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A Passion for Travel … and France!

June 24, 2017 @ 8:57 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Why travel is important

Paris laid back in September

My son surprised me with his declaration that one of the reasons he loves me  is  “… because you have such a passion for France. I wish I felt that passion for a place.”  I think many of us have felt a certain envy of those who are immersed and enriched by their love of a place, an art form, a hobby … any of those interests that brighten our lives.

I realize that travel … and France specifically … has uplifted and transformed me and allowed me to leave behind some difficult days of youth, significant losses, career responsibilities and the never-ending challenge of raising children!   With travel I could embrace a new world, entirely apart from all of that, a chance to escape the cage and fly.  I believe that captures one of the most important reasons to travel – to immerse yourself in another place that draws you into its charming circle and allows you to emerge with new appreciation for the unique world around you.

Montmartre Paris France

Dinner with a view!

I had enjoyed three trips to France, when I met my future husband in the States. After many years as a widow, I was blessed beyond imagination to find this phenomenal man who shared my love of travel. We honeymooned in Paris. We traveled for an entire summer in France. I wrote the following at the end of that lovely summer:

The calm after the tourist storm (on the road in August) is welcome. We stay again in our chosen Montmartre apartment, where Sacré-Cœur attracts legions of tourists; but the population has rapidly decreased with the end of vacations. Fewer families on the street, fewer shops closed, more locals about makes for the ‘normal’ rhythm of the city we enjoy.

I dashed ‘one more time’ to the fabric stores. How do you choose from all the incredible fabrics? I touch them. I look at their sheen in the light. The Louvre? Fantastic, but the fabrics and chocolates and people in phone booths are as interesting, though less historic.

Last night we climbed ‘the mountain’ (Montmartre) to have a simple dinner at a sidewalk café just at the base of Sacre Coeur. We enjoyed a delightful waitress with an appealingly mixed French-Italian accent.  When we walked to the steps of the cathedral, as always there was a crowd gathered, a mix of tourists living out their last night of Paris vacation and locals taking advantage of enjoying this last warmth and freedom,  before serious work and cold weather arrived.

Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

Homeward bound 

Our timing was perfect to see the Eiffel Tower perform its light show, as it does for ten minutes at the top of every hour through midnight. We will ALWAYS relish this trip, this experience. Who would ever have dreamed it possible?

So there you have but one vignette that underscores the value and enrichment of travel. Within some realistic boundaries,  set aside travel fears and budget constraints and allow yourself this freedom to discover.  Whether you choose France or Colorado or any point in between, you will be refreshed and anxious to plan your next trip.

 

Don’t hesitate to contact S. Sheridan with questions or specific requests!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Paris to Chartres – Easy Day Trip!

June 22, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral of Chartres

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres

No need for a tour booking or guide – just purchase your train ticket for an easy trip of just over an hour from Paris Montparnasse station.  You will relish the scenic journey through glowing yellow rapeseed fields, little villes and rolling farmlands on your way to “The Capital of Light and Perfume”.  Of course, the magnificent Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Chartres is the major gem and attraction of the city – a UNESCO World Heritage site – but many appealing sights and experiences await you.

Beyond the storied cathedral and stunning stained glass throughout Chartres; the charming architecture, riverside setting and ancient cobbled lanes will fill your memory bank for years to come.  Choose from a delightful array of crêperies, sidewalk cafés (perhaps in the shadow of the soaring cathedral) and gourmet restaurants for lunch and dinner.

My favorite is no longer – a gorgeous restaurant tucked along the scenic narrow banks of the Eure River.  Still, you must wander along the river, over a little humped bridge and among half-timbered houses with flowers guiding the way.  Beautiful!

Chartres Day Trip from Paris

Flower bedecked banks of the Eure River

Mainly, I want to underscore how easy and non-threatening such a day trip is … with multiple train schedules to and from (at about $40 round trip), with the centrally-located Chartres train station within easy reach of the Cathedral and the rest of the old village center.  So treat yourself and venture out!  You might even choose one of the last trains back to Paris after the enthralling lightshow in the center of the village.

