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Trip Report Paris three days on my own before Tauck French Waterways river cruise

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This was my sixth trip to Paris and I had my to do list in hand! Thanks to all you Fodorites who helped with hotels and general Paris info. I ended up choosing the Hotel d'Angleterre after considering it along with the Clement and the Bonaparte. I booked on line at their web site and received the breakfast buffet in my room rate of 220 US. Small but very adequate single with window open to inside courtyard view. Bathroom had a funky odor, probably ancient drain system. Recommend a mini multi charger as plugs were limited and somewhat inaccessible at floor level. High tub ledge to scale for showering. Wonderfully helpful staff, especially Celine, English spoken. Lovely breakfast room, food laid out on grand piano.
Perfect St. Germain location, just off rue Bonaparte on rue Jacob, behind Blvd. St. Germain.
Safely walkable at all hours for a senior solo female.

The Cluny (alas, no tapestries but well worth seeing this medieval building)
Jacquemart Andree (magnificent house-lunch was wonderful here)
Carnavalet (two town houses adjoined, chock full of French history, special fashion exhibit)
The Grand Opera (did the do it yourself tour around this incredible edifice-great gift shop)

Food, etc:
Les Deaux Magots (Croque Madam, glass of rose, Baba au Rum)
Cafe le Flore (onion soup, Glass of rose, Baba au Rum)
Relais l'Entrecote in the Sixth (Steak Frites, of course, glass of red, Raspberry Ice Meringue)
Creperie stand next to St. Germain des Pres (Grand Manier)
Jacquemart Andree (Chicken Oriental Salad, pot of tea accompanied by Macaron, Butter
Cookie, Pot au Vanilla Creme with Raspberries)
Fouquettes (Tauck opening dinner set menu of Champagne, Smoked Salmon, Beef Brisket,
Napoleon, Red and White Wine)
Le Cafe Constant (Duck Confit, glass of Red, Oueff a la Neige)
Le Grand Colbert (Champagne Cocktail, Roast Chicken with Frites, Baked Alaska)
Laduree (macarons and more macarons, beautiful candle gifts and a key ring for me)
Le Train Blu (before boarding the TGV to Lyon there was just enough time to run up
and scarf down a Train Blu Signature cocktail - somebody had to do it! -
che-check that one off the list)

Walked the Jardin de Luxembourg entering at rue St. Michel (came from The Cluny) on a Sunday and was treated to a symphony in the bandshell. Then strolled back to St. Germain via rue de Rennes, rue Dragon and rue Bonaparte window shopping all the way!

After the day long stroll to The Cluny and Jardin du Luxembourg I found I had suffered a painfully huge blister on my right big toe. The friendly pharmacist around the corner sold me a packet of Urgo wraparound band-aid type sealers. Wore one of them the rest of my trip, changing every three days to protect from the threat of infection (have to be proactive due to knee replacements).

Monday morning I strolled over to Le Grand Marche, finally found the toy department in that gigantic store and was able to buy a few good things to bring back for my three grand sons, I.e., dot to dot books and a three dimensional fold out of Paris as a reminder of our family visit of a year and a half ago. After my lunch at Cafe Constant I bought more chochkies for them from a souvenir stand near the Eiffel Tower; small snow globes and key rings which I then attached a 1 Euro coin (shoemaker drilled a hole in them).

A month before my trip I had scheduled a Paris By Mouth St. Germain Gourmet Tour for Monday late afternoon. This was a fabulous way to see more of the area as well as sample some yummy foodstuffs. We started out at the famous Androuette Cheese Shop on rue de Verneuil, went on to the equally well known deli Maison Guyard, to Henri Le Roux, and finally a wonderful wine shop Le D------ Goutte(can't quite make out the sign in my photo-sorry) where we sat in the tasting room and devoured all the goodies picked up along the way on Eric Kayser baguettes, with accompanying wines. Last stop was at the famous chocolate shop on Blvd. St. Germain, sign name which again I can't make out in my photo - argh - ------ Franco Chocoletier, where we had one final sample. It was quite the St. Germain quintessential experience and I was so glad to have chosen it. Sara was a terrific guide for our small manageable group of seven.

