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Archive for May, 2008

Spotlight on top experiences in Alaska

Alaska, the Great Land, is fundamentally about having fun in the Great Outdoors, whether your travel focuses on adventure, relaxation or culture. Here we feature ten of the finest Alaskan experiences.

Take A Walk on the Wild Side

Alaska offers many chances to get up close and personal with its wildlife, from Kodiak brown bears to tundra caribou to arctic wolves. Take an Active Vacation exploring one or more of the National Parks. Kenai Fjords National Park is a mere two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Anchorage and offers both easy walks with Glacier views as well as day hikes leading to 360-degree views of snowcapped mountains and Resurrection Bay.

An experience within Denali National Park defines Alaska for many visitors. Home to North America’s highest peak, the 20,320- foot Mt. McKinley, and six million acres of wild land, Denali National Park is its own country, where the forces of nature and its animals reign and humans are mere observers. The National Park Service has created a checklist of nearly 40 mammals to watch for while traveling through the park. The park is ringed by accommodations ranging from RV parks to luxury hotels, but for a unique perspective on the vastness of one of America’s greatest natural treasures,Camp Denali and its sister property, North Face Lodge, can’t be beat.

Alaska by Boat

The best way to ease into the bigger-than-life Alaskan experience is by boat. Thousands of visitors annually arrive aboard cruise ships, opting to sail one way and fly the other.

A less well-known option is to take an Alaska state ferry, which can’t be equaled for value and local color. Alaska naturalists usually are on board to describe the leisurely trip’s marine and coastal wonders. The ferries are a great way to meet Alaskans and get local tips about where to go and what to do. They are kid-friendly, too, with plenty of room to play games and enjoy quality family time.

Exploring the islands, glaciers and fjords of Alaska by water offers a unique vantage point for experiencing wildlife and the wilderness. Whether you choose a small ship voyage through the Inside Passage, a day of sea kayaking though the Kenai Fjords or a rafting adventure along the Tatshenshini River, this experience will be a highlight of your Alaska journey. f you have only one day to spend on the water, a trip into Kenai Fjords National Park or Prince Williams Sound is likely to reward you with sightings of humpback whales, Orca pods, sea lions, seals, sea otters and a number of bird rookeries – such a cruise is a must for birders.

The Wild Blue Yonder

If you want to see as much as possible in a short time, do what Alaskans do — take to the air! Flightseeing is available anywhere there is an airport, gravel landing strip or sand bar! Whether it’s float, ski or plain old wheels you’ll want on your airplane, you can find your aircraft of choice in every city, town and village.

At Anchorage’s Merrill Field, headquarters for many of the state’s most experienced flight services, veteran pilots are available for charters to remote fishing cabins, the shores of isolated lakes, glacier tours, or just an afternoon spin with the family around the summit of Mt. McKinley.

A fine example of flightseeing companies is TalkeetnaAir Taxi, an “old”, by Alaska standards, air service. It was started by legendary Bush flier Don Sheldon, who was the first “rescue” pilot of climbers stranded on Mt. McKinley and the first to ever save an injured mountaineer at the 14,000-foot level of North America’s highest mountain. Former Alaska Lt. Gov Lowell Thomas, Jr., bought the air taxi and turned it into a multiple passenger flightseeing operation. Still flying today at age 84, he no longer owns Talkeetna Air Taxi and has sold it to younger pilots who carry on the tradition of ferrying mountaineers as well as providing exhilarating flightseeing tours of Denali and Mt. McKinley, including landing on glaciers.

To get an historical overview of how important aviation has been, and continues to be, in the Great Land, visit Anchorage’s Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, then watch the non-stop takeoffs and landings at Lake Hood near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. And don’t be surprised if you see airplanes parked in front yards and driveways – many residential subdivisions were built just for that purpose, in case the family pilot decides to take off on a whim to get away from it all!

Bear Spotting

If you are determined to spot a bear on your Alaska vacation, visit the Stan Price State Wildlife Sanctuary’s Pack Creek Bear viewing area. Located at the mouth of Pack Creek on the shore of Admiralty Bay and only 30 miles south of Juneau, the sanctuary provides protected habitat for brown bears while allowing visitors an opportunity to observe and photograph the bears from close-range. Plan ahead though, public access requires an advance permit and during peak seasons (July 10 – August 25) numbers are limited.

