges in Lyon. I can almost see them in one of the handsome booths. I wonder what they ordered.

Brasserie Georges has entertained discerning customers since 1836, with traditional cuisine served in a classic art deco setting.  And despite its’ majestic architecture and immense popularity, the brasserie brews beer on the premises and is moderately priced.

I love the way they tell their story… “The Brasserie George has witnessed an Empire, three wars and four republics…. This establishment held by Alsatian brewers from generation to generation knew how to keep their traditions, despite the numerous revolutions which the French table has known since 170 years.”  Clearly, not every brasserie can boast such a distinguished lineage!

In 1836 the young Alsatian brewer Georges Hoffherr discovered the exceptional water properties of Lyon and decided to establish a large brasserie on the old marsh of Perrache.  Drawn to Lyon by the excellent water, no less than 26 brasseries were in the city at the time.

With changing tasstes and the birth of cinema, the Brasserie decided to reinvent itself around the turn of the century.  In 1924, the Brasserie was entirely transformed to pure “ART DECO” style by Bruno Guillermin, a painter from a Lyon art school, whose stucco creations celebrated the harvests of the grape and the hops.

A couple of the “Entrees Chauds” are most appealing –La Célèbre Gratinée au Madère – prepared at your table – Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée with an egg yolk and Madeira

Ravioles du Dauphiné– Specialty Ravioli from the Dauphiné region in chive cream with Parmesan

Paul Bocuse France cuisine

Brasserie L’Est Lyon

To our dismay, we did not discover Brasserie Georges, while in Lyon….but, we did enjoy lunch at l’Est, one of the wonderful Lyon brasseries associated with renowned chef Paul Bocuse.

Located in the elegant former Brotteaux railroad station, the brasserie experience imprinted us with warm memories, exceptional service and such appealing cuisine!  While we enjoyed la rôtisserie du jour, genteel servers offered ready, but unobtrusive service; while quaint little trains ran about the brasserie on tracks near the ceiling.

And this is just one of the many reasons we enjoy sharing insights with you – that you might be able to plan your trip around some of the recommended sights, hotels and restaurants.

We welcome your comments and recommendations. swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Corsican Resort in Calvi

Corsica France luxury

Corsican resort views – Hotel La Villa

Poised between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the five-star Hotel La Villa launches your holiday experience with spectacular views of the sea. Just last year the prominent Relais & Châteaux group honored La Villa and its gourmet chef as a “rising star” that has joined the exclusive group of luxury hotels and restaurants.

The Villa’s Chef – Sébastien Sevellec – earned the prestigious “Rising Chef” award for his “…hymns to Corsica that this son of a fisherman has created, having worked at this property for 12 years now …” At the Villa stunning views of the bay serve as the very appealing backdrop to one of the Chef’s savory menus at La Terrasse – imagine a seaside lunch of poisson freshly caught in the bay of Calvi!

Established over fifty years ago, Relaix & Châteaux sets the standard for excellent hospitality in over 500 associated luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants throughout the world. We particularly appreciate their emphasis on the genuine hospitality and uniquely authentic regional cultures and tastes their properties represent.

French luxury resorts

La villa pool bar

We carry their directory with us when travelling; so we can discover unique restaurants or lodging, we would not otherwise have located … like Bernard Robin – Le Relais in the quaint village of Bracieux. Simply look up the region of your planned trip, and the directory will unveil multiple options for lodging and dining.Wishing you a delightful Relais holiday or memorable gourmet meal!

We welcome your comments and recommendations!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Golf Holiday in the Dordogne Region

Chateau luxury hotel, France

Golf holiday in the Dordogne

We have discovered just the right place to indulge your wish for an appealing golf retreat in the countryside of France.  Set in the Dordogne, near Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion, the 16th century Château des Vignes is an appealing blend of classic decor and contemporary comfort.

