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Trip Report Trip Report: Paris, Dordogne & Provence, June-July 2012

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We arrived in the Paris area at the Beauvais airport because we flew Ryan air from Wroclaw. The problem is more inconvenience than actual cost (15€ per person) to get to the city. The bus ride is much monger than the RER from CDG or Orly, and one arrives at the Porte Maillot on the western edge of the city. This may be OK if staying in the western part of Paris, but our friends' apartment where we were staying is in the 11ème arrondissement, which added an another hour to the travel time. Nonetheless, the Ryan air prices could not be beat even with all the extra fees added on to the initial posted airfare.

We stayed in Paris just a few days, arriving on the 29th of May and leaving in the afternoon of June 2. We arranged to meet a relative near the Mouzaia around which we strolled while catching up on the news. Lunch was in a corner café. Nothing fancy and I went for the steak tartare. The walk was not quite what I would have wished, but my cousin is not one with visual curiosity, so that poking one’s nose in little corners, walking down a dead-end alley to see if there is something interesting, is not his thing. One of the first outings we did with him was to visit le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/4360119350/in/photostream/ ), and he and his wife admitted to not understanding why one would want to visit the building. So they acquiesce to our taking walks through Paris with them while we accept their sole topic of interest in life, which will come up year in and year out.

We did not participate in the standard tourist items other than going to the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibit in the Maillol museum. She is (understandably) limited in her subject matter, at least within this exhibit, although there were a couple of portraits that were the exception. We did go to the jardin des Plantes which is a nice break from the city noises even though it was filled with the noise of children on class outings. The roses were in full bloom (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7731170194 ); we did not go in the conservatories for lack of time as it is a paid entrance and we were due in the suburbs that late afternoon. This year, our young friend who normally chooses the restaurants for us was given a choice of choosing a restaurant or doing a meal for us. He chose the meal.

Last year we had arranged for a get-together of our Paris friends to celebrate my wife’s birthday and to meet our daughter (or see her again after a long hiatus) and her partner. Two sets of friends live within walking distance of each other but never expressed any interest in seeing each other--we all knew each other as children a long time ago and we now are of retirement age. Their lives had taken different paths: he’s an artist who also was a proofreader to make a living, never studied past the baccalaureate, while she was a research assistant for Pierre Bourdieu for most of her professional life. So we arranged to see one set in the city, over an evening meal at a restaurant, and the other for lunch at his apartment on a hill which has a wonderful terrace with a large view of the southern suburbs. We arrived for a late lunch and were surprised to see both sets of friends. They apparently reconnected last year, enough for one to invite the other for lunch. We agreed to cancel the evening meal.

We would have liked to stay in Paris longer--it’s never long enough--but we were on a tight schedule, which had also influenced our trip to Poland. A friend of ours had an exhibit that had been two years in the making in the Berry and which was closing on June 4. We arranged for a car pickup at the gare de Lyon and had no problems (our host helped with the luggage as my back was still in bad shape) picking it up, refused all extra insurance so that the CDW would be carried by our Visa card. The cost of the rental of a Nissan Micra, standard shift, for 18 days was $315 not including the road tax and the RR station pickup ($93). The normal cost would have been $30 higher, as I applied a gift certificate from Autoeurope to the rental. We drove off, missing the turn to the périphérique so that we drove via more city streets than necessary. We arrived in la Borne in the early evening, and the next day visited the exhibit in Nançay.

The gallery is in the former outbuildings of the chateau next door. It is a beautiful venue, in tastefully renovated buildings, and I can’t imagine how anyone is making any money in that venture (http://www.galerie-capazza.com/ ). There is normally a charge to get in, but we were guests of the artist and did not have to pay. In the three months that the exhibit was on, she sold two paintings, one the day before our visit; it paid for the materials. Luckily our friend is now retired and does not depend exclusively on the sale of her art to make a living, although she was proud that she was able to support her family on her art in the last 40 years. The price of the paintings was not that high, so I wonder how the gallery owners manage to make a living. The gallery is a family affair, and a member of the family always had us discreetly in view while we toured the exhibits even though the artist was with us at all times.