If it’s polar bears you want to see, you will have to travel farther north on a circumpolar trip for visitors who want to get out into the Alaska bush for a six-day “Polar Bear Watching & Whale Harvesting in Alaska” tour. The adventure starts in the Bering Sea village of Barrow and takes travelers to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and to Kaktovik, the only village in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Traveling in specially-equipped vans, travelers will see polar bears in their natural habitat and observe centuries-old ceremonies by the people of Kaktovik as they harvest whales for their food.

Fish On!

The quintessential Alaska experience involves fish: salmon, halibut, trout. Some of the greatest fishing in the world is found in the state’s gin-clear lakes, abundant off-shore coves, and mighty rivers. Fly-fishing, saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing — even ice fishing — attract amateur, veteran and professional anglers to all parts of Alaska. Kodiak Island is the hotbed for halibut fly-fishing, where access to relatively shallow waters and desirable weather conditions make success more likely. Kodiak Island is also a good choice for rainbow trout. Afognak Island, located slightly north of Kodiak Island, is also home to legendary rainbows, which can be coaxed from the waters of Afognak, Portage and Malina lakes.

Mush-Mush

Alaska is synonymous with the Iditarod, a national tradition since 1973. The 1,150-mile sled dog race brings competitors and viewers from all over the world, and inspires even more to try mushing. If you want to travel in your own pack, book an Iditarod package with Alaska Wildland Adventures. If you don’t just want to watch the start of the race, but participate in it—you can! The Idita-Rider Program allows anyone to bid on a seat in any of the racer’s sleds for first 11 miles of the race. Bids start at $500.

Viewing the Northern Lights

Alaska provides one of the best spots on earth to see the northern lights. Beautiful and mysterious curtains, the colors range from green to red to purple, with the brightest and most common color, a yellow-green. Be sure to check the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute new web site before planning your aurora viewing trip to Alaska. The site offers a 28-day forecast allowing visitors to narrow dates for the best likelihood of catching the dancing sky. Prime viewing is at 64 degrees north — right below the auroral oval — just outside of Fairbanks.

Learn about the First Alaskans

Descendants of the First Alaskans still fish, hunt and practice their culture on their ancestral lands throughout the state. Arriving thousands of years ago, Native Alaskans are not a single homogeneous group, but are broadly identified as Indians, Aleuts and Eskimos, with 20 language and culture groups. Before a trip to Alaska, visit First Alaskans and Native Federation online for a brief educational primer on two of the most influential organizations working today on behalf of Alaska Native peoples. Then, when you arrive in Anchorage, head straight to the Alaska Native Heritage Center to see hundreds of years’ worth of cultural artifacts preserved in authentic exhibits. The center offers visitors the rare opportunity of seeing beautiful Alaska Native artwork, such as intricately beaded mukluks (boots) and hand-carved traditional native masks. There are also live dance performances, hands-on art demonstrations, and Alaska Native storytellers who spin magic with their legends, which are rooted in thousand-year-old traditions.
Farther north, Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks offers an Interior Alaska look at Native culture, and includes a three-and-a-half hour cruise with stops at an Athabascan Indian village and fish camp, and an Alaska Native-led tour of the Chena Indian Village. Icy Strait Point near Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska, is the newest port destination on the map. Owned by the Hoonah Totem Corporation, an Alaskan native village corporation, the port is built on the grounds of a defunct salmon cannery that has been restored and filled with an active canning line, history display, museum, and family-owned shops. Passengers can tour the nearby Tlingit village of Hoonah (the largest Tlingit Indian settlement in Alaska), experience native dances and tribal stories, walk a history trail, go on a brown bear and wildlife tour, or go whale watching or salmon and halibut fishing.

Hop on Board!

The Alaska Railroad’s classic train travel through the Last Frontier offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world while sacrificing none of the comforts of old-fashioned rail travel. The Glacier Discovery train combines active adventure with a scenic excursion. From Anchorage, the train travels south along the Turnagain Arm and Chugach Mountain Range deep into the Chugach National Forest. Arriving at Spencer Lake, professional guides greet guests with a deli-style lunch before escorting them on a gentle float tour. The float begins among icebergs in Spencer Lake and continues down Placer River before meeting back up with the train. Ride the rails all the way from Anchorage to Fairbanks for an intimate glimpse of the great empty interior, passing through Bush Alaska in comfort.