The 4-star Château is regal, set like a Grand Dame in the undulating landscape of a spectacular 27-hole golf course with special attention to the “natural” golf course design. The beautifully restored centerpiece and resort have been designated one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World” and manage to perfectly combine golf, spa amenities and serene country views for your complete enjoyment.

A little side note is interesting. France hasn’t a strong golfing tradition. Perhaps, with so much beauty, culture, history and “je ne sais quoi”; they simply haven’t the time or desire to chase a little white ball around grassy knolls.

Dordogne France luxury hotel

Spa and Beauty Center

But there was one notable French golfer who made history more for his loss than Paul Lawrie’s win at the British Open at Carnoustie. In a virtual bow to the theme of the movie “Tin Cup”, in 1999 Frenchman Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee with a healthy 6-stroke lead. 

To make a long story short, he made one bad decision after another, spending twenty excruciating minutes working his way in and out of the and water rough terrain. Though his triple-bogey took him into the playoff, he would not walk away with the Claret Jug.  C’est la vie – let’s get back to our golf escape.

Comfortable rooms, exquisite views

Dordogne France

Chateau comfort and luxury

You have the choice of a classic Chateau room or one of the spacious patio wing rooms with your own terrace overlooking the gardens or golf course.  All rooms are beautifully furnished with every comfort and convenience. 

You will enjoy the appealing beauty and spa centre,  pleasant rounds of golf, leisurely lunches and perhaps a side trip to explore Saint-Emilion and local vineyards.At day’s end,  why not dine “al fresco” on the scenic terrace overlooking the lake, while the wine steward fetches your favorite Rosé from the wine cellar.  Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

We welcome your comments and recommendations.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Lovely Aix-en-Provence Hotel

Elegant Aix en Provence retreats

Villa Gallici, Aix-en-Provence

Among our top four favorite cities in France, Aix-en-Provence definitely holds a treasured position.  We enjoyed everything about the city – the cuisine and seemingly endless dining choices, the fabulous flower and produce markets, the artistic niches and galleries around every corner, the fountains, the dynamic night life …. Yes, I could go on for quite some time, but shall I sum it up by adding that if it was good enough for Cézanne, it was good enough for us.

Provence, France

Elegant rooms, Villa Gallici

And we have an ideal recommendation for your visit – La Villa Gallici, a charming 22-room mansion  ideally set in a seven-acre hillside garden.  You will relish your Provençal room and private terrace with lovely period furnishings and welcoming toile fabrics, all perfectly suited to the 18th-century honey-colored manor.  Comfort, effortless style and the appeal of just-the-right-size hotel from which to explore Aix-en-Provence makes La Villa a wonderful choice.  And you are but a 15-minute walk from the leafy boulevard of Cours Mirabeau.

Provence, FR

Serene outdoor dining, Aix-en-Provence

 

Despite all of the unique Aix restaurants available, you will want to spend an evening ‘at home’ enjoying dinner on the terrace with a blend of Provençale,  French, Mediterranean dishes and appealing local wines.  Regional specialities range from la soupe au pistou (aioli, garlic and basil vegetable soup) to fougasse bread and calissons.

The engaging concierge will be happy to recommend side trips to the calanques at Cassis or the quaint villages that spread across the Luberon and Cote d’Azur regions.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved. 

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Sculpture and Art Throughout France

Paris museums

Stunning sculpture of the d’Orsay

Last night all of Europe was able to enjoy very special events.  The 9th edition of the European Night of Museums offered free admission to millions of ‘night-owls’ to enjoy 3,000 museums across the continent … from Moscow to Marseilles to Madrid.  Beyond the museum admissions, more than 5,000 ancillary events boosted the artistic celebrations.

The Dynamo Live Party took place at the Grand Palais in Paris, for example, with festivities running until midnight.   Since 2005, the “Night of Museums” has taken place every year in May with official hours running from sunset to 1:00 a.m. to take full advantage of the magic of the evening.  The public is invited to discover the wealth of museums in France, as well as those of thirty European countries.

