Planning my trip 2017 – click to read more

Early this year I decided that 2017 was going to be my year to travel.  A cousin in the UK, in the process of selling their property, said that they had been offered a house in France for 3 months and if they took up the offer, I could come and stay.

Paris 2007

Hmm, France I thought – maybe a month in France – that sounds wonderful!

However, nothing happened with my cousin, but the idea of visiting France was now in my mind.  Last year, my friend Judy, went on a tour of France and she really enjoyed it.

I also wanted to do some French cooking lessons so I spent quite a lot of time Googling ‘cooking tours’, especially in the south of France. And of course, I don’t speak French.

There were several tour options, but the company I went with was Lifestyle Vacations run by Corinne Preteur – the main reasons being that the tours are small and therefore personal, I don’t need to speak French and the recipes are in English.

I signed up for a 10 day tour of Provence and the French Riviera, plus 3 nights at Le Limas B&B in the centre of Avignon, from June 8-21, and later, a 6 day tour of Normandy and the Loire Valley Chateaux.

Montmartre posters 2007

I then had to find somewhere to stay in Paris and again, Mr Google came to my rescue. Sometimes I wonder how I find these websites but anyway, I found a fantastic website – ParisAddress – and then found a lovely 1 bedroom apartment in the 7th arondissement (district) – it was cheaper and bigger than many of the studio apartments I looked at. Also it had 2 really good reviews and they were what helped me decide on this apartment even though it is on the 3rd floor. Evidently it has a patisserie next door [I used the one along the road] I am really looking forward to being in Paris for this time [June 21-July 7] – Later – it was great – look at my Paris posts when I do them.

Important comment about the apartment – remember to read the contract when you are at home and not stressed from jet-lag and in an unfamiliar environment – they send a copy to you. The booking process with went really well and their communication with me was excellent. However, while in the apartment (which looked much bigger in the photos, but is still a much better deal than a studio apartment) I had reason to email the support people – and they never replied!

However, the apartment was dual aspect which meant that when there was a breeze, you could prop the windows open and then you got every bit of air – except when it was really hot outside and then you keep them and the curtains closed to keep the heat out. The bed was just wonderful – very firm which is how I like it – and the linen was of good quality and great to sleep on. The apartment is really central and there are 2 Metro stops within 5-8 minutes walking, and the Eiffel Tower is 15 minutes walk way.

The saints and bishops on the roof of Notre Dame as seen from the Seine, 2007

However, the best thing with Parisaddress was that after originally booking for 10 days, I changed my mind and added 4 more days, and then later I added another 2 days. The staff were so good, and they made it all so easy. The per night rate also got cheaper the longer I stayed! I am really looking forward to staying there. I emailed recently and asked which metro line I should take when I arrived, and which was the best mobile phone company to go with, and the answers arrived within 12 hours (sometimes time zones are good). So thank you to the booking team.

The pyramids outside the Louvre, 2007

I am going to book some Cooking classes in Paris through Lifestyle Vacations – I haven’t found out yet which ones are available in the 2 weeks I am there.

From July 7-12 I am going on another tour with Corinne – Normandy and the Loire Valley – a combination of two tours. This is what Corinne does so well – combines tours or personalises a tour just for you. The Provence and French Riviera tour is also a combination of two tours. I am joining an American family who personalised the itinerary. When Corinne told me what the family were going to be doing after I left them at the end of the Provence section of the tour, I wanted to do it too, so I am!

I needed to find somewhere to stay at the end of this second tour and again Corinne helped me and suggested I stayed at Le 85 Guesthouse in Paris – it is close to Gare du Nord where I will catch the Eurostar to London.

 Look at this photo below – Galeries Lafayette is definitely worth a visit.

The amazing stained glass ceiling in the department store, Galeries Lafayette, 2007

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