Tad Bartimus

Eons contributor

Tad Bartimus (Eons member Taddie) is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist. Read Tad’s weekly blog posts from “Elsewhere in America”, on Eons. Her weekly column “Among Friends,” is distributed by United Features Syndicate

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Spotlight on Australia

Diversity is part and parcel of the Australian culture – whether you long for lazy beaches or great surfing, dream of sunny vineyards or bustling shopping centers, Australia can give you any experience you desire.

Here are the top places to see and things to do in Australia, as recommended by Gail Kavanagh (Eons member gailkav) who started her life’s journey in Ireland, and traveled round the world one and a half times before settling in Australia.

Uluru

The monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock still stands in the red centre of the continent, but it’s under new management. Now owned by the descendants of Aboriginals for whom it is a sacred site, tourism is carefully managed so as to leave the least impact.

The area in which Uluru stands is called the Red Center. This unique landscape is about 800 million years old, and has been home to the Aborigines for at least 30,000 years. Their ancient rock paintings can still be seen here.

In spite of its age, Uluru is one of the most modern and comfortable resorts in the world. You arrive at Ayers Rock Airport, and right away you are made to feel at home with a personal tour guide. During your stay at the Rock you can enjoy the ultimate in camping luxury, in a five star tented resort that offers en suite bathrooms, air conditioning and a swimming pool. The Rock changes color with the changing patterns of the day, and you will have a spectacular view from your tent. You can also visit Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) another stunning rock formation just 50 kilometers away.

Dive the Great Barrier Reef

The World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef stretches for 2300 kilometers from Papua New Guinea to the north coast of Queensland. The pristine waters offer dazzling views of the reef, and its breathtaking marine life, from the surface, but actually diving down and seeing the reef close up is an unforgettable experience. There are 1500 species of tropical fish and 400 hundred species of coral to see and many diving opportunities available. The best area to plan your scuba trip is between Port Douglas and Townsville on the far north coast of Queensland. There are many scuba operators in this region, but you can also go further north to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, where you will find luxurious island resorts as well as scuba tours.

Sydney

This fabulous city has so much to offer, no wonder it is the first port of call for many visitors. Set in a sheltered bay of unequalled beauty, Sydney has parks, gardens, art galleries, museums, shopping, and of course, unique attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Even public transport in Sydney offers a unique experience, for one of the best ways to get around is by commuter ferry – it’s also the cheapest way. A private cruise on the water can cost hundred of dollars, but on the ferries, you can travel for a few bucks. Don’t forget to visit Darling Harbour with its magnificent shopping center and the glorious Chinese, or walk up from the ferry station at Circular Key to The Rocks, one of the oldest and most historic parts of Sydney. Check out the Argyle Center at the Rocks for unique and beautiful souvenirs of your trip. Then there is Bondi Beach – what trip to Australia would be complete without a trip to this famous Sydney icon?

Kakadu National Park

Remember Crocodile Dundee? Walk in the footsteps of Australia’s beloved larrikin in one of the most breathtaking settings on the planet. Kakadu National Park covers an area of almost 20,000 square kilometers in the Northern Territory, its vastness takes your breath away. The natural scenery comprises cliffs, rivers, waterfalls and rock pools, rocky plateaus and vistas unchanged for thousands of years. The best way to see the glories of this World Heritage listed wonderland is on a 4WD adventure safari that will take you deep into the Dreamtime. This is a real adventure, where you can eat bush tucker (wild food), learn to play the didgeridoo and even get up close and personal with one of Dundee’s famous crocs! Most tours are small and intimate, giving you a chance to get to know your companions as well as the magnificent scenery.

Surfer’s Paradise

The name sums it up – surfers came here and discovered paradise, with rolling breakers and long pristine beaches. Of course, it’s changed since then, but even though it is one of Australia’s top ten tourist attractions, it remains paradise, especially if you are a surfer. With more than 30 kilometers of golden beaches, the whole area of the Gold Coast, of which Surfer’s Paradise is just one part, is a playground where the fun never ends. If surfing is not your thing, there are plenty of other attractions, such as the Lexmark Surfers Paradise Indy Carnival, held in October, which turns the streets of Surfers into a high powered race track. If you love the nightlife, Surfers has plenty to offer, from the opulence of Jupiter’s Casino, to the many clubs and pubs adjacent to Surfer’s Paradise main beach. If you feel like something completely different, visit Ripley’s Believe or Not display of oddities on the Cavill Mall. The mall leads straight down to the beach and features many cafes and restaurants, some familiar (like Starbucks) and many from all over the world, offering Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Mexican cuisine. [Aspire Down Under; The World Outdoors; Mount Travel Sobek]

Experience the outback on a sheep farm

When Colleen McCulloch’s The Thorn Birds became a TV mini series in the 80s, it made the Australian outback sheep farm seem like the most romantic place on earth – and you will believe it, when you are sitting on a spacious verandah, sipping wine and gazing up at the star filled night sky.