One need only enjoy today’s photo to realize that museums are indeed wonderful, but free art is always available throughout the City of Light.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Luxury Stay at Les Prés d’Eugénie – France

Pres d'eugenie

Les pres d’Eugenie

We invariably trust the exacting standards of the Relais & Chateaux Association and its members, so we have no hesitancy in recommending a phenomenal property in the charming village of Eugenie-les Bains.  Located in southwest France, Les Prés d’Eugénie seems like a gated enclave just steps from a pristine but welcoming village.

Michel Guérard describes his accommodations as an “echo of colonial India”, one with a mix of antique furnishings and original paintings, tasteful accents and comfortable luxury.  Every room has a singular personality that ties sumptuous fabrics with handsome, burnished wood.  Imagine breakfast by your own warm fireplace and terrace views over the garden – parfait!

Accomplished ‘innkeepers’ have that perfect knack for hospitality that is gracious but not intrusive, helpful but not overwhelming.  Every element of Les Prés d’Eugénie works in harmony to offer guests an ideal retreat in the Landes department in Aquitaine.

If we can no longer continue to invent and as a result find pleasure in our creativity, then we must ask why.”  — Chef Michel Guérard

As you see, “Part II” of this particular Chateau ‘story’ revolves around the celebrated cuisine.  Chef Guerard’s well-deserved success is equally apropos and interesting.

While already an accomplished French chef; Michel and his wife, Christine, bought the existing château and property in the early 1970s with the thought of creating an ideal south-of-France experience.  Such was the birth of Eugenie-les-Bains and Les Prés d’Eugénie, a private world with beautiful, lush grounds, a relaxing spa and a country restaurant – Fermes aux Grives.

Chef Michel masters his style of cooking, one of the first of nouveau cuisine that blends the bounty of the area with the artistry of the chef.  One might expect a lofty air from such a property, but no – warmth and courtesy are quite the norm.  You may enjoy a bike ride in the country or a Michel bottle of wine on your own garden-oriented terrace.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

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La Bastide Saint-Antoine – Grasse

Cote d'Azur France

La Bastide Saint-Antoine

Isn’t it time to reward yourself to 5-star luxury in the South of France?  Fluff your pillow, set your worries aside and prepare for a dream holiday.

From the heart of Grasse in the South of France, wind your way  up Avenue Henri Dunant, lined with grey stone walls and canopies of parasol pines, to La Bastide Saint-Antoine.  Set in the midst of lush Mediterranean vegetation, the 18th-century retreat welcomes you to pristine comfort overlooking the Bay of Cannes.  Naturally you can’t go wrong with a premiere Relais et Châteaux property, particularly with the perfect blend of the spirit of Provence and refined hospitality.

Enter your special room with antique furnishings, plush linens and your own fireplace; but expect every contemporary amenity needed and desired. “Bio Tea” in my room?  We wouldn’t otherwise consider this choice!

In all seriousness, we can’t imagine a more satisfying combination of tranquility and stimulation – the quiet hills and ancient olive trees, Provençal villages and sun-swept Mediterranean beaches of the Côte d’Azur.

Take in Antibes and Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat. Discover perfumeries in Grasse and glass-making in Biot.  And see if you can arrange a round of golf at the historic Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougins, founded in 1923 by the likes of Aga Khan, Prince Pierre of Monaco and Baron Edouard de Rothschild.

In between appealing journeys through the area, return to your country manor for gourmet meals on the terrace overlooking 1,000-year-old olive trees and the perfumed air of Provence.  Then cozy up to the lounge fireplace for an after-dinner drink.   You might even challenge fellow guests to a rousing game of petanque on the boules court near the kitchen garden.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Hôtel d’Europe – Avignon

Avignon 5-star accommodations

Chambre at Hotel d’Europe in Avignon

We’ve found the ideal lodging for a long weekend in Avignon, one of our favorite ancient, walled cities. We happened to be there during the peak of the summer festival, so a calmer weekend in May will be ideal for really enjoying this historic city.