On my way back to the hotel after the above tour I stopped at Les Deaux Magots and enjoyed a nice cold bottle of cider, finally managing to snap up an outside table, luckily back under the overhang as it began to rain lightly. Wow, here I was, enjoying this special place in my favorite city in the world after three days of being able to check off so many of my to do's and about to embark the next morning on another phase of this dream journey. Happy and content - that was moi! Not smug, just thankful. :)

Next morning I enjoyed one last buffet breakfast at Hotel d'Angleterre, checked out and cabbed it over to the 8th, where I was checked into the fabulous Intercontinental Le Grand for two nights, then the TGV to Lyon to board the MS Swiss Emerald for a seven night river cruise through Provence.

After checking in at the Le Grand, with the afternoon free, I went shopping. First, to Au Printemp for a black canvas Vanessa Bruno bag. Love the trim of black sequins and the light weight of it. Next, to Galleries Lafayette where they have the best shoe department, bar none. Bought a pair of black patent Arche and a little Elizabeth Stuart black patent dress heel. Killer. Happy feet, happy me. Wore these shoes for walking and to dinner on the ship and felt so terribly chic. Nothing like shopping in Paris to lift one's spirit! Unless, of course, it's shopping Provence, which I did plenty of, too. Rational was to buy gifts for the holidays ahead. I was very successful in this and luckily got in under the wire of customs agents. Whew! Shopped the ship store, too, at 40% off as it was the last cruise for this season.

My MO, being a solo senior female traveler is to have a few days on my own in a given city and then join a tour group where I can sit back and relax. I know many of the Fodor viewers are adamant independent planner/travelers. We all do the best we can and my plan works ideally for me at this point in my life. Not touting any specific tour groups but I have taken various coach tours in Greece, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as IMS Ireland, Colette and Go Ahead; these last three through Ireland, Northern Europe and Paris/Provence also via coach. A river cruise was something I have dreamed about and this last year I decided to go for it and book what I had heard is the best, namely Tauck. Bottom line: I did it. It is.

I see Maitaitom is entertaining us highly in his usual fashion from England at present. Can't possibly compete with his witty repartee and can only hope to have given some decent information while offering my obligatory trip report in reciprocity for all I have gained from this site. Thanks for bearing with me.

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    Love Cafe Constant.

    How was your steak frites at Relais l'Entrecote? We have never been but are curious. Any chance you stumbled onto Un Dimanche a Paris in the 6th? Beautiful shop, wonderful macarons and chocolates. My new favorite!

    We would love to do something with Paris by Mouth but they have limited tours around Christmas and it doesn't look like it will work out this trip. It sounds like my idea of a oerfect day!

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    Thanks for your quick reply. Relais l'Entrecote is yummy. The meal comes with a salad first, then they ask how you like your steak prepared. The plate with the steak and frites is set down at your place, after which the sauce is spooned over the steak. It's sort of a creamy tarragon, delish. The concept is eat all you can, so multiple servings are offered. We had eaten at the Montparnesse location a year and a half ago when our family stayed at The Victorian Palace Hotel off of rue de Rennes. So, I remembered the one close to Hotel d'Angleterre and hopped over there after giving up on Le Comptoir du Relais when I arrived there and saw the line was half a block long. Plus, I glanced over the menu and didn't care for it. I made an executive decision (perk of being solo) and decided in favor of steak frites and one of those delicious desserts. Actually, I had two. First the baba au rum (there's a definite theme here). I felt like lingering a bit more over my dinner, so ordered a tea and the raspberry meringue ice. Lots of French families were out for Sunday evening dinner, there were several birthdays going on with the servers and customers singing - it was a very festive atmosphere. Their wines by the half and full bottles are very reasonably priced. I think it's a bargain meal for what you get if you're in the mood for steak.

