Thursday, November 1, 2018



France – October, 2018
Decided this was the year to visit France and October is the perfect time to go.  Flew to CDG from SNA which was very convenient and arrived the following morning.  Took the RER to Gare de Lyon where my Airbnb was not far away.  They let me check in early and leave my luggage so I had plenty of time to stop for coffee and a tarte normande and take the metro to the Louis Vuitton Foundation designed by Frank Gehry.  This glass building takes the form of a sailboat’s sails inflated by the wind and lies at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne.

When I arrived there was a long line of people waiting but it moved fast and soon I was enjoying the inside of the building as well as the very interesting exhibition by Egon Schiele, an interesting expressionism artist from Austria inspired by Klimt.  Afterwards I walked up and around the outside of the building enjoying its beauty. 

Later that evening I took the metro to Invictus, a cute little restaurant full of people where I enjoyed gambas with cabbage and sesame, mille feuille filled with vanilla and a glass of wine.

Walked to Blu Sucre for coffee and pain aux raisins in the morning then stopped by the open air market nearby before wandering down to the Place de Vosges to see the art galleries.  Last stop was a nice walk along the Seine before returning to my room, packing my bags and walking to the car rental place nearby.  Turning on the GPS I brought along with me, I headed to Chateauroux, taking the paid highway as it was a bit farther than I had originally thought.

Arrived in the center about 4 p.m. where I stopped for double espresso and an almond/chocolate pastry.  I called my airbnb to find out the check in process and Michael met me at the gate where he showed me where to park and into and around the little loft I had booked.  Took a walk to the cathedral and into the center where I returned later for dinner at Jeus2gouts which was delicious!!!  Started with a glass of wine, salmon sushi style with grilled avocados, cod with caviar and potato gratin, a 3 cheese course and a chocolate tart to finish. 

Walked to the inside market in the morning to pick up some little oranges and had a few with my double espresso and almond/chocolate croissant outside in the square.  Walked around the old town a bit and then drove to Perigueux where I parked outside the old city and wandered through the old cobbled streets to the Cathedral which was awesome.  A bit later I drove to the airbnb but couldn’t find any parking spot available for about 20 minutes which was very frustrating but at last one appeared and I was able to check into my loft.

Walked back to the Cathedral area where I was planning to dine but found another more interesting one star Michelin restaurant L’Essentiel which looked even better so went there instead and had a fabulous meal.  Even though I wasn’t dressed particularly well everyone was gracious and I had a wonderful time.  Started with a glass of wine, broccoli mousse with lavender ice and parmesan sable, foie du canard with roasted figs, ris du veau with potato puree and perigord sauce and finished with a chocolate crunchy dessert.  The French sure do know how to dine!!!

Walked into the old town for pain aux raisins and espresso in the morning, wandered around the Cathedral area and then drove to Bergerac to do a self-guided tour around this old medieval village.  Found a little café and had coffee and a lemon tart before heading to Issigeac, a very ancient walled city almost uninhabited except for a few little shops.  Arrived in Roque Gageac in the Dordogne about 3 p.m. and checked into the Belle Etoile, a nice little hotel where I had stayed many years ago.  Had dinner there later that night, i.e. rack of lamb and a chocolate dessert, nice but not as fabulous as I remembered…

Drove to Sarlat in the morning for chocolate croissant and espresso and a quick walk around the town and then to the chateau des Milandes, a 15th century chateau famous for its former owner Josephine Baker, glamorous dancer and music hall singer (1906 – 1975) who took Paris by storm in the 1920s with her risqué performances.  First watched the raptor show which was fun and then toured the chateau filled with lots of memorabilia about her life, 12 adopted children from all over the world, clothes, etc. 

Drove on through the beautiful valley to the quaint old town of St. Cirq La Poupie where I had very fond memories of visiting years ago…Stopped at a cute little café for traditional walnut cake with walnut sauce and walnut ice cream and just explored the city for about an hour.

Returned to Roque Gageac to regroup before driving around the corner to O’Plaisir des Sens for a fabulous dinner!  Started with a herring appetizer, sautéed foie gras with a baby pear, sturgeon with Swiss chard and wild mushrooms and finished with a crisp chocolate “tartlet” and petits fours.  Delightful!!!

Took a walk in the morning and then enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at Belle Etoile which was delicious, i.e. mini pain au chocolat, mini croissants, cheese, fruit and many cups of espresso!  Headed south to  Carcassonne which proved to be a lot farther away than I had anticipated…

Stopped outside the city at a little café for mille feuille and espresso and then drove to my airbnb near the bridge to the medieval city.  Was able to park nearby and check in to my little studio very quickly.  Wandered around the old town first and then crossed the bridge to the old city and walked up to the castle on the hill where there are lots of restaurants, shops, etc.  Pretty touristy…

Had an outstanding meal later at two star Franck Putelat on Chemin des Anglais, i.e. little appetizers, beef tartar with oysters, bouillabaisse with foie gras de canard, fish with cauliflower puree, beef filet with a Swiss chard tourte, cheese selection, poached pear with pear sorbet, chocolate tart with chocolate mousse and little petits fours.  My best meal during the whole trip!!