The long list of positive referrals points us to Hôtel d’Europe  for an enticingly comfortable stay. Built as his residence by the Marquis de Graveson in 1580, this lovely five-star hotel enjoys a spectacular setting on one of Avignon’s most beautiful squares. In 1799 the Pierron’s founded the hotel, and in a testament to its fine lineage, Hotel Europe is the only Avignon hotel that appeared in Michelin’s first Guide in 1900.

We’re very much inclined toward mid-sized accommodations, as large hotels seem overwhelming and small gites a little too cozy. With 39 rooms and 5 suites, Hôtel d’Europe applies that deft French touch in low key elegance throughout the common (and not so ‘common’!) areas and spacious, beautifully-appointed guest rooms.

Hotel D'Europe Avignon

Fine cuisine to match the hospitality!

Seasoned travelers in France know well, though, that décor and amenities can quickly be sullied with poor, haughty service.  Not so at this hotel, where welcoming staff help you plan your days of exploring the historic city or the renowned Luberon countryside and welcome your return with a glass of wine at the handsome bar.We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Restaurant L’Oxalys – Val Thorens

Val Thorens France

Val Thorens at the top of the world

I am not a gourmand in the true sense of the word; but if I am a connoisseur of anything, I earn that ranking in my appreciation of spectacular views. You can imagine, then, how I would be drawn to Restaurant L’Oxalys, literally the highest situated gourmet restaurant in Europe.

In the heart of the Trois Vallees ski region as far east in France as you can travel without reaching Italy, this two-Michelin-star restaurant is yet another ‘diamond’ in an Alpine landscape brimming with jewels. A distinguished member of the Relais & Chateaux organization, L’Oxalys fits well with their selection of luxury restaurants and hotels.

Wisely, the contemporary décor doesn’t try to compete with the panoramic mountain views or the inspired cuisine. An active skier himself, Grand Chef Jean Sulpice pays homage to the dramatic mountains of Val Thorens with inventive creations and the abundant use of local fresh mountain fish, Wine Route wines, honey and high-pasture Reblochon and Beaufort cheeses.

L'Oxalys France

Cuisine as pretty as it is delicious

We all have noticed a certain degree of snobbery can attend fine dining, but no such attitude exists here, either on the side of the staff or the clientele. Perhaps the purity of nature, the relaxed atmosphere and the plentiful talents of the staff come together in just the right measures to deliver a memorable experience.At L’Oxalys you might be directed to eat your little trio of hors d’oeuvres in a certain order or six tiny desserts in the same manner. Fine chefs understand the science of taste as well as watercolorists understand the order of paint colors. Each blends together in the right order and measure to deliver a masterpiece.

By all means, end your dining experience at L’Oxalys with coffee and dessert on the balcony overlooking the land. We suspect you will forever remember this dining experience!

Restaurant L'Oxalys We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Travel France with Rail Europe

Colorful carriages in Market Square in Bruges, Belgium

An afternoon overlooking the colorful carriages in the Market Square, Bruges

We particularly enjoy traveling on the exceptional rail network in France and in Europe, in general.  When we spent the summer in France, we planned well in advance and secured a Rail Europe pass for multiple days of travel as well as a long-term rental/purchase plan with Auto Europe.

Though we mainly traveled in France, we purchased a rail pass that allowed travel in three countries. We knew we would travel in France and Italy to visit my husband’s aunt and uncle in Florence. By adding “Benelux” as our “third country”, we were able to travel to Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; as Rail Europe treats the three as one. Though a whirlwind kind of scoop through the three countries, it was nonetheless a great experience to set foot in these extraordinary cities.

Though we only briefly touched down in these delightful cities, we enjoyed expanding our experience beyond France.   So – worth noting – if you choose to purchase a multi-country Rail Europe Pass, by all means considered adding Benelux to your itinerary.