With Australian Farmstays, you can experience a unique Australian lifestyle with all the comforts of home. Australian farming families have made their homes available to visitors for an overnight stay or longer. Experience the daily work of the farm, with sheep shearing, fencing patrols and caring for livestock. Enjoy real Australian country cooking, and meander along specially prepared nature trails. The Australian bush is a fascinating place, with an in credible variety of birdlife, flora and fauna. This is the best way to experience Australia and its people and to steep yourself in its history at farms like Brindabella Station. This famous farm outside Canberra was founded in 1861, and is now owned by the Barlin family, who have opened it to visitors. Accommodation at Farmstay farms ranges from five to three stars, but is never less than excellent. There are a variety of activities to choose from, such as fishing, canoeing, bird spotting and bushwalking.

Tour the vineyards

When Europeans came to Australia, they brought their cultural heritage with them, and foremost in this is wine. They soon found regions of Australia that welcomed the grape vine, and today, we have a very creditable wine industry producing excellent varieties. If you love wine, Australia’s wine growing regions offer hospitality, beautiful scenery, and as the Aussies say, `a good drop’! South Australia is a popular wine destination, with wineries like Fox Creek Wines welcoming visitors. The family owned vineyard, which can be found in the McLaren Vale wine region, was established in 1984 by Jim and Helen Watts. It features a delightful 19th century stone cottage with a log fire, slate floors and a delicious selection of wines on the doorstep. The vineyard now produces fifteen wines, including shiraz and merlot varieties among the red, classic whites like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. In NSW the Hunter Valley beckoned wine growers with its lush pastures and sheltering hills. Visit the Blueberry Hill Vineyard at Pokolbin to taste the wines produced from its six grape varieties and enjoy the warm Hunter Valley hospitality. In Victoria, the Hanging Rock Winery is in the Macedon Ranges wine making region, just an hour’s drive from the Hanging Rock of movie fame. You can see this remarkable landmark from the hill on which the winery stands. Established in 1983, the Hanging Rock Winery produces many wines, including Macedon, a sparkling Champagne style.

Canberra

A visit to the national capital city is more than just a glimpse of the workings of the political heart of Australia. Designed by American architect Walter Burley Griffin in the early 1900s, Canberra is the repository of the country’s national identity in art, literature and history. One of its most famous attractions is the Australian War Memorial, where the eternal flame burns in memory of those who gave their lives for Australia’s future. At dignified and moving place, the Memorial leaves a deep impression on all who visit. The War Museum nearby traces the history of Australia through the world conflicts in which ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand troops) has been engaged. But Canberra is also a place where some of Australia’s finest art treasures and acquisitions are gathered at art galleries and museums. You will find evidence of Australia’s reputation as a competitive sporting nation at the Australian Institute of Sport, where sporting stars of the future are groomed, and its passion for knowledge at the Questacon – National Science and Technology Center, and the CSIRO Discovery Center. As well, you will find five star hotels, shopping malls and street markets, and, of course, Parliament House.

Ride the Ghan train

This is Australia’s most spectacular journey, made famous by Neville Shute’s novel, A Town Like Alice. Ride the legendary Ghan train across Australia, coast to coast, from Adelaide to Darwin. Experience one of the most fascinating train journeys in the world, 3,000 kilometers through the great Red Centre of Australia, viewing the legendary Outback from the comfort of your railway carriage. For a modest fee, include some “whistle stop” tours from Alice Springs and Katherine along the way. This is truly the way to travel across and savor this extraordinary continent.

Port Arthur, Tasmania

For history buffs, the atmospheric site of the Port Arthur Penal Colony is a must-see. Built by convict labor in the early 1800s, the restored site features impressive architecture and a reminder of the harsh conditions suffered by prisoners sent from the UK in Australia’s formative years. As the custodians say, every feature of Port Arthur has a story to tell. But it’s not all grim reminders – today the penal colony also features beautiful gardens planted with English trees. Originally a timber camp that made use of the deeply forested surrounds of the harbor as well as the convict labor, the gardens of Port Arthur have been restored to Colonial glory. While you are there, you can further explore what Australians call the `Apple Isle’ for it was here that the English found a climate most like home.