This year we did not visit the Jean Linard compound (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/5977221864/in/set-72157624575935008 ). We left the next day because we had to prepare our house before our visitors arrived. We arrived “home” early enough to do some shopping in the local supermarket. The next couple days were spent cleaning and making sure things worked. I had two major projects this year. One was to replace an 8 ft. plank that was an exterior extension of the roof support. Our flat roof is supported by interlocking 8’x10”x2” planking (rough size since everything is actually in metrics) and what extended outside has been severely weathered, to the point that one plank was split and I could see through the slit. It was not a big job, but the problem was finding the material. I went to Brico-dépot (the French version of Home Depot, with exactly the same layout), but the planking was really made of bad wood, and while I was looking for a piece of plain pine, it still had to be a decent piece. So I looked in the yellow pages and found a local carpentry shop. We went there, fearing the worst, that either they would not have anything for us or that it would cost an extravagant amount. We were met by the original owner who is now retired and clearly bored out of his mind because when we told him what we wanted, he took us to the shed to look for a piece of wood and talked nonstop. Eventually a shop assistant came, found a piece of pine of the approximate length but maybe 6” thick, cut it for us to the proper width, length and thickness and charged us 15€ for everything. I took the plank home, stained it with wood preservative, let it dry a day or so, and then borrowed my neighbor’s electric drill to drill the holes for the bolts (the entire ceiling support system is just bolted in place) and then installed it. Simple, but it still took a few days to do it; everything takes more time than anticipated.

Our second project was the septic tank. Last year we had received the visit of an official (I do not even remember what office she represented) who told us that we had to get out septic tank cleaned every 5 years--our had not been touched for 40 years. In addition, it turned out that when the house is occupied by a large group of people (as happened last year after our stay), the toilets do not flush properly, and it was thought that this was due to a overfilled septic tank. I broke the flush mechanism on one of our toilets while demonstrating how to use it to our guests. So I had to call the plumber to replace the flush mechanism on one toilet that I broke--I normally do that type of repair, but being limited in tools I was afraid that I could break something and I did not have the time for that. That was our annual call to the plumber (there’s always something wrong in the plumbing when we arrive), and as is normally the case, it took the good part of a week for us to coordinate his arrival with our presence in the house. After he finished the job I asked him to also uncover the septic tank so that it could be cleaned out--not his job. He came back while we were gone and turned over some dirt, and I thought that it marked the spot. He did not tell us that he decided after a few shovels full that he could not dig out the septic tank whose specific location was not very clear. I called the company that cleans the tanks, and they arrived in an enormous truck--the driver was afraid that my driveway would sink under the weight of the truck--looked at what the plumber had done, took out an iron bar to feel around and determined that the septic tank was probably three feet underground and that they could not reach it; I had to have it dug out with a mechanical shovel. Of course, I had to pay for the displacement of the plumber and the tank cleaners, and again I was imagining a significant sum; it cost me 7.50€ for the plumber and 35€ for the truck (and two employees) who had come all the way from Périgueux. All this happened after our visitors left.

How do we find the person to dig out the septic tank? We go to the quincaillerie and he recommends the local grave digger. We go to his office, leave a message and telephone number with the receptionist, but he never calls. Fortunately I speak about it with the neighbor who lent me his drill, perhaps trying to make some small talk, and he says that he knows someone who has the equipment and might be able to do the job. He calls and tells me to go see the man who owns the local game farm that we pass every time we go to town. I go see him, and he agrees to do it in a few days. He arrives pulling his shovel on a trailer behind his truck. He starts digging where we know there is a pipe, planning to follow it to the septic tank. In the meantime the neighbor hears the noise and comes up to kibitz. We eventually find the tank, three feet below ground, and after much discussion and false starts we find the lid to the tank. Job done. Cost 70:€ , probably because the man did not want to charge too much in front of his friend--it will cost me 50€ for him to recover the tank after it is cleaned.