Rail Europe

Comfortable travel!

You will find complete (and even entertaining!) travel information on Rail Europe’s excellent web site.  For savings and peace of mind, it is well worth your time to plan ahead for your rail adventures.  Learn about reservations, surcharges, classes of travel and levels of service.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Car Rentals and Roundabouts in France

Auto rentals in France

Don’t be afraid to rent a car to explore France; but as daring as we can be, we definitely skipped driving in Paris.  Rent a bike.  Walk.  Take the Metro or a bus.

You need only look at the photo of Paris’ most famous roundabout – The Etoile at the head of Champs-Elysées (and Place Concorde at the foot of said boulevard is every bit as ‘interesting’!)  Need we say more?

When driving in France, roundabouts (rond-points) provide mystique, madness and mirth.  These efficient traffic control designs become less so, unless you understand the rules.  You must employ rapid reflexes to flip from gas to brake, and you must have a clear fix on direction.

Generally, one gives absolute priority to the right at each and every intersection, where it is remotely possible for a vehicle to turn into your path from a side highway, street, lane or drive.  No excuses allowed, my friends.  Any collision with a vehicle arriving from your right is indisputably your fault.

Except.  The French love exceptions to the rule.  That brings us to priorities in the roundabout.  Forget the first rule.  The Anglo might reason that if you are on the outside of the circle of traffic, you would have the priority to exit.  Wrong.  The guy in the 30-year-old Citroen, decorated with the dents of old traffic wars, has the right to cross in front of you from the center of the circle.  To be perfectly clear, watch out and be prepared to brake or give it the gas, should one of these inner circle demons race suddenly across your path.

Finally, the design and signage of roundabouts require either careful advance study of your directions or immeasurable patience.  We are not the only ones in the world to go around two or three times, before discovering which exit to take.  Direction Marseille or Paris?  What?  I’m going to Rouen.  No difference.

The signs will show either the next small village or the grand city some 500 kilometers to the North.  Add to your confusion the speed and aggression of the roundabout drivers; and you will understand the suggestion to either prepare or relax and circle as often as needed, until you figure it out.

Stay tuned, as we soon will offer excellent information about Auto Europe and buy-back programs.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.   Photo and text, all rights reserved.

 

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NÎMES, Belle Epoque Gallery

Nimes Provence France

Belle Epoque Gallery, Nimes

The famous Roman arena and other Gallo-Roman historic sites in NÎMES definitely are ‘required sites’, but there also are quiet places, seeimingly off the vistor rador.  One of our greatest pleasures came from the simplest of things.

We wandered along tree-lined boulevards and lingered in a square at night to watch the colorful carousel.  We stopped for a pleasant visit in this gorgeous gallery with gilded molding and a stunning glass ceiling.

During lunch at an outdoor café table, the owner’s little dog perched himself right next to Leo.  He gazed up with a beseeching look, as if to say, “I am the cobbler’s son, and I have no shoes.”  The owner shooed him away and explained, “He is always trying to beg for food.”

One morning, we rose to a most unusual sight.  On a balcony across from our hotel, a cat looked calmly, but with longing, at a bird in a cage on the balcony next door.  Finally, she grew bored and looked the other way.  Simple pleasures, all tucked away for rainy day musing.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com.

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.   Photo and text, all rights reserved.

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Théâtre Antique & Musée d’Orange

Roman theatre, provence

Théâtre Antique d’Orange – © Gromelle Grand Angle

On the UNESCO World Heritage and acknowledged to be the best preserved theatre in Europe, the Théâtre Antique & Musée d’Orange is a jewel in the heart of the Rhône Valley.  The Roman Theatre of Orange is unquestionably one of the finest remnants of Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire in all of France and one where you can enjoy enchanting performances.  But first a bit of history.