Gail Kavanagh

Eons contributor

Gail Kavanagh (Eons member gailkav) started her life’s journey in Ireland, and traveled round the world one and a half times before settling in Australia. A writer since she first learned to hold a pencil, Gail now lives in Queensland, and writes content for websites as well as several books available from www.lulu.com/kavanaghsattic

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Spotlight on top experiences in France

Glorious France, renowned for her culture, style and savoir faire, is the most visited country in the world. Here are insights into some of the best of France by Jeannette Hermann.

Michelin one-star dining: the great French secret.

Everyone when given the chance should treat themselves to a three-star French dining experience. Unforgettable! But the joy of a delicious, beautifully presented and budget-friendly one-star meal is ever so satisfying. Paris of course has many one-star finds, but the fun is discovering those in small villages known mostly to locals. In fact, making driving plans to include a good restaurant meal was one intent of Michelin’s red guide, France’s drive and dine bible.

Lunches are less expensive than dinners but then you must choose between wine or a siesta. Most village one-stars are small with few tables, so book early in high season, especially for dinner. To find the one-star restaurants in France go to this site, and follow the prompts.

The Chocolate Road through France

The debate rages on — who makes the best chocolate in the world? Dark or light, France is the place to make up your own mind.

Begin in Paris where the most famous chocolate mecca is La Maison du Chocolat. They have five boutiques scattered around town. As with most chocolate boutiques, the tasting comes after the purchase, so be prepared to salivate as you choose. Their website includes chocolate tasting tips as well as descriptions of each flavor.

Other chocolatiers in Paris include Patrick Roger (a rather exotic site with address at bottom of home page) who did a meter length box of chocolates as a Christmas special ; and the designer chocolates of Pierre Hermé.

If you want a private insider’s trek through chocolate’s “best of” in Paris, David Lebovitz is it. His website, is informative, irreverent and constantly updated. His tours are upon request as is his May 6-12th Paris Chocolate Exploration.

Head south and pay homage to Valrhona, the chocolate gold standard producer. In Tain l’Hermitage, the Valrhona factory turns carefully selected cacao beans into stamped chocolate bars shipped around the world. Visits to Valrhona are rare and must be arranged in advance with great difficulty.

Nearby is much friendlier Pralus with delicious and beautifully pastel-packaged chocolates, great for travel.

St. Rémy in Provence is not only a village worth visiting, it’s also home to inventive Joel Durand (website in French). Joel adds local flavors to his chocolates — roses when in season, lavender, rosemary and basil. You order his pavés by number and he generously offers samples to all who visit.

Village open-air markets

Pick up one of those straw baskets with the leather shoulder straps and head for any outdoor market in France. Not only will you find the freshest fish or this morning’s fruit and vegetable harvest, you’ll find memories.

Even the simplest purchase is an opportunity to meet the faces behind the beautifully displayed stands. Any attempt in French is appreciated. And while you fumble with pockets full of euro coins, they may begin by asking where you’re from and by the end you’re swapping philosophical comments on how to relax.

Besides regional foods and cheeses (of which France boosts over 425 varieties) most markets have aisles of budget fashions, table and bed linens, toys, jewelry, etc, and plenty of cafes for watching the action.

In Paris: the Sunday Bastille market, the north African-Asian Marché d’Aligre, and the Sunday organic market on Boulevard Raspail.

For directions and hours visit Paris Markets.

Some upper end markets in Provence are in Apt on Saturday, St. Tropez on Tuesday and Saturday (be prepared for crowds); and Arles on Wednesday and Saturday. For a list check www. beyond.fr/a/calmktsday.htm.

A place of your own: Living like a local.

If you really want a slice of life in France, rent a place and settle in for a while. Find a chateau with a pool, or a village house with a view or a cottage near a forest and rent it for a week or two. Invite friends. Pick an area of France you want to explore — Provence, Brittany, Languedoc, the Alps — and book it.

You wake up in your own little piece of France, buy fresh croissants at the boulangerie, shop the weekly market, sip espresso on café terraces and become a regular at the best place to eat in town. Some days it’s a winery or a beach or a brocante. After a week, you’ve sampled a bit of France.