 

Don’t hesitate to contact S. Sheridan with questions or specific requests!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Thoughts on French Travel Planning

June 20, 2017 @ 3:54 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Lower Loire Valley

Château des Briottieres

Always on the lookout for interesting, charming, historic, unique or scenic places to visit in France; I discover locales ranging from affordable havens to wallet-busting dreams for the Bucket List.  Perhaps in the latter category, I came across an appealing château in the lower Loire Valley that seems to offer an authentic country manor type of weekend getaway.  Travel is about discovery and balance.  Weighing your preferences, timeline and budget against the many choices available is key to your very personal travel enjoyment.

Château des Briottieres  manages to blend a private family residence with a luxurious 4-star hotel, the kind of ambient marriage that yields comfort, opulence and personal hospitality.  The 18th-century château exudes life on a French country estate and has been in the family of Count François de Valray for the last two hundred years.

Loire Valley France

Breakfast in opulent dining salon!

Apart from your magnificent room or suite, you may enjoy rather plush relaxation among pearl grey panels, parquet floors and rich silk curtains in the Château’s different salons.  As well, you may join your host for cocktails at sunset to gain a glimpse of family life through the years.

Certainly, you can click through to discover more about this step back into aristocratic times, but I re-discovered some of my own advice in researching this area and property.  In my book, Fired Up for France:  The Promise of Paris,  I recommend that you consider some important questions in planning the trip of your dreams – preferences for locations, type of accommodation, privacy, things to do, minimal requirements.  I advise: “Figure out your deal breakers, so you are not disappointed.  Self-examination is a critical first step, as you map travel plans …. There is no right or wrong answer, rather the questions prompt you to … understand yourself and what you want and feel comfortable with in planning your travel.”

Anjou region of France

Spacious Chateau grounds and amenities

Circling back to the Château des Briottieres, I realize that the quiet retreat is the real experience with on-site gardens, pool and tennis; but the region is not teeming with historic sites and shopping destinations.  Some guests seemed put off with having no choice in dinner menus, while others embraced the feeling of dining as guests rather than as customers.

As you make your plans, whether for a remote retreat from the buzz of the world or for a livelier escape with more sights and choices; it’s always helpful to browse through the reviews of former guests.  Even at that, I recognize that some negatives arise precisely because the guest did NOT research or examine the type of experience desired.

For my part, I would welcome the experience offered by Château des Briottieres as an adventure taking me back to days and treasures few of us can imagine.

Don’t hesitate to contact S. Sheridan with questions or specific requests!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Gerberoy – Tranquil Country Escape

May 24, 2017 @ 5:30 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Picardy France

Gerberoy – Plus Beaux Village

We love the metropolitan vibrancy and attractions of Paris, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence and many other cities of France; but now and then, we just want to wander, discover and ‘see things in new ways’.  Many of us are enticed by some of the enchanting villages tuced here and there throughout France, and an excellent resource to tap is “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”.  What an enchanting array of choices!  Let’s visit one.

Just an hour north of Paris, the plus beaux village of Gerberoy offers a quaint and colorful step not only into the past but into a traditional country setting.  Among draping wisteria and plentiful roses, you find yourself winding along cobbled streets amidst a beautiful mix of brick-faced homes and pastel timbered buildings.  Not surprisingly, this appealing blend attracted post-impressionist Henri le Sidaner for summer visits, where he crafted his mystical trademark motif – a single window lit at dusk.

Gerberoy, Plus Beaux Village, France

Enchanting brick and timbered homes, Gerberoy

Dating back to the heart of the Middle Ages, Gerberoy presents an abbreviated charm compared to the sometimes daunting list of museums and monuments found in large cities.  The unique local architecture runs from Norman to Picard and shines across a variety of small townhomes, manors, farms and canonical estates.  Despite the relatively small size of the village, the large, 15th-century Collegiate Church Saint-Pierre – adorned with stunning Aubusson tapestries – underscores the former prominence of the small town.

Well, we are ‘sold’ and will plan to stay a night or two in a welcoming Gîte de France – Le Logis de Gerberoy, where their first floor “La Chambre Terrasse” overlooks tranquil gardens.  Hospitality, an appealing petit dejeuner and local products (cheeses, jams and local gateaux) on site sound like the perfect place to enjoy garden sights and quiet walks in the village and country – parfait!

North of Paris village

Cobblestone streets and beautiful gardens of Gerberoy, France

Don’t hesitate to contact S. Sheridan with questions or specific requests!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved