Archive for February, 2013

Places to Stay in Monpazier

February 28, 2013 @ 10:06 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Photos of Hotel-Restaurant Edward 1er, Monpazier
This photo of Hotel-Restaurant Edward 1er is courtesy of TripAdvisor

For a relatively tiny community of less than 1,000 people, Monpazier in the Dordogne area of southwest France offers some excellent lodging options.  Fittingly named Hotel Edward 1st , the hotel combines friendly hospitality with 12 varied accommodations in a lovely turreted, 19th century building at the edge and within easy walking distance of the entire charming village.  Two hotel restaurants easily serve the needs of guests, and the village itself offers a number of bistros and café choices, all within the “embrace” of the walled Bastide town.

Dordogne Bastide

Villa Sainte-Therese, Monpazier

The gorgeous rolling countryside surrounds the village, and therein we discover another exceptional lodging choice, perhaps for that family retreat.  Set on 4 acres, this Dordogne “farmhouse” – Villa Sainte-Therese –  sleeps 8 to 10 and offers all of the comforts one would expect of a nice vacation rental – spacious rooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, gorgeous views and lovely terraces for enjoying the morning sun or evening sunset.

We stayed in a nice little hotel in the village of Saint-Gervais-d’Auvergne to the northeast of Monpazier, but the Bastide is definitely on our must-do list for our next travel adventure in France!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Pimsleur French

Bastide Monpazier – Plus Beaux!

February 27, 2013 @ 1:02 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
dordogne france

The old walled Bastide – Monpazier

Sometimes, there simply are not sufficient words and photos to capture the spirit and beauty of a place. And so it is with Bastide Monpazier in the Dordogne area of France. Listed and labeled not only a “Grand Site National”, it is quite appropriately a “Plus Beaux Villages de France”.

Founded by Edward I of England in the late 13th century, Monpazier is an incredibly preserved fortified village; in fact, it is considered one of the most exceptional examples of a bastide in all of southwest France. Edward was assisted in the founding by the Lord of Biron (thus the presence of Château de Biron), and it wasn’t until King Charles V of France reigned that the bastide became French.

Monpazier france

Graceful arches

Certainly not untouched by skirmishes and wars through the years, the Bastide still is remarkable – a perfectly quadrilateral town with four cross streets that divide Monpazier into rectangular areas. Wander beneath the arches and through the alleys, and you discover lovely old stone walls, where the sun plays over colorful vines. Medieval houses share streets with those from the 17th century, and little galleries and cafes bid visitors welcome.

The Place des Cornières is the central square with the old market hall covered by a 16th-century timber roof and is surrounded by houses that form a charming arcade. Other architectural wonders include Saint-Dominique’s Church and the 3-story Chapter House behind the church. Dating to the 13th century, the house served as the tithe barn for harvest produce requisitioned as taxes. The Chateau de Biron embraces six centuries of architecture through the apartments and renaissance Chapel.  At the foot of the Castle, the village has many elements of l’époque médiévale.

Dordogne Lot and Garonne

Pleasant cafes in the Bastide

I return to the comment about words and photos. In a gorgeous natural area so popular with campers for the enjoyment of lovely rivers and lush forests, this beautiful village springs like a gift from the past. The area south of the Dordogne and near the Lot and the Garonne Rivers, the area is often described as “the Tuscany of France”.

Tomorrow – an ideal place from which to explore the Dordogne.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
Pimsleur French

Madame Mayor for Paris?

February 26, 2013 @ 10:11 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Madame Mayor for Paris?

Madame Mayor for Paris?

I don’t pretend to have a heart for or extensive knowledge of politics, but I find it noteworthy that the Mayor of Paris – Bertrand Delanoë – is stepping down after 12 years of leadership. In several trips to Paris, we most noticed the Mayor’s accomplishment of delivering on his pledge to control automobile traffic and the pollution associated with that traffic.

Throughout the city, roads were transformed and lanes reserved on major routes for buses, taxis and cycles only. Cars were restricted to one or two lanes, thus making travel by car in the city less attractive. More important was the bike hire scheme – Vélib, or vélo libre. Operated by the city council with the financial support of advertising giant JC Decaux, the program utilizes 20,000 pay-as-you-ride bicycles from 1,450 automated points across Paris.

Though the Mayor also led the way with housing policies designed to make city properties available at lower rents to poorer tenants. Properties have been bought in the west and center of Paris, and several hundred have been made available as moderate rental apartments, all steps that some see as social engineering. It’s that political thing again.

Paris France cycling program

Vélib or vélo libre

What happens now in the forthcoming absence of the Mayor’s 12-year leadership? Apparently, the race is looking to be one dominated by females, titled by one as “a women-only royal rumble”. Here’s the line-up:

• Anne Hidalgo – currently favored in early polls, a 53-year-old fellow socialist and deputy to Mayor Delanoë

• Cécile Duflot – now the current housing minister and a member of France’s Green party; resilient as the target of criticism (even silly stuff about her wardrobe)

• MP Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, 39-year-old on the Right and an environment minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy

• European MP Rachida Dati, K-M’s opponent, a 47-year-old single mom and lawyer and the local mayor of the 7th arrondissement – also a Sarkozy protégé

• Marielle de Sarnez, also a European MP from the centrist MoDem party – 61-years-old

This list of formidable women promises a contest far more exciting than the Oscars, but it is looking like Paris will have its first woman mayor … hopefully, without the race centering on their red-carpet attire and personal sense of style! Perhaps, someone should take away Joan Rivers’ passport, until the race is done.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pitfalls of Alpes Maritimes Driving

February 25, 2013 @ 10:46 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Alppes Maritimes

Quite the curves along La Route!

Well, it’s February in Florida, and we’re going from a high of 82 today to a low of 49 on Thursday. Such is the manic-depressive weather pattern in the South and many other places this year. Europe and, of course, France in particular have had record snowfalls.

The Riviera Times reported today that the Alpes Maritimes and the Var are suffering through many accidents and power outages caused by the weekend snowfall. Today, they expect more – snow, sleet, stormy weather – and hopefully zero traffic disasters. Toulon, Sophia-Antipolis and Antibes are affected and, according to the Times, “Ice in Tinée also means that drivers will have to take particular care on the roads, while la route de Napoleon in high Grasse is also affected.”

Personally, we cannot imagine driving the roads of that region in snowy or icy conditions. On the brightest, driest day one is challenged. Narrow roads wrap around stone ridges. Paved lanes suitable for one tiny Morris Minor, perhaps, thread their way above gorges; and the ‘guard rails’ are either absent or eight inches tall. Then there are the tunnels, again wide enough for petite cars…yet we pass buses on the la Route de Napoleon highway? Amazing.

France driving

My sketch of near disaster!

Which reminds me quite clearly of an adventure with my daughter. We, indeed, were driving along La Route, headed south. The road was eyes-wide-open narrow, when it veered slightly west. Just at that moment, in that turn, I reached for the windshield wash and wipers. Also just at that moment a large tourist bus showed itself coming directly towards us. I could not stop my hand. The wash and wipers came on. The sun was blinding. I could see virtually nothing for a split second.God is good. We lived through the moment, as sure proof that God takes care of ladies wandering about eastern France in a rental car!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
Pimsleur French