We called the septic tank company and the truck came a day later. The tank was full to the brim because some waste material had not decomposed and was clogging the opening of the drain pipe. The tank was cleaned out, and everything was fine--except that in October I learned that the toilets still do not flush properly. Another annual visit by the plumber, although this time the job will be more complicated than freeing stuck spigots or replacing flush mechanisms.

Our guests arrived between the wood project and the sewer project, staying with us for only four days. They had given us the exact train information, but we were not at home when they left a message that the train would be leaving two hours late. We got the message but nonetheless left earlier than needed, reaching Limoges just before lunch time so that we could pick up picnic items for lunch with our friends. The train arrived only 1.5 hours late because it made up time, and we waited for our friends on the platform right in front of the wagon where they were supposed to be. People got off the train, but not our friends. Then just before the doors of the train were to close, we suddenly see them getting off. They had not anticipated the catch up, had not heard the train station announcement, and got off the train only because they saw us on the platform. Had they not made it, it would have been a disaster. We would not have known what happened, and the next stop was Brief, one hour in the other direction from our house, and we do not have a cell phone.

The weather was iffy, but we decided to drive to Bourdeilles, have a late picnic lunch and then visit the castle. We managed the picnic by sitting at a table under a tree to avoid the few raindrops (two picnic tables can be found on the flat area by the river, across the bridge from the castle) but it turns out that the castle is closed on Saturdays. We continued on to Brantôme for a walk around the town (too late for the troglodyte carvings http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/5968080281/in/set-72157623282383670 ) and a stop for coffee and ice cream.

On Sunday we sent to the St. Cyprien market, but it was pouring and that really puts a damper on the experience. We drove along the Dordogne to Sarlat and had lunch at the Auberge de Mirandol (http://restaurant-auberge-mirandol-sarlat.fr/ ), still a good value when choosing the 13€ or 19€ menu with traditional dishes such as pâté, confit and cassoulet--the steak can be semelloïde as reported by another poster or decent as experienced by a previous guest--but rather than eating in the room at ground level with its low ceilings and wooden beams, we were directed upstairs which is a large room that from its remaining decoration appeared to have been an 18th cent. salon. From the language spoken, I would say that they were mainly French out for the Sunday meal rather than the larger proportion of foreign tourists at the rez-de-chaussée. We walked off the meal by visiting Sarlat.

Lascaux II or Rouffignac? That was the decision we had to make for our friends. We chose Lascaux II (http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/#/fr/00.xml ) because it is better known and is in color--it has more direct appeal than Rouffignac. The weather was holding, so we purchased picnic items knowing that there is a little park at the edge of Montignac on the road to Lascaux with a couple of picnic tables. We take reading materials along while our friends take the tour of Lascaux, and they were properly impressed.

After Lascaux we drove to the Maison forte de Reignac, which was a first for us too. It is definitely worth a visit, although I found the prehistoric room off-putting in that the items are exhibited as if they are originals, which clearly they are not; or at least there are some items that are copies because the originals are in the Prehistoric museum in les Eyzies and some are from other countries that would not let such items out of the country. The inhabited rooms, particularly the kitchen with a smoldering fire in the fireplace, are more interesting. While the house was occupied until the mid-20th century, the rooms essentially do not go past the 19th. The last room to be seen is the one of Madame, and if she lived there in the 1950s, she lived as if in the 19th century. One room which my wife refused to enter and which seems to exist with some frequency in private museums trying to represent the ancien régime is the room of Medieval torture. Once is enough, and even if this collection is not complete, it is complete enough for me. The rains came with a vengeance while we were in the house (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7738102886/in/set-72157623164797649 ).

