France & Italy


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France & Italy
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In July 2003, Sidney and I took a trip to France.   We stayed at the very nice Hotel Regina at Place Des Pyramides in Paris (over the road from the Louvre), and found some fun local restaurants.  We met up with our Abercrombie & Kent group there, and took the high-speed TGV electric train to Dijon.  Nearby on the Burgundy Canal we joined the barge 'Lafayette' for a week.  Lots of wine and cheese tasting, and we also visited several wineries.  All of the barge crew were from England, including the excellent chef.  An American couple on the barge lost their luggage, and had to wear the same clothes for a week!  The barge manipulated many locks on the canal, and you could walk or bike on the towpath, and wait for the barge to catch up!   We visited Beaune, Burgundy's wine capital, and the famous 15th century charity hospital, Hotel Dieu.  Another day we visited Clos de Vougeot, a wine-making center since the 12th century. 

In July 2004, Sidney and I took a driving trip to France.  We drove from Rangemore to the Channel Tunnel, where we exchanged the British satellite navigation disk for a French navigation disk.   This worked very well, and guided us to anywhere we wanted to go in France.  In Reims (champagne area) we stayed at Boyer Les Crayeres, and near Lyon at the Chateau de Bagnols, in castle-like rooms (interesting wooden toilet!)    Then Le Byblos in St Tropez for a few days.  On the way back to England we stayed at the Hostellerie de Levernois, a hotel in a park, known for their signature dish, escargot in pastry.  Then finally at the small Grand Hotel des Templiers in the center of Reims.  French roads are excellent, and their toll roads (freeways) are a pleasure to drive.

Chateau de Bagnols is a 13th century castle, near Lyon in the scenic Beaujolais region of France. It is built of local stone, and has a 17th century moat.  Owner Lady Helen Hamlyn discovered the chateau in 1987, extensively refurbished it, and furnished it with antiques.

St Tropez and Cote D'azur

We have been to St Tropez several times, and usually stay at the hotel Le Byblos, which is like a small French village.  Life in St Tropez revolves around the port - sidewalk cafes, art galleries, and big white yachts.  Monaco and it's casino is an hour away.  Between Nice and Monaco is the mountain village of Eze (population 15), where we had lunch at the Chateau D'Eze.  We also stayed one time in Cap Ferat, near Nice, at  the very traditional Grand Hotel du Cap Ferat.   Sidney arrived after me, and met Sophia Loren at the airport!  Somerset Maugham used to live nearby, and the bar is named after him.

Harbor cafe in St Tropez | St Tropez street | Chateau D'Eze  |  Grand Hotel du Cap Ferat

  Le Byblos has some interesting hidden rooms with an Arab theme, like this one.  Nearby are many good restaurants in the town - this one is Thai/Vietnamese.

Italy, Lake Garda and Venice

In August 2005 we went to Lake Garda in Italy.  The Grand Hotel de Lake Garda is right on the lake, and next to the ferry terminal - using the ferry is the easiest way to get around the lake.   Every day we would take the ferry to a different little town.

We visited Venice, walked around a lot, and took a ride in a gondola.  We found the nice hotel where Sidney and Sophie had stayed on a previous trip.    Then we went to Harry's Bar for a drink.  We asked the bartender what Ernest Hemingway would have ordered when he was often there.  He said, "A beer!"   Sidney says that I gasped when they gave me the bill at Harry's Bar.  I don't believe it of course, but how much can two drinks cost?

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This site was last updated 02/17/06