King Louis XIV appropriately described the theatre’s exterior façade as, “The finest wall in my kingdom”.  The sheer size of the wall is staggering – nearly 103 meters in length, 1.80 meters thick and 37 meters high (338 feet x 5.9 feet x 121 feet).  The 3-level façade includes stage and secondary doors and a blind arcade with arches in line with towers at either side of the stage.
The stage wall design was critical to proper sound direction and includes the theatre’s only distinct architectural décor.  Some of the theatre’s magnificent features include a frieze decorated with centaurs and niches with statues of Augustus and Apollo.

Roman Theatre Orange

Stunning Les Chorégies performance

Profiling the background of a place that has been around since 36 BC requires pick-and-choose fact paring and a PhD in history, but I’ll do my best!  A few years after Julius Caesar conquered all of Gaul, veterans of his 2nd Gallic legion founded Orange.

In the 1st century AD, the Theatre of Orange was constructed under the reign of Emperor Augustus.  The fact that such buildings still remain throughout France is a testament to Roman architectural and building expertise.  The Romans hollowed out an existing hillside to build the theatre terraces against Saint-Eutrope hill.

The traditional theatre design included tiered seats, an orchestra, stage and stage wall. Seating for theatre performances was in strict accordance with rank and status, with VIPs in civic and military life closest to the stage, and persona non grata at the back.

Theatre show days literally were just that – all day presentations of mimes, poetry readings, comedies and pantomimes acting out tragic, epic and farcical stories.  Theatre performances evolved to the spectacular, with increasingly bloody scenes.

And thus came the downfall for all such theatres.  With the advent of Christianity in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine and Theodosius converted to Christianity and made it the official religion.  Rapidly, entertainment and pagan worship were banned, temples demolished and theatres closed. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the theatre was pillaged, turned into an outpost and even used as a prison.

It did not return to its original purpose until 1825, when the inspector of Monuments Historiques initiated a mammoth renovation program. From 1869, Roman Festivals attracted more than 10,000 spectators to the shows, which later would become known as “Chorégies” hosting one celebrity after another.  Sarah Bernhardt was said to have given one of her finest performances there in 1903.  In 1971 the “Nouvelles Chorégies” introduced the opera era with the world’s greatest opera singers performing on the famous stage with the fabulous acoustics.

Today, thousands of visitors from throughout the world enjoy performances in the theatre.   day!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Château Puech-Haut – Elegant Rosés

Puech Haut, Languedoc

Exceptional Languedoc wine

What better subject to identify regional favorites than Languedoc wines!   We recently enjoyed a lovely Languedoc wine that had an elegant glass stopper in lieu of a cork.   While that unique feature captured our attention, the delightful Rosé in the bottle was “Le précieux nectar” promised by Château Puech-Haut!

With summer – at least in Florida – just around the proverbial corner, it’s time to think of light, chilled rosés.  The very refined Château Puech-Haut Cuvee Prestige couldn’t make a more elegant statement for your dinner table or a special gift to friends.  Their now-famous glass stopper – with a rose ‘blush’ – simply anoints the entire experience.

Château Puech-Haut is one of the prestigious types of wine producers in Languedoc referred to as récoltants – vintners who make and bottle their own wine on the premises.  Most supermarkets, for example, stock négociant or co-op wines.  The first buys and mixes together other people’s wines in great quantity; the latter pools grapes from all area growers to make wine.  Generally, mass production yields cheaper wine without the deft personal touch of the récoltant producer.

Château Puech-Haut continues to produce excellent wines from 400+ acres of vineyards in the Languedoc countryside of southern France.  The soil, climate and grape varieties of the 40- to 75-year old vines interact perfectly to yield exceptional wines.

As much as we enjoyed our introduction to their Cuvee Prestige, nothing compares with visiting a vineyard for a tasting and loading up the trunk of the car with a couple of cases of wine.  We look forward to that!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Paris Vacation Rental – Montmartre

Paris vacation rentals

Our Montmartre vacation rental

We’ll always enjoy hotel stays, but the embracing nature of vacation rental experiences delivers a sense of belonging that transcends mints on the pillow and coffee in the dining room.  We’ve had the good fortune to try several vacation rentals in France, in the incredible City of Light, in the country and in small villes.  Each and every time, the experience was rich, memorable and superior to hotel stays.