We drove a few kilometers to La Roque Saint-Christophe (http://www.roque-st-christophe.com/ ) which can be visited even in the rain without getting wet. It’s the remains of a hanging village built in the same rock formation as the maison forte de Reignac, and representing what existed in the Middle Ages. After the fire of a few years ago, the ticket office/tourist shop building was enlarged and the exhibits have far more explanations than they used, along with models of what the village must have looked like. It’s definitely worth a visit.

The next day we drove to Périgueux to see the old town, a look at la Vésunna, go shopping and have lunch at l’Essentiel (http://restaurant-perigueux.com/ ); not quite the same wow factor as when we first went there but we would never turn down an offer of a meal there. When we have guests, I suggest that if they want a permanent souvenir of the Dordogne, a knife might be appropriate (male oriented except for one instance to be described later). There is an artisan coutelier in Brantôme, and large knife shops in Périgueux and Sarlat, But I usually take my guests to the cordonnier on the square in front of the cathedral to purchase either an Opinel or a Nontron, the former because it is a common cheap knife with good all-purpose blade and the latter because it is native to the Périgord. Our friend purchased a Nontron. They also purchased chocolates from the only artisan chocolatier in Périgueux.

The friends arrived on a Sunday, they had a train to catch on Wednesday afternoon. So we went back to Bourdeilles and visited the chateau (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/sets/72157623282383670/show/with/4925141386/ ). While walking back through town, my wife noticed that the local café was offering moules-frites. Big mistake. Although the food arrived quickly enough, it turned out that 1.5 hours are not enough to cover the 60 km. between Bourdeilles and Limoges and our friends missed the train by two minutes. They purchased tickets for the next train (they had PREM tickets) and we felt badly about what happened, although given the free housing and being driven around the Dordogne, Alice’s law of compensatory cash flow did apply, if only in reverse.

By having friends visit, we get to do some tourism of the standard sites too. We did go back to Sarlat for one day and went to visit the Manoir de Gisson in the old town (http://www.manoirdegisson.com/ ). It appears to be a fairly new museum in a town mansion, furnished with 18th-early 19th cent. furniture. One of the rooms has a floor de pisé (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7738123932/in/set-72157623164797649 ) and part of the house is still inhabited by the owners--I would be curious to know how it has been modernized. The house is definitely worth a visit if in Sarlat, once one gets past the obligatory weapons exhibit which has little place in what is considered a bourgeois town home.

L’Essentiel is a one star restaurant and for Father’s Day we went to another one near Périgueux: La Table de Pouyaud (http://table-pouyaud.fr/ ). The meal was a prix fixe with a set menu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7557195514/in/set-72157629150082574 ) and the foie gras was exceptional, laced with rhubarb . The price with wine was very reasonable--148€ or $187 total. Going there on a non-holiday would probably offer more interesting choices.

We ended our two months in Europe by taking a ten day trip to the Provence, driving our second rental--a Hyundai i10 which is smaller--here’s the trunk http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7637967200/ -- than the Nissan Micra ($328 for 20 days + $88 for RR station pickup and road fees). I used the Michelin map of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” as a means to organize the road trip, going from one of these villages to another. They vary greatly. The organization was founded by the mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge, and this is one of the prime villages, completely taken over by the tourist trade, with lots of paid parking available just outside the village. We did not stop there, having been in Collonges-la-Rouge several times, starting in 1972 and ending in 2011. We chose to stop in villages where we had not been before, and we by-passed Collonges-la-Rouge to visit Curemonte (note: the map is a map of France, so that a more localised map is necessary to figure out the actual route). On the way we noticed, and will keep in mind, that the center of the town of Meyssac might be as interesting as Collonges-la-Rouge, especially on Sunday which is market day. Curemonte’s only restaurant was full for lunch even though it was only a Friday, but fortunately we had purchased picnic items and sat in the old covered market to have our lunch (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7734798338/in/set-72157627132588561 ). The town itself has little to see aside from the church. It has a two castles next to each other, both renovated and privately owned, and a couple of old streets. It is one of the lesser plus beaux villages. Carennac, our next stop, is more substantial. It has a palace that can be visited, with nice beam decorations (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7734827404/in/set-72157627132588561 ), and a church with its cloister. It also has designated parking, unlike Curemonte. From there we drove to Cahors to a B&B where we had made reservations. It was in the hills above Cahors, not easy to find, but once we were there, directions to the city were easy. We spent the late afternoon wandering through the old town and ate at le Balandre, recommended by the Guide Michelin and seconded by StCirq. Its wine list is incredible: 59 pages of Cahors wines going back to 1963, if memory serves me right. The food was good, and with wine (taking the recommendation of the personnel) the meal cost $112.

