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Back from Normandy, Loire, Burgundy and Provence

Back from Normandy, Loire, Burgundy and Provence

Nov 16th, 2000, 05:50 AM
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Where was your gite in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue? Was it a good experience? Are there any spots/restaurants, etc., that shouldn't be missed, anything must-see in the area? We are going there in May. Do you have any advice? Thanks.
Nov 16th, 2000, 07:53 AM
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Karen: Would love to hear more about Provence. Planning to stay there 3-4 nights next July. I will have a car. Where do you recommend as a base and which towns are a must see? Right now I am considering Les Baux, St Remy, or Mt Ventoux area. I will also have a bicylcle, so I want to be in an area where riding town to town is a possibility or at least where there is accesible countryside. Your opinions would really be appreciated as I can't seem to make up my mind. Since I have never been before and only have a short time, I want to plan wisely.
Nov 17th, 2000, 01:34 PM
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Bonjour! I saw the message title and thought, "That sounds like a nice itinerary", opened it up and laughed to find my own post from last year!

Steve: Our gite was outside the central area of the town, about 1.5 miles. Thru a sort of "suburban" area. It was OK but we think one can do better for a stay in Provence. It was our only experience with house rental - we'd done searches thru the Gites-de-France and then booked directly with the owners. It was not expensive but it was a three "wheat stalk" rating in the Gites system. We did not expect a luxury rental such as one sees in some upscale brochures from rental agencies; however, it really was quite basic. I have enough French that we were able to do it (a gite contract had to be completed -I'd asked if they would supply linens and agreed on a little extra charge- and deposit sent, etc.,) then coordinating with owners to meet them for key, how to use the appliances, etc., NOT for non-French speakers. Tricky things involved, as the telephone didn't allow any outgoing calls (i.e., we needed it for restaurant reservations) and (as far as we could understand) to use it we needed to have our own French phone account - an example of how places like this probably are more suited to other French vacationers rather than Americans. We have alot of experience traveling throughout France (B&B arrangements via fax or phone) but this was something (we are two couples who travel together) that we probably wouldn't do again. We'd rented an apartment in Aix for two weeks in a previous trip, but that was through our connection with the college where I work so we knew exactly what we were getting and the arrangements were easy. Others may have fine experiences renting houses in Provence (especially more upscale), perhaps through reputable agencies in the US or UK.

Jodi: We were actually disappointed with Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. We also think there are better places to be and both (1) enjoy a Provencal base and (2) make day trips. Isle s.Sorgue is a tiny town. Sunday is the big antique market. On a quiet day, you can walk around the town and cover it in a short time and that's it, we felt.
We LOVED our stay in Aix; much more to soak up right there in the town (multiple large flower, produce, antique markets, tons of restaurants and shops, great strolling), with day trips around Mt. Saint Victoire (Cezanne's mountain), the Luberon hill villages, Avignon, and more. St. Remy would also be a good base (don't miss the excavations at Glanum, just south of St. Remy - you could bicycle there), as would Avignon. Don't miss the Pont du Gard, the antique theatre in Orange, etc., etc.
If you've never been to Provence before, I'd stay in one of those places rather than Mt. Ventoux area. Feel free to email me if any more questions.
Nov 23rd, 2000, 07:34 PM
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Hi Karen. My husband and I are going to be spending 9 days in Paris. We would definitely like to carve some of that time out to see the WWII sites in Normandy. What I'm not clear on is if this can be done in a day trip or if we should allow more time. Are the beaches close together? Would we need a car or could we take the train and walk from a nearby station? We are not planning to have a car in Paris, but I suppose we could make arrangements to get one for a day or two. Do you know anything about the tour company's and their 1-day excursions to Normandy from Paris? Mainly we want to see the beaches, the American cemetary, and the museum. Thanks so much! Nancy
Nov 27th, 2000, 08:41 AM
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Nancy: If you want to see the beaches, American Cemetery and the D-Day Museum (Bayeux), I'd base in Bayeux for a night and get around by car. That way you can go on your schedule for the most moving experience. It would give you a chance to visit the other wonderful sites in close proximity, as well (the Commonwealth Cemetery right in Bayeux, comes to mind, along with the info I posted in response earlier). I don't know anything about touring the area via public transportation.
Jan 25th, 2001, 10:36 PM
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I was thrilled to discover this thread! Thank you for all the info, Karen. We are planning our trip to Normandy in May. We are History "fanatics", esp. WWII and US Civil War. We are allowing 4 days for Caen-Cherborg. Is it enough? We spend an unusually long time at historical sites,(we spent 9 hours at Arlington Cemetary, for example)and I want to be sure to allow enough time to explore this important area. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Also, did you find many people at the small inns and B&B's that spoke English? I have a little high school French experience but that was long ago.

Thanks, again.
PS-Just read that Stephen Ambrose is conducting a tour of WWII sites. Unfortunately, having failed to bookmark the site, I can't locate the info. Have you, or anyone else, read anything about it?
Jan 26th, 2001, 11:38 PM
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To the top
Jan 29th, 2001, 08:55 AM
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My old post has been "topped" again!
Laurie: Hard to comment on the length of stay vs. depth of touring. Our four days (really 3, as one was for Mt. St. Michel) were concentrated in Bayeux area - earlier answer gave details about where we took ourselves; the Col.'s tour brought us to Ste. Mere Eglise, La Fiere, Arromanches, Pegasus Bridge, and several other crossroads with stories to tell. You could spend a day in the D-Day Museum in Bayeux. We did not visit Caen; a future trip may include more of the inland history sites.
One B&B owner near Chartres said, "it is necessary for us to speak some English - if one wants to be in this business." And most had some, in our experience. The more rural, the more chance of French-only (the wonderful one we used near Chablis was one). Get some language tapes and practice some of your high school French - just some polite basic conversational stuff will make it nicer.
A tour with Ambrose? What a wonderful idea. You'd enjoy reading the foreword to his book on Pegasus Bridge, where he describes, while shepherding a tour group back onto a bus at the Bridge, a conversation with an older gentleman who introduced himself as Maj.John Howard.
Jan 30th, 2001, 05:30 PM
Kathie & David
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We read your note. Sounds great. We would really appreciate any info you can give us on finding and staying at the good B&Bs in Bordeaux, plus tips on getting to the wineries etc. We're heading there in June and really want to travel light and enjoy the scenery, food, wine and people.
David & Katherine
New York
Jan 31st, 2001, 08:42 AM
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Kathie and David: Sorry, we've never been to Bordeaux! There's a great book, "The Wine Atlas of France" (available at discount from Amazon.com - I gave it as Christmas gift) with very detailed maps and some listings of lodgings and restaurants. We're using it to plan a summer trip to Alsace. (W're also completely inexperienced with Paris, other than a visit with my college choir many years ago, and recent flights in and out of Orly and CDG. We keep saying, "someday", but the lure of the French countryside has been too strong!) I agree, travel light - the four of us adults travel with 8 carryon-size bags - they fit in the rental car's trunk and are not hard to carry up winding stairs in B&Bs.
Feb 8th, 2001, 07:02 AM
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This is for Karen, but if anyone else has the info... thanks.
Does "le bon weekend `a Lyon" refer to Friday & Saturday nights or Saturday & Sunday and do singles qualify for this special?
If not, I'm looking for a moderate, charming hôtel in Vieux Lyon. Any suggestions, please?
Many thanks.
Feb 22nd, 2001, 08:52 AM
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Isobel: Once we stayed on a Friday and Saturday; another visit was Saturday and Sunday. Both times we only paid for one night. We found MANY restaurants closed on Sunday, so if you are flexible and only want to stay two nights, do the Friday and Saturday.

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