    Did not come upon Un Dimanche a Paris but I'll be sure put them on my to do list for next trip. Paris by Mouth was exactly what I had in mind for seeing more of the Sixth Arrondisement while learning about cheese and wine. Sorry their current offerings won't fit your travel in December. You might email and ask if they would keep a wait list and schedule per demand. I would think Christmas travelers would be a good source for their business which I was given to understand by our guide, is looking to grow.

    Thanks! My Paris by Mouth St. Germain Gourmet was such a perfect fit for me. Keeping them in mind for my next Parisian foray!

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    Hi Travelchat,

    You wrote: “My MO, being a solo senior female traveler is to have a few days on my own in a given city and then join a tour group where I can sit back and relax.” I agree wholeheartedly and have done the same many times.

    Loved your description of what you did/ate/experienced/bought in Paris. Sounds terrific. Tell me, where there other solo travelers on the cruise? I know that Tauck is the best, a bit above my budget, but I would love to hear more about it.

    Please give us more info about the cruise itself. Merci….

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    I am happy to provide you info on my Tauck experience. As it happens, beside myself, there were four other women traveling solo on the tour, as well as a mother (widow) and daughter (divorced) sharing a cabin, in our group of 110 persons. Tauck offers single cabins located on the lower level of the ship at no single supplement charge on certain of their cruises. Mine was one such. I researched other popular river cruise lines and found that those at a similar but not quite equal level to Tauck with a single supplement added, were comparable to or even exceeded the cost of the Tauck cruise I chose. At no time were any of us singles made to feel left out. One couple or group always reached out to include us. It was remarkable. I have never had a problem being on my own but it was heartwarming to be welcomed so completely by this wonderful group of people, most of whom were American.

    The Tauck price I paid included the two night stay at the Le Grand in Paris, breakfast each morning, dinner at Fouquettes the first night, a city night tour, a half day tour next day of either the city or the Marais, TGV first class to Lyon the third morning and coach transfer to ship, as well as all shore excursions, all gratuities to ship personnel, head cruise director, the three cruise guides who traveled with us, coach drivers and the independent tour guides for all on shore excursions. Not having to be concerned about gratuities made for a worry free nine days in that regard.

    The MS Swiss Emerald was beautifully appointed, clean and felt very luxurious. My cabin was larger than my room at either of the hotels in Paris, with two large picture windows just above water level. It felt strange at first to hear the water lapping against the side of the ship, but I quickly became acclimated. Going through the numerous locks was an adventure and those above me on the second and third levels also had their view blocked as we went through the high concrete walls. The bathroom amazed me, it worked beautifully for being such a tiny space. The counter held all my necessaries, with shelf below for extras. The shower was powerful and functioned perfectly. Wall mounted makeup mirror and lovely Molton Brown toiletries. A small desk opposite the bed, as well as three large closets, one with a safe and mini fridge holding complimentary water and soft drinks replenished daily. Good lighting for reading. Two movies streamed daily on the large flat screen tv. Suitcase fit under the bed and left closet space free for unpacking and hanging up all my clothes.

    Menus with multiple choices provided at lunch and dinner as well as complimentary white and red wine while breakfast was an elaborate buffet each morning, eggs, pancakes and omelets to order. Entertainment offered every evening in the lounge, either piano and/or or singer. Complimentary hors d'ouvres offered at cocktail hour. Reasonable charge for cocktails, with a specialty drink each night.

    This cruise far exceeded my expectations and I am left feeling I got a bargain for what was paid. The high level of professionalism on the part of all Tauck associates was truly impressive. They care very much about the product they are delivering.

    I am seriously considering the Holland Belgium River cruise for my next Tauck adventure if the budget will allow.

    Heavens, I do seem to have gone on at length here. Didn't want to leave out any vital information which might be useful. Do check out the Tauck web site for further details.

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    thank you for posting your report-a very enjoyable read about my favorite city. I am about to do my first solo trip to Paris. It will only be for 3 days until my sister arrives, but still I am a little nervous to be honest.
    It is reassuring to read your report as you make it seem like such a non-issue to be solo. This will be my 6th time to Paris too, so I am not nervous about being in Paris solo, but what goes thru my mind when I am not excited, is the what if I get sick and I am alone...which is crazy...cause I don't get sick! But I'm going for it-tickets bought, plans made and in two weeks I will be in Paris.