The next day we drove to Saint Cirq-la-Popie, a plus beau village which is as overtaken by the tourist trade as Collonges-la-Rouge, if not more so. On a street going to the tourist office ( a large modern building meant to accommodate many tourists) we noticed a store called the musée du Vin, but it really had little wine or aspect of a museum. It was another store selling all sorts of tourist items. But my wife was taken exceptionally by the knives, probably because they have round handles similar to our dinner flatware. She was so taken by them that we purchased six stainless steel steak knives as a wedding present for our Dordogne visitors who had announced their engagement while in France, and a 5” carbon steel version kitchen knife for cutting and slicing (it does not dice very because it lacks the length and weight). The irony is that it is not even a French knife but a Spanish one (Pallares Solsona), and on the company’s web site, the model we purchased does not exist. So I can recommend the knives only if purchased in Saint Cirq-la-Popie. From here we drove up the Lot valley via Conques to eventually reach Chaudes-Aigues. We had made reservations for a B&B but either did not print out a map or it we missed the turn. I had the bright idea of asking if the local pharmacy knew the address, figuring that the pharmacist probably knows more people in the area than anyone else. They did, we had passed the turnoff a few kilometers back up on the plateau.

The reason we were in Chaudes-Aigues was to go to Serge Vieira’s 2 star restaurant outside the town (http://www.sergevieira.com/ ). This was for my wife’s birthday and originally I tried to get reservations to Michel Bras’ restaurant in Laguiole. but that week it was not available to the general public for one reason or another. We found the B&B which is on a working farm, changed into something more than our travel clothes (for me, a decent shirt and slacks--no tie or jacket) and drove to the restaurant located toward the top of the valley of Chaudes-aigues but not quite on the plateau. The location is interesting. Chateau du Couffour must be the remains of an old chateau, of which there is a tower and a multi-storied rectangular building which is now the hotel. One arrives through a long alley (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7736748222/in/set-72157623313123155 ). There is a campground on the site, but also a gated parking lot. We walk between the tower and the old building to reach a terrace overlooking the valley which has an elevator to go down one story. The restaurant is below the old structures and its walls are made of rocks held in wire enclosures with large floor do ceiling windows between the solid area. The restaurant has a wonderful view over the countryside. Food and service were excellent ($301 total). A fly was buzzing around our table and a staff person came by to ask if everything was OK. My wife asked him if he could get rid of the fly. At that moment the fly landed on top of a small metal pyramid on the table, the staffer lunged at it with his towel and caught it. We were all surprised. Although the food was excellent, my wife said that she preferred a subsequent meal we had at La Ciccia in San Francisco--there is a commonality in the manipulation of ingredients in these top end restaurants which then makes a restaurant like La Ciccia with its food and wine specialties from Sardinia really stand out. The one tacky element: there is a 10€ charge to get a copy of the menu. Next year we’ll try Michel Bras again.

The next day we drove off on the plateau which was particularly bleak in that it was foggy and rainy at the same time (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/7736752420/in/set-72157623313123155 ). Driving through that area might be the best way to experience it unless one is a hiking enthusiast. We continued to use the plus beaux villages map, this time going to Pradelles. We really can’t figure out why Pradelles received the plus beau village label. It does not appear to be any different than other villages in the Massif Central, although we did not see it in its best light--it was raining cats and dogs when we were there. From there we drove to Aix-en-Provence to stay with friends of mutual friends (our hosts in Paris) whom we had met in San Francisco.

