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France

Touring France By Waterways  The Atlantic and Mediterranean are linked by a network of natural and canal waterways through France.   In 2004 we took a short tour of one small section of this network, the Canal du Nivernais in the Burgundy region.  This is the *** way to tour France.

 

Read about our 2004 canal tour. 

 

Marlene operating a lock - one of many we passed through each day

Michelin Guides, France. We highly recommend the Michelin guide for hotels and restaurants in France.   Pick up a copy at a Paris airport bookstore as soon as you arrive.   It's especially invaluable and reliable guide for restaurants.  For example: Hostellerie del la Fontaine that we discovered by chance on our Nivernais canal trip, is mentioned and has 2 fork rating.  If a restaurant is not mentioned it is probably not worth your patronage.

Paris day & night .... 

 

Our favorites things-to-do in Paris.  >>> People watching from a sidewalk cafe/restaurant.  Our favorite are the sidewalk establishments across the Pont St. Louis [***]  from the Notre Dame.  It's all locals here in the evening, after the Notre Dame tourist crowd is gone.  >>> Food shopping on the pedestrian rue Cler [***], a few blocks from the Parc Du Champ de Mars  (and Eiffel Tower).  This is a good place to pick up stuff and a bottle of wine to enjoy in the Champ de Mars or Jardin Du Luxembourg.  >>> Taking a book, newspaper, and picnic lunch (from rue Cler) to Jardin du Luxembourg [***] or Jardin Des Tuileries.  In the latter, we like to grab a seat around the fountain [***] just inside the park from the W entrance by Place de la Concorde.   >>> Touring the city:  do it right - rent a bike (wish we had).  The New York Times story has recommendations for rentals (such as Roue Libre).

Best hotel deal:  Elysees Matignon [***,$], 3 rue de Ponthieu, on a quite street, one block N of Avenue des Champs Elysees, on a triangle of the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower  How much more central can you get?   We discovered it during a drive-by search for a hotel after the Nivernais canal trip.  This hotel is very comfortable and very inexpensive for this area of Paris .  You can walk to all the major areas, but if you need the metro, there is a underground station a half block away.

Chamonix  is a well know ski resort in winter but also fun the summer.  In a brief stopover in 2006 we discovered hiking spectacular hiking trails starting from the top of the Telepherique de Bellevue cable car (about 6 Km E of Chamonix).  Follow the cog-rail track up hill to Glacier de Bionassay [**] (a strenuous 2 hour climb).  The tracks end at Gare le Nid d'Aigle but a trail continues a bit further to the glacier.  A rest at the glacier is also a good spot for picnic lunch.  Return following the tracks down, but veer right of Mont Lachat for a cliff hanging trail back to the start.   Back in Chamonix we had our "thrill of a life time" doing the Luge d'Ete (toboggan without snow) at the Parc de Loisirs de Chamonix, which is across the street from the railway station.   It's a  kiddy amusement park but the luge is for everone aged 6 to 99.  In fact there are many adults acting like kids on the luge run.  One discount ticket for multiple slides down the mountain can be shared by multiple individuals.  For two people start with a 6-ride package.  After one or two initial attempts you'll be ready to take the down-hill at full speed on the third run.