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Les Florets – Avignon Countryside

June 17, 2016 @ 5:48 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Provence France

Maison Provencal – Les Florets

What’s not to love about Avignon, steeped in history, exceptional cuisine and lively festivals?  The old Papal city exudes charm and is so close to enticing French villages.  A stay in the city is delightful … but not your only choice!

Just what we all like to imagine for a peaceful getaway, Les Florets is a gem tucked away in the lush countryside in front of the Dentelles de Montmirail north of Avignon.  With all of the hospitality of a country hotel, Les Florets offers a ‘Maison Provencal’ style surrounded by the vineyards of Gigondas with abundant trees and views of rolling hills.  Most rooms overlook a spacious, shaded terrace – the ideal place to enjoy the regional cuisine of the excellent hotel restaurant.

The classic, traditional dining room also offers fine dining, where the beef filet with a savory red wine and shallot sauce readily attracts my attention.  For Americans, the exceptional breakfast runs well beyond the typical croissant, juice and coffee.  An entire spread includes yogurts and jams, fruit and cheeses, eggs and assorted breads.

But of course, you also will appreciate a wine cellar stocked with some of the finest Gigondas produced in the region, as well as some excellent selections from their own winery.  Up the hill from the town of Gigondas, Les Florets enjoys a serene location in an area teeming with beautifuls vineyards and appealing wine tasting Domaines.

Gigondas wines France

Lovely shaded terrace

We’ve tried many types of accommodations, while traveling in France – vacation rentals in the city and country, gites near Bordeaux and Toulouse, hotel rooms ranging in size from generous closet to spacious suite.  While often we like to be in the ‘thick of things’ with a nice little patisserie around the corner, sometimes the quiet of the countryside suits us very well.

When a quiet weekend with friendly hosts and professional staff (English-speaking, by the way) appeals, Les Florets is the place to keep in mind!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Please take a moment to browse through … and order … my book:

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A Grateful Commune Remembers

May 30, 2016 @ 9:30 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Foxgloves in the beautiful Alsatian landscape – © ATOUT FRANCE/Michel

On Memorial Day, we return to a special U.S. soldier to honor his memory and that of all of our men and women, who have served and sacrificed for our country.

Imagine, if you will, a little drive through the countryside south of Colmar. The Haut Rhine département of Alsace dresses for summer with fields of flowers, vineyards and cool forests along rolling hills and sprawling meadows. Just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Colmar, pull over near the soccer field in Holzwihr to enjoy a quiet walk – easily a popular pastime in this region.

You are about to discover a quiet, historic site. Tucked among trees along the side of the narrow country lane is a remarkable memorial, dedicated by Holzwihr citizens in January, 2000. The Audie L. Murphy Memorial pays tribute to the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, whose one-man stand successfully fought back a German regiment that had counter attacked Murphy’s own Company. The people who designed the monument highlighted Audie Murphy, as one who best represented the courage, valor and sacrifice all of the soldiers made.

The inscription translates: “In memory. This memorial is dedicated to the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division and the Fourth Combat Command under the command of the 1st French Army who liberated Holtzwihr on 27 January 1945 after bloody combat under most trying conditions. It represents the heroic act that Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy of the 15th U.S. Infantry Regiment achieved at this site on 26 January 1945, in order to push back an enemy counterattack. For this action he was decorated with the highest American and French honors. Visitor, respect this memorial and forget not that these soldiers have died so that you live. Holtzwihr, 29 January 2000.”

Audie L. Murphy Memorial, Holtzwihr

The Memorial is located precisely where the heroic stand by Audie Murphy helped to liberate this modest commune.  Beyond all of the medals awarded to then 2nd Lieutenant Murphy by his own country, France awarded him five medals, including their highest honor, the French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Please take a moment to browse through … and order … my book:

Autographed copies with notecard gift

France River Cruise for Your List?