    I dream of doing a river cruise one day. Please continue with all the details you wish to share.

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    What you are feeling are called the "schpielkies" a common pre-trip emotional freak out, felt by all of us at one time or another, not just solo travelers either. Not to worry, all will be well and you will be a stellar solo traveler for the three days on your own. Hold it together and the trip will take you through it just fine. Keep calm and carry on!

    Here's what Works for me; I print out a calender for the month I will be traveling. Then I fill each day/square of my trip with a tentative detailed itinerary. When I get up each day I have my plan to move forward with. Keeps me grounded and organized. The anticipation/pre-planning of my travels, I find, is almost as enjoyable as the actual trip. Almost. :)

    Okay, more details on the river cruise. Here goes. Correction on the number of singles - I forgot there were two more women on my cabin level traveling together, though each had their own room. So that makes a total of seven singles, but only three of us actually traveling solo, to clarify. Age range from folks in their 30's traveling with parents/relatives to those in their 80's. Many retired, thus relaxed go-with-the-flow folks.

    The itinerary - Lyon, Viviers, Arles, Avignon, Roussillon/Chateneuf-du-Pape/Gordes, Tournon. Every evening, at turn down service,a printed program would be placed in the cabin while we were at dinner outlining the next day's plan. Voxes (battery powered speaker with ear buds for hearing guide) on desk in charger to grab and go with each morning.

    Our three excellent and very personable guides would lead us to one of the three coaches, depending on what color chip we had chosen each day from bowls set out at the Reception Desk. Always plenty of room to spread out on these coaches, we were never crowded. Back to the ship for lunch and then on to the afternoon's activity, either another walking or coach tour, or a program in the Lounge.

    There was always the option to stay on the ship where one could sit out on the Sun Deck or the Lido Deck where beverages, fruit and cookies were available. At any given time there were usually passengers who would choose to enjoy a few quiet hours of relaxation. During day time sailings programs were offered in the Lounge, i.e., a crepe making demonstration, an Edith Piaf presentation, a French lesson, a cheese tasting.

    Upon returning from an off ship activity we were greeted each time with a warm washcloth for freshening up along with a cold juice drink.

    Boy, was it ever hard to return to reality! Looking back on it makes me want to do it all over again! What a fabulous combination of being on my own for those first few days to check off my Paris to do's and then relaxing into those wonderful nine days of complete coddling and decadence. Heaven.

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    I loved every aspect of your trip report. Having been to Paris many times you brought my favorite city to life again. I enjoyed tagging along with you. Any photos?

    The details of Paris and your river cruise are just what we on Fodors look for to fine tune our travels. i think a river cruise will be in our future and Tauck sounds like the way to go.

    denisea---just thought I'd add my opinion on Relais Entrecote.
    We've eaten there twice in the St. Germain area and once in Toulouse. We call it "One Dish" because that's what the server said to us when we wandered in the first time and asked for a menu. The steak is thin, the sauce a green peppercorn, the salad is a mustard vinegrette, and the FF's thin and crispy. It's great when you don't want to think, just eat. They've been serving the same thing for 150 years.
    Is it gourmet? No, and definitely no comparison to Reed or Cafe Constant, but we liked it enough to go there 3 times.
    MDH doesn't like the sauce so gets it plain, I like the sauce a lot.

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    Thanks for your very nice comment. So glad my trip report is striking the right note in providing useful info along with my personal experience.

    I took some fabulous photos with my new mini ipad (upgraded from original ipad sans camera) which I got just a week before leaving, mainly to Skype with family back in Chicago. Turns out this little gizmo takes incredible photos. BUT - not sure how to gather the photos together, attach a link and then post the link. I plan on taking an Apple photo workshop soon and hope to learn the how to's. One of the photos I'm so very pleased with is of the view from the Sun Deck of the ship's misty evening approach to the Avignon Bridge. The quality of the photos is amazing and believe me, I have not thus far shown even a smidgen of any photographic skill in all my 73 years. I'll try and post some photos in the near future.