Take Paris, for example.  How could we hope to ever become a resident of Montmartre with the stunning sight of Sacre Coeur around the corner, the endless bolts of French fabric along every street and the soft throb of local life among the never-ending tourists flocking to the highest point in Paris?  Frankly, we would NOT have entertained such a dream, until we found our sophisticated apartment, completely renovated at the hands of its owner, the daughter of a diplomat and successful Parisian executive.

Our rental was beyond imagination, with elegant silk drapes flowing from the high ceilings, intimate seating areas, a cozy sleeping loft with soft, down-filled bedding and every conceivable convenience, including Salle Climatesse, air conditioning!  Certainly, that was an unexpected but welcome benefit in the warm month of June.

Paris vacation rental

Well-equipped, comfortable Paris apartment

Did I mention price?  We paid 1300 Euros for a month or about 45 Euros per night with no extra charges!  Two-star hotels with little space and zero extras start at 100 Euros a night, and even that is a bargain!

That was just our Paris vacation rental experience.  On future trips, we were quick to parlay our knowledge into wonderful stays in the Loire Valley, the Alps and the countryside near Toulouse.

Each rental offered the freedom, comfort and convenience, the benefit of parking and the hospitality of hosts and neighbors that we simply would not have experienced in hotel stays.  And there’s always the lure of attractive savings on lodging and food, on parking and laundry.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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A Château in Languedoc France

Canal du midi

Canal du Midi, France

Sometimes you want to plan a retreat for an entire group of family or friends, and I know just the place – the very elegant Château Ventenac. The ‘castle’ borders the Canal du Midi and is right next door to the 13th-century church of Ventenac-en-Minervois in the Languedoc region of southern France.

Drive along the narrow D26 through miles of carefully-tended vineyards, and suddenly you round a corner and – voila! The canal, the village, the Château and the little ancient bridge come into view. The six-bedroom gîte is beautifully appointed, with gardens and terraces overlooking the canal and just waiting to deliver a self-catered getaway for you and your friends or family.

The little village has the necessities of life … croissants from the boulangerie and wine from the Château de Ventenac Wine Cave, now a co-opérative that makes and sells wines using grapes from the same vineyards you pass on your way into the village. A couple of times a week, mobile market vans visit the village to sell fresh local produce. There’s even a chicken van, and the Mairie announces the van arrivals over a loudspeaker system –village culture at its best!

Cycling on the Canal du Midi

Peaceful paths lining the Canal du Midi

But, here is my favorite part. On the Château grounds, there is a lower gateway that provides access to the Canal du Midi. The gate is locked with a padlock – a la the Marcel Pagnol story and film, Le Château de ma mère (My Mother’s Castle) – but the code is kept in the kitchen. You can slip through the gate and meander for miles along the tree-lined Canal. Merveilleux!  We’d love to hear from you!

 

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Discover Haute-Savoie Gîtes & Lodging

Chinaillon France

Hearty mountain cuisine in the Alps

Sometimes we are so fickle in cherry-picking our favorite memories and places or in evaluating what we might have done differently in traveling through France.  Annecy is just one example of an incredibly charming lakeside city, in which we wish we had spent more time…like settling in for a week of exploring the Alpine countryside.

C’est la vie – after a day and a night, we sought out the local office of the Gîtes de France for help in reserving a room in the area.  If you are not familiar with the organization, the Gîtes de France developed the first European network of ‘homestay’ accommodations and celebrated 50 years of service in 2005.  They focus on rural areas and promote hospitable and comfortable tourist stays.  Their latest count of offerings was 43,000 French homesteads that open their unique homes to welcome tourists.