To begin your search check Vacation rentals by ownersor Just France for more upscale properties, or one known personally, La Source St. Michel

On the water in France.

In Paris.

The Seine has always been the heart and soul of Paris. Walk along its quais from Pont Alexandre III to Bercy or take a boat ride. The Batobus is a hop on/hop off, one price all day, river bus between Paris’ most famous monuments. The best dinner cruise is aboard the Don Juan II, the newest in the Yachts of Paris fleet. Delicious, intimate and pricey, it’s perfect for a special occasion.

Among the one-hour Seine cruises, choose the smaller Vedettes de Pont Neuf, over the group-oriented Bateaux Mouches.

If you’re in Paris between mid-July and August, a must-see is the Paris Plage (beach). To soothe those left in Paris while the rest of France is on vacation, the mayor created a man-made beach resort complete with sand, beach chairs, cafes, bike rentals, swimming pools, restaurants and music venues along the river roadway. Its success has been copied in Berlin and is being considered for New York. Read more about Paris Plage For photos see.

On the canals

You can begin your trip to the Black Sea on the canals and rivers of France. However, the most popular cruises are six nights in the Burgundy or on the Canal du Midi.

Captain your own boat choosing from one to three bedrooms, from moderate to expensive. All you need is the official VNF (Voies Navigation de France) guide where every lock, grocery or village is listed and a full refrigerator. No license required.

If you want to be pampered, book a luxury barge and sit back and watch rental boats go by. Most barges have only 3 or 4 staterooms as the canal depth and width determine size. Charter rates for two or three couples are reasonable and the itinerary caters to your tastes. See Canals of France

Something old: The best antiques

The most well-known Paris flea market is Les Puces de Saint Ouen at Clingancourt. It lives up to its reputation of exquisite pieces, and is priced accordingly. Its intricacies are many and some websites include how to shop at the various inner markets. Check Check Paris Perfect for more information
A less known, less expensive and perhaps more fun option is the Marché aux Puces de la Porte des Vanves. Trinkets, furniture and all sorts of objets spill from over 350 vendors. Go early or late to find bargains.

The bird market, Marché des Oisseaux on Ile de la Cité has not only birds, but household pets, flowers and a jumble of people to amuse you for hours.

Information about all these Paris markets can be found at this site.

Outside Paris, Isle sur Sorgue, often compared to Venice, hosts a Sunday market stretching along the banks of river Sorgue. In July and August this second largest antique market in France has festivals which include floating markets on the river. The many antique shops in town are open daily as well as weekends.

Additional Favorites from expats in France

In Paris

A meal at Le Café Marly overlooking the pyramid of the Louvre.

A musical evening at La Cité de la Musique, music to suit every taste.

Movie at La Villette complete with boat ride across the canal.

Twilight picnic on the Pont des Arts, floating above the Seine with great views in both directions.

Les Flaneries, or strolls in any neighborhood. With a 1,2,3 or 5-day Paris Visite pass, good on metros, buses, trains and batobus, choose one and jump on. Ride to wherever it goes, exploring your way home. Check Paris Digest for transport info.

Outside Paris

Mont St. Michel at twilight after the tour buses leave. Click here for information. For photos, click here.

Villefranche sur Mer, on the Riviera, near the Italian border during shoulder season. sleeping at the Welcome Hotel

Honfleur in Normandy. A village below sea-level where dams keep the town dry during twice daily tides. For more information on Honfleur

La Braderie, the largest flea market in Europe at Lille, the first weekend of September. Restaurants compete to see who sells the most ‘moules marinieres’. Winner is decided by the size of empty shell piles on their sidewalk. For best bargains come with flashlight on opening Friday evening as dealers unpack their vans.

The ferry between Ste Maxime and St. Tropez on market days, avoiding miles of frustrating traffic. Schedules at Bateaux Verts

Jeannette Hermann

Eons contributor

Jeannette Hermann. (Eons screen name FrenchConnection) — an expatriate and travel writer — has been traveling most of her life. Of her travel in France, she says, “I started creating travel programs to my favorite places in France. We picked olives in Provence, did writer’s workshops while cruising the Canal du Midi, searched for dinosaur eggs near Aix en Provence, walked the labyrinth after hours at the Chartres cathedral and searched for the Soul of Paris sampling food, wines and chocolates along the way.” Jeannette lives with her husband on an old olive farm down a dirt road in Provence.

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