    Re: Cafe Constant - my lunch was fabulous. Lots of French being spoken as well as English, Japanese, etc. I was seated upstairs and had a great server. An all around very pleasant experience, one of the top to do's on my Paris list! Definitely will go back again. And, I loved being so close to the Eiffel Tower which I never tire of seeing.

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    Thanks for sharing such a great report! Are you going to continue with details of the voyage for each stop? (Hope so!)

    Also looking forward to seeing your pictures when you post them!

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    Oh...good to know that what I am feeling has a name-maybe just concentrating on how to say it will take my mind off the worries-haha.
    I am right with you on the daily planning-and love the research-I always have a few trips going on in my head.

    Coddling & decadence sounds like the perfect two words to describe your river cruise.
    What a luxury to let others take of the details and it sounds like they did it in grand style.
    I will check back in to see if you posted any pictures.

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    Travelchat, thank you for your lively, informative description of your Tauck tour – simply the best! Interesting that there were several single cabins. I have read that that trend will continue on cruise ships. Even when I sojourned with my erstwhile travel buddies, we always had separate rooms. But I always thought that arrangement would be prohibitive on a cruise.

    I can tell by your voice/attitude/approach that you would be well received in your travels and get along easily with your tour mates. :) Again, thanks for such a great report. We look forward to your pictures…

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    Thanks, TPAYT for chiming in on Relais Entrecote. (Suace on the side, I think). Yep, doesn't all have to be gourmet and if the fries are good, I am happy.

    Travelchat - when we think of Cafe Constant, we remember the Thai rice and grilled shrimp. Not French but dynamite!

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    Pronounced sh-peel-keys :). I've traveled umpteen times all over the world and I still get them!

    Our daily river cruise activities after boarding the MS Swiss Emerald the afternoon prior, having arrived by TGV from our first two days in Paris which are outlined above:

    Day 1 - Lyon
    Depart by coach for a tour of medieval Lyon ("Vieux" Lyon) which included the Basilica of Notre Dame and the secret pedestrian passages of Lyon. Then on to a tour and wine/cheese tasting of the market of Les Halles. Return to ship for lunch. Afternoon coach tour to Chateau de la Chaize in the Beaujolais region for wine tasting. Back to ship for dinner, entertainment in the Lounge. 10:30 pm departure to sail through the night to Viviers.

    Day 2 - Viviers
    Continue sailing to Viviers, arriving 12:00 Noon. After a light early morning breakfast a program on the Sun Deck of commentary on the Rhone a River and French Waterways. A lovely brunch served 11:00-12:30. Departure at 12:30 for walking tour of the one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in France, Viviers.

    Returning to the ship we stopped at the nearby Viviers Pétanque Club for a demonstration and were invited to play. Our group of three gals were pitted against three guys, one of whom was a member of the Club. We gals won - let's hear it for the girls!

    Afternoon choice of a bike ride led by Simon, one of our three fabulous tour directors, or a presentation on the Crepe by Veronica, also of our Tour Directors, preparation of crepes by Chef Jelena in the Lounge.
    I attended the crepe demo and got to sample the results - yummy, of course.

    Dinner on board and sailing through the night to Arles.

    Day 3 - Arles
    Morning walking tour of Arles, historically in the Roman province of Galliard Narbonensis, thus having a beautifully preserved colosseum where bull fights and concerts are held currently. We visited the arena and some of the places where Van Gogh lived and painted as we walked through the town. I did some serious souvenir shopping here with a cruise mate whose husband opted to go back to the ship. We then enjoyed a leisurely crepe lunch and strolled back to the ship.

    Afternoon choice of a walking tour to Alyscamps, a UNESCO World Heritage site or a presentation by Veronica on Edith Piaf in the Lounge. I was not in the mood to visit a cemetery, so opted for Edith Piaf program which I really enjoyed, being a long time listener of her music.

    The ship departed at 5:30 pm for Avignon, arrival at 8:30 and another wonderful dinner from 7:00-9:00 pm then a sparkling wine party on the Sun Deck at 9:00 pm with an accordion player and singing of the "Sur Le Pont d'Avignon" French childhood song. Then an evening of French songs and music in the Lounge.