In Aix-en-Provence we stayed in a villa in one of the fancier neighborhoods of the city. The owners increased its size considerably, but it was so well done that the modern addition and the original 30s house cannot be separated. The owners are heavily involved in the art scene, to the point that the hostess really did not have any time for us, and while they felt obligated to house us, we really came at the wrong time; she was involved in a large photographic exhibit that must have taken up every single exhibit space in Arles--the catalog was several hundred pages thick--and which opened the day after our arrival. On our first full day we took the bus to see Marseille and the chateau d’If of Count of Monte-Cristo fame. That connection is somewhat detrimental to the fortress in that it is more prominent than its real history as a defensive fortress becoming a prison at least until 1849-50. The day was perfect, we picnicked on the grounds, took the boat back and then walked around the old part of Marseille in the afternoon. The old housing around the port section of Marseille was torn down under the German occupation, but some of it remains on top of the hill overlooking the port and on the other side of the hill. There is a substantial 18th century hospice whose chapel has an unusual oval dome which we were able to only glimpse as we came upon it 5 minutes before closing time.

On our way to the port to go to the chateau d’If we had stopped in the tourist office and the person behind the desk made a reservation for us for Fon-Fon, recommended by our hosts and the Michelin Red Guide for its bouillabaisse. It was delicious and expensive ($157) for basically a one course meal with wine. There is a trick to eating bouillabaisse: One should not use the croutons with the rouille because they are just unnecessary filler. Similarly, one should not drink too much of the broth. The platter of fish is so large that it can’t be finished if one fills up on croutons and broth.

On our second day in Aix I stayed in bed, unable to do anything but sleep. It was not the food, it was more like a sudden flu attack which stayed with me for a month afterward in the form of a severe cough.

On the third day we visited the chateau Lacoste winery (http://www.wine-pages.com/features/wine-art-architecture.htm ) to see the sculptures and architecture of the locale. We had lunch there--California prices for the meal and the wines. It would be difficult to avoid having lunch there if one is interested in the art pieces scattered throughout the vineyard because it takes time to cover the ground. the art objects vary in interest, and the one that I found to be absolutely unsuccessful is the Goldsworthy installation which is underground and has a musty odor. The architecture itself is fabulous. The whole is a showpiece of conspicuous consumption, with a Frank Gehry band shell which had been built for a London event and was then disassembled and reassembled at the winery. It was worth a visit, but it has the feeling of Napa in the Provence. For travelers leaving Aix and going to the Provence, the winery is on the way to Ansouis and Lourmarin, the two plus beaux villages that we visited the next day.

From Aix we drove around the Provence north of it, visiting several villages marked on the above-mentioned Michelin map and visited the village made up of bories. This latter village is definitely worth a visit, putting the borie collections of the Dordogne to shame. It is close to Gordes but not easy to find (the signage was not prominent) and the final kilometer is a little worrisome as it is a single lane road lined by stone walls, and I kept on wondering what we would do if a car came from the other direction. Our next two nights we spent in Digne, and the day in between was spent going to Moustiers Sainte-Marie and the Grand Canyon du Verdon. We traveled on the south rim, which might be easier to drive than the north rim--or I find the reports of knuckle gripping rides exaggerated, but parking to take photographs is a problem. Moustiers Sainte-Marie is a nice town that we hit on market day. Parking was not easy, and it must be impossible in the height of season. We had lunch on a bench by the church.

