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Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

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HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

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TOURING IN FRANCE

You will sometimes hear that the French are snobby and rude.  I have not found this to be the case.  My experience has shown that if you are reasonably friendly and polite, you will be treated in kind.


Please do yourself a favor and learn a few basic phrases in French.   There are plenty of audio tapes available, as well as phrase books to help.   If you go to France not even being able to say "Bon jour," you are doing yourself a disservice!

wpe1D.jpg (2690 bytes)I also suggest carrying a small, pocket-sized book called a "Marling Menu Master."  These are available for a number of European countries.  The guide is organized as you'll find most restaurant menus...so it's easy to make sense of the appetizers, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, etc.

 

PARIS
wpe1B.jpg (7122 bytes)Visitors to Paris should have the most current edition of Richard Saul Wurman's "Paris Access" book. 
The book is organized by "arrondissement" or neighborhoods.  You'll find information on the best hotels, restaurants, museums and unusual shops in this guide, along with a good map of the city.  A map of the Metro subway line is also helpful and a part of Wurman's book.

wpe1C.jpg (8046 bytes)The other book I'd suggest dragging along (and reading before you go) is Patricia Wells' "Food Lover's Guide to Paris."  This is now in it's fourth edition and is terrific! 
Patricia Wells maintains a web site, www.patriciawells.com and this is worth a look.  She has a list of "best tables" of favorite dining spots.  A bulletin board also has suggestions from readers. 

Other helpful websites:

http://www.paris-touristoffice.com

http://www.paris.org

FRENCH SPEECH/GESTURES EXPLAINED

http://www.paris-anglo.com/

http://www.dininginfrance.com/paris.htm

If you need someone to organize a wine/food tour, either self-guided or accompanied, try this site:
French Wine Tours.com

 

 

VINS & MERVEILLES
A friend of ours, whom we met here in Burlingame when she was visiting as part of a tour from France, runs a company touring the wineries and wonders of the Languedoc, the Rh˘ne and Provence.
Martine LaBorie organizes escorted tours for groups...she personally chauffeurs guests to see the sights; wineries or tourist attractions.  She works with small groups, so a party of two or four is no problem.  
Click on this link or the photo below to access her web site.

 

This is a cool link if you want to see panoramic views!
Someone has filmed numerous views of the south of France with places such as Carcassonne, Nimes, vineyards in the Rh˘ne, etc.  Check it out!
http://www.south-france.com/decouverte/index.htm

Here's a potentially helpful site for getting rudimentary driving instructions:
http://www.expedia.com/pub/agent.dll?qscr=mrfn
I don't know if the directions have been perfected, but at least you can get some idea of mileage and driving times using this site on Expedia's web site.

Michelin also now has a mapping service on its site.
The Link:
http://www.viamichelin.com
If you click on the British map, you'll reach their English site and be able to have a look, for free, at a good Michelin map of the region you're interested in.

Tourism Board of Alsace

Tourism in Avignon & Provence

Tourism in Toulouse


A FEW FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

LESCURE
7 rue de Mondovi  (near the Louvre)
Closed Saturdays and Sundays and for a few weeks in August.
This is a great lunch place when you're visiting the Louvre!  It's in an alley-way several blocks from the Louvre.  The place is known to the locals and doesn't really cater to tourists.
We found the place packed on our visit.  A few "community" tables are jammed in with several smaller tables.  The daily lunch menu costs around 100FF and includes a small starter, a main plate, dessert and a glass of very simple vin de table.  This is good, solid peasant cuisine.


LE DOME
108 boulevard du Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement (Metro station is Vavin)
Open noon-2 and 7:30-11:30 daily.
This is a very famous seafood place with amazingly fresh shellfish and seafood.  The food is simply prepared.
The wine list here is pretty good and you'll find suitable Loire Valley wines along with entries from Bordeaux and Burgundy. 
It's not an inexpensive place, so if you're watching your centimes, try the satellite place around the corner called LE BISTROT du DOME at 1 rue Delambre.  Same hours of operation.  Smaller menu.  Smaller prices.




CHEZ JENNY
39 blvd. du Temple in the 3rd arrondissement.
Open daily until about 11pm.
We were surprised to find such a large and popular restaurant which was unknown to the Guide Michelin!  It's an Alsatian-styled place and we found a Choucroute Garnie here that's about as good as you'll find in Alsace.  The wine list is rather ordinary, though it's certainly improved since our first visit.  
The Grand Choucroute at Chez Jenny, 2003.

 

L'AUBERGE ETCHEGORRY
41 rue Croulebarbe in the 13th arrondissement
Closed Sunday. Dinner only.
There's a small hotel adjacent to the restaurant which is modestly priced.  Have a look at their web site.
http://www.etchegorry.com
This is a Basque place serving a rather nice version of Paella.   We had a starter of peppers and cod which was delicious!  The Paella was better than some I have had in Spain.  The wine list was rather modest when we dined here some years ago, though it did feature wines from the southwest of France.


BOFINGER
5-7 rue de la Bastille in the 4th arrondissement.
Mon-Fri noon-3, 6:30-1am.  Weekends noon-1am.
My folks suggested this place as it's one of their favorites. I read they actually have a non-smoking section!  The place features much art deco and even the bathrooms are curious (the men's bathroom even has special urinals!).  This is somewhat of a national treasure.  The menu is diverse, offering choucroute and fresh seafood.   You may find servers who speak English.

 FRENCH BREAD
There's a very famous baker whose bread is found in many of the top restaurants in Paris: LIONEL POIL┬NE.
http://www.poilane.fr/contenu/en/en_home.htm
This firm makes great French bread. I brought some back one trip for some friends who are great bakers....they were impressed by the density (the bread's, not mine) of this loaf (a huge, two pound, round job which is baked in wood-fired ovens!). The bread is subject to the weather, so each day's loaf is different!
LIONEL POIL┬NE
8 rue du Cherche Midi (in the sixth arrondissement)
Also there's a satellite location at 49 Boulevard de Grenelle in the 15th arrondissement.

There is another PoilÔne in Paris....Max. His bakery also turns out big, crusty, wood-fired oven breads. This is also worth a look (and taste).
MAX POIL┬NE
42 place du March Saint-Honor (in the 1st arrondissement).

 

TOURING BURGUNDY

BOB'S NOTES ON PARIS

GERALD'S ALSACE NOTES

 
BIKING THROUGH THE LOIRE

An interesting few web sites if you are interested in a bike ride through the Loire Valley:


This site seems the most complete and detailed for planning your own excursion:
http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_trips/Loire/Loire.htm

Another fellow has his detailed itinerary on the internet...very informative and not too many photos...
http://users.ids.net/~tandem/loire.htm


Here's a page from a Colorado company with their itinerary of the Loire...some nice photos and information of what they do...
http://www.gobicycleriding.com/chainloire.php
 
An American couple have a bunch of photos and descriptions of their bicycle tour of the Loire...the start page has a map and each successive page has a day's trip program...See what you think.
http://www.tandemtour.com/loire/loire.


I found an interesting site featuring many of the top, fancy chefs in France...you can click on the "lock" on the cookbook,
http://www.receptionfrance.com/sommaireuk.htm

 

 

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