Alpine France

Gorgeous Alpine villages near Chinaillon

The GDF helped us to reserve a charming room in the little village of Chinaillon, just up the road … or mountain from Annecy.  Though we vowed to return to that gorgeous city, the Alpine countryside began to weave its’ spell around us.A couple of roosters welcomed us in our ‘car park’, and a few hikers passed by on trails up the hillside looming behind our gîte.  The owners – Isabelle and Jean Louis – were very pleasant, and each morning we joined with other guests (5 or 6) for a nice breakfast, before taking to the local roads to explore.

Over a three-day period, we simply wandered … along winding roads that rose to offer spectacular, flower-framed views, before dropping down into one charming village after another … through artisan hamlets and chapel-centered bourgs… over to the Mont Blanc tunnel, where we emerged in Aosta, Italy and wound our way back to our little village for a warm café meal.

When you plan your adventures in France, we heartily recommend you stay a bit in the Haute-Savoie region.  For all of the other benefits, surely the Savoyard cuisine and famous regional Reblochon cheese will reward your decision for all time!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Bed & Breakfast in France

Pyrenees

Castell Rose Bed & Breakfast

Just one of the benefits we try to offer through LuxeEuro is locating and evaluating helpful travel resources. We recently encountered a new website that focuses on Bed and Breakfast accommodations in France.

After spending way too much time combing through Samedi Midi – The Best Bed and Breakfast France, we think it has some very nice attributes to assist your lodging hunt.

At the top of the list are the well-organized categories. Many, like us, seek different travel experiences, mixing up city sojourns with lazy, out-of-the-way ‘lost weekends’. We often scale back the budget in one location to help underwrite a more lavish encounter in the next.

Lovely mountain views

Lovely mountain views

Samedi serves two purposes quite well – offering a central promotional site for bed and breakfast and guest houses and an informational resource for travelers in search of unique accommodations. Since 1982, the organization has organized lodgings into 14 themed paperback guidebooks, sorted by French regions, by lifestyle choices, by city and village, by luxury and gastronomy – you name it, and you have a host of choices to meet your particular desire.

From Provence to the Pyrénées and from Brittany to Burgundy, Samedi Midi has pulled together some exceptional lodging selections. We’ll leave it to you to wander through their site, but here is just one example that appealed to us – from Bed and Breakfasts in the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Tucked away in the small village of Prades in the South of France, Castell Rose is one of those ideal ‘home away from home’ choices. Pleasant hospitality combines with very comfortable room selections and exceptional views. For the traveler on the go, the well-equipped laundry and notebook computer are welcome amenities. Though the lovely garden setting allows genuine tranquility, the town of Prades is an easy, ten-minute walk; and four of the regions “Most Beautiful Villages” are within a few kilometers.

You can mix a day of poolside lounging or reading a book under the lime tree with a day of exploration – horseback riding around the Pyrénées near the Canigou, sacred mountain of the Catalans, or discovering churches and priories like the stunning Romanesque Marcevol. Another day you might visit the beautiful village of Mosset, that is reminiscent of Gordes, poised on a hilltop overlooking the valley. All of those lovely mountain and village experiences are just 25 minutes from Perpignan.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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“My Little Home in Paris”

Paris vacation rentals

Our favorite apartment in Paris

Take just a few steps from Place Contrescarpe at the top of the famous Mouffetard market street.  Enter your door code, pass through the courtyard and up the stairs, and you’re “Home”.  That’s how easy and delightful your stay can be in a vacation apartment in Paris.

“My Little Home in Paris” in the Latin Quarter  is one of your many apartment choices in this fabulous world capital; and it delivers huge value over a comparably-priced hotel room.

With a full bath, attractive furnishings, wi-fi and free phone service, well-equipped kitchenette and more, your “little home” provides the comfort and genuine experience of living as a Parisian.  To top it off, your owners will greet you with chocolates or wine and acquaint you with the area, shopping choices, metro stops, restaurants and favorite spots to visit.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

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