Our next overnight stop was to be in a B&B near Grasse, which would allow us to drive directly to the Nice airport on our day of departure. We drove there via Bargème and Seillans, again villages on the map. We had made reservations for the B&B, confirmed it, but had real difficulties trying to reach it. We were in the hamlet of le Tignet, in what seemed to be the center of town (no stores, just a communal hall) and no telephones nearby. Fortunately someone stopped in the small parking lot where we were, and graciously called the B&B to find out where it was located. It was on one of these interminable country lanes with houses every few hundred yards and visibility blocked by walls and vegetation. But we found it. The B&B is on a hillside with a view all the way to the Mediterranean. Some of the rooms were in a wing that obviously was an extension of the original house--or the house was designed to have the B&B wing. Everything is absolutely modern, breakfast was under an enormous tree, the host was very helpful in recommending restaurants and things to visit; he claimed that La Chèvre d’or in nearby Cabris was the best restaurant in the area for the money, and correctly dismissed Gourdon as a must see village even though it has the designation of a plus beau village. The B&B has a potentially embarrassing feature. The wing contains three rooms, all of which only have sliding glass doors as openings, but each room has a good AC system. When walking to one’s room at night, a motion detector trips the outside light which also illuminates some of the inside. We came home one night, the light went on and the couple in one room had decided that it preferred the fresh air to air conditioning .... The other feature that might bother some is that the separation between the bathroom and the rest of the room is only a gauzy curtain--there is no real privacy even though the shower and toilet are tucked behind a half wall. But I would recommend this B&B (http://mas.des.anges.pagesperso-orange.fr/England/gbr.htm ).

While staying in the B&B we visited the coast and some of the hill town villages. Antibes is a nice town, but the Musée Picasso was a disappointment. The best part of his art on display was the one wall of the ceramic plates, and most of the museum contained contemporary art by other artists. The small towns we liked the most were Biot, Valbonne and Tourettes-sur-Loup, and really disliked Gourdon, whose chateau is now closed for visiting, and it is not clear that the garden is now open to visitors. It has a nice view toward the Mediterranean, but so do half-a-dozen other towns in that area. A few years ago we wanted to go to Vence to visit the Matisse chapel, but the scheduling via public transportation did not allow us to do it. We made a point of visiting the chapel this time, and also walked around the old town in Vence, discovering a Chagall mosaic in the cathedral. Coming from Nice by car, I would visit Vence and Saint Paul-de-Vence with the nearby Fondation Maeght in one day. I do not think that there would be room for much more.

The weather throughout our Provence stay was gorgeous, showing the Provence in its best light. It was a nice change from more familiar Dordogne countryside.

For pictures, here are a variety of collections, all of which contain pictures from several trips:

Paris is divided into multiple sections: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/collections/72157624827228334/

The Périgord is divided into its four parts: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/collections/72157624827253292/

The Lot & Corrèze contain the pictures from the first part of our travel away from the Dordogne: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/sets/72157627132588561/

And then we were in the Massif Central: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/sets/72157623313123155/

Finally we went to the Provence: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/sets/72157624404539441/

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  4. 4 7 Nights in Paris
  5. 5 Getting to San Seb from Madrid
  6. 6 What area of Berlin is best for a first time visitor?
  7. 7 Which town to stay at in Lake Como?
  8. 8 Albania by bus in 10 days??
  9. 9 Ireland 8 day Itinerary help
  10. 10 Can I cancel 2 of 4 train tickets?
  11. 11 Monet in Normandy
  12. 12 Dining at the Eiffel Tower
  13. 13 Advance Tickets Segrada Familia - Barcelona
  14. 14 9 days in Italy - beginning in Venice
  15. 15 "New SAT Won’t Include Obscure Vocabulary Words"
  16. 16 campsite availability in peak season - Spain/Portgual/France
  17. 17 Gargano Promontory
  18. 18 Trip Report We saw a fox on Great Ormond St (and other sights up and down the Thames)
  19. 19 Santorini
  20. 20 Day Trip from Paris? Versailles - go or no? Other ideas . . .
  21. 21 SmartPhone Europe to USA
  22. 22 Airport to Piraeus
  23. 23 Travel over Col du Puymorens and lunch.
  24. 24 Getting from London to Southhampton
  25. 25 Day trips from Seville
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