May 25, 2016 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Cruise France

Viking River Cruise stateroom with your own veranda

Not that our Bucket List isn’t crammed full, but really – a river cruise anywhere in France seems a “must”.  During a recent visit with our French friends, they described several river journeys that sounded pretty heavenly.  We do know ourselves well enough to realize the smaller boats would be more appealing.

If you don’t know, the “Bucket List” term was inspired by the movie of the same name.  The main stars fashioned a list of things they wanted to do, before they ‘kicked the bucket’…like skydiving, driving a Shelby Mustang and dining at the Chevre d’Or overlooking the Mediterranean.

All things considered, we think a Viking River Cruise through France might be a nice addition. In the so-called “long and short of it”, there is a short cruise from Paris through Normandy and a rather indulgent 15-day excursion that extends that particular cruise to take you to Avignon, Arles and beyond.  Naturally that’s not the extent of cruise offerings.  You can go from Paris to Lyon or Zurich or go west to cruise around the Bordeaux wine region on the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers.

The accolades for the Viking cruises are noteworthy.  National Geographic, for one, features Viking in their “The 10 Best of Everything” awards.  In 2012, Viking launched six new longships earning significant praise from Cruise Critic Editors.  Viking exceeds expectations with state-of-the-art engineering, balcony cabins, suites and expansive, atrium-style common areas.  Add more than 175 years of cruise experience and carefully-planned itineraries, and you understand the allure.

So back to our Bucket List addition, we might as well go all out with the combo cruise that runs, in essence, the length of France. Viking combines a Normandy adventure with cruises through the southern regions of Burgundy and Provence and visits to Avignon, Arles and Lyon.  Can you imagine a more delightful itinerary? Touches of Monet and Van Gogh. Cuisines of Lyon and Avignon. Cobblestone streets and soaring Gothic architecture. And the magnificent sights of Paris need no description.

Tournon France

Scenic Tournon

I can allow my imagination to take hold, picturing a spacious stateroom, outside – of course – with our own balcony. They have thought of everything – spacious observation lounges and bars with panoramic windows. Wireless internet service, boutique and library.

Talented chefs present a cuisine of fresh, seasonal local vegetables, regional specialties and menus adapted to your tastes. From pleasant and complete breakfast choices to a five-course dinner, we shall be well prepared for active days and pleasant evenings.

Though we tend to strike out on our own and avoid set tours, we believe the Viking experience might be quite worthy of the “Bucket List”.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Please take a moment to browse through … and order … my book:

Autographed copies with notecard gift

A Clear Vision of France

May 24, 2016 @ 11:38 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Sylvie’s vineyard near Saint-Émilion

I originally wrote this after cataract surgery a couple of years ago – thus the “clever”, play-on-words title.  With no pun, though, I still enjoy very clear memories and ‘visions’ of France.

Paris … of course!  Wandering along the Seine, stopping to watch the bateau pass or the father and son snuggled together along the quai.  Finding the perfect sidewalk café for a warm coffee on a cool day.

Provence … those fields of lavender come immediately to mind … and cobbled lanes, charming shops, the bleat of sheep from our pique-nique spot.

Cote d’Azur … magnificent expanses of every imaginable shade of blue, parasol pines and red cliffs reaching into the sea.  No wonder writers, artists, rich and poor flocked to this grand arena of beauty!

The Alps … grand and glorious, bald in some areas, forested in others.  The sound of a cowbell on a lone, stray cow up the hill.  Flowers everywhere and tantalizing tartiflettes.

I comb through memories and photos, and the scenes instantly appear – the beauty, the calm, the color, the people – all of it. And always the natural sights appeal – those with water and mountains, rivers and vineyards – so inviting.

Wishing you a wonderful trip to France in the near future!

Seeing … and dipping my toes in the Medterranean!

Enjoying an afternoon along the Seine

Doing my Julie Andrews thing in the beautiful Alps

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Please take a moment to browse through … and order … my book:

Autographed copies with notecard gift