Walked across the bridge in the morning and stopped at Kristin’s patisserie for pain aux raisins before walking through the Narbonne gate into the old city.  Wandered around the ramparts and around the castle and then headed to Aix en Provence.  Got a bit hungry along the way so stopped in Arles at a cute little bistro for three cheese quiche and salad with sun-dried tomatoes.  Found my airbnb but there was nowhere to park so finally caved in and parked in the underground parking garage which was pretty expensive.  It was a relief, however, to have time in the city…

Airbnb wasn’t quite ready even though it was almost 6 p.m. so I wandered around the old city streets which was fun anyway.  It’s a busy town with lots of fun little shops, restaurants, etc. to see.  Returned later that evening to La Bouchee on one of the side streets I had walked along earlier and had magret du canard with scalloped potatoes and a rich chocolate fondant dessert – all delicious.  A very quaint little place with a lot of atmosphere and nice friendly people.

Walked by a sweet little bakery in the morning and sat outside to enjoy a pastry and espresso.  Had to check into my airbnb in Nice before 12:30 p.m.; otherwise, my host would not return until 9 p.m. so there was some pressure to get moving.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the coastline this time but did arrive, after some drama finding the correct entrance, before he left.  Parked nearby close to the Chagall Museum and spent about an hour inside.  The most important works were the twelve large size paintings he made illustrating the first two books of the old testament.

Walked to the old part of town and had a lemon tart and espresso outside a little café.  This part of the town is charming and I walked to the port and out along the sea.  Returned to my studio and changed into something nice before driving to Eze, a charming hilltop town with its beautiful cobblestones streets filled with art galleries and cafes.  Had dinner overlooking the cote d’azur at chateau eza, i.e. autumn salad with mushrooms, truffles and egg yolk confit, crumbled crab with seaweed chips, cod fish with oyster sauce, veal with hazelnut crust and spinach, vanilla mousse with fresh figs, apple cake with apple sorbet and mignardises.  It was lovely…

Walked down the hill to a little café I had seen yesterday on my way into the old city and had a pastry and espresso before driving to St. Paul en Vence about 40 minutes away.  I had been told that there was a fabulous museum called Maeght Foundation which I found easily.  It was filled inside and out with fabulous Miros, Calders, Giacomettis, Legers, etc. some so large they were outside in the sculpture garden!  Amazing.

Walked down to the town which is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera.  Wandered a bit through the galleries and shops and then stopped at a little café and sat on the terrace enjoying my leek quiche and salad.  Would like to return when I had more time.  Drove to Vienne where I stayed at a delightful airbnb with the loft all to myself.  Wandered around to find the two important roman monuments still standing, i.e. the Temple of Augustus and the Gallo Roman pyramid from a roman circus.  Had dinner on a little side street at La Muse, i.e. cubes of gravlak salmon/salad and beet puree/pickled vegetables and radishes and a chocolate “success” for dessert.  Years ago I had eaten at the Michelin starred “La Pyramide” but it was closed the evening I was there…

Found a little café in the morning and then wandered along the quai to the cathedral.  Said good-bye to the lovely hosts of my airbnb and then drove to Vezelay, whose town and 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St. Magdalene are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Parked my car down the hill and then walked up to the city, first stopping at a little café for a lemon tart and espresso.

Visited the Musee Zervos, a fabulous modern art museum with works by Picasso, Calder, Giacometti, etc. as well as a special exhibition of Hans Hartung which was very interesting as well.  On up towards the cathedral to visit the Jules Roy House, home of the Algerian born French writer. 

Spent some quality time in the Cathedral which is enormous.  As my airbnb still wasn’t ready I wandered around the gardens and the cemetery behind the Cathedral.  Once checked in I quickly changed and drove out to the Chateau de Vault de Lugny for dinner as Wednesday night all the restaurants in Vezelay are closed!!!  Had a lovely fois gras brulee appetizer, rich pumpkin soup, salmon with white beans and a chocolate mousse dessert.  It is a lovely restaurant and I enjoyed my dinner very much.

Took a little walk up to the cathedral in the morning, stopped for pastry and espresso at a nearby café and then drove back to Paris.  It is always a bit intimidating to return a rental car but all went well and before I knew it I was walking down Diderot street heading to my airbnb nearby.  This trip I hadd booked only lofts and studios, having the whole place to myself which I really enjoyed.  Once settled in I found a bakery nearby and had a quick almond tart and espresso before taking the metro to my favorite museum, Musee de la musique where I spent the remainder of the day.  It has over 7,000 instruments from all over the world, some of which you can hear play with the free audio guide.  A fabulous place!

Dinner later that night at Chez Delphine which trip advisor recommended.  It was easy to find and the atmosphere was charming but I was somewhat disappointed in what I ordered, i.e. squid with peppers and lava cake served warm with ice cream and custard sauce…

Stopped by the bakery in the morning for a last chocolate croissant before taking the RER to Chatelet and on to CDG where I caught a flight home.  Watched “won’t you be my neighbor” en flight and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Mr. Roger’s life.  I had a wonderful time in France and look forward to my next trip…