    Day 4 - Avignon
    A walking tour through Avignon to the Palais de Popes. I opted to skip the palace due to the many stairs and just admired it from the outside. I chose the optional walking tour around the town instead and did a little shopping afterward. I bought three of the little boxes that contain a little metal cicada - what I call the "bug of Provence" - that chirp when the top is removed. The boys love them, my daughter is freaked out.

    Back to the ship to board a coach for lunch and a tour of the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman engineering aqueduct that spans the river Gardon which supplied the city of Nimes with fresh water. It may not sound like much in the description but it is a phenomenal sight to behold. We crossed a parallel bridge alongside it to get to the restaurant where lunch was scheduled. We were treated to wine and hors d'oeuvres on the terrace where we were entertained with marvelous gypsy music before going inside to a scrumptious lunch along with tasty wines.

    Dinner on board and an optional evening stroll into Avignon (skipped this for an early night in my wee, cosy cabin). We stayed in port overnight.

    Day 5 - Roussillon and Chateuneuf-du-Pape
    Boarded our coaches for a drive through the scenic hills of Luberon and a stop for photos in the picturesque village of Gordes. We continued on to Roussillon, known for the large deposits of ochre and a walk along the cliffs. (Took a look-see but skipped the walk on the cliffs. This stuff was slippery!) I decided to have a cafe creme and then - you guessed it - shopped a bit more. Found three miniature bottles of liquor flavored with peach, violet and pear William for a holiday gift for my son-in-law who is so hard to shop for). The town bakery had beignets, so sampled those. Mmm.

    Back to the ship for another fabulous lunch and then departure by coach to Les Verges des Papes Winery for yet another wine tasting from one of the best known regions in France. I was getting used to this in a big way, also learning a lot from our tour director as we traveled toward our destination. (This was the case during the entire trip, we would receive a full briefing on each phase of our journey,)

    Return to ship for dinner which our group, (by then about fifteen of us had bonded and enjoyed meals, keeping together while on tour, etc.) chose to have up on the Lido Deck where we had made a reservation a few days prior. This is an optional location which has a set menu for those wishing a change of pace from the main dining room. We thought it would be fun to try and had a delightful evening there. The Lido Deck was also open at 6:00 am for an early bird continental breakfast as well as all day for hot and cold drinks, cookies and fruit. God forbid someone should go hungry!

    At 9:00 pm in the Lounge we were invited to attend the "Incomparable Swiss Emerald Crew Show" put on by -you guessed it - our darling crew who had been working so hard for us from the moment we boarded. This group of young people yucked it up, sang, danced, played concert piano music and genuinely enjoyed their show as much as we passengers enjoyed watching them.

    Day 6 - Tournon
    Our last day - sob! Walking tour of the lovely medieval town of Tournon and it's many tromp l'oil wall paintings. Travel by coach to the cooking school of Mason Pic operated by three star Michelin Chef Annie Sophie Pic. Here we participated in a cooking and tasting demonstration as well as a wine and cheese tasting. Wow, was this ever fun. We watched a master chef, not Ms. Pic, prepare poached eggs over a tomato chutney, decorated with a puff of tomato cream, which we all had the opportunity to apply., then eat, of course. Loved it!

    The cheese and wine tasting was presented by a master sommelier in a separate room of the school and was too, too, delicious and impressively done by an adorable young man who really knew his subject.

    But wait, there's more. We then hopped on the coach once again and were plunked down at the famous Valhrona Chocolate Shop where we sampled, sampled and sampled again. No factory viewing here, everything is top secret, but what delicious wares they have. I brought a few boxes home for gifts, of course.

    Back to the ship for our farewell dinner, sail back to Lyon overnight and disembarkation in the morning. Sob. Our meal was titled: "The Captain's Dinner" and it was fabulous, starting off with a flute of champagne in the Lounge and then down to the Main Dining Room. We started off with a Cream of Chestnut Soup, then Lobster Risotto, Basil Vodka Sorbet, Tournados of Beef and the grand finale of musically accompanied Flamed Baked Alaska brought in on trays held high by a procession of the chefs wearing their toques. We were then served a trio of the Baked Alaska, miniature Cream Puff Swans and a miniature Chocolate Mousse filled Milk Chocolate Cornucopia. After dinner vintage cognac was the coup de gras. It doesn't get much better than that.

    Day 7. - Lyon and Disembarkment
    For a few of us on a 7:00 am flight from Lyon to Heathrow wake up time was a ghastly 3:00 am call, for a 4:00 coach to St, Exupery Airport, Lyon. We were provided with our final breakfast buffet of hot drinks, yoghurts, croissants, lunch meats, baguettes in the Lounge before our reluctant departure back to the cold light of reality. Actually, it was pitch dark. :(

    BTW, the airport is fronted by the main TGV train station which we needed to walk through to get to the actual airport section of this huge structure. What an ingenious idea, to have them combined. It works for this relatively small city and the architecture is phenomenal, very modern, soaring wing-like ceilings.

    Then the work began for my laborious return travel back to Chicago. BA to Heathrow. Not a bad hour and a half at all. Their Flight Attendants are always so pleasant, or is it the accent? Navigating the excruciating terminal change to AA. One day prior to travel, I was notified that my requested upgrade to Business Class was granted, so was able to use the Admiral's Club during my four hour layover. Once on the plane I endured the torture of AA's dental chair business class. Ouch. Who designed those crazy seats where your feet are pointed down to the floor if you extend the chair all the way out. Is one actually expected to be able to sleep in that position? I think not.

    On my outgoing travel from Chicago to Paris on AA the requested BC upgrade was not available (AA, what are you thinking-I'm a loyal AA flyer! But that's another story) so I flew in Comfort Class in a bulk head window seat which turned out to have been the much more comfortable of the two flights, as I used my carry on to prop up my feet. This method worked much better than that torture device in BC. The food was okay, I enjoyed a glass of wine, took a nap and arrived to Paris a happy camper.

    It seems the medieval Tapestries at The Cluny were on vacation (on a traveling exhibit) the same time I was. Unfortunately, not in Paris. The museum is also undergoing alterations to accommodate their return right about now, according to the literature. There was a film being shown in the room where they would normally have hung which I watched a bit of. It was in French (fancy that) so I didn't get a lot out of it, not being fluent. Still, seeing the museum itself was quite enjoyable and I spent a happy hour and a half there before traipsing over to the nearby St. Michel entrance to the Jardin de Luxembourg on Sunday which made for a lovely first full day in my favorite city.

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    This just popped up and I'm so glad. Bookmarking to finish but am so glad to find that Tauck offers rooms for singles without that supplement. Loved your Paris part! Good job.

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    Thanks so much for the additional information. The Cluny is one of my favorite museums. The lighting in the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries gallery is very, very low for obvious reasons but I always thought there must be a better way to display them while not exposing them to light damage. But, sounds as if they are out on loan with not necessarily any plans to upgrade the display. Will check if there is any info on the web site.

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    Excellent details of your river cruise.
    Tauck should hire you for PR. You make it sound absolutely perfect. I am definitely going to look into this particular cruise.

    We've only been to a few of the places you describe and now want to see the others. BTW, you didn't miss much by not going in the Palais de Popes. It's huge interior is very gray and very empty.

    Have to agree about AA---very uncomfortable seats. Supposedly they've upgraded some of their interiors. I hope so as we are flying AA from CDG to ORD next June. Taking BA over so we hope that is better. Thanks for your suggestion of putting your feet on your carry-on. It may come in useful.

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    Thanks everyone for your great comments. I was reluctant to go into detail on the Tauck river cruise for fear of it seeming like a commercial/promotion but after more information was requested, I felt comfortable going ahead, and simply could not help elaborating on my incredibly gratifying experience.

    Several of us on the cruise plan to keep in touch and I would hope future travel together might be possible, as we really enjoyed each other's company.

    When I can, I will post photos. I